There are many different types of psychological disorders, and we find
ourselves asking the question where do we draw the line between someone
who is depressed (cannot get out of bed for weeks) compared to someone who
has experienced a traumatic loss (unable to return to social activities)?
- How should we DEFINE psychological disorders?
- How should we UNDERSTAND disorders—as sicknesses that need to be
diagnosed and cured, or as natural responses to a troubling
- How should we CLASSIFY psychological disorders? And can we do so in
a way that allows us to help people without stigmatizing them with
Defining Psychological Disorders – how should we draw the line between
normality and disorder?
o Mental health workers view psychological disorders as patterns of
thoughts, feelings or actions that are deviant, distressful, and
dysfunctional. (Comer, 2004;Stein et al. 2010).
o Being different (DEVIANT) from most other people in ones culture is
part of what it takes to define a disorder.
o Standards are varying by context and culture and also with time.
o The American Psychiatric Association had dropped homosexuality as a
disorder because more and more of its members no longer viewed it
as a psychological problem. (Hatzenbuehler et al. 2009; Meyer 2003)
o In this new century, controversy is the frequent diagnosis of ADHD in
o But there is more to a disorder than just being DEVIANT.
o Such as: Gold medalists deviate from the norm in their
physical abilities, and society honors them.
o Social deviance – which some political regimes use to diagnose
and isolate their opponents, may bring dishonor. But to be
disordered, deviant behavior usually causes the person
o Deviant and distressful behaviors are more likely considered
disordered when also judged to be a harmful dysfunction
(Wakefield, 1992, 2006). o
Dysfunction is key to defining disorder: An intense fear of
spiders may be deviant, but if it doesn’t impair your life it is
not a disorder.
ADHD: normal high energy or genuine disorder?
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) a psychological disorder
marked by the appearance by age 7 of one or more key symptoms: extreme
inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
What is actually known about the causes of ADHD?
- We know that is not caused by too much sugar or poor schooling.
- There is mixed evidence suggesting that extensive TV watching and
video gaming are associated with a learning disorder or with defiant
and temper-prone behavior.
- ADHD is HERITABLE, and research teams are sleuthing the culprit
genes and abnormal neural pathways (Nikolas & Burt, 2010; Poelmans
et al., 2011; Volkow et al., 2009; Williams et al., 2010).
Is it treatable? Yes.
- Medications such as Adderall and Ritalin, which are considered
stimulants but help calm hyperactivity and increase ones ability to sit
and focus on a task (seriously that shit works so well) [Barbarsei et
- Psychological therapies, such as those focused on shaping behaviors
in the classroom and at home, have also helped address the distress
of ADHD (Fabiano et al., 2008)
Basically, extreme inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity can derail
social, academic, and vocational achievements, and these symptoms can be
treated with medications and other kinds of treatment. But the debate will
always continue whether normal rambunctiousness is too often diagnosed as
a psychiatric disorder, and whether there is a cost to using medicine.
Understanding Psychological Disorders: How do the medical model and the
biopsychosocial approach understand psychological disorders?
- People in earlier times often presumed the work of strange forces—
the movement of the stars, god-like powers, or evil spirits. - Until the last two centuries, “mad” people were held like animals
and sometimes caged in zoo-like conditions. They were given
therapies appropriate to the demon (beatings, burning or castration)
The Medical Model (reformers, including Philippe Pinel (1745-1826)) insisted
that madness is not demon possession but a sickness of the mind caused by
severe stresses and inhumane conditions.
- For Pinel and others, “moral treatment” included things like boosting
patient’s morale by unchaining them from these conditions and
actually talking to them as if they were humans.
- When researches found out that syphilis infected the brain and
distorted the mind – they decided to find gradual reform.
o Hospitals replaced asylums, and the medical world began
searching for physical causes and treatments of medical
Today this is known as the MEDICALMOrDcEognizable in the
terminology of the mental health movement: A mental illness (also
called psychopathology) needs to be diagnosed on the basis of its
symptoms and treated through therapy, which may include time in a
o Gained creditability from recent discoveries that genetically
influenced abnormalities in the brain structure and
biochemistry contribute to many disorders.
▪ Etiology: Cause and development of the disorder.
▪ Diagnosis: Identifying (symptoms) and distinguishing one
disease from another.
▪ Treatment: Treating a disorder in a psychiatric hospital.
▪ Prognosis: Forecast about the disorder.
Biopsychosocial Approach: Assumes that biological. Socio-cultural, and
psychological factors combine and interact to produce psychological disorders. ▯
**This approach recognizes that mind and body are inseparable.
Classifying Psychological Disorders:
- The American Psychiatric Association rendered a Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to describe psychological
- The most recent edition, DSM-IV-TR (Text Revision, 2000), describes
400 psychological disorders compared to 60 in the 1950s.
How are psychological disorders diagnosed?
Goals of DSM:
1. Describe (400) disorders.
2. Determine how prevalent the disorder is.
-- Disorders outlined by DSM-IV are reliable. Therefore, diagnoses by different
professionals are similar.
-- Others criticize DSM-IV for “putting any kind of behavior within the compass
Labeling Psychological Disorders:
1. Critics of the DSM-IV argue that labels may stigmatize individuals.
2. Labels may be helpful for healthcare professionals when
communicating with one another and establishing therapy.
3. “Insanity” labels raise moral and ethical questions about how society
should treat people who have disorders and have committed crimes.
Anxiety Disorders: Feelings of excessive apprehension and anxiety. Types:
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
2. Panic Disorder
4. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms
1. Persistent and uncontrollable tenseness and apprehension.
2. Autonomic arousal.
3. Inability to identify or avoid the cause of certain feelings.
Panic Disorder: Symptoms
1. Minutes-long episodes of intense dread which may include feelings of
terror, chest pains, choking, or other frightening sensations.
2. Anxiety is a component of both disorders. It occurs more in the panic
disorder, making people avoid situations that cause it.
Phobias: Marked by a persistent and irrational fear of an object or situation
that disrupts behavior.
Kinds of phobias:
▯ Agoraph :obia: pi oba ooophen p o m e H
Acrophobia: phobia of heights. ▯
: a i b o h p o r t s u a l C phobia of
s e c a l p d e s o l c
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Persistence of unwanted thoughts (obsessions)
and urges to engage in senseless rituals (compulsions) that cause distress.
** Brain imaging