PSYC 241-FALL 2010-Midterm Notes

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-Methods for Defining Abnormality
Psychological Abnormality: refers to behavior, speech, or though that impairs the
ability of a person to function in a way that is generally expected of him or her, in the
context where the unusual functioning occurs.
Mental Illness: same meaning, but more of a medical cause than a psychological one
Statistical Concept : frequency of behavior or thought defines abnormality
Personal Distress: frequent, but not essential feature of abnormality
Personal Dysfunction: “failures of internal mechanisms to perform naturally selected
Violation of Norms: culturally relative, acceptable/unacceptable
Diagnosis by an Expert: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-
IV-TR), International Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders (ICD-10)
-DSM-IV-TR: A Multi-axial Approach
DSM-I/II: published by the American Psychiatric Association, very brief, contained
vague descriptions of the diagnostic categories, only 106 categories compared to the
current’s 407, focused on internal and unobservable processes
DSM-III/III-R: more empirically based, atheoretical (moved away from endorsing any
one theory of abnormal psychology, becoming more practical, more precise behavioral
descriptions), polythetic (an individual can meet diagnostic criteria w/o having all of the
symptoms listed), multiaxial (providing additional information regarding individuals
functioning in five different areas
DSM-IV/IV-R: comprehensive literature reviews, reanalysis of old data sets, addition of
new data
-Description of the Five Axes
Axis I: (what the patient has) major mental disorders (mood disorders, eating disorders,
schizophrenia), bizarre nature [ex: anorexia nervosa disorder]
Axis II: (what the patient is) personality disorders and mental retardation, less severe
long-term disturbances [ex: obsessive-compulsive disorder]
Axis III: relevant medical conditions may cause psychological disorders [ex: diabetes,
type I/insulin dependent]
Axis IV: relevant life circumstances, recognizing that individuals live within a social
environment and that stressful social circumstances might contribute to symptom onset
(single woman vs. married woman may have the same diagnosis, but different
treatment) [ex: inadequate social support]
Axis V: general functioning with the circumstances related to his or her problems [ex:
GAF (Global Assessment of Functioning) = 49: serious symptoms like suicidal
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ideation, obsessional rituals, or serious impairment in social, occupational, or
school functioning]
-Issues of Reliability and Validity
Discrete vs. Continuum: DSM categorical (an individual has the disorder or not, no in-
between), does not recognize continuum between normal and abnormal
-dimensional approach for disorders ranging from non-existent or mild-to-severe,
however it is hard to determine how many dimensions per disorder and scoring/
assessment procedures
*Reliability and Validity: must give the same measurement each time used and should
measure what its supposed to measure
-inter-rater reliability: the extent to which 2 clinicians agree on the diagnosis of a
particular patient
-concurrent validity: the ability of the diagnostic category to relate in the expected
way to factors associated with the disorder
-predictive validity: the ability to predict the course of the disorder
Gender Bias: still exists, argument that the descriptions in the DSM make it more likely
that women will be diagnosed, even when no pathology exists (exaggerated female
Cultural Bias: DSM specifies that individuals “symptoms” should be interpreted in the
context of their social and cultural reference group
Process Issues: too often influenced by factors other than pure empiricism
Models & Theories:
1) Biological Models:
-structural damage to the brain: direct head injuries, diseases, and/or toxins
-neurotransmitters: chemical chemical messengers that are released from the
propagating neuron and move through the synapse to the postsynaptic neuron
-dopamine (pleasure seeking), serotonin (constraint or behavior inhibititor),
norepinephrine, gamma aminobutryic acid (GABA)
- 1) too much/little of the neurotransmitter produced/released into the synapse
- 2) too few/many receptors on the dendrites
- 3) excess/deficit in the amount of the transmitter-deactivating substance in the
- 4) too rapid/slow reuptake process
-behavior <--> neurotransmitters; brain plasticity: 2-way street, person’s response
to environmental events play a part in causing abnormal functioning
-brain plasticity: the ability of intact brain cells to compensate for damaged cells
and take over their function
-autonomic nervous system: controls bodily functions such as breathing, heart rate,
digestion, etc.; PNS and SNS function co-operatively to produce homeostasis
-sympathetic nervous system: readies the body for action; fight or flight response;
increasing heart rate, pupil size, breathing
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-parasympathetic nervous system: shuts down digestive processes
-individual differences in the regulation of various ANS in duration and intensity of
a stress response may also play a part in disordered behavior
-endocrine system: endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers released
into the blood stream
-disturbance in hormone balance can cause disruptions in behavior, thoughts,
and feelings [ex: hypoglcemia: pancreas fail to secrete balanced levels of insulin
or glycogen, which can lead to mimic anxiety]
-genetics: inherited characteristics
-genes interact with environment to lead to psychopathology [ex: adults with a
particular developed depression only if they experience a stressful life]
-a person with a disorder is identified and the rate of the disorder among family
members is established (inheritance rate)
2) Psychosocial Theories:
Psychodynamic Theories:
-Unconscious conflicts
-Signmund Freud: neuroses:
-levels of consciousness: conscious (info we are aware of), preconscious
(info that is accessible although it is not presently in our awareness),
unconscious (stores memories and drives that would require great effort,
psychoanalysis, to bring to awareness
-structures of personality: id (biological/instinctual drives, sexual,
aggressive), superego (internalization of societal values and morals), ego
(mediator between the id and the superego, maximize benefits against
costs, reality principle)
-psychosexual stages of development: oral (eating, sucking) anal (toilet
training), phallic (oedipal complex of castration anxiety, electra complex of
penis envy), latency (consolidation of behavioral skills and attitudes),
genital (achievement of personal and sexual maturity)
-defense mechanisms: express desires of the id in symbolic form
(unconscious) to manage anxiety (denial, regression, projection,
displacement, etc.)
Behavioral Theories
-learning causes normal & abnormal behavior
-classical conditioning:
-unconditioned stimulus UC: auto induces a response
-conditioned stimulus CS: neutral stimulus, does not naturally induce the
response associated with the UCS (usually just a reaction)
-unconditioned response UCR: automatic response to the UCS
-conditioned response CR: learned response to the CS after pairing with
the UCS
-operant conditioning:
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