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Chapter 1

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Konstantine Zakzanis

Chapter 1Introduction Definitional and Historical Considerations and Canadas Mental Health Systempsychopathologythe field concerned with the nature and development of abnormal behavior thoughts and feelings or mental disorders when studying abnormal psychology you need to remain objectiveWhat is Abnormal Behaviorabnormal behaviorpatterns of emotion thought and action deemed pathological for one or more of the following reasons infrequent occurrence violation of norms personal distress disability or dysfunction and unexpectedness our best definition of abnormal behavior includes such characteristics as statistical infrequency violation of norms personal distress disability or dysfunction and unexpectednessStatistical Infrequency one aspect of abnormal behavior is that it is infrequentnormal curveas applied in psychology the bellshaped distribution of a measurable trait depicting most people in the middle and few at the extremes an assertion that a person is normal implies that heshe does not deviate much from the average in a particular trait or behavior pattern statistical infrequency is used explicitly in diagnosing mental retardation only certain infrequent behaviors such as experiencing hallucinations or deep depressions fall into the domain of abnormal psychologyViolation of Norms we must consider whether the behavior violates social norms or threatens or makes anxious those observing it the antisocial behavior of the psychopath fits the definition as do the obsessivecompulsive persons complex rituals and the psychotic patients conversation with imaginary voices violation of norms explicitly makes abnormality a relative concept various forms of unusual behavior can be tolerated depending on the prevailing cultural norms criminals and prostitutes for example violate social norms but are not usually studied within the domain of abnormal psychology and the highly anxious person who is generally regarded as a central character in the field of abnormal psychology typically does not violate social norms and would not be bothersome to many lay observes also cultural diversity can affect how people view social norms what is the norm in one culture may be abnormal in anotherPersonal Distress another characteristic is personal suffering that is behavior is abnormal if it creates great distress and torment in the person experiencing it people experiencing anxiety disorders and depression truly suffer greatly but some disorders do not necessarily involve distress the psychopath for example treats others coldheartedly and many continually violate the law without experiencing any guilt remorse or anxiety whatsoever and not al forms of distresshunger or the pain of childbirthbelong to the fieldDisability or Dysfunction disabilitythat is impairment in some important area of life eg work or personal relationships because of an abnormalitycan also be a component of abnormal behavior substanceuse disorders are also defined in part by the social or occupational disability eg poor work performance serious arguments with ones spouse created by substance abuse a phobia can produce both distress and disability for example a severe fear of flying may prevent someone from taking a job promotion disability applies to some but not all disorders transvestism crossdressing for sexual pleasure for example which is currently diagnosed as a mental disorder if it distresses the person is not necessarily a disabilityUnexpectedness distress and disability are considered abnormal when they are unexpected responses to environmental stressors for example an anxiety disorder is diagnosed when the anxiety is unexpected and out of proportion to the situation as when a person who is well off worries constantly about hisher financial situation hunger on the other hand is an expected response to not eating and thus would be excluded as a state of distress that is relevant to abnormal behaviorFocus on Discovery 11The Mental Health Professions about 3600 practicing psychiatrists about 13000 psychologists and psychological associates and about 11000 nurses specialize in the mental health area in Canadacliniciansa health professional authorized to provide services to people suffering from one or more pathologiesclinical psychologistan individual who has earned a PhD degree in psychology or an PsyD and whose training has included an internship in a mental hospital or clinicdiagnosisthe determination that a patients set of symptoms or problems indicate a particular disorderpsychotherapy a primarily verbal means of helping troubled individuals change their thoughts feelingsand behavior to reduce distress and to achieve greater life satisfactionpsychiatrista physician MD who has taken specialized postdoctoral training called a residency in the diagnosis treatment and prevention of mental disorders most often the primary aspect of medical practice in which psychiatrists engage is prescribing psychoactive drugspsychoactive drugschemical compounds having a psychological effect that alters mood or thought process eg valiumpsychoanalysta therapist who has taken specialized postdoctoral training in psychoanalysis after earning an MD or a PhD degreesocial workera mental health professional who holds a master of social work MSW degreecounseling psychologistsa doctorallevel mental health professional whose training is similar to that of a clinical psychologist though usually with less emphasis on research and serious psychopathologypsychiatric nursea nurse who has obtained additional training in the mental health fieldHistory of Psychopathology
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