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Chapter 3

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PSYC 3390
Mary Manson- Hennig

Abnormal PsychologyUnit 3 SummaryCausal Factors and ViewpointsThe search for causes of psychological abnormality is embedded in theories of what should influence psychological functioning Theories emerge for several reasons1To explain the cause of the problem2To identify the factors that maintain the problem3To predict the course of the problem and4To guide the development of effective treatment for the problemTheories 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 theorys soundness refutabililty and potential for contribution that holds the draw but there are other factors tooFor example our own personal interests and experiences always influence usIf 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 psychosocial events and internal psychological experiences If youve experienced how dramatically chemicals can influence the very elements of your personality perhaps you might be more curious about the chemical influences of the brainAnother draw towards a particular theoretical orientation is the social climate in which you were raised For example people raised in the 1970s probably absorbed the sociallearning perspective of that time and believe that if treated with kindness and respect all people will develop into strong healthy individualsThis would orient them towards models that emphasize the role of environment and relationships in human developmentBeginning 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 timeTake a few minutes now to think about your own beliefs about what causes abnormal behaviour and psychological abnormalitiesRead pages 6268 in your text to learn about the general issues around causal factors and viewpointsEtiologycausal pattern of abnormal behaviorA necessary cause eg cause X is a condition that must exist for a disorder eg disorder Y to occurA sufficient cause eg cause X of a disorder is a condition that guarantees the occurrence of a disorder eg disorder YA sufficient cause may not be a necessary causeA contributory cause eg cause X is one that increases the probability of the development of a disorder eg disorder Y but is neither necessary nor sufficient for the disorder to occur Some causal factors occurring relatively early in life may not show their effects for many years these would be considered distal causal factors that may contribute to a predisposition to develop a disorderOther causal factors operate shortly before the occurrence of the symptoms of a disorder these would be considered proximal causal factorsoSometimes a proximal causal factor may be a condition that proves too much for a person and triggers the onset of a disorderA reinforcing contributory cause is a condition that tends to maintain maladaptive behavior that is already occurring When more than one causal factor is involved the term causal factor has been usedA predisposition or vulnerability toward developing a disorder is termed a diathesis 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 Hence these theories are commonly known as diathesisstress models of abnormal behaviorStress usually occurs when an individual experiences chronic or episodic events that are undesirable
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