Psychology Notes Chapter 16 (Psychology Disorders)
The Scope and Nature of Psychological Disorders
Abnormal behaviour is defined as behaviour that is personally distressing, personally,
dysfunctional, and/or so culturally deviant that other people judge it to be inappropriate or
Historical Perspectives on Deviant Behaviour
The vulnerability-stress model is a model that explains behaviour disorders as resulting from
predisposing biological or psychological vulnerability that are triggered by a stressor.
Diagnosing Psychological Disorders
Reliability refers to, in psychological testing, the consistency with which a measure assesses a
given characteristic, or different observers agree on a given score; the degree to which clinicians
show high levels of agreement in their diagnostic decision.
Validity refers to the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed to do; the degree to
which a diagnostic system’s categories contain the core features of the behaviour disorders and
permit differentiation among the disorders.
Competency refers to a defendant’s state of mind at the time of a judicial hearing.
Insanity is a legal decision that a defendant was so severely impaired at the time a crime was
committed that s/he was incapable of appreciating the wrongfulness of the act or of controlling
Anxiety disorders are a group of disorders that involve behaviour that is interpersonally
destructive and emotionally harmful and exhibits a lack of conscience
Phobias are strong irrational fears to certain objects or situations.
o An example is agoraphobia, the fear of open spaces.
o There are subtypes of phobias, such as social phobias and specific phobias.
Generalized anxiety disorder is a chronic state of diffuse or ‘free-floating’ anxiety that is not
attached to specific situations or objects.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unpredictable panic attacks and a
pervasive fear that another will occur; may also include a resulting agoraphobia.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent and unwanted
thoughts and compulsive behaviours
o Obsessions are repetitive and unwanted thoughts, images or impulses that invade
consciousness, are abhorrent to the person and are very difficult to control or dismiss.
o Compulsions are repetitive behavioural responses that can be resisted only with great
difficulty. Neurotic anxiety is, in psychoanalytic theory, a state of anxiety that arises when impulses from
the id threaten to break through into behaviour
Cultural-bound disorders are behaviour disorders whose specific forms are restricted to one
particular cultural context
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder involving a severe and sometimes fatal restriction of food
Bulimia nervosa is a disorder involving the binging and purging of food, usually by vomiting or
laxative use, because of the concern with becoming fat
Mood (Affective) Disorders
Mood disorders are psychological disorders whose core conditions invoke maladaptive mood
state, such as depression or mania.
o A ‘high’ mood is mania, whereas a ‘low’ mood is depression
Major depression is a mood disorder characterized by intense depression that interferes
markedly with functioning.
o Polar opposite of mania
o The patient appears utterly dejected, hopeless, worthless
o Hallucinations and delusion may appear in severe cases
o Symptoms may include:
Loss of apatite
There may be a disturbance in sleep
The patient has little, if any, interest in sex
The WHO reports that a suicide occurs every 40 seconds
In North America, 1 person commits suicide every 16.5 minutes
Estimated 100,000 people per year
Risk of suicide low while patient is in the worst depression, due to apathy
Risk increases as patient comes out of depression and the rates are highest on
weekend leaves and shortly after discharge
As for bipolar disorder, there is concordance for identical twins; the rate
is 4 times higher than that of fraternal twins
Biological parents are 3 times more likely to have the disorder than
The switch in bipolar disorder is not related to external circumstances,
In the 1950s, a drug names Reserpine induced depression in patients
taking it for high blood pressure The monoamine theory is that NE, serotonin and dopamine are key
monoamines used in regulating mood
o NE drops during depression and increases during mania
o Some drugs, named tricyclics and monoamine oxidase
inhibitors, increased the number of NTs in a variety of ways;
MAOI inhibits the protein that neutralizes NE, and leaves more
NE in the synapse
The psychodynamic perspective states feelings of anger towards a
parent that abandoned the patient, and the anger is directed inwards
resulting in guilt and self-loathing
The cognitive perspective states that the patient has a negative triad of
beliefs towards self, the future and the external world
o The interpretations of schema follow to maximize bad things
and minimize good things
o Schemas are derived from unfortunate experiences in early life;
perhaps by harsh home life, loss of parents, rejection by peers,
Schemas become self-fulfilling
o Stressful experiences cause a negative explanatory style, which
causes a depressed mood, that in turn causes negative
behavioural and cognitive changes which loops back to cause a
Attribution style explains that what really matters is how the individual
attributes negative events
o A style of internal global and stable causes lead to depression
Dsythymia is a depressive mood disorder of moderate intensity that occurs over a long period of
time but does not disrupt functioning as a major depression does
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder in which the intermittent mania appears against a
background of depression
o Mania is a state of highly excited mood and behaviour that is quite the opposite of
o Only 1% of people characterized with a mood disorder has bipolar disorder
o A patient has on average 10 episodes of each state that last during their lifetime
o If left untreated, phases can last for months
o A rapid cycler, 20% of all bipolar cases, has 4 or more swings per year, but some people
Mania may or may not be a problem; if mild, the person seems to be in a mental high gear
Depressive cognitive triad are negative thoughts concerning the world, oneself and the future
that people with depression cannot control or supress Depressive attributional pattern is the tendency of depressed people to attribute negative
outcomes to their own inadequacies and positive ones to factors outside themselves
Learned helplessness theory is a theory of depression that states if people are unable to control
life events, they develop a state of helplessness that leads to depressive symptoms
Hypochondriasis is a somatoform disorder characterized by an overreaction to physical
symptoms and a conviction that one has or is on the verge of a serious illness.
Pain disorder is a somatoform disorder in which the person’s complaints of pain cannot be
accounted for in terms of physical damage
Conversion disorder is a disorder in which serious neurological symptoms, such as paralysis, loss
of sensation, or blindness suddenly occur