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Western University
Psychology 2042A/B
Jeff St.Pierre

PSY 2042: Exceptional Disorders – Behavioural Disorders Chapter 1: Introduction to Normal and Abnormal Behaviour in Children and Adolescents Abnormal Psychology Seeks to Address: • Defining normal and abnormal behaviour for children of different ages, sexes, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds • Identify the causes and correlates of abnormal child behaviour • Making predictions about long-term outcomes • Developing and evaluating methods for treatment and/or prevention Features That Distinguish Most Child and Adolescent Disorders: 1. When adults seek services for children, it is often not clear whose “problem” it is  Children usually enter the mental health system as a result of concerns raised by adults  Children do not refer themselves 2. Many child and adolescent problems involve failure to show expected developmental progress  The problem may be transitory 3. Many problem behaviours show by children and youths are not entirely abnormal  Certain problem behaviours are show by most children and youths 4. Interventions for children and adolescents often are intended to promote further development, rather than merely to restore a previous level of functioning  The goal for many children is to boost their abilities and skills Historical Views and Breakthroughs • Helping children develop normal lives and competencies requires medical, educational, and psychological resources • Social philosophy is also required – this recognizes children as persons with a value independent of any other purpose • Children as persons in their own right has not been a priority in the past • Early Greece – children were considered servants • Ancient Greek and Roman societies believed that any person with a mental or physical handicap, disability, or deformity was an economic burden and a social embarrassment – they were to be scorned, abandoned, or put to death th • Prior to 18 century; children’s mental health problems were seldom mentioned in professional communication • End of the 18 century; interest sparked – Church attributed children’s unusual or disturbing behaviours to their inherently uncivilized and provocative nature • Possession by the devil was the only explanation anyone needed • 17 and 18 century; 2/3 of children died before their fifth birthday – no antibiotics or medication to treat deadly diseases • Harsh treatments – cruel acts, sexual abuse – adult’s had a right to do so (for educating or discipline a child) • Massachusetts’ Stubborn Child Act (1654) – permitted parents to put “stubborn” children to death for misbehaving • Mid-1800s; children with severe developmental disabilities to be kept in cages and cellars The Emergence of Social Conscience th th • 19 and 20 centuries; situation progressed significantly • Still today: children (along with women, minority groups, and persons with special needed) were the last to benefit from society’s prosperity – primary victims of shortcomings th • Social conscience first occurred during the 17 century PSY 2042: Exceptional Disorders – Behavioural Disorders Chapter 1: Introduction to Normal and Abnormal Behaviour in Children and Adolescents • John Locke: influenced the beginnings of present-day attitudes and practices – he believed in individual rights and that children should be raise with thought and care instead of indifference and harsh treatment • Locke saw children as emotionally sensitive beings who should be treated with kindness and understanding and given proper education opportunities • Jean Marc Itard; discovered child in the woods th • 19 century – new era of a helping orientation toward special children • Leta Hollingworth: argued that mentally defective children were actually suffering from emotional and behavioural problems primarily due to inept treatment by adults and lack of appropriate intellectual challenge • Imbeciles = persons with mental retardation • Lunatics = those with psychiatric or mental disorders • Immoral behaviour – children who had normal cognitive abilities but who were disturbed were thought to suffer moral insanity • Benjamin Rush: children were incapable of true adult-like insanity because the immaturity of their developing brains prevented them from retaining the mental events that causes insanity • Moral insanity; accounting for nonintellectual forms of abnormal child behaviour • Concern for plight and welfare of children with mental and behavioural disturbances began to rise a. Advances in medicine, physiology, and neurology – moral insanity view was replaced by organic disease model  Dorothea Dix: established 32 human mental hospitals for the treatment of troubled youths previously relegated to cellars and cages b. Growing influence of the philosophies of Locke and others  Children need moral guidance and support Early Biological Attributions th • Successful treatment of infectious disease in the 19 century • Illness and disease were biological problems • Views on masturbation – “sin of the flesh” – harmful to one’s physical health – sexual overindulgence causes insanity • Clifford Beers: mental disorders are a form of disease – prevent mental disease by raising the standards of care and disseminating reliable information – detection and intervention methods began to flourish • Prevent the most extreme manifestations by strict punishment and to protect those not affect • Children, youths, and adults were blamed for crimes and social ills • Locke: mental illness and retardation were diseases that could spread if left unchecked • To prevent procreation of the insane, we must sterilize (eugenics) and institutionalize (segregation) Early Psychological Attributions • Abnormal behaviour is a disorder or disease residing within the person unfortunately led to neglect of the essthtial role of a person’s surrounding, context, and relations, and of the interactions among those variables • 20 century; attention was drawn to the importance of major psychological disorders and formulating a taxonomy of Illnesses • Taxonomy organizes and categorizes ways of differentiating among various psychological problems • 2 major theoretical paradigms shaped these influences: psychoanalytic theory and behaviourism Psychoanalytic Theory PSY 2042: Exceptional Disorders – Behavioural Disorders Chapter 1: Introduction to Normal and Abnormal Behaviour in Children and Adolescents • Freud: believed that individuals have inborn drives and predispositions that strongly affect their development and that experiences play a necessary role in psychopathology • Children and adults could be helped if provided with the proper environment, therapy, or both • Freud was the first to link mental disorder to childhood experiences • Personality and mental health outcomes had multiple roots – outcomes depend on the interaction of developmental and situational processes • Freud shifted views from children as insignificant or insignificant to one of human beings in turmoil, struggling to achieve control over biological needs and to make themselves acceptable to society through the microcosm of the family • Anna Freud (daughter): noting how children’s symptoms were related more to developmental stages than were those of adults • Melanie Klein: all actions could be interpreted in terms of unconscious fantasy • Nosologies; the effects to classify psychiatric disorders into descriptive categories – nondevelopmental – attempt to find common denominators that describe the manifestations of a disorder at every age Behaviourism • Early 1900s – Pavlov – classical condition • John Watson: intended to explain Freud’s concepts – attempted terms such as “unconscious” and “transference” – learning and behaviour • Watson’s study: little Albert – human subjects that could be used were considered insignificant or who had little power to protect themselves (orphans, mental patients, and prisoners) – conditioned fear (behaviour) by striking a steel bar every time the child reached to touch the rat Evolving Forms of Treatment • 1930s – behavioural treatment of isolated problems (bed-wetting, stuttering, and fears) • Psychodynamic approaches were the dominant form of treatment during this period • People were still institutionalized and didn’t come into criticism until the late 1940s • Rene Spitz: discovered that infants raised in institutions without adult physical contact and stimulation developed severe physical and emotional problems • Institutions were closed and difficult children were placed in foster family homes or group homes • Early 1960s – behaviour therapy emerged and was used to treatment child and family disorders (therapy was based on operant and classical conditioning) • Behaviour therapy mainly focused on children with mental retardation or severe disturbances Progressive Legislation • US – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – education in the least restrictive environment for a child • Each child must have an individualized education program (IEP) tailored to their needs – must be reassessed • 2007 – convention was developed to shift from addressing the “special needs” of children to realizing their rights and removing the physical, linguistic, social, and cultural barriers • Countries who agree with convention: must improve disability rights, and abolish anything that discriminates against persons with disabilities What is Abnormal Behaviour in Children and Adolescents? • Several key questions: PSY 2042: Exceptional Disorders – Behavioural Disorders Chapter 1: Introduction to Normal and Abnormal Behaviour in Children and Adolescents 1. How do we judge what is normal? 2. When does an issue become a problem? 3. Why are some children’s abnormal patterns of behaviour relatively continuous from early childhood through adolescence and into adulthood, whereas other children show more variable patterns of development and adaptation? • Childhood disorders are accompanied by various layers – visible and alarming to more subtle, yet critical to more hidden and systemic • To judge what is abnormal, we need to take into account each child’s stage of development • Childhood disorders = deviances from the normal Defining Psychological Disorders • Psychological disorder = a pattern of behavioural, cognitive, emotional, or physical symptoms shown by an individual • One or more of the following 3 features: 1. Shows some degree of distress (fear, sadness) 2. Behaviour indica
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