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PSY240H5 (135)
Chapter 1


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Ayesha Khan

PSY240 CHAPTER 1 – ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY: AN OVERVIEW ``What do we mean by Abnormal Behaviour? 1.1 – Developments in Research - Double-blind study – neither the participants or the experimenter who was working with the participants knew which group was being controlled, and which was not - Placebo effect – enable experimenters to control for the possibility that simply believing one is getting an effective type of treatment produces a therapeutic benefit 1.2 – The Elements of Abnormality - We adopt a “prototype” kind of model for abnormality and assess the degree to which a given person resembles it 1. Suffering – people who suffer psychologically 2. Maladaptiveness [Behaviour] – interferes with our well-being and with our ability to enjoy our work and our relationships 3. Deviancy – we make value judgments; if something is statistically rare and undesirable (mental retardation), we are more likely to consider it abnormal whereas if something is statistically rare and highly desirable (genius) or something that is undesirable but statistically common (rudeness), we do not see as abnormal 4. Violation of the Standards of Society – cultures have rules, norms and moral standards we are taught to follow; when people fail to follow conventional and moral rules, we consider it abnormal – depends on the magnitude of violation and on how commonly it is violated by others 5. Social Discomfort – when someone violates a social rule, those around them may experience a sense of discomfort or unease 6. Irrationality and Unpredictability – we expect people to behave in certain ways but there is a point at which we are likely to consider a given unorthodox behaviour abnormal  Changing values and expectations in society at large, in the past certain behaviours were considered to be abnormal (such as homosexuality, or multiple piercings) but as society changed they started to become common, and a normal thing to expect/do  Classification systems provide us with a nomenclature and enable us to structure information in a more helpful manner  As we simplify through classification, we inevitably lose an array of personal details about the actual person who has the disorder [disadvantage]  There can be a stigma attached to receiving a psychiatric diagnosis – not telling someone because of fear that talking candidly about having psychological problems will have unwanted social or occupational consequences [disadvantage]  Stereotypes – automatic beliefs that people have about other people based on knowing one thing about them – because we may have heard about certain behaviours that can accompany mental disorders [disadvantage]  Labeling – (stigma can be perpetuated by labeling) a person’s self-concept may be directly affected by being given a diagnosis of mental illness – once a group of symptoms is given a name PSY240 CHAPTER 1 – ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY: AN OVERVIEW and identified by means of a diagnosis, this “diagnostic label” can be hard to shake, even if the person has made a full recovery  Defining various types of mental disorders  American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders “the DSM”  There still exists some problems with the DSM and defining mental disorders, with what certain terms mean exactly Table 1.1 – Symptoms and Syndromes Symptom – a symptom is a single indicator of a problem – it can involve affect, behaviour, or cognition Syndrome – a syndrome is a group or cluster of symptoms that all occur together Table 1.2 – DSM-IV Definition of Mental Disorders - A clinically significant behavioural or psychological syndrome or pattern - Associated with distress or disability - Not simply a predictable and culturally sanctioned response to a particular event - Considered to reflect behavioural, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual Table 1.3 – Wakefield’s Definition of a Mental Disorder 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  There is considerable variation in the way different cultures describe psychological distress  Culture can shape the clinical presentation of disorders  When research is published in languages other than English, it tends to get disregarded  Certain forms of psychopathology seem to be highly culture-specific – found only in certain areas of the world and appear to be highly linked to culturally bound concerns  Abnormal behaviour is a behaviour that deviates from the norms of the society in which it is enacted [culture-specific viewpoint] How Common are Mental Disorders?  Epidemiology – the study of the distribution of diseases, disorders, or health-related behaviours in a given population [key to determine the frequencies of mental disorders]  Mental health epidemiology – study of the distribution of mental disorders  Prevalence – the number of active cases in a population during any given period of time [typically expressed as percentages] PSY240 CHAPTER 1 – ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY: AN OVERVIEW  Point prevalence – the estimated proportion of actual, active cases of the disorder in a given population at any instant time  One-year prevalence figure – count anyone who suffered from the given disorder at anytime during the whole year  Lifetime prevalence – how many people had suffered from a particular disorder at any time in their lives (even if they have recovered)  Incidence – number of new cases that occur over a given period of time (exclude already existing cases)  Best available data comes from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey *CCHS+ – Mental Health and Well-Being – conducted in 2002 with 36, 984 respondents from across all provinces, aged 15 and over, and involved direct and formal diagnostic assessment of participants  Other tests include; Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) study, National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), and a replication of the NCS (NCS-R)  Comorbidity – the presence of two or more disorders in the same person; much more likely to occur in people who have the most serious forms of mental disorders [finding of NCS-R]  Not all people with psychological disorders receive treatment – people deny or minimize their problems, try to cope on their own, some manage to recover without seeing a mental health professional, but it is typical for people to wait a long time before they decide to seek help  Barriers to seeking treatment among Canadians – difficulty accessing mental health services, people’s attitudes towards seeking help  Majority of mental health treatment is done on an outpatient  Outpatient treatments require patients to visit a mental health facility or mental practitioner, but the patient does not have to be admitted to the hospital or stay there overnight  Deinstitutionalization – trend away from the use of traditional hospitalization 1.4 – Personnel in Mental Health - Professional – clinical psychologist, counseling psychologist, school psychologist, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse, occupational therapist, and pastoral counselor - Paraprofessional – community mental health worker, alcohol or drug abuse counsellor Access to Mental Health Services for New Canadian Immigrants - Immigrant groups use mental health services less often than Cana
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