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Chapter 1

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Steven Brown

ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY Chapter 1 – Introduction Psychotherapy: The field concerned with the development of abnormal behaviours, thoughts, feelings. Abnormal Behaviour: Include such characteristics as statistical infrequency, violation of norms, personal distress, disability or dysfunction, and unexpectedness Statistical Infrequency Most psychological disorders are infrequent in that they happen to affect a very small percentage of the population The normal curve is one that places most people in the middle section for a particular trait, and very few people on either extreme. In this case normalcy is regarded as not deviating from the middle area This method is good for diagnosing disorders (namely low/high I.Q) but not for explaining why they occur Violation of Norms Behaviour can be labelled abnormal if it violates/threatens social norms or causes anxiety in those watching the behaviour The problem with violating social norms is that it is too broad/narrow to be an explanation of abnormal behaviour. I.e. criminals and prostitutes violate ‘social norms’ but do not fall in the field of abnormal psychology (too broad); and a person who is extremely anxious may fall into the field of abnormal psychology but not violate any social norms (too narrow) Also, norms vary from culture to culture Personal Distress According to this characteristic, a behaviour is considered abnormal if it causes great distress and suffrage to the person performing it. The problem with this is: a) Not all forms of psychological disorders cause distress (i.e. mania, psychopathy) b) Not all forms of distress are psychological disorders (i.e. childbirth/hunger) Disability/Dysfunction Disability (impairment in some part of life which is important) is a characteristic of abnormal behaviour The problem with this is the same as that of personal distress (above): i.e. transvestism is currently diagnosed as a psychological impairment if it distresses the person; however it is not necessarily a disability. In some cases transvestites live successful lives and only cross dress in private. Also some circumstances count as a disability but do not fall in the field of abnormal psychology (i.e. being too short to play basketball) Unexpectedness The characteristic of personal distress and unexpectedness are closely related A behaviour is considered abnormal if it personal distress a person feels is unexpected, in that the distress is out of proportion to the expected response from environmental factors/stressors I.e. in anxiety disorders, it is considered abnormal because the anxiety is out of proportion to the situation (worrying money when you are well off). However hunger is not considered abnormal because the distress which is hunger is expected when you don’t eat. History of Psychopathology Before the age of scientific inquiry, anything beyond human control, including psychological disorders were said to be the cause of supernatural powers. Early demonology Demonology: The idea that an evil being, (the devil or demon) may dwell within a person and control his or her mind and body Many different religions and cultures believed in this and often sought some sort exorcism to cure the possession of the person, which usually involved painful, extreme measures. Trepanning: The making of a surgical hole in the skull in a living person using an instrument It was widely used in the stone ages with the belief that it can cure abnormalities such as epilepsy, psychological disorders attributed to demons in the cranium and headaches. Was believed that the evil spirit would escape from the hole Somatogenesis Hippocrates is regarded as the ‘father of modern medicine’ and separated medicine from magic, superstition, and religion Somatogenesis: The idea that something wrong with the soma (the physical body) disturbs thought and action. The root of psychological problems is a physiological disorder Psychogenesis: The idea that a disturbance has psychological origins Hippocrates classified mental disorders into 3 categories: Mania, Melancholia, Phrenitis (brain fever) and he had different treatments for each one I.e. his prescription for melancholia was careful choosing of food & drink, tranquility, sobriety, and abstinence from sexual activity He also developed the 4 humoural theory, saying that the body consists of 4 humours, or fluids (blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm) and that any abnormalities were caused by an imbalance of the 4 biles. The dark ages of demonology nd It is suggested that the death of Galen, the 2 century Greek physician who was regarded as the last major physician of the era, marks the beginning of the Dark Ages The dark ages marked a great shit in the treatment of the mentally ill and mental disorders The churches gained in influence and replaced medically oriented physicians in treating mental patients. They would treat them by preying on them and creating potions for them to drink Persecution of Witches In the middle ages, especially the latter Middle Ages, Europe became religiously oriented and witchcraft was often the explanation of mental illness; convicted witches were usually put to death Records show convicted witches confessing to having intercourse with Satan and flying to special places to meet with cults. Clearly signs of delusions from psychotic people. However it was found that there were more sane than insane people that were convicted of witchcraft and the probable cause of the confession was torture Development of Asylums As cities became lager, the municipality took over more of the rights from the church, one of which was providing care for the mentally ill Asylums began being built in England as early as the 15 and 16 century where the mentally ill were kept safe and were not diagnosed as being possessed Hospitals that were previously used to care for lepers were converted into mental asylums Often times, the patients in the asylums were used as entertainment and tickets were sold to watch them However, even though hospital/asylums were built, the medical treatment of the patents were still inhumane Moral Treatment Phillipe Pinel was one of the first figures to
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