Psychology as a Social Science 175.101
09/09/13 Psychological Disorders
The Vulnerability/Diathesis Stress Model – Proposes 3 fundamental causes
for psychological disorders.
Predisposing Causes – Genetics/environment/social background
Precipitating Causes – A trigger, causes by prevailing or dominant
negative aspects of life.
Maintaining Causes – Responsible for the prevalence of illness once it
It is generally accepted that a low predisposition to disorder means that a
higher amount of stress across various aspects of life is required to trigger a
psychological disorder. In the same way, a high predisposition to disorder
means that only a lower amount of stress is required to trigger the disorder.
Abnormal Behaviour – How do we make judgments?
Observe distressing behaviour in an inappropriate contextual situation.
Dysfunctional behaviour of which appears to have no meaning or
logical understanding through which to explain it.
Unusual behaviour – cultural sense e.g. important to observe and be
impartial to differences in cultural behaviour in observe how that
behaviour is relative to the particular person’s background. Statistical
sense – appears inconsistent with the majority of behaviour statistically
Rosenhan, D.L (1973) - video. Focuses on the way in which being diagnosed
with a mental illness affects how the person is treated. Diagnosis and
treatment in psychiatric wards can result in a feeling dehumanisation or
Diagnosis of psychological/mental disorders Use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4 ed.h
(DSM-IV) – a 5 edition is currently being developed as is due to be published
in 2013. The DSM-IV lists the major diagnostic categories of mental disorders
which are listed as follows:
Disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood or adolescence.
Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
Sexual and gender identity disorders.
The DSM-IV conforms to descriptive diagnosis, meaning that researchers
and clinicians in many different sectors are able to diagnose patients in a
similar way. However psychologists tend to search for alternative methods of
diagnosis to the DSM approach as the DSM assumes that all disorders can
be categorised based on similar characteristics, which is not necessarily true.
The DSM-IV uses the multiaxial system of diagnosis which places
symptoms into their biological and/or social context be undertaking patient
evaluation across 5 axes. They are listed below.
Axis I – Symptoms th