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Abnormal Psychology.docx

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PSY 101
Professor Berg

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Abnormal Psychology Psychological Disorders ­How does the study of psychology relate to health and emotional well­being? ­Psychopathological functioning involves disruptions in emotional, behavioral, or thought  processes that  • Lead to personal distress  • Inhibit ability to achieve important goals • Block ability to manage responsibilities   What is abnormal? ­Distress ­Maladaptiveness (keeping you from eating, drinking etc.) ­Irrationality or unpredictability  ­Unconventionality or statistical rarity  ­Observer discomfort ­Violation of moral and ideal standards ­Grief (when it leaks into other parts of your life for long periods of time) Classification of Disorders ­Practitioners look to classify and categorize observed behavior patterns into an approved  diagnostic system. ­Disorders are classified according to: • Observed symptom patterns • Circumstances surrounding disorder onset • Development of disorder over time • Expected treatment outcomes ­If observed behavior pattern is evidence of a particular disorder, then a psychological  diagnosis is made. Diagnosis ­How can practitioners ensure reliability? ­Observers need to agree on the disorder that they are observing ­Psychopathologists cannot look to x­rays, blood tests, or biopsies to inform a diagnostic  decision. ­Clinicians must work to create consistency and coherence in their evaluations (e.g.  precise descriptions of symptoms; detailed criteria for diagnosis) ­ A consistent and coherent diagnostic system should include:  • Common shorthand language • Understanding of causality • Treatment plan ­Some widely used systems: • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM­IV) • International Classification of Diseases. ­Practitioners are referring to the etiology of a disorder when they describe the causes,  related factors, and development.  ­An individual may experience more than one disorder at the same time; comorbidity  refers to the co­occurrence of these disorders. Developmental Disorders ­Early onset (usually detected at infancy) developmental disorders are characterized by  pervasive: • Learning deficits (mental retardation) • Communication difficulties (Asperger’s syndrome) ­Range from general pervasive learning complication to disorders of the motor skills­  many levels of function across the spectrum Anxiety Disorders ­In many ways, anxiety is a good thing for us; too much of it can be disabling • Having a healthy level of anxiety can promote self­awareness, hygiene, improved  reaction time, heightened sense of surroundings, etc. • However, too much or too little anxiety can deteriorate our ability to perform well  in a variety of contexts. ­Mental conditions classified as anxiety disorders are often marked by: • Excessive psychological arousal • Strong feelings of tension (physiological) • Intensive apprehension (absent of reason) ­Symptoms of various anxiety disorders may include: • Phobias of certain objects or social situations (e.g. preparing a speech) • Anxiety or worry for long periods of time without apparent danger (e.g.  generalized anxiety disorder) • Enduring ruminations about traumatic experiences (e.g. PTSD) • Obsessions and compulsions (e.g. OCD)  ­Anxiety disorders may also manifest in episodes of panic: • Recurring and unpredictable • Overwhelming anxiety, fear, or terror. •
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