How does the study of psychology relate to health and emotional wellbeing?
Psychopathological functioning involves disruptions in emotional, behavioral, or thought
• Lead to personal distress
• Inhibit ability to achieve important goals
• Block ability to manage responsibilities
What is abnormal?
Maladaptiveness (keeping you from eating, drinking etc.)
Irrationality or unpredictability
Unconventionality or statistical rarity
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
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.
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
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.
Early onset (usually detected at infancy) developmental disorders are characterized by
• 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
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.