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PSYCH257 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Psychopathology, Dsm-5, Behaviorism

Course Code
Allison Kelly
Study Guide

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Chapter 1 – Abnormal Behaviour in Historical Context
- Psychological disorder is a psychological dysfunction WITHIN an individual that is
associated with distress or impairment in functioning and a response that is not
typical/ culturally expected
- Phobia is a psychological disorder characterized by marked and persistent fear of an
object or situation
What is a Psychological Disorder?
Psychological Dysfunction
- Psychological Dysfunction is a breakdown in cognitive, emotional, or behavioral
These problems exist on a continuum or as a dimension rather than as categories that
are either present or absent
oThus having a dysfunction hard to meet criteria for psychological disorder
Personal Distress or Impairment
-On its own, being distressed doesn’t define abnormal behaviour
For example, some people are shy and lazy but they not abnormal, but if they are so
shy and lazy that it interferes with how they react with others around them and avoid
interactions it becomes impaired
-Most psychological disorders are simply extreme expressions of otherwise normal
emotions, behaviours and cognitive processes
Atypical or Not Culturally Expected
-Behaviour is abnormal if you are violating social norms, even if people are
sympathetic to you’re your point of view
However it is important to note that behaviour that is not accepted by one culture
may be very normal in another
-According to Wakefield, a psychological disorder that is caused by a failure of one or
more mechanisms to perform their evolved function and the dysfunction produces
harm or distress
Provides a potentially objective or scientific view of dysfunction
oRequires an objective analysis of the structure and function of the relevant
psychological mechanisms and how it is broken
Allows a subjective or culturally bound consideration of harm and distress
oWhat is considered harmful in one culture may not be so in another

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-A related concept that is considered useful when considering the definition of
psychological disorders is to determine of the behaviour is beyond the control of the
-Most widely accepted definition is used in the DSM-5 describes behavioural,
psychological or biological dysfunctions as unexpected in their cultural context and
associated with present distress and impairment in functioning or increase risk of
suffering, death, pain or impairment
-Best we can do is consider how the apparent disease or disorder matches a typical
profile of a disorder
This typical profile is a prototype
oPatient may have only some features or symptoms of the disorder and still
meet the criteria for the disorder because his or her set of symptoms is close to
the prototype
The Science of Psychopathology
- Psychopathology is the scientific study of psychological disorders
The Scientist- Practitioner
- Scientist- Practitioner: When mental health professionals take a scientific approach to
their clinical
They function as this in one of three ways:
1. CONSUMER OF SCIENCE: May keep up with the latest scientific
developments in their field and therefore use the best empirically supported
diagnostic and treatment procedures
2. EVALUATOR OF SCIENCE: Evaluate their own assessments and treatment
procedures to see whether they work
3. CREATOR OF SCIENCE: Might conduct research in clinics/ hospitals that
produces new info about disorders or their treatment
- 3 major categories compose the study and discussion of psychological disorders:
Describe disorders
Determine the causes
Treat them

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Clinical Description
- Presenting Problem: why the person came to the clinic
Describing the presenting problem is the first step in determining the clinical
- Clinical Description is the unique combination of behaviours, thoughts and feelings
that make up a specific disorder
-Important function of clinical description is to specify what makes the disorder
different from normal behaviour and other disorders
-Prevalence indicates how many people in the population as a whole have this disorder
-Incidence indicates how many new cases occur during a given time period
-Sex ratio is the proportion of males and females with this disorder
-Course: the individual pattern; “most disorders follow a pattern or course”
Chronic course: tend to last a long time
Episodic course: individual likely to recover within a few months, only to have a
reoccurrence of the disorder later
Time-limited course: disorder will improve without treatment in a relatively short
oFor example, sleeping disorders
-Closely related to difference in the course of disorders are differences in onset:
Acute onset: being suddenly
Insidious onset: develop gradually over time
-Prognosis is the anticipated course of the disorder
-Patients age important because specific disorders occurring in childhood may present
very differently from the same disorder in adulthood or old age
Causation, Treatment and Outcomes
- Etiology is the study of origins
Has to do with why a disorder begins (what causes it) and includes biological,
psychological and social dimensions
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