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John Bassili

Psych chapter 17 – the nature and causes of mental disorders Classification and diagnosis of mental disorders • Mental disorders are characterized by abnormal behaviour o Distinction between normal and abnormal can be very subjective o Maladaptive is the most important factor o Mental disorders bring pain and discomfort to those people and their friends and family • Origins? o Psychodynamic perspective Mental disorders originate in the an intrapsychic conflict produced between the three parts of the mind – ID EGO SUPEREGO o Medical perspective Concept of mental illness as an illness of the mind Caused by specific abnormalities of the brain and nervous system o Cognitive behavioural system Learned maladaptive behaviours Focuses on environmental factors and a person’s perception of them o Humanistic perspective: Proper personality occurs with unconditional positive regard Mental disorders arise when people perceive that they must earn the positive regard of others o Sociocultural perspective Cultures in which people live in plays a significant role in the development of mental disorders Extent to which person perceives their own behaviour as normal or abnormal o The diathesis –stress model of mental disorders How do we think about causes A causal account of mental disorders based on the idea that mental disorders develops when a person possessesa predisposition for a disorder and faces stressors that exceed his or her abilities to cope with them. • The diagnostic and statistical manual: o DSM-IV: widely used manual for classifying mental disorders used in north America o Provides reliable set of diagnostic categories o 5 different criteria – axis I – psychological disorders II-personality disorders III- physical disorders IV – severity of stress, and source V – overall level of psychological, social and occupational functioning • Problems: o Emphasizes biological factors o Reliability o Mental disorders do not hive distinct borders o Labelling someone can affect clinical judgements o Diagnosing only describes the symptoms • Thomas szasz – labelling has negative effects on concept of mental illness and does more harm • Proper classification has its benefits – effective treatment Interpreting data • 2 ways to interpret data – clinical or actuarial • Clinical judgements: diagnosis based largely on expert’s experience and judgement • Actuarial judgements: diagnosis based on numerical formulas Anxiety, Somatoform and Dissociative Mental Disorders • Anxiety: a sense of apprehension or doom that is accompanied by many physiological reactions such as accelerated heart rate, sweaty palms and tightness in stomach • Panic disorder o Unpredictable attacks of acute anxiety that are accompanied by high levels of physiological arousal and that lacks from a few seconds to a few hours o Accompanied sometimes with anticipatory anxiety: the fear of having an panic attack o Possible causes: Biological influences and a hereditary component – gene • Phobia disorders o Phobia: An unrealistic, excessive fear of a specific class of stimuli that interferes with normal activities, the object of anxiety is readily identifiable – snakes, insects, outdoors, small spaces 3 main phobias • Agoraphobia: fear of being alone in public spaces • Social phobia: fear of being observed by others • Specific phobia: excessive irrational fear of a specific thing o Possible causes: Can be learned through classical conditioning – direct or vicarious Biological basis reflects the evolution of our species • Obsessive compulsive disorder o OCD: Recurrent unwanted thoughts or ideas compelling urges to engage in repetitive, ritual like behaviour o Obsession: involuntary recurring thought, idea, image o Compulsion: irresistible impulse to repeat some action that does not serve a useful purpose o Possible causes: Defence mechanism Strong family transmission rate Associated with Tourettes: neurological disorder characterized by tics and involuntary utterances • Somatoform disorder o Somatoform disorder: Mental disorder involving a bodily or physical problem for which there is no physiological basis o Mostly among women o Often chronic, no pleasure from sexual intercourse o Hypochondrias: a somatoform disorder involving persistent and excessive worry about developing a serious illness o Possible causes: Tends to run in families Closely associated with antisocial personality disorder • Conversion disorder: o Conversion disorder: A somatoform disorder involving the actual loss of a bodily function, blindness, paralysis and numbness Occurs in response to an environmental stimulus o Not caused by damage, not faking it o Possible causes Psychic energy from unresolved conflicts becomes displaced into physical symptoms Primarily sexual in origin • Dissociative disorder o Dissociative disorder: A class of disorders in which anxiety is reduced by a sudden disruption in cons
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