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Chapter 1

PSY3171 Chapter 1: Chapter 1

7 pages96 viewsFall 2018

Course Code
PSY 3171
Giorgio Tasca

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CHAPTER 1: Abnormal behaviour in historical context
What is Psychological Disorder?
Definition: a psychological dysfunction associated w/ distress or impairment in functioning & a response
that is not culturally expected
1. Psychological dysfunction: breakdown in cognitive, emotional or behavioural functioning (ex.
Severe fear all evening; fainted in sight of blood )
- But having a dysfunction is not enough to consider as psychological disorder
2. Personal distress or impairment: does not define abnormal behaviour
- normal; ex. Someone close to you dies functioning
- impairment: many people are shy or lazy but doesn’t mean they’re abnormal (but if it’s
makes impossible to interact & avoid people, then yes)
3. Atypical or not culturally expected
- insufficient to determine abnormality; considered normal only cos it occurs infrequently
- deviates from the average; greater deviation = greater abnormality
Behaviour is abnormal - violating social norms even people are sympathetic to your point of view
- Important in considering cultural differences in psychological disorders
“Harmful dysfunction” - ex. Dissidents behaviour violates social norms
- According to Wakefield, psycho disorder is caused by failure of 1 or more mechanisms to perform
function & it produces harm or distress
- His notion provides scientific view of the dysfunction & culturally bound consideration of
harm/distress (what is considered harmful in cultures)
- Ex. Fainting in sight of blood
- signals danger & trigger adaptive self-protective responses (away from danger or avoiding
- fainting: exaggerated reaction so considered as dysfunction if led to poor survival ex. Being more
vulnerable to attackers
Another criteria: determine whether behaviour is beyond individual control (doesn’t want to do)
DSM definition: behaviour, psychological or biological dysfunctions are unexpected in their cultural
context & associated w/ distress, impairment functioning, increased risk of suffering, death or pain
- Not easy to decide what represent dysfunction & hard to determine if disease or disorder
Prototype: “typical” profile of disorder; patient have only some symptoms & still meet the criteria
According to Szasz, mental illness is a myth; difference exists between use of diagnoses for physical diseases
& their use in mental illnesses
- Big mistake: accepting concept of “mental disease” & using med model & associated diagnoses
The science of psychopathology
Definition: scientific study of psychological disorders
- Includes clinical & counselling psycs, psychiatrists, psy social workers, psy nurses, marriage &
family therapist, mental health counsellors
Scientists-practitioners: take scientific approach to their clinical work; takes on “evidence-based practice”
(uses best supported diagnostic & treatment procedures)
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1. Consumer of science: enhancing practice
2. Evaluator of practice: determining effectiveness of it
3. Creator of science: conducting research that leads to procedures useful in practice
In studying psychological disorders, we focus on:
- Clinical description, causation (etiology) & treatment and outcome
“Presents” refers to shortcut of indicating why person came to clinic; helps in determining clinical
description - represents combo of behaviours, thoughts & feelings
Clinical description
“Clinical” refers to both types of problems or disorders & activities connected to treatment
- Clinical description: specify whats differ disorder from normal behaviours
Prevalence: how many people in pop as a whole have disorder?; lifetime prevalence: had ever had
the disorder?; while the stats on how many cases occur represents the incidence of the disorder
- Adds: sex ratio (proportion of F & M) & age of onset (differs from disorder to another)
Course: individual pattern of a disorder
- ex. Schizophrenia follows a chronic course which means they last a long time
- Mood disorder follows episodic course which means person recover in months then
recurrence occurs later on;
- time limited course which means disorder improve w/o treatment in short period of time
w/ little or no risk of recurrence
Acute onset means may begin suddenly or develop over extended time - called insidious onset
Prognosis: anticipated course of disorder; if good - person will probably recover
Patient’s age important in clinic description - same disorder occurring in childhood differ from
adulthood - ex. Children thoughts & experience differs so when experience severe anxiety - assume
Causation, treatment & outcomes
Etiology: study of origins - why disorder begins (causes) & includes bio, psych & social dimensions
- Drug or psyc treatment is successful, give us hints about nature of disorder & its causes
The past: historical conceptions of abnormal behaviour
3 models
1. Supernatural model: demons, spirits & other phenomena
2. Biological & psychological model: mind is referred to as soul/psyche - separate from body
The Supernatural tradition
Bizarre behaviour afflicted w/ psycho disorders seen as work of devil & witches
Treatments: exorcism - religious rituals performed to get rid of spirits; shaving cross pattern in victim’s hair
& securing them in wall of church so will hear mass
Insanity is a natural phenomenon caused by mental/emotional stress & curable
- Symptoms like despair & lethargy identified by church w/ sin of acedia or sloth
- Stress & melancholy (depression): treatments were rest, sleep & healthy environ; baths, ointments
Existence of sorcery & witchcraft came from people who were tortured & confess to anything
Possession - believed to be punishment for evil deeds
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