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Chapter 3

PSYC 305 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, Abram Kardiner, Phallic Stage

Course Code
PSYC 305
Laura Hanson

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Chapter 3: Causal Factors and Viewpoints
Causes and Risk Factors for Abnormal Behaviour
What causes mental distress and people to behave maladaptively?
Difficult to achieve because human behaviour is so complex
Risk Factors: Variables correlated with an abnormal outcome
Now prefer to speak of risk factors over causes
Not sure whether there are necessary or sufficient causes for many forms
of psychopathology
Good understanding of many of contributory causes for most forms of
Necessary, Sufficient, and Contributory Causes
Necessary Cause
A condition that must exist for a disorder to occur
If Disorder Y occurs, then Cause X must have preceded it
Can’t have Huntington’s (Disorder Y) without the gene IT 15 (Cause
Sufficient Cause
A condition that guarantees the occurrence of a disorder
If Cause X occurs, then Disorder Y will also occur
Not a necessary cause, just likely
Hopelessness is a sufficient cause of depression
Contributory Cause
A cause that increases the probability of a disorder
If X occurs, then the probably of Disorder Y increases
Parental rejection can cause difficulties in child’s life later on
Reinforcing Contributory Cause: A condition that tends to maintain
maladaptive behaviour that is already occurring (if you’re sick and
everyone is treating you extra special, you might not want to get
Time Frames
Must also consider the time frame under which the different causes
Distal Causal Factors
Causal factors occurring relatively early in life that don’t show their
effects until much later
Example: Loss of a parent during childhood
Proximal Causal Factors
Causal factors that occurring shortly before occurrence of the
symptoms of a disorder
Example: Damage to parts of left hemisphere of the brain can
cause depression or a fight with a parent can cause

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Feedback and Bidirectionality in Abnormal Behaviour
Traditionally, the task of determining cause-and-effect relationships
focuses on isolating the condition X (the cause) that can be demonstrated
to lead to condition Y (effect)
Causal Pattern: When more than one causal factor is involved (A, B, and
C lead to condition Y)
Simple linear model where a variable leads to a result immediately or later
Difficult to determine which is cause and which is effect because of
bidirectional influences (effects can serve as feedback that can influence
the causes)
Diathesis-Stress Models
Diathesis: A predisposition toward developing a disorder
Diathesis can come from biological, psychological, or sociocultural causal
Believed that many disorders develop when some kind of stressor
operates on a person who has a diathesis or vulnerability to that disorder
Diathesis derives results from one or more relatively distal necessary or
contributory causes, but is not really sufficient enough to cause the
disorder in itself so there is a more proximal event or stresser
Proximal and distal stressors usually kick off a mental illness together and
generally neither can be enough in itself, you need both
Stress: The response or experience of an individual to demands that he or
she perceives as taxing or exceeding his or her personal resources
Stress usually occurs when someone experiences chronic or episodic
events that are undesirable and lead to complications
Factors that contribute to the development of a diathesis are themselves
sometimes stressors (like the death of a parent for a child which then
allows them to acquire a predisposition or diathesis for becoming
depressed later
Many researches believes diathesis and stress can combine to produce a
Additive Model: Individuals who have a high level of a diathesis may need
only a small amount of stress for a disorder to develop and vice versa
Interactive Model: Some amount of diathesis must be present before
stress will have any effect – so no matter how much stress someone
experiences, if they don’t have the diathesis they will never develop the
Protective Factors
Influences that modify a person’s response to environmental
stressors, making it less likely that the person will experience the
adverse consequences of the stressors

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A protective factor could be like one caring and warm parent giving
you support and love that protects against the effects of an abusive
Protective factors are not always positive, they can result from
negative experiences as well (ex: if you were bullied in high school,
which is negative, but learned to deal with it and cope and gained a
sense of self confidence that would be a protective factor from a
negative experience)
Some stressors paradoxically promote coping with a “steeling” or
“inoculation” effect while others are just personality traits
Resilience: The ability to adapt successfully to eve very difficult
circumstances – something protective factors often lead to
You can distinguish between causes of abnormal behaviour that lie within
and are part of the biological makeup or prior experience of a person
(diatheses, vulnerabilities, or predispositions) and causes that pertain to
current challenges in a person’s life (stressors)
Diathesis-Stress models need to be considered in a broad framework of
multicausal developmental models
Developmental Psychopathology: A rapidly growing field that 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
Viewpoints for Understanding the Causes of Abnormal Behaviour
The more complex the phenomena, the more viewpoints it has to explain it
Becoming too confident in one viewpoint can make you blind to another
Bio-psychosocial Viewpoint: A viewpoint that acknowledges that biological,
psychological, and sociocultural factors all interact and play a role
The Biological Viewpoint and Biological Causal Factors
Disorders first recognized as having biological or organic components
were those associated with gross destruction of brain tissue aka neuro
Most mental disorders aren’t directly caused by neurological damage
Abnormalities in neurotransmitter systems in the brain can lead to mental
disorders without causing damage to the brain
Four categories of biological factors that seem relevant to development of
maladaptive behaviour:
1. Neurotransmitter and hormonal abnormalities in the brain or other
parts of the central nervous system
2. Genetic vulnerabilities
3. Temperament
4. Brain dysfunction and neural plasticity
Imbalances of Neurotransmitters and Hormones
For the brain to function, nerves need to be able to communicate
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