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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 Notes

Course Code
Konstantine Zakzanis

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Abnormal Psychology: chapter 8: Psychophysiological Disorders and Health
Psychophysiological disorders: i.e. Asthma, hypertension, headache, and gastritis
are characterized by physical symptoms that are caused by or worsened by
emotional factors
Previously referred to as - psychosomatic disorders
Psychophysiological disorders involve damage to body – people can die from
psychologically induced symptoms such as high blood pressure etc
In DSM IV just listed asother conditions that my be a focus of clinical attention
Implication that psychophysiological disorders – not form of mental
New thought – any disease can be influenced by physiological factor – stress
The diagnosis of psychological factors affecting medical conditions includes cases
in which the psychological or behavioral factor influences that course of treatment
of a disorder not just cases in which it influences the onset broadening
Person with hypertension will continue drinking alcohol while knowing
it increases blood pressure
Psychological/behavioral factors include personality styles – holding
anger in etc.
Lab animals stress induced diseases recently found broader range of disease
– stress rel.
sklar, anisman – tumour in mice grew more rapidly under stress
electric shock
Role of psychological factors in health form the basis for the fields of behavioural
medicine and health psychology
Health psychology – focus on prevention 45% of deaths CVD in nature,
leading cause of death in Canada involves peoples lifestyle choices/behaviors
- prevention
Clinicians in health psychology use variety of procedures with goal of altering
bad habits, distressed psych state and aberrant physiological processes etc.
Stress and Health
Concept of stress: previously defined as some environmental condition that
triggers psychopathology
Term stress: Hans Selye – general adaptation syndrome – 8.1
Interested in thegeneral syndrome of being sick”
Noticed that organisms exposed to diverse stimuli (trauma, cold, heat etc.)
often exhibit a similar non-specific response stress – non-specific response of
body to demand for change

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General adaptation syndrome (GAS) – biological response to sustained and
unrelenting physical stress ~ 3 phases of model
Phase 1: alarm reaction, autonomic nervous system activated by
stress – if stress too powerful gastrointestinal ulcers, enlarged adrenal glands
and thymus undergoes atrophy
Phase 2: resistance – organism adapts to stress through available
coping mech. length of resistance depends on adaptability and intensity of
Phase 3: if stressor persists or organism unable to respond
effectively exhaustion death or irreversible damage
Distinction b/w + and – forms of stress distress and eustress
Realization that instead of stress use strain
Selyes concept used by others – modifications
Some researchers followed – response to enviro condition
Problem with response based definition – criteria are not clear-cut – physiological
changes in body can occur in response to number of stimuli that we would not
consider stressful
Other researchers looked at stress as stimulus rather than response – stressor –
environmental conditions – shock, boredom
Can be major, minor, acute or chronic
Psychogenic stressors – psychological factors
Neurogenic stressors – physical stimulus
Stressors – can be controllable/uncontrollable, predictable/unpredictable, short
in duration or chronic and intermittent or recurring
Different stressors have different physiological implications – chronic, intermittent
and unpredictable stressors are less likely to result in neurochemical adaptation
while intense and prolonged demands on neurochemical system may create a
condition – allostatic load variety of pathological outcomes
Problem: what constitutes a stressor? – Marriage is a stressor – positive event
People vary widely in how they respond to life challenges
Some emphasize cognitive aspects of stress – way we perceive and appraise
environment determines if a stressor is present – when demands exceed resources
Concept of coping: how people deal with a problem or handle the emotions it
produces – effects of stress vary depending on how individual copes with event
Lazarus – 2 coping methods:
Problem focused coping: taking direct action to solve problem –controllable
Emotion focused coping: reduce the negative emotional reactions of stress
uncontrollable str.
Lazarus: stress not solely due to situation or persons cognitive appraisals or
coping response but also from transaction or interaction between situational
factors and factors inside person

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Goodness of fit hypothesis: adaptivity of particular coping response depends on
the match between the coping response and what is called for ideally by the
problem situation.
Paul Wong, Peacock, and Reker – resource congruence model – 5 types of
stressors and their congruent coping strategies:
Stressors controllable by self – problem focused coping and self reliance
Stressors controllable by other – social support and dependence on others
Emotional problems – palliative coping – emotional expression and self-
Attitudinal problems – attempts at cognitive restructuring
Philosophical problems – existential coping – religious and spiritual
Cognitive appraisals and strategies – people often respond with denial and
avoidance escape/avoidance is least effective method of coping with many
problems esp. over long time
Efforts to measure stress
Measure amount of life stress a person has experienced and then correlate this
measurement with illness
Social readjustment rating scales: holmes, Rahe – gave list of events to large
group and asked them to rate each according to intensity and amount of time they
thought they would need to adjust to it – marriage -500 –reference point
Scale emerged: respondent checks off all life events experienced during time
period and sum of ratings life change unit (LCU) – weighed sum of events
top 5 LCU included death of loved ones and family and divorce
Change from 1960s -1990s – LCU scores rose 45%
Correlation b/w psychological stress and physical illness but doesnt mean that
stress causes illness
Longitudinal research minimizes biases of retrospective self reports
Assessment of daily experience
Problems with SRRS – stone and neale: ADE allows individuals to record and rate
their daily experiences in prospective or longitudinal investigations – bias
removed and evidence that minor events are related to illness
Life events play a causal role in increasing vulnerability to episodes of infectious
Self reports measuring daily hassles – link b/w self reported daily hassles and
poor psychological and physical adjustment – measures of daily hassles are better
than measures of major life events at predicting adjustment problems
Problems with daily hassle scale: 1. original scale –contaminated because it
included items that can be construed as symptom of distress rather than hassle; 2.
original scale developed for use with middle aged community sample – daily
hassles that may not be relevant to others – development of hassle scales for
different groups
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