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Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Course Code
Konstantine Zakzanis

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Chapter 2 Current Paradigms
Paradigm: A set of assumptions, a general perspective, that defines how to conceptualize
and study a subject, how to gather and interpret the data, even how to think of a
particular subject
Scientists work within different paradigms, which influence the way they approach topics, how they
collect data, how they conduct experiments, and how they interpret data. Each paradigm has its own
The Biological Paradigm (a.k.a medical model/disease model)
Is a continuation of the somatogenic point of view. It holds that mental illness is caused by dysfunctional
biological processes.
The biological paradigm was the dominant one for the majority of time psychopathology was studied.
Most dominant between the late 1800s to mid 1900s
Contemporary Approaches to the Biological Paradigm
Behaviour Genetics
Behaviour Genetics:The study of individual differences in behaviour that are attributed, in part, to
differences in genetic makeup
When a sperm and an egg come together, they form a zygote with 46 chromosomes, each with thousands
of genes
Genotype is the total genetic makeup of an individual (unobservable), whereas phenotype is the
observable characteristics of an individual. Neither of these are fixed, unchanging entities; they change
over time
Note that many psychological disorders are not problems with the genotype, but rather the phenotype
(phenotype = mix of the genetic makeup and environmental factors)
Therefore it is incorrect to say that a psychological disorder can be directly inherited. Only the genotypic
portion is inherited (through the genes of the parents). Whether or not the psychological disorder develops
in the child depends on their life experiences and traumas
Therefore a predisposition to develop a disorder is inherited, not the actual disorder itself.
4 methods are used to study the likelihood of inheriting a predisposition for a disorder: 1. Comparison of
family members2. Twin studies3. Adoptee studies4. Linkage studies
a.Family Comparison

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Because the average number of genes shared between family members is known, it is possible to
discover the level of inheritance by finding a relationship between the number of shared genes and
the prevalence of a disorder in a family
First a group of people with the mental illness being studied are gathered (called the probands or
index cases). Then first degree relatives (parents, sisters, brothers. share 50% genetic makeup) are
studied and second degree relatives (nieces & nephews. Share 25%). For a predisposition to be
inherited, the first degree relatives should have the disorder at a higher rate than the general
b. Twin Method
Monozygotic and Dizygotic twins are compared to see if a disorder is concordant and therefore
If a disorder is found in both MZ twins (who share 100% of their genetic makeup) they are said to
be concordant. For a predisposition to be heritable, the rate of concordance must be higher for MZ
twins than DZ twins
c.Adoptee Method
Studies children adopted and reared away from their biological parents. The prevalence of the
disorder in both parent and child are compared to those of parents living with their children.
d. Linkage Analysis
A method in molecular genetics where scientists compare the location of a known inherited trait
a genetic marker - with the occurrence of a heavily concentrated disorder within a family. If the
occurrence of the psychological disorder goes with the occurrence of the known trait (the genetic
marker) it is assumed they are both on the same chromosome, on similar locations
Scientists often hypothesize the gene-environment interactions in that they believe the
development of a disorder has to do with genes + environment. Therefore if they find a link for a
psychological disorder they hypothesize that the disorder will develop IF they come across the
right environmental triggers
It is difficult to interpret the data from this method because it is unknown what degree of the
concordance has to do with the genetic predisposition inheritance and what degree has to do with
the upbringing and experience
Neuroscience & Biochemistry in the Nervous System
Different neurotransmitters may cause different psychopathologies. I.e. too much norepinephrine may
cause anxiety disorders, too much dopamine may cause schizophrenia, and too much serotonin may cause
Failure in the reuptake process may cause psychopathologies also (results in too much or too little

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neurotransmitters). Also hyper or hyposensitive receptors may cause problems.
In cases where biological reasons explain the cause of developmental disorders, psychoactive drugs are
the most effective means for dealing with them
Evaluating the Biological Paradigm
The biological paradigm has made great strides coming up with a treatment method for mental illnesses
however it has also relied on the notion of reductionism
Reductionism: The idea that whatever is being studied can and should be reduced to its most
basic elements or constituents. In terms of the biological paradigm that is to say
the complexity of a mental illness can be reduced to simple biology
The Psychoanalytic Paradigm (Freud)
The psychoanalytic/psychodynamic paradigm states psychopathology results from unconscious conflicts
in the individual
Structure of the Mind
Freud divided the mind into 3 areas: the id, ego, and superego.
The id is present at birth and is accountable for all of the energy that runs the psyche. It deals with basic
primal urges (food, water, elimination, warmth, affection, sex) and wants to obtain these goals regardless
of the rules and regulations of reality
It runs on the Pleasure Principle: when the id is not satisfied, tension is produced and the id strives to
eliminate the tension. I.e. if a baby is hungry, it will move about to eat and relieve the tension of hunger
Also may use the Primary Process thinking, generating images of what is desired to reduce the tension
that comes along with it
The ego is primarily conscious and begins from 6-12 months. Its main goal is to deal with reality
It uses the secondary process thinking: it realizes that the Pleasure Principle is not the best way of
obtaining what you want because of societys rules and regulations, so it goes by the reality principle by
mediating between the demands of reality and the immediate gratification desired by the id
The superego operates mostly on the conscious level and develops through childhood. It is responsible for
incorporating their parents values as their own to receive their approval and avoid punishment
Freud believed that most of the important determinants of behaviour to be in the unconscious.
Neurotic Anxiety
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