Textbook Notes (363,094)
Canada (158,187)
Psychology (9,565)
PSYA02H3 (931)
John Bassili (149)
Chapter 17


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University of Toronto Scarborough
John Bassili

CHAPTER 17: THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS Etiology the causes or origins of a disorder. Classification and Diagnosis of Psychological Disorders What is Abnormal? The term abnormal literally refers to any departure from the norm. Thus a short or tall person is abnormal and so is someone who is especially intelligent. The tern abnormal has taken on a pejorative connotation: we use it to refer to characteristics we dislike or fear. Psychologists stress that the most important feature of a psychological disorder is not whether a persons behaviour is abnormal different from that of most other people but whether it is maladaptive. Psychological disorders cause distress or discomfort and interfere with peoples ability to lead satisfying, productive lives. They often make it impossible for people to hold jobs, raise families, or relate to others socially. Perspectives on the Causes of Psychological Disorders In general, they are caused by the interaction of hereditary, cognitive, and environmental factors. Different psychologists and other mental health professionals approach the study of psychological disorders from different perspectives, each of which places www.notesolution.com more or less emphasis on these factors. The Psychodynamic Perspective: According to the psychodynamic perspective, which is based on Freuds early work, psychological disorders originate in intrapsychic conflict produced by the 3 components of the mind: the id, ego, and superego. These conflicts may centre on attempts to control potentially harmful expressions of sexual or aggressive impulses, or they may also arise from attempts to cope with external dangers and traumatic experiences. For some people, the conflict becomes so severe that the minds defence mechanisms cannot produce a resolution that is adequate for mental health. The result is that the defence mechanisms themselves distort reality or the individual begins to function in some areas of life in a manner characteristic of an earlier developmental stage. The Medical Perspective: The origins of the medical perspective lie in the work of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. Hippocrates formulated the idea that excesses of the four humours (black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm) led to emotional problems. Other physicians, Greek and Roman alike, extended Hippocrates ideas and developed the concept of mental illness illnesses of the mind. The medical model is based on the idea that psychological disorders are caused by specific abnormalities of the brain and nervous systems and that, in principle; they should be approached for treatment in the same way as physical illnesses. www.notesolution.comThe Cognitive-Behavioural Perspective: The cognitive-behavioural perspective holds that psychological disorders are learned maladaptive behaviour patterns that can best be understood by focusing on environmental factors and a persons perception of those factors. A psychological disorder is caused by the persons interaction with his or her environment. According to the cognitive-behavioural perspective, it is not merely the environment that matters what also counts is a persons ongoing subjective interpretation of the events taking place in his or her environment. Therapists operating from the cognitive-behavioural perspective therefore encourage their clients to replace or substitute maladaptive thoughts and behaviours with more adaptive ones. The Humanistic Perspective: According to this view, psychological disorders arise when people perceive that they must earn the positive regard of others. Thus, they become overly sensitive to the demands and criticisms of others and come to define their personal value primarily in terms of others reactions to them. They lack confidence in their abilities and feel as though they have no stable, internal value as persons. The goal of humanistic therapy is to persuade people that they do have intrinsic value and to help them achieve their own unique positive potential as human beings. The Sociocultural Perspective: www.notesolution.com
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