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Chapter 16

Psychology 1000 Chapter 16: Chapter 16 - Psychological Disorders

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Leslie Janes

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Chapter 16 – Psychological Disorders
What Is “Abnormal”?’
-Behaviour that is personally distressing, personally dysfunctional, and/or so culturally deviant so that
others judge it to be inappropriate or maladaptive
- Distress – behaviour is distressing to self or others
- Dysfunction – behaviours that are dysfunctional for person or society
- Deviance – behaviours that violate social norms
Historical Perspectives on Deviant Behaviour
-Ancient World
-evil spirits, imbalance of body fluids
-Middle Ages
- supernatural forces, forces of the moon
-Early 20th century
- psychodynamic perspective (id, ego, superego)
-Modern Times
- biological (medical perspective), cognitive, social, cultural factors
Psychological Disorders
- Predisposing causes
- e.g., genetically inherited characteristics
- Precipitating causes
- e.g., losing one’s job
- Maintaining causes
- e.g., reduced social life
-Vulnerability-stress model
- State of tension that is a natural response to threat
- Subjective-emotional – feelings of tension and apprehension
- Cognitive component – subjective feelings
- Physiological responses – heart rate, nausea, rapid breathing, etc
- Behavioural component – avoiding certain tasks
- Incidence - # of new cases in given time
- Prevalence - # of people who have disorder in period of time
- Most prevalent psych disorder in North America
- More common in females
Phobic Disorder
- Strong irrational fears of certain objects or situations
- They realize the fears are irrational but can’t help it
- Most common…
-Agoraphobia – fear of open public spaces
-Social anxiety disorder – fear situations where you might be judged or embarrassed
-Specific phobias – dogs, cats, planes, spiders, etc.
- animal fears common among women
- Heights in men
- Can develop at any time, but usually when younger
- Rarely goes away without help

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Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD)
- occurs with soldiers, torture victims, rape victims, people who were violently assaulted
- symptoms include numbness, guilt, depression, alcohol abuse, anxiety, distress
- often relive trauma in “flashbacks”, dreams, fantasies
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- AKA worry disorder
- Chronic “free floating” anxiety that is not attached to specific situations or objects
- Physical and cognitive responses (sweating, on edge)
- Expecting something bad to happen but don’t know what
- Occurs at young age (childhood or adolescence)
Panic Disorder
- Contrast to generalized since that is chronic
- Sudden, unpredictable and intense panic attacks
- May develop agoraphobia because they are afraid of panic attacks happening in public
- Formal diagnosis requires that recurrent attacks do not seem tied to environmental stimuli, followed by
psychological or behavioural problems
- Panic disorder is diagnosed when the patient has a fear of future attacks
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Usually consists of cognitive and behavioural components
-Obsessions - repetitive and unwelcome thoughts, images, or impulses (cognitive)
-Compulsions - repetitive behavioral responses, like cleaning rituals (behavioral)
- Doing the compulsions prevents great anxiety and panic attacks
- Compulsions reduce anxiety so they are strengthened by negative reinforcement
· Onset early 20s
Causal Factors in Anxiety Disorders and OCD
- Biological, psychological, environmental causes
- The Neuroscience of OCD:
- Executive dysfunction model: Underlying problem lies in impulse control and behavioural
- Altered activity in prefrontal cortex and involvement of caudate nucleus
- Not really supported
- Modulatory control model: lack of control of socially appropriate behaviors
- Increased metabolism in the orbitofrontal and medial prefrontal cortex and cingulate
- Biological Factors
- Genetics can make you vulnerable to anxiety
- Identical twins have high concordance rate of anxiety (40%) vs fraternal of 4%
- Oversensitive autonomic nervous system
- Over activity of neurotransmitters in emotional responses
- Not enough GABA (inhibitory neurotransmitter) cause highly reactive nervous system capable
of producing anxiety responses
- Anxiety more common in women than men, sex linked biological predisposition that shows at
age of 7
- Evolutionary preparedness to fear snakes, dogs
Psychological Factors
- Psychodynamic theories
- unacceptable impulses threaten to overwhelm the ego's defenses
- In phobias, neurotic anxiety is displaced onto object of symbolic significance in relation to
underlying conflict

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- Ex. Someone is scared of horse biting him because horse represents father and biting
represents the fact that dad will cut his balls off if he acts on his sexual desire towards
- Obsessions are related to an underlying impulse, compulsions are ways of “undoing” these
- Ex. Washing hands frequently to wash off “dirty sexual desires”
- GAD and panic attacks are when defenses aren’t strong enough to contain the anxiety
- Not supported much since it is so symbolic
Cognitive factors
- Maladaptive thought patterns
- Patients expect the worst and feel powerless to cope
- Social phobics believe they are more likely to embarrass themselves than others, and believe that the
consequences are worse
- Panic attacks are triggered by exaggerated misinterpretation of normal anxiety symptoms (like
sweating or dizziness)
- Teaching people that it’s just anxiety, not a heart attack, makes them much better
Anxiety as a learned response (behavioural view)
- Classical conditioning - develop phobia after being bitten by snake or falling from height
- Observational learning - develop fear from watching TV
- Then anxiety can be triggered by environmental or internal stimuli
- Operant conditioning - avoidance (agoraphobia) and compulsions are negatively reinforced
- Behaviours that are successful in reducing anxiety (like compulsion or avoidances) are
strengthened by negative reinforcement
Sociocultural Factors
- Some anxiety disorders are culture specific
- Koro - Southeast Asian fear that your penis will retract into stomach and kill you
- Taijin Kyofusho - Japanese social phobia of smelling bad, blushing, staring, having improper
- Wendigo - Native American fear of monsters who will turn them into homicidal cannibals
- Anorexia is exclusive to developed countries (fear of getting fat)
Eating Disorders
- Anorexia nervosa – intense fear of being fat
- Restrict food intake till point of self-starvation
- 90% female an young
- View themselves as fat despite being very skinny
- Bone loss, heart strain, stops menstruation
-Bulimia nervosa – also concerned with being fat
- Vomiting, laxatives to avoid gaining weight
- Consume thousands of calories during binges
- Normal body weight but gastric problems, teeth erosion
- More prevalent than anorexia
Causes of Anorexia and Bulimia
- More common in cultures where beauty = thinness
- Consistent with objectification theory à seeing body as an object
- Personality
-Anorexics are perfectionists and high achievers who set high standards for themselves
- Compared to normal women, they think obesity starts at a lower weight
- Need for control that stems from their upbringing, losing weight becomes battle for success
-Bulimics are depressed and anxious, low impulse control
- Lack of personal identity
- Triggered by life stress
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