Psychopathology: field of psychology concerned with the nature and development of
abnormal behavior, thoughts, and feelings. This subject offers few hard and fast
o A challenge we face in studying abnormal psychology is that is the need to
o One disadvantage in studying abnormal psychology is that it people tend to
bring to their study their preconceived notions of what the matter is.
What is abnormal behavior?
o No single definition is adequate.
o Abnormality is usually determined by several characteristics at one time
o Best definition includes such characteristics as statistical infrequency,
violation of norms, personal distress, disability or dysfunction, and
o Abnormal behavior is infrequent in the general population.
Normal curve: aka. Bell shaped curve places the majority of people in the middle;
few people fall at the extremes
o An assertion that a person is normal implies that he or she does not deviate
much from the average in a particular trait or behavior pattern.
o Statistical infrequency is used explicitly in diagnosing mental retardation.
o Only certain infrequent behaviors such as deep depression fall into the
domain of abnormal psychology.
Violation of Norms
o Consider whether the behavior violates the norms or threatens or makes
anxious those observing it
o Various forms of unusual behavior can be tolerated depending on the
prevailing cultural norms
o Take note that prostitutes and criminals have violated social norms but are
not usually considered within the domain of abnormal psychology.
o Cultural diversity can affect how people view social norms. What is normal in
one culture can be abnormal to another.
o Behavior is abnormal if it creates great distress and torment (personal
suffering) in the person experiencing it.
o Some disorders do not necessarily involve distress
o Psychopaths for example, do not experience guilt, remorse or anxiety.
o Not all forms of distress (e.g. childbirth) belong to the field.
Disability or Dysfunction
Disability: impairment in some important area of life because of an abnormality
o Substance abuse are partly defined in part by the social or occupational
o A phobia can produce distress and disability
o Disability applies to some but not all disorders
o We do not have a rule that tells us which disabilities belong and which does
o Distress and disability are considered abnormal when they are unexpected
responses to environmental stressor.
The Mental Health Professions
Clinicians: the various professionals authorized to provide psychological services
Clinical psychologists: requires a Ph.D. Or a Psy.D. Degree (4-7 years of studying)
-In Canada, professional regulation of the psychology profession is within the
jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. Psychologists may have a Master’s or a
Ph.D. depending upon regulatory statutes.
Psychological services are underused.
Psychological services are more available in urban areas than in rural areas.
There is been a lively debate concerning the merits of allowing clinical
psychologists with suitable training to prescribe psychoactive drugs.
History of Psychopathology
Demonology: the doctrine that an evil being, such as the devil, exist within a person
and is in control of his or her mind and body
Following from the belief that abnormal behavior was caused by possession,
its treatment often involves exorcism.
Exorcism: is the casting out of evil spirits by ritualistic chanting or torture
Trepanning of skulls: the making of the surgical opening in the living skull by some
One popular theory is that it was a way of treating conditions such as
epilepsy, headaches, and psychological disorders attributed to demons
within the cranium.
Hippocrates is often regarded as the father of modern medicine. He
separated medicine from religion, magic, and superstition. He thought that
mental illnesses had natural causes and should be treated like any other
medical condition. He regarded the brain as the organ of consciousness. He is
often considered one of the very earliest proponents of somatogenesis.
Somatogenesis: the notion that something is wrong with the soma, or physical body
that disturbs thought and action
Psychogenesis: is the belief that a disturbance has a psychological origin
Hippocrates classified mental disorders into three categories: mania,
melancholia, and phrenitis [or brain fever].
For melancholia, he prescribed tranquility, sobriety, care in choosing food
and drink, and abstinence from sexual activity.
He depended among four humors, or fluids, of the body, namely, blood, black
bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. An imbalance produced disorders. The body
was sluggish and dull, for example, the bodies supposedly contain a
preponderance of phlegm. A preponderance of black bile was the explanation for melancholia; too much yellow bile explained irritability and anxiousness;
and too much blood, changeable temperament.
The dark ages and demonology
The death of Galen marked the beginning of the dark ages for Western
European medicine and for the treatment and investigation of abnormal
Christian monasteries, replaced physicians as healers on mental disorder.
The persecution of witches
During the 13th century, people in Europe became obsessed with the devil.
Faced with inexplicable and frightening occurrences, there was enormous
blame on those regarded as witches. Burning was the usual method of
driving out the supposed demon. Hundreds and thousands of women, men,
and children were accused of being witches and were then tortured, and put
Witchcraft and mental illnesses
The mentally ill were generally considered witches.
More detailed examinations of this historical period, however, indicate that
many of the accused were not mentally ill. The delusional-like confessions
were obtained during brutal torture; words were put into the mouth of the
From the 13th century and on, hospitals popped up, the insane were kept
safe in hospitals until they were restored of reason. In England, there were
lunacy trials to determine a person's sanity.
Development of asylums
Confinement of the mentally ill began in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Leprosariums were converted to asylums. These asylums took in a mixed of
disturbed people and beggars.
Bethlehem and other early asylums
St. Mary of Bethlehem was a hospital devoted solely to the confinement of the
mentally ill. The conditions were extremely unacceptable.
Bedlam: a contraction in popular name for St. Mary of Bethlehem Hospital. It
became a descriptive term for a scene of wild uproar and confusion.
Bethlehem was a great tourist attraction. Viewing of violent patients was
considered entertaining. Medical treatments were often cruel and painful.
Benjamin Rush is considered the father of American psychiatry. He believed
that mental disorders were cause by an excess of blood in the brain. His
treatment consisted of drawing great quantities of blood. He believed that
being frightened could cure many lunatics.
Philippe Pinel is a primary figure for humanitarian treatment of the mentally
ill in asylums.
He removed the chains of the people imprisoned in La Bicetre. Light and airy
rooms replace dungeons he believed that patients were normal people and
should be treated with compassion and understanding, treated with dignity
as individual human beings. His theory is that if reason left his patient because of severe social or personal problems, it could be restored through
comforting and counsel.
However, he was not a total egalitarian. He reserved the more humanitarian
treatment for the upper classes.
Jean Baptiste Pussin first removed the chains of the mentally ill in asylums.
Moral treatment: treatment influenced by sympathetic and attentive treatment
Pinel believed that an aspect of moral treatment was to restore a patient's
sense of self-esteem by letting him demonstrate self-restraint.
Drugs were also frequently used in mental hospitals. The first drugs
consisted of alcohol, cannabis, opium, and chloral hydrate. The outcomes
were not favorable. Less than one third were cured.
Moral treatment was abandoned in the latter part of the 19th century.
Dorothea Dix was a crusader for improved conditions for people with mental
illness. She helped build 32 state hospitals to accommodate patients whom
the private hospitals could not accommodate. State hospital staff members
were unable to provide the individual attention, which was a hallmark of
moral treatment. Hospitals at this time came to be administered by physician
were interested in the biological aspects of illness and in the physical rather
than the psychological well being of mental patients.
Asylums in Canada
Many strategies employed in Canada during the 20th century were just as
harsh and had tragic consequences.
The first asylums in Canada and British North America were built during the
institution-building period prior to the First World War. The asylums were
usually modeled after the British forms of structure, treatment, and
Almost 20% of the inmates in the chief asylum in the University branch died
while in the institution, a large number due to general paresis of the insane
and a condition called phthisis.
Canada is possibly developing a two-tier medical system in which the
wealthy will have more opportunity for, and quick access to, superior quality
In 1883 the private lunatic Asylum's act was passed to accommodate the
wealthy and alternatives to the public asylums.
The history of the development of institutions for the mentally disordered in
Canada can be characterized in terms of two distinctive trends:
o 1) with the coming of the asylums, provisions for the mentally ill were
separate from the provisions for the physically ill,
indigents(extremely poor), and criminals; and
o 2) the process was segregated from the wider community –“the
institution and the community were two separate and distinct
The beginning of contemporary thought
An early system of classification Wilhelm Greisinger: a German physician who insisted that any diagnosis of mental
disorders specify a biological cause – a return to the som