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Chapter 15

Psychology 2035A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 15: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Thomas Szasz, Psychogenic Amnesia

Course Code
Doug Hazlewood

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Chapter 15: Psychological Disorders (P478-491)
Abnormal Behaviour: Concepts and Controversies
The Medical Model Applied to Abnormal Behaviour
-The medical model proposes that is it useful to think of abnormal behaviour as a disease
-Became prominent in the 19/20th century, before which abnormal behaviour was based on superstition (thought
to be possessed, victims of god’s punishment). Their disorder were thus “treated” with rituals such as chants,
and exorcisms and were locked up in dungeons or killed if seen as dangerous
-Thomas Szasz is a critic of the medical model and says that strictly speaking disease can only affect the body,
and abnormal behaviour usually involved a deviation from social norms rather than an illness
- He contends that such problems are “problems with living” rather than medical problems
- However, medical concepts such as diagnosis, prognosis, and etiology (causation and developmental history)
have proven useful in the study of abnormality
Criteria of Abnormal Behaviour
1. Deviance- as Szasz said, people are said to have a disorder when their behaviour deviated from what society
views as acceptable. E.g. transvestic fetishism is a sexual disorder when a man is aroused by dressing in
women’s clothing; shows the arbitrary nature of cultural norms b/c cross dressing is acceptable for women yet
deviant for men
2. Maladaptive behaviour-for the diagnosis of substance use disorders b/c alcohol in and of itself is not deviant
or unusual and only becomes maladaptive when it interferes with a personals social and occupational
3. Personal Distress- usually for people with depression or anxiety who report a great deal of personal distress
-People are viewed as disorders when they have 1 or any combination of the 3 criteria
-Diagnoses of disorders involve value judgements about what represents normal/ abnormal behaviour (compare
to a physical illness where people agree that a malfunctioning kidney is pathological regardless of their
personal values) they reflect cultural values, social trends, and political forces aside from the science
-E.g. Homosexuality was viewed as a disorder until 1973 when it was deleted b/c: attitudes towards gays in our
society became more tolerant, gay rights activists campaigned vigorously for the change, and research showed
that gays and heterosexuals were indistinguishable on measures of psychological health
-Normal/abnormal is a continuum everyone experiences some personal distress or does something deviant, so
it’s only viewed as a disorder when the behaviour becomes extreme
Psychodiagnosis: The Classification of Disorders
-The American Psychiatric Association unveiled the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in
1952 to provide guidelines for diagnosis which then included ~100 disorders.
- Revisions led to the DSM-II in 1968, and the DSM-III in 1980 which showed a big improvement in the
explicitness and clarity of criteria
- The current edition DSM-IV was released in 1994, and slightly revised in 2000 built upon the DSM-III and
expanded the # of disorders to ~3x more then the original
-The DSM-III introduced a new multiaxial system of classification where individuals were judged on 5 separate
dimensions/axes, which most theorists agree to be a step up b/c it recognizes the importance of information
besides a traditional diagnostic label
oAxis I : (1) disorders that arise before adolescence (ADD, autism, mental retardation), (2) organic
mental disorders (dysfunction of brain tissue- dementia, amnesia), (3) substance related, (4)
schizophrenia & other psychiatric dis., (5) mood disorders (key is emotional disturbance- depression
bipolar, dysthymic, cyclothymic), (6) anxiety (panic, generalized anxiety dis.), (7) somatoform (w/
symtoms that resemble physical illness- somatisation, conversion disorders, hypochondriasis), (8)
dissociative dis. (sudden, temporary alteration of memory, consciousness, identity, & behaviour-
dissociative amnesia, multiple personality), (9) sexual and gender identity dis. (3 types: gender identity
(discomfort with identity of M/F), paraphilias (preference for unusual acts to achieve arousal), and
sexual dysfunctions (impairment in functioning))
oAxis II : Personality Disorders- patterns of personality traits that are longstanding, maladaptive,
inflexible; borderline, schizoid, and antisocial personality disorders
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