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Chapter 2

PSYB32H3 Chapter 2: Current Paradigms and Integrative Approaches

Course Code
Konstantine Zakzanis

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Chapter 2 Current Paradigms and Integrative Approaches
2.1 The Role of Paradigms
Paradigm , the conceptual framework or approach within which the scientist works. It is a set of basic assumptions
that outline the particular universe of scientific inquiry
profound implications for how scientists operate, for “[people] whose research is based on shared paradigms
are committed to the same rules and standards for scientific practice
specify what problems scientists will investigate and how they will go about the investigation.
o injects inevitable biases into the definition and collection of data and may also affect the interpretation
of facts
o The meaning or import given to data may depend to a considerable extent on a paradigm
Four major types of paradigms: biological, cognitive-behavioural, psychoanalytic, and humanistic
2.2 The Biological Paradigm
Biological paradigm of abnormal behaviour is a continuation of the somatogenic hypothesis.
holds that mental disorders are caused by aberrant biological processes.
o Medical illnesses can differ widely from one another in their causes,
o They all share one characteristic: in all of them, some biological process is disrupted or not functioning
Often been referred to medical model or disease model
2.2.1 Contemporary approaches to the biological paradigm
More sophisticated approaches are used today, of course, and there is now an extensive literature on biological
factors relevant to psychopathology
working with the biological paradigm assume that answers to puzzles of psychopathology will be found
within the body
behaviour genetics, molecular genetics, and biochemistry
A. Behaviour genetics
Behaviour genetics is the study of individual differences in behaviour that are attributable in part to differences in
genetic makeup
Genotypes, The total genetic makeup of an individual, consisting of inherited genes
o unobservable genetic constitution
o fixed at birth, but it should not be viewed as a static entity
o Genes controlling various features of development switch off and on at specific times to control
aspects of physical development
Phenotype, the totality of his or her observable, behavioural characteristics, such as level of anxiety.
o changes over time
o is viewed as the product of an interaction between the genotype and the environment
critical to recognize that various clinical syndromes are disorders of the phenotype, not of the genotype
o Whether these genotypes will eventually engender the phenotypic behaviour disorder will depend on
environment and experience
o predisposition, also known as a diathesis , may be inherited, but not the disorder itself
The study of behaviour genetics has relied on four basic methods to uncover whether a predisposition for
psychopathology is inherited: comparison of members of a family, comparison of pairs of twins, the
investigation of adoptees, and linkage analysis
1. Family method
o can be used to study a genetic predisposition among members of a family because the average number
of genes shared by two blood relatives is known
Each of us share 50% of genetic makeup from each parent
People who share 50% of their genes with a given individual are called first-degree relatives of
that person

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Relatives not as closely related share fewer genes -- nephews and nieces share 25% of the genetic
makeup of an uncle and are called second-degree relatives
o Start with the collection of a sample of individuals who bear the diagnosis in question. Th ese people
are referred to as index cases , or probands
o If a predisposition for a mental disorder can be inherited, a study of the family should reveal a
relationship between the number of shared genes and the prevalence of the disorder in relatives
first-degree relatives of the index cases should have the disorder at a rate higher than that found in
the general population
2. Twin method
o both monozygotic (MZ) twins and dizygotic (DZ) twins are compared
o begin with diagnosed cases and then search for the presence of the disorder in the other twin
o When the twins are similar diagnostically, they are said to be concordant
To the extent that a predisposition for a mental disorder can be inherited, concordance for the
disorder should be greater in genetically identical MZ pairs than in DZ pairs
When the MZ concordance rate is higher than the DZ rate, the characteristic being studied is said
to be heritable
o It is not always the case where MZ twins are similar in terms of genetic background
growing number of recent studies have identified MZ twins who differ both genetically and
epigenetically in terms of developmental changes in gene expression
variations include physiological abnormalities that occurred during gestation and fetal
development that result in the twins not really having the same genes
Differences detected between adult MZ twins could reflect differences in life experiences and the
timing of life experiences that influence how the genes are expressed throughout life
great information value when there are slight genetic differences between MZ twins and
one develops a physical difficulty or mental health affliction that is not found in their
twin brother or sister
o the data they yield are not always easy to interpret
data show that a certain disorder runs in families, but that a genetic predisposition is not
necessarily involved
e.g. The greater number of children with panic disorder could reflect the child-rearing practices of
the panic disorder parents, as well as the children ’s imitation of adult behaviour
3. Adoptees method
o study children with abnormal disorders who were adopted and reared apart from their parents
o the benefit of eliminating the effects of being raised by disordered parents
o if a high frequency of disorder were found in children reared apart from parents who also had the same
disorder, we would have support for the theory that a genetic predisposition figures in the disorder
B. Molecular Genetics
Molecular genetics is a highly advanced approach goes beyond mere attempts to show whether a disorder has a
genetic component
tries to specify the particular gene or genes involved and the precise functions of these genes
Linkage analysis is a method in molecular genetics used to study people
o typically study families in which a disorder is heavily concentrated
o use the blood samples of the affected individuals to study the inheritance pattern of characteristics
whose genetics are fully understood, referred to as genetic markers
If the occurrence of a form of psychopathology among relatives goes along with the occurrence
of another characteristic whose genetics are known (the genetic marker)
it is concluded that the gene predisposing individuals to the psychopathology is on the same
chromosome and in a similar location on that chromosome (i.e., it is linked) as the gene
controlling the other characteristic
e.g. Eye colour, for example, is known to be controlled by a gene in a specific location on a
specific chromosome
often hypothesize geneenvironment interactions
o a genetic vulnerability and specific environmental experiences or conditions

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o It is important in qualifying the perceived influence of genetic factors
One concern is that an exclusive focus on genetic factors promotes the notion that illness and mental illness
are predetermined
o believing that “biology is destiny” could limit the extent to which people try to modify lifestyle and
environmental factors that contribute to health and mental health problems
C. Biochemistry
Neuroscience is the study of the brain and the nervous system
Neurotransmitters is the chemicals used by neurons for the communication purposes by crossing the
o Norepinephrine, neurotransmitter of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system , is involved in
producing states of high arousal and is involved in anxiety disorders
o Serotonin may be involved in depression; dopamine in schizophrenia
o GABA, which inhibits some nerve impulses and is implicated in anxiety disorder
Termination of the communication can be achieved by (1) enzymatic break down, and (2) reuptake
There are some of the theories linking neurotransmitters to psychopathology on the
o Amount of neurotransmitters being released, either too many or too little
o Deactivation processes, either too weak or too strong
o Receptors are faulty, not responsive
2.2.2 Biological approaches to treatment
Prevention or treatment of mental disorders should be possible by altering bodily functioning
if a deficiency in a particular biochemical substance is found to underlie or contribute to some problem, it
makes sense to attempt to correct the imbalance by providing appropriate doses of the deficient chemical
a clear connection exists between the cause of a disorder (a biological defect) and its treatment (a biological
caution against reductionism
o Reductionism refers to the view that whatever is being studied can and should be reduced to its most
basic elements or constituents
o the properties of the neuronal systems composed of complex neuronal pathways and circuits cannot be
deduced from the properties of the constituents
psychiatric disorders cannot be reduced to abnormalities in neuronal or molecular activity, and that
psychological problems need to be understood at multiple levels
2.3 The Cognitive-Behavioral Paradigm
The incorporation of key principals of the behavioral and cognitive perspectives
2.3.1 The Behavioral perspective
Psychologists operating primarily from a behavioural perspective view abnormal behaviour as responses learned in
the same ways other human behaviour is learned
Behaviourism, defined as an approach that focuses on observable behaviour rather than on consciousness.
Three types of learning have attracted the research efforts of psychologists: classical conditioning, operant
conditioning, modelling The basis of behaviorism
A. Classical conditioning
The stimulus-response pairing
a learning process that occurs through associations between an biologically potent stimulus (US) and a
naturally occurring stimulus, e.g.bell, (CS)
such that the US gained meaning, which is then paired with the natural response (UR) of the US
Extinction refers to what happens to the CR when the repeated soundings of the CS are later not followed by
US; fewer and fewer UR are elicited, and the CR gradually disappeared
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