Chapter 2: Current Paradigms in Psychopathology
1. Be able to describe the essentials of the genetic, neuroscientific, psychoanalytic,
cognitive- behavioral, and diathesis-stress paradigms.
2. Be able to describe the concept of emotion and how it may be relevant to
3. Be able to explain how culture, ethnicity, and social factors figure into the study and
treatment of psychopathology.
4. Be able to recognize the limits of adopting any one paradigm and the importance of
integration across multiple levels of analysis.
Scientific inquiry is limited by scientists’ human limitations and by the limited state
of our knowledge: people see only what they are able to see, and other
phenomena go undetected because scientists can discover things only if they
already have some general idea about them.
A paradigm is a conceptual framework or general perspective. Because the
paradigm within which scientists and clinicians work helps to shape what they
investigate and find, understanding paradigms helps us to appreciate subjective
influences that may affect their work.
Several major paradigms are current in the study of psychopathology and therapy.
The choice of a paradigm has important consequences for the way in which
abnormal behavior is defined, investigated, and treated.
The genetic paradigm holds that psychopathology is caused or at least influenced
by heritable factors. Recent genetic findings show how genes and the environment
interact, and it is this type of interaction that will figure most prominently in
psychopathology. The neuroscience paradigm emphasizes the role of the brain, neurotransmitters,
and other systems, such as the HPA axis. Biological treatments attempt to rectify
the specific problems in the brain or to alleviate symptoms of disorders, often
through the use of drugs.
The psychoanalytic paradigm derives from the work of Sigmund Freud. The more
contemporary contributions of this paradigm are primarily in