PSYB32 May 7, 2013
CHAPTER ONE – Introduction: Definitional and Historical
What is abnormal behaviour?
Digit span – how many numbers can you recover from memory?
Definition of abnormality:
1. Psychological tests/assessments define (or alert psychologists that there might be
something wrong) abnormality is when the person’s score is statistically infrequent.
This is not enough to define abnormality:
Somebody can be above the average (they can remember 20 numbers instead
of 10) and not have to be treated for a memory issue. They are still statistically
2. Personal distress. Anxiety, depression are clear definitions.
Again, this is not a great definition. A condition may be abnormal but it may
actually make a person feel better. (Psychopathy)
3. Violation of norms
A violation of a norm may not always be considered a violation of norm so that
this cannot be applied to abnormality forever.
4. Must threaten or make anxious whoever is observing the behaviour of the person.
It might be considered weird but not actually threaten someone
People can have an impairment but it doesn’t necessarily affect their normal
activities. This is not a disability.
6. Unexpectedness – the distress and disability of the behaviour are unexpected.
“Because the field is continually evolving, it is not possible to offer a simple definition of
abnormality that captures it in its entirety. The characteristics presented constitute a
partial definition, but they are not equally applicable to every diagnosis.”
Davison, Neale, Blankstein, & Flett
Abnormal Psychology, Second Canadian Edition
No two patients are the same. They may have similarities but they are not
Clinical psychologist – has a PhD. Learned about disorders and test
construction/assessment in therapy. Does a lot of treatment/assessment work. PSYB32 May 7, 2013
Neuropsychologist – PhD. Has a speciality in brain behaviour relationships and brain
Psychiatrist – M.D. Can prescribe prescriptions. About medications and how to treat
Neurologist – M.D. Can prescribe prescriptions. Treat people with neurological issues.
Social worker – Works with people to help them adjust after dealing with an issue.
Counselling psychologist – Providing therapy and counselling
Psychiatric nurse – helps a psychiatrist. Usually autonomos. Can provide some drugs.
Occupational therapist – can provide machines or systems to help people within their
home. Helps with disability.
Speech language therapist – helps with speech recalibration.
A large part of population – the baby boomers – are about to hit retirement age so
health care practitioners are going to be in more demand soon.
History of abnormal psychology
Demonology: Abnormality was blamed on gods or demons. The person was being
punished or was being possessed.
Exorcism: This was to get rid of the demons that plagued a person
Trepanning: Drilling a hole in a person’s skull, making the person’s body so
uncomfortable that the demon would want to leave the body.
Psychological disorders = “SHE’S A WITCH!!!”
One of the first psychological tests was that a person would be dunked in water –
if they survived, they were possessed. If they were drowned, they were fine. This
was a no-win situation. Possession meant death anyway.
Asylums PSYB32 May 7, 2013
People with issues were cleared from hospitals so they were put in asylums to wait to
be tested. Patients with psychological disorder were abundant in asylums. These places
were inhumane and terrible – they were even put on display.
Were named awful things that really didn’t promote people seeking treatment at
History of Treatment
Hydrotherapy: people were sprayed with water of different temperatures to promote
Hot boxes: people were exposed to hot temperatures in order to relax.
Insulin therapy: give people insulin so tha