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PSYC18H3 (274)
Chapter 12

Emotion chapter 12

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Gerald Cupchik

Chapter 12 – Emotions and Mental Health in Childhood Emotions and disorders The case of Peter • Has conduct disorder • Aged 11, lived in an apartment with one older sister, one younger sister, and his parents • Was described as defiant, rude, verbally aggressive, and truanting • Describes feelings of sadness and loneliness; he is frightened Classifying childhood disorders • Diagnoses are descriptions of patterns of behaviour • The importance of diagnosis is that someone who fulfills defined criteria for a defined period is usually impaired in their functioning • Psychopathology: the study of abnormal functioning • There are no sharp distinctions between having and not having a disorder  there is a continuum • The method of assessment typically involves checklists of symptoms or behaviour patterns, and sometimes questionnaires, which a parent of teacher completes for a particular child • In middle childhood two kinds of emotional disorders become important: o Externalizing disorders: anger, hostility, aggression, stealing, and lying o Internalizing disorders: anxiety and depression with tendencies to withdraw How are emotions involved in children’s disorders? • Two principal emotion-based externalizing disorders of childhood are called: o oppositional defiant disorder  over a 6 month period the child frequently displays 4 or more of the following:  loses temper  argues with adults  defies or refuses requests or rules  deliberately does things that will annoy other people  blames others for his or her own mistakes  is touchy or easily annoyed by others  is angry and resentful  is spiteful or vindictive o conduct disorder  involve truanting before 13, stealing, fire setting, sexual assault, physical fights, physical cruelty to people or animals, and use of weapons • Two principle emotion based internalizing disorders: o Anxiety  fears that are abnormal in intensity, duration and how they are elicited  Overanxious disorder  excessive or unrealistic anxiety or worry, with marked tension, for at least six months across a range of areas  Separation anxiety disorder  excessive anxiety for at least two weeks about separation from the child’s main attachment figures: worry about harm befalling them o Depression  either very low in mood or has no interest in anything for at least two weeks, and must be different from how the child has previously felt  Must also have 4 other symptoms such as weight changes, sleep disturbances, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, inability to concentrate, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide What is disordered? • Hypotheses about the relationship between emotion and disorder: 1) Predominance of one emotion system  a disorder would be a balance among emotions which, instead of being responsive to what happened in the world, is biased towards pre-established patterns of certain kinds a. Depressed children are more likely to make attributions for negative events that are stable, internal and global b. Boys are more likely than girls to think aggression enhances self-esteem 2) Inappropriate emotional responses  children with a disorder react to events with deviant emotional responses: laughing when someone else is distressed, crying when nothing has happened, being angry when someone makes a friendly gesture 3) Dysregulation  in a disorder, emotions are not properly regulated; they are inappropriate to the social context; lack of effortful control (impulsive) Prevalence of disorders in childhood • Psychiatric epidemiology  the study of how many people show a particular disorder in the population o Prevalence: the proportion of the population suffering from some disorder over a particular time o Incidence: the number of new onsets of a particular disorder in a given time • First major study in children’s psychiatric epidemiology: the Isle of Wight study o 10 year old children were given questionnaires and interviewed • Children were more closely in touch with fears and anxieties than parents, and report more of them • Parents are more in touch with externalizing behaviours than children, and report more of them Externalizing disorders • Younger children show more externalizing behaviours than internalizing behaviours • Oppositional defiant disorder is most common in early childhood, but conduct disorder is more common later on • Property violations decreased with age but status violation (swearing, truancy) increased with age • Boys show more externalizing behaviours than girls • Angry outbursts in children decline sharply in the second year Anxiety disorders • The prevalence of anxiety increases with age during childhood • Separation anxiety disorder is more common in early childhood but overanxious disorder is more common in adolescence • Girls are more likely than boys to show single symptoms of anxiety and to show anxiety disorders • Often anxiety occurs with depression Depressive disorders • Normal low mood and depression become more common as children get older • Rates of depressive disorder increase dramatically in adolescence • Boys and girls are equally likely to suffer from depression • By late adolescence, girls are twice as likely to be depressed  socialization is likely to play a role, but genetic factors probably play the major role The stress-diathesis hypothesis • It’s a general idea about how differences in emotional outcome occur • A stress is something that occurs in the environment • A diathesis is a predisposition to disorder that is inherent in the child Risks • Risks in the environment are stresses that increase the likelihood that a child will develop a disorder  they are not rigid causes Conflict with parents • Children exposed to serious and prolonged conflict between parents are at increased risk of developing externalizing disorders • Frequency and severity of angry arguments (associated with an increase in children’s disorder), disagreement over child-rearing issues, and periods of silent tension • Findings suggest that angry emotions between adults can cause children to be aggressive themselves • Witnessing negative expressions of emotion may increase the risk of children developing externalizing behaviour in several ways Parents
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