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PSY240H1 Chapter Notes -Canadian Mental Health Association, Suicide Attempt, Clifford Whittingham Beers

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Martha Mc Kay

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Chapter I: Looking at Abnormality
Clifford Beers:
- Became paranoid of developing epilepsy after witnessing his brothers conditions
which subsided after his failed suicide attempt and was replaced by other
- Began a movement for humane treatment of the mentally ill after releasing
Clarence Hincks:
- Founder of the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene 1918 with Dr.
C.K. Clarke (Canadian Mental Health Association)revolutionized mental health
care (diagnosis, treatment, and prevention)
- Had recurred episodes of depression
Abnormal Psychology: The study of people who suffer mental, emotional, and often
physical pain as a result of some form of psychological or mental disorder
Julia: Began hallucinating at the age of 15-17, wader in a sort of haze,
foreshadowing the delusional world
Jamison: Extremely depressed, incapable of joy or enthusiasm
Defining Abnormality (some arguments):
1. Deviation from cultural or societal norms is the only criterion for labeling a
behavior as abnormal
2. Behaviours are abnormal if they violate a cultures gender roles, which are
expectations for the behaviour of an individual based on gender
3. More objective standards: the unusualness, the discomfort of the person, the
presence of mental illness, the maladaptiveness
Cultural Relativism: No universal standards or rules exist for labeling behaviour as
abnormal; abnormality is only relative to cultural norms
Bereavement: Western countries are to mourn for a while then move on; Japan
maintains emotional bonds with the deceased; Egypt encouraged to mourn
excessively; Romantic Age (western), grieve = significance of the relationship
Criticism: Dangers arise when societal norms are allowed to dictate what is normal
and abnormal (Ex. Holocaust, branding of political dissidents in U.S.S.R.,
of the slaves to desire freedom)
Unusualness: Unusual or rare behaviours are abnormal; has some ties to the
relativist criterion
Criticism: (1) Deciding how rare a behaviour must be to call it abnormal is subjective;
(2) Many rare behaviours are positive for the individual and for society (Ex.
Eccentrics with rare hobbies like Gary Holloway)
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Discomfort: Behaviours should be considered abnormal only if the individual suffers
discomfort and wants to be rid of the behaviours. (Avoids the problem of using societal
Removal of homosexuality as a psychological disorder: Gay men and lesbians
argues that their sexual orientation causes no discomfort.
Criticism: (1) People are not always aware of the problems their behaviours create for
themselves or for others; (2) Some behaviours cause great discomfort in others only
Mental Illness: A clear, identifiably physical process that leads to specific behaviours
or symptoms, should show up on some sort of biological test
Criticism: No biological tests are available to diagnose abnormalities, mental health
problems are due to a number of factors not one (when giving a diagnosis, it is simply
a label for the symptoms)
Maladaptiveness: Behaviours and feelings that cause people to suffer distress and
prevents them from functioning in daily life (Used by majority)
- 3Ds: dysfunction, distress, deviance
- Seem to capture what we mean as abnormal
Criticism: (1) Still calls for subjective judgments; (2) culture and gender can still
influence the expression of those behaviours, the ways of expression, the willingness
to admit, and the types of treatments that are deemed acceptable
Harmful Dysfunction (Jerome Wakefield): Mental disorders involve a harmful failure
of internal mechanisms to perform their naturally selected functions
- Something inside the person is not working as it is expected to
- Not all dysfunction leads to disorder, only when it cases some harm to the person
as determined by the standards of that persons culture
Categorical: Qualitatively distinct syndromes, you either is or is not (Ex. Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Pregnancy)
Dimensional: A continuum from normality to abnormality (Ex. BMI)
Positive Psychology: The study of positive emotion, positive character and positive
institutions and the study of the conditions and processes that contribute to optimal
functioning (To study the ways people feel joy, show altruism, and create healthy
- Seek to help achieve high levels of functioning/full functioning
- Intended to supplement knowledge of human suffering, weakness and disorder
Psychology should address suffering and harness happiness
Diathesis-Stress Model:
Diathesis: A vulnerability or predisposition to developing a mental disorder (Ex.
Genetics, neurobiological, sociocultural, etc.)
Stress: The trigger that causes a disorder to those with a diathesis
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