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PSYC 3390
Mary Manson

Abnormal: Unit 2 Casual Factors and Viewpoints The search for causes of psychological abnormality is embedded in theories of what should influence psychological functioning. Theories emerge for several reasons: 1. To explain the cause of the problem; 2. To identify the factors that maintain the problem; 3. To predict the course of the problem; and 4. To guide the development of effective treatment for the problem. Theories differ in the perspective and emphasis. What draws a person to one theory or another and which one is 'right'?  Ideally it should be a theory's soundness, refutabililty, and potential for contribution that holds the draw, but there are other factors too. o For example, our own personal interests and experiences always influence us. If you experienced bullying as a child and suffered through years of terrible nightmares as a result, you might have a stronger interest in the relationship between psycho-social events and internal, psychological experiences. If you've experienced how dramatically chemicals can influence the very elements of your personality, perhaps you might be more curious about the chemical influences of the brain.  Another draw towards a particular theoretical orientation is the social climate in which you were raised. o For example, people raised in the 1970s probably absorbed the social- learning perspective of that time, and believe that if treated with kindness and respect, all people will develop into strong healthy individuals. This would orient them towards models that emphasize the role of environment and relationships in human development. o Beginning in the 1990s there were giant leaps in the fields of biotechnology and the human genome project. People raised in this era probably absorbed the emphasis on biology and the unprecedented tendency to look to medicine to correct certain psychological experiences, like depression. (There was an astounding increase in the use of antidepressants at this time.) Biological Models  Most researchers today recognize that there are not 'competing' models.  A scientist focusing on biological causal factors would certainly acknowledge that psychological and sociocultural factors play a role as well  People just focus on different things. o Even within a biological model, there are different areas of focus. Some emphasize the structural models in the brain, some emphasize the role of neurotransmitter systems, while others look to hormonal and autonomic nervous systems functioning. o Some biological models consider genetic make up to be the primary influence in abnormal psychology. Abnormal: Unit 2  One of the problems encountered in some biological models is that the effect is sometimes used to predict the cause. o Just because a person responds to certain chemical alterations does not necessarily mean that the disorder was 'caused' by that chemical. Penicillin cures bacterial infections, but it does not mean that a deficiency of penicillin is the cause of bacterial infections (bacteria are). It is important to remember, in any area, that the cure does not always prove the cause. Challenge Question Journal 3.1 It is reported that concordance does not prove genetic influences. Explain briefly what concordance is and why it does not prove genetic influences. Psychosocial Models Let's take a moment to consider the influence of Freud's theories.  Freud has fallen out of favour for many good reasons, but such grand theories are rare and worth considering. It may be that he was simply a victim of the repressed Victorian era in which he wrote and perhaps if he were writing today he would emphasize the 'psycho-spiritual' rather than the 'psycho-sexual.' He was fascinated with 'taboo' topics and the conflict they create. That was his basic theory – that we have internal conflicts that need to be resolved in adaptive ways. o The first reaction against Freud's psychodynamic perspective was the behavioural perspective and then the cognitive-behavioural perspective.  It is important to appreciate the effort towards finding 'truth' and what was really going on in psychological disorders. Each reaction to a previous perspective contributed some important truth about human functioning. Sociocultural Models People now realize that the relationship between culture, social environment and psychological disorders is complex, fascinating and significant. There are huge differences in values when it comes to the ideal parent, citizen, child or employee, depending on where you live. Views on the function of a good attachment relationship (for example) differ greatly between Canada and Japan. Even our therapists have different goals. We tend to applaud independent exploration and autonomy while Japanese therapists encourage clients to be grateful and devoted. Assessing, Classifying and Diagnosing Disorders A good classification system is an essential tool in diagnosing understanding, researching, treating and preventing disorders. But the first thing that is required is a proper assessment. Assessment In thinking about assessment, we wonder, 'what do we need to know and how can we get that information?' We need to know what brought them to the clinician's office and we need to know as much as we can about what precipitated that trip. Abnormal: Unit 2  So an assessment should have an interview with the 'client', but also with family members or other people who can provide first hand information about the person's functioning.
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