Chapter 1: Abnormal Psychology: An Overview
- Family aggregation, whether a disorder runs in families.
- About 20 percent of Canadians will suffer from a mental disorder at some
point in their lives, with anxiety disorders being especially common.
- WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ABNORMAL BEHAVIOUR?
- Double- blind study; neither the participants nor the experimenter who was working
with the participants knew who got the genuine magnets.
- The Elements of Abnormality
-Violation of the standards of society
Irrationality and unpredictability
- At the most fundamental level, classification systems provide us with a nomenclature ( a
naming system) and enable us to structure information in a more helpful manner.
- Disadvantages of Classification
- Symptom: A symptom is a single indicator of a problem. It can involve affect ( e. g., sad mood,
anxiousness), behaviour ( problems sleeping, lethargy), or cognition ( excessive worry, suicidal
-Syndrome: A syndrome is a group or cluster of symptoms that all occur together. For example,
sad or depressed mood, problems sleeping, concentration problems, weight loss, and suicidal
thinking are all symptoms that reflect the syndrome of depression. Note that in the case of depression, depression can be a symptom ( when it refers to depressed mood). It is also the
name of the syndrome
- DSM- IV Definition of Mental Disorders
• Associated with distress or disability ( i. e., impairment in one or more important areas of
• Not simply a predictable and culturally sanctioned response to a particular event ( e. g., the
death of a loved one)
• Considered to reflect behavioural, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual
- Wakefield’s definition
A mental disorder is a mental condition that
• causes significant distress or disability,
• is not merely an expectable response to a particular event, and
• is a manifestation of a mental dysfunction.
- Culture Specific Disorders
o Taijin kyofusho. This syndrome, which is a form of anxiety disorder (
see Chapter 6), is quite prevalent in Japan. It involves a marked fear
that one’s body, body parts, or body functions may offend or
embarrass others or make them feel uncomfortable. Often, people
with this disor-der are afraid of blushing or fear upsetting others by
their gaze, facial expression, or body odour
o some individuals of Latino- Caribbean and Latin Mediterranean origin
is ataque de nervios; often triggered by a stressful event like divorce
or loss of a loved one, include crying, trembling, un-controllable
screaming, and a general feeling of being out of control. Sometimes
the person may become aggressive physically or verbally. In other
cases, the per-son may faint or experience something that looks like a
seizure. Once the ataque is over, the person may quickly return to
normal and have no memory of what happened.
-HOW COMMON ARE MENTAL DISORDERS?
- it is generally found that women with depression outnumber men with depression by a ratio
of about 2: 1
- Epidemiology is the study of the distribution of diseases, disorders, or health- related
behaviours in a given population. - Prevalence refers to the number of active cases in a population during any given period of
- Point prevalence refers to the estimated proportion of actual, active cases of the disorder in a
given population at any instant in time.
- One-year prevalence figure, we would count everyone who suffered from depression at any
time during the whole year.
- We might also wish to get an estimate of how many people had suffered from a particular
disorder at any time in their lives ( even if they are now recovered). This would provide us with
a lifetime prevalence estimate.
- Incidence; This refers to the number of new cases that occur over a given period of time (
typically one year). Incidence figures are typically lower than prevalence fig-ures because they
exclude already existing cases.
- In Canada, the best available data come from Statis-tics Canada’s Canadian Community Health
Survey ( CCHS)– Mental Health and Well- Being. The survey was conducted in 2002 with 36 984
respondents from across all provinces, aged 15 and over, and involved direct and for-mal
diagnostic assessment of participants.
- Comorbidity is the term used to describe the presence of two or more disorders in the same
person. Comorbidity seems to be especially high in people who have severe forms of mental
disorders. In the NCS– R study, half of the people with a disorder that was rated as serious on a
scale of severity ( mild, moderate, serious) also had two or more additional disorders
- RESEARCH APPROACHES IN ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY-
- Acute ( short in duration) or chronic ( more long- lasting)
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation ( TMS), which generates a magnetic field on the surface of
the head, we can stimulate underly-ing brain tissue
- Comparison group ( sometimes called a control group). This is a group of people who do not
exhibit the disorder being studied but who are comparable in all other major respects to the
criterion group ( i. e., people with the disorder). By “ comparable” we might mean that the
two groups are similar in age, number of males and females, education level, and similar
demographic kinds of variables.
- Unlike a true experimental design ( described below), observational research does not in-
volve any manipulation of variables. Instead, the re-searcher selects groups of interest - In observational research, data are collected from two different samples or groups and then
compared. ( B) In experimental research, participants are assessed at baseline and then
randomly assigned to different groups ( e. g., a treatment and a control condition). After the
experiment or treatment is completed, data collected from the two different groups are then
- Scientists control all factors except one— one that could have an effect on a variable or
outcome of interest; then they actively manipulate that one factor. This factor is referred to as
the independent variable. If the outcome of interest, called the dependent variable, is
observed to change as the manipulated factor is changed, that variable can be regarded as a
cause of the outcome
- Single- case research designs. A central feature of these designs is that the same subject is
studied over time. Behaviour or performance at one point in time can then be compared to
behaviour or performance at a later time, after a specific intervention or treatment has been
- ABAB design. The different letters refer to different phases of the intervention. The first A
phase serves as a baseline condition. Here we simply collect data on or from the subject. Then,
in the first B phase, we introduce our treatment. Perhaps the subject’s behaviour changes in
- Kris was a 19- year- old female who was severely retarded. Since the age of 3, she had been
pulling her hair out. This disorder is called trichotillomania
- Animal Research
- Analogue studies; in which we study not the real thing but some approximation to it).
Analogue studies can also involve humans
- CHAPTER SUMMARY
- Encountering instances of abnormal behaviour is a common experience for all of us.
This is not surprising, given the high prevalence of many forms of mental disorder
• A precise definition of “ abnormality” is still elusive. Elements that can be helpful in
considering whether something is abnormal include suffering, maladap-tiveness, deviancy,
violations of society’s standards, causing discomfort in others, irrationality, and
• Wakefield’s notion of “ harmful dysfunction” is a helpful step forward but still fails to provide
a fully adequate definition of mental disorder. It is nonetheless a good working definition. CHAPTER 2 KEY TERMS
- asylums: sanctuaries or places of refuge meant solely for the care of the
mentally ill, after 16 century
- behavioural perspective: is organized around a central theme: the role of
learning in human behaviour.
- Behaviourism: Watson thus changed the focus of psychology to the study of
overt behaviour rather than the study of theoretical mentalistic constructs
- classical conditioning: a form of learning in which a neutral stimulus is paired
repeatedly with an unconditioned stimulus that naturally elicits an
- Deinstitutionalization: providing more integrated and humane treatment
than was available in the “ isolated” environment of the psychiatric hospital.
Large numbers of psychiatric hospitals were closed. This movement, referred
to as deinstitutionalization, was based on the idea that psychiatric patients
would benefit from the opportunity to lead more “ normal” lives in the
community, while relying on general hospitals for short- term care for their
mental health problems.
- Insanity: the philosophy of treatment involved the belief that the patients
needed to choose rationality over insanity.
- lycanthropy: Isolated rural areas were also afflicted with outbreaks of
lycanthropy— a condition in which people believed themselves to be
possessed by wolves and imitated their behaviour.
- mass madness: the widespread occurrence of group behaviour disorders
that were apparently cases of hysteria.
- mental hygiene movement: mental hygiene movement, which advocated a
method of treatment that focused almost exclusively on the physical well-
being of hospitalized mental patients; Dorothy Dix
- Moral management: Moral management was a wide- ranging method of
treatment that focused on a patient’s social, individual, and occupational
needs. This approach, which stemmed largely from the work of Pinel and
Tuke; humanitarian reform
- Nancy School: hysteria and hypnosis; hypothesis was based on two lines of
evidence: ( 1) The phenomena observed in hysteria— such as paralysis of an
arm, inability to hear, and anesthetic areas in which an individual could be
stuck with a pin with-out feeling pain ( all of which occurred when there was
apparently nothing organically wrong)— could be pro-duced in normal
subjects by means of hypnosis. ( 2) The same symptoms also could be removed by means of hypnosis. Thus it seemed likely that hysteria was a sort
- operant conditioning: behaviour is shaped when something reinforces a
particular activity of an organism
- Tarantism: a disorder that included an uncontrollable impulse to dance that
was often attributed to the bite of the southern European tarantula or wolf
spider. This dancing mania later spread to Germany and the rest of Europe,
where it was known as Saint Vitus dance.
- adoption method: the biological parents of individuals who have a given dis-
order ( and who were adopted away shortly after birth) are compared with
the biological parents of individuals with-out the disorder ( who also were
adopted away shortly after birth) to determine their rates of disorder. If
there is a genetic influence, one expects to find higher rates of the disorder
in the biological relatives of those with the disor-der than in those without
- association studies: start with a large group of individuals, both with and
without a given disorder. Researchers then compare the frequencies of
certain genetic markers that are known to be located on particular
chromosomes (blood type, etc)
- attachment theory: emphasizes the importance of early experience,
especially early experience with attachment relationships, as laying the
foundation for later functioning throughout child-hood, adolescence, and
adulthood. He stressed the importance of the quality of parental care to the
development of secure attachments, but he also saw the infants as playing a
more active role in shaping the course of their own development than had
most of the earlier theorists
- Attributions: simply the process of assigning causes to things that happen.
We may attribute behaviour to external events such as rewards or
punishments (“ He did it for the money”)
- biopsychosocial viewpoint: acknowledges that biological, psychosocial, and
sociocultural factors all interact and play a role in psychopathology and
- chromosomes ( p. 71): chain-like structures within a cell nucleus that contain
- cognitive- behavioural perspective: focuses on how thoughts and
information processing can become distorted and lead to maladaptive emotions and behaviour. One central construct for this perspective is the
concept of a schema, adapted from cognitive psychology by Aaron Beck
- concordance rate: the percentage of twins sharing the disorder or trait— to
be 100 percent.
- contributory cause: ( e. g., cause X) is one that increases the probability of
the development of a disorder ( e. g., disorder Y) but is neither necessary nor
sufficient for the disorder to occur. Or, more generally, if X occurs, then the
probability of Y increases. For example, parental rejection could increase the
probability that a child will later have difficulty in handling close personal
relationships or could increase the probability that being rejected in a
relationship in adulthood will precipitate depression.
- Cortisol: mobilizes the body to deal with stress.
- developmental psychopathology: focuses on determining what is abnormal
at any point in development by comparing and contrasting it with the normal
and expected changes that occur in the course of development
- developmental systems approach: This approach acknowledges not only
that genetic activity influences neural activity, which in turn influences
behaviour, which in turn influences the environment, but also that these
influences are bidirectional.
- diathesis– stress model: Many psychological disorders are believed to
develop as the result of some kind of stressor operating on a person who has
a diathesis or vulnerability for that disorder.
- ego- defence mechanisms: discharge or soothe anxiety, but they do so by
helping a person push painful ideas out of consciousness ( such aswhenwe“
forget” a dental appointment)
- ego psychology: psychopathology develops when the ego does not function
adequately to control or delay impulse gratification or does not make
adequate use of defence mechanisms when faced with internal conflicts.
- Electra complex: the female counterpart of the Oedipus complex and also
draws its name from a Greek tragedy. It is based on the view that each girl
desires to possess her father and to replace her mother.
- Etiology: causal pattern, of abnormal behaviour
- Extinction: conditioning response gradually decreases with time
- Family history ( or pedigree) method: requires that an investigator observe
samples of relatives of each proband or index case ( the subject, or carrier, of
the trait or disorder in question) to see whether the incidence increases in
proportion to the degree of hereditary relationship. - genotype– environment correlation: the genotypic vulnerability present at
birth does not exert its effect on the phenotype until much later in life. In
many other cases, the genotype may shape the environmental experiences a
child has, thus affecting the phenotype in yet another very important way.
For example, a child who is genetically predisposed to aggressive behaviour
may be rejected by his or her peers in early grades because of the aggressive
behaviour. Such rejection may lead the child to go on to associate with
similarly aggressive and delinquent peers in later grades, leading to an
increased likelihood of developing a full-blown pattern of delinquency in
adolescence. When the genotype shapes the environmental experiences a
child has in this way…
- genotype– environment interaction: people with different genotypes may
be differentially sensitive or susceptible to their environments
- Hormones: chemical messengers secreted by a set of endocrine glands in our
- interpersonal perspective: much of what we are is a product of our
relationships with others. It is logical to expect that much of psychopathology
reflects this fact— that psychopathology is rooted in the unfortunate
tendencies we have developed while dealing with our interpersonal
- intrapsychic conflicts: Freud believed that the interplay of id, ego, and
super-ego is of crucial significance in determining behaviour. Often inner
mental conflicts arise because the three sub-systems are striving for different
goals. If unresolved, these intrapsychic conflicts lead to mental disorder.
- linkage analysis: studies of psychological disorders capitalize on several
currently known locations on chro-mosomes of genes for other inherited
physical character-istics or biological processes ( such as eye colour, blood
- necessary cause: ( e. g., cause X) is a condition that must exist for a disorder (
e. g., disorder Y) to occur. For example, general paresis ( Y)— a degenerative
brain disorder— cannot develop unless a person has previously contracted
syphilis ( X).
- neurotransmitters: chemical substances that are released into the synapse
by the presynaptic neuron when a nerve impulse occurs
- object- relations theory: focus on individuals’ interactions with real and
imagined other people ( external and inter-nal objects) and on the
relationships that people experience between their external and internal
objects - pituitary gland: pituitary gland ( see Figure 3.4), which is the master gland of
the body, producing a variety of hormones that regulate or control the other
endocrine glands. One particularly important set of interactions occurs in the
hypothalamic- pituitary- adrenal- cortical axis; CRH
- pleasure principle ( p. 80): The id operates on the pleasure principle,
engaging in completely selfish and pleasure- oriented behaviour, concerned
with only immediate gratification
- Primary process thinking: Although the id can generate mental images and
wish-fulfilling fantasies, referred to as primary process thinking, it cannot
undertake the realistic actions needed to meet instinctual demands.
- protective factors: The ego’s adaptive measures are referred to as secondary
process thinking, and the ego operates on the reality principle.
- Resilience: Protective factors most often, but not always, lead to resilience—
the ability to adapt successfully to even very difficult circumstances.
- Schema: an underlying representation of knowledge that guides the current
processing of information and often leads to distortions in attention,
memory, and comprehension.
- secondary process thinking: The ego’s adaptive measures are referred to as
secondary process thinking, and the ego operates on the reality principle.
- spontaneous recovery: This gradual process, known as extinction, should not
be confused with the idea of unlearning, because we know that the response
may return at some future point in time ( a phenomenon Pavlov called
- sufficient cause: ( e. g., cause X) of a disorder is a con-dition that guarantees
the occurrence of a disorder ( e. g., disorder Y).
- synapse: site of communication between the axon of one neuron and the
dendrites or cell body of another neuron is the synapse— a tiny fluid- filled
space between neurons.
- Temperament: refers to a child’s reactivity and characteris-tic ways of self-
- twin method: is the second approach used to study genetic influences on
abnormal behaviour. Identical ( monozygotic) twins share the same genetic
endowment because they develop from a single zygote, or fertilized egg.
- actuarial procedures: Computer- based MMPI interpretation systems
typically employ powerful actuarial procedures. In such systems, de-
scriptions of the actual behaviour or other established characteristics of many subjects with particular patterns of test scores have been stored in the
- computerized axial tomography ( CAT scan): Radiological technology, such
as computerized axial tomography, known in brief as the CAT scan, is one of
these specialized techniques. Through the use of X- rays, a CAT scan reveals
images of parts of the brain that might be diseased.
- Dysrhythmia: When an EEG reveals a dysrhythmia ( irregular pattern) in the
brain’s electrical activity ( e. g., adult males with ADHD or adult hyperactivity
disorder show abnormal brain activity
- electroencephalogram ( EEG): assess brain wave pat-terns in awake and
sleeping states. An EEG is a graphical record of the brain’s electrical activity.
It is obtained by placing electrodes on the scalp and amplifying the minute
brain wave impulses from various brain areas; these amplified impulses drive
oscillating pens whose deviations are traced on a strip of paper moving at a
- Episodic: Episodic and recurrent are used to describe unstable disorder
patterns that tend to come and go, as with some mood and schizophrenic
- functional MRI ( fMRI): fMRI measures changes in local oxygenation ( i. e.,
blood flow) of specific areas of brain tissue that in turn depend on neuronal
activity in those specific regions
- magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI): replacing CAT scans; MRI involves the
precise measurement of variations in magnetic fields that are caused by the
varying amounts of water content of organs and parts of organs.
- Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory ( MMPI): most widely used
personality test, used for clearance, etc.
- neuropsychological assessment: which involves the use of various testing
devices to measure a person’s cognitive, perceptual, and motor performance
as clues to the extent and location of brain damage
- positron emission tomography ( PET scan): allows for an appraisal of how an
organ is functioning. The PET scan provides metabolic portraits by tracking