Chapter 13 – Psychological Disorders
Medical Model – Uses understanding of medical conditions to think about psychological
Varies by culture, someone in North America might be diagnosed with schizophrenia if they saw
hallucinations, but somewhere else might be thought to be possessed by evil spirits.
▯ Defining Abnormal Psychology
Abnormal Psychology – The psychological study of mental illness.
Maladaptive Behaviours A behaviour that hinders a persons ability to function (at work,
school, relationships etc.)
Criteria for maladaptive behaviours:
1) Behaviour must distress ones self or others
2) Impairs ability to function
3) Increases risk of injury, death, or legal problems
▯ Diagnosing Psychological Disorders
Psychologists and psychiatrists rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for
Mental Illness (DSMIV) – Manual that establishes criteria for the diagnosis of mental
More than 350 disorders are identified in the DSMIV
Identify a likely cause, the psychological experience that follows, and the time course for
Does have limitations – treats most symptoms in an either/or fashion, either you have the
symptom or you don’t.
Etiology The origins or causes of symptoms and the prognosis, how the symptoms with persist
or change over time.
▯ Categorical Vs. Dimensional Views of Disorders
Dimensional View – Consist of typical thoughts and behaviours except they are more severe
and longer lasting than usual.
May occur in inappropriate contexts
Ex. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Categorical View Regards different mental conditions as separate types. Not just extreme versions of normal thoughts, something all together different.
Can’t have “partial” form of disorder (ex. Down syndrome)
▯ The Insanity Defense
Insanity is a legal concept and it not directly related to psychological diagnosis and treatment.
Insanity Defense The legal strategy of claiming that a defendant was unable to differentiate
between right and wrong what the criminal act was committed.
Is a rare occurrence, used in less than 1% of federal cases.
“Not guilty by reason of insanity”, known as the M’Naghten rule.
Stigma – Include negative stereotypes about what it means to have a psychological disorder.
May lead to discrimination, and alienation.
Learning about ones own diagnosis might increase positive emotions during treatment.
▯ Defining and Classifying Personality Disorders
Personality Disorders Unusual patterns of behaviour for ones culture that are maladaptive,
distressing to oneself and or others, and resistant to change.
Some people feel no empathy towards others.
Become rapidly attached to someone only to reject him or her.
May apply to anyone at some point. Actual disorders are extreme and persistent cases.
▯ Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Characterized by intense extremes between
positive and negative emotions.
Tendency to think in allornone terms.
No matter the type of relationship they have there will always be periods of conflict.
Fear of abandonment
▯ Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) – Characterized by an inflated sense of self,
an intense need for attention, as well as intense selfdoubt and fear of abandonment.
Likely to engage in academic dishonesty, feeling of entitlement makes them feel no remorse
about it. ▯ Histrionic Personality Disorder
Histrionic Personality Disorder – Characterized by excessive attention seeking and
Drawing people in with flirtatious, provocative behaviour.
▯ Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) – Habitual pattern of willingly violating others
personal rights with very little sign of empathy or remorse.
Physically and verbally abusive
Also known as “psychopath”
Men are more likely to be diagnosed
Under reactive to stress
Conduct Disorders – Often precursors to psychopathy
Adults and children with psychopathy or conduct disorders have difficulty learning tasks that
require decision making.
▯ Biological Factors to Personality Disorders
A number of specific genes seem to contribute to emotional instability through serotonin systems
in the brain.
Unique activity in the limbic system and frontal lobes – regions that are associated with emotional
responses and impulse control.
▯ Comorbidity and Personality Disorders
Comorbidity The presence of two disorders simultaneously, or the presence of a second
disorder that affects the one being treated.
Substance abuse is often comorbid with personality disorders
Intertwining presents a challenge for treatment.
▯ Dissociative Identity Disorder
Unaware of what’s going on around you.
Difficulty determining whether an event really happened. Dissociative Disorder – Characterized by a split between conscious awareness from feeling,
memory, and identity.
1) Dissociative Fugue – A period of autobiographical memory loss (forget past memories of life).
May develop new identity in new location with no recollection of the past.
2) Depersonalized Disorder – Belief that one has changed in a way that no longer makes them
3) Dissociative Amnesia – Severe loss of memory, usually from a specific stressful event, when no
biological cause for amnesia is prese