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PSY240H1 (130)
Chapter 1

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Hywel Morgan

WHAT IS ABNORMAL BEHAVIOUR?  Abnormal behaviours is characterized by the presence of many characteristics at one time – these characteristics being: statistical infrequency, violation of norms, personal distress, disability or dysfunction, and unexpectedness.  Statistical Infrequency means that only a small part of the general population exhibit abnormal behaviours – the normal curve places the majority of people in the middle. Statistical infrequency is used a lot in the diagnosis of mental retardation by using the IQ test, below average is an indication of mental retardation. Only certain infrequent behaviours can be categorized as abnormal therefore statistical infrequency gives little guidance in determining which infrequent behaviours should be studied.  Violation of Norms deals with behaviour and if it threatens or makes the people observing the behaviour anxious. This poses an issue since many unusual behaviours can be tolerated even if they violate social norms such as criminals and prostitutes who violate social norms but are not studied within abnormal psychology. Also, cultural diversity plays a role in how people view social norms – different cultures have different norms.  Personal Distress deals with behaviour becoming abnormal if it causes great distress and torment to the person experiencing it.  Disability or Dysfunction is the impairment in some important area of life such as a phobia of flying which may cause someone to reject a job overseas. Like suffering, disability applies to some disorders – transvestism is diagnosed as a mental disorder if it distresses the person but isn’t always a disability (i.e. most transvestites are married and dress up in private).  Unexpectedness is when unexpected responses to environmental stressors occur stemming from distress and disability. HISTORY OF PSYCHOPATHOLOGY  Early studies done by philosophers and physicians concluded that the trouble mind concluded that deviancy was caused by possession by demons known as demonology. Treatment involved exorcism which usually consisted of casting out of evil spirits by chanting or torture.  Trepanning of skulls, or surgically opening skulls, was done in the Stone Age primarily to treat conditions such as epilepsy, headaches, and psychological disorders attributed to demons in the cranium.  Hippocrates was one of the first people advocating somatogenesis – the belief that something wrong with the soma (body) disturbs thought and action. He was the father of modern medicine and the first to separate medicine from religion and magic. He saw the brain as the organ of consciousness, intellectual life and emotion, and thought that deviant thinking was an indication of a kind of brain pathology. In contrast, psychogenesis is the belief that a disturbance has psychological origins.  Hippocrates had three categories of mental disorder: mania, melancholia, and phrenitis (brain fever). His suggested treatments were different from exorcistic rituals, they were based on his own observations as opposed to th
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