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Chapter 2

PS280 Chapter 2 - Theoretical Perspectives.docx

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Camie Condon

Chapter 2 – Theoretical perspectives on abnormal behaviour General nature of theories:  Two main streams of thought concerning mental disorders o Biological o Environmental  Biological and psychodynamic formulations – view dysfunctional behaviour as the product of forces beyond the individuals control  Humanistic and existential approaches – lay responsibility for action and choices of the individual  Behavioural and cognitive theories – imply that a mixture of external and internal factors produce dysfunctions  A theory should be abandoned only when there is a better one available Levels of theories:  Single-factor explanations – one factor is said to cause the disorder, for example a genetic defect or a single traumatic experience o Reflect primary focus of researcher  Interactionist explanations – view behaviour as the product of the interaction of a variety of factors  Theories may be classified according to their level of explanation: o All human behaviour (Maslow) o All abnormal behaviour (Freud) o All disorders within particular category (personality disorders – Millon/Davis) o Reveal causes of a particular problem (panic disorder – McNally) o Influence of a single factor for a problem within a general theory (lack of intimacy in sexual disorders)  Scientific theories are judged to be valuable, embody three essential features: o 1) Integrate most of what is currently known about the phenomena in the simplest way possible o 2) Make testable predictions about aspects of the phenomena that were not previously thought of o 3) Make it possible to specify what evidence would deny the theory Testing Theories: the null hypothesis  Experiments are not set up to prove the worth of a theory rather to reject (or fail to reject) what is called the null hypothesis  Null hypothesis – prediction made from the theory is false  Theories are not facts; they are simply the best approximation we have at any moment, so that current theories are almost inevitably going to be replaced as knowledge accumulates. The search for causes:  General aims of theories about mental disorders are to: o 1) Explain the etiology (cause or origin) of the problem behaviour o 2) Identify the factors that maintain the behaviour o 3) Predict the course of the disorder o 4) Design effective treatment  Attributing causes of behaviour to factors that an individual has no control over are likely to be attracted to accounts of human dysfunction  causation of environmental influences o These theorists are optimistic about the potential for environmental manipulation to produce behaviour change  Factors involved in the etiology of a problem may not be relevant to tis maintenance  The factors that determine the course of a disorder may have more to do with the lifestyle of the sufferer than with the factors that caused the disorder in the first place  Even in disorders where there is a clear biological cause, environmental manipulations may alleviate or even avoid the development of the most serious symptoms.  6 different theories regarding the etiology of mental disorders: o 1) Biological o 2) Psychodynamic o 3) Learning (behavioural Chapter 2 – Theoretical perspectives on abnormal behaviour o 4) Dysfunctional thoughts or beliefs o 5) Intrapersonal processes o 6) Socio-cultural influences  Reductionism – the actions of the whole are said to be caused by (reduced to the influence of) one or other of the component parts. o Reductionist thinking ignores obvious possibility that human behaviour in all its forms is a produce of an array of features interacting o Thinking that one or another aspect is casually more important than all other features.  Biological determinism – leads to dismal conclusion that psychological or environmental interventions will do no good  Cultural and environmental determinists – feel obliged to deny influence of biological disadvantages  Behaviour and thinking arises from the integrated dynamic and essentially inseparable interactions between multiple biological and environmental experiences Biological Models: Primarily implicated dysfunctions in or damage to the brain or CNS, problems with peripheral nervous system or malfunctioning of the endocrine system  CNS o brain activity related to particular functions as concentrated in one or more areas of the brain o Hindbrain = directs functioning of autonomic nervous system, and controls internal activities  i.e. digestion, cardiovascular functioning, breathing o Midbrain = centre of the system controlling arousal levels and attentional processes  A.k.a. sleep-wake centre o Forebrain = controls thought, speech, perception, memory  Damage to this area will cause proportionate dysfunction including psychological functioning  Dementia – a deterioration in all cognitive processes, including memory and learning) o Neurotransmitters – chemical substances that carry messages from one neuron to the next  Nerve cells aren’t connected to one another, so activity in one neuron doesn’t directly stimulate activity in other neurons.  There is a synapse (gap) between axons (which carry the nerve impulse to the synapse) of one neuron and the dendrites (which pick up the activity from first neuron) of neighbouring neurons.  The transmission of electrical activity in the axon to the neighbouring dendrites occurs as a result of the release of neurotransmitters.  When neurotransmitters are released into the synapse, some will be taken up at the receptor sites on the dendrites and activate an impulse in the post-synaptic neuron.  Within the synaptic cleft are substances that deactivate neurotransmitters, so some of the released transmitters will be destroyed before they can act on the dendrites.  Reuptake – a process where released neurotransmitters are drawn back into the releasing axon o Disturbances in neurotransmitter systems which result in abnormal behaviour:  1) Too much or too little of neurotransmitter produced/released into synapse  2) Too few or too many receptors on the dendrites  3) Excess or deficit in amount of transmitter-deactivating substance in the synapse  4) Reuptake process too rapid or too slow o The logic involved in inferring a causal relationship between disturbances in neurotransmitter functioning and abnormal behaviour depends to some extent on the methods used in examining this claim. Chapter 2 – Theoretical perspectives on abnormal behaviour o The processes connecting behaviour and the neurochemical bases of brain activity don’t represent a one-way street.  Neurotransmitter activity affects behaviour, and vice versa. o Brain plasticity – capacity of brain to recognize its circuitry  Can be influenced by a number of experiences that occur pre- and postnatally through hormones, diet, aging, stress, disease, and maturation.  Environmental events cause schizophrenia and that the behavioural response to these events results in increased activity in neurotransmitter systems.  Environmental events, the person’s response to them, and biological substrates all play a part in causing abnormal functioning.  PNS o Includes somatic nervous system and autonomic nervous system and is involved in fear and anxiety reactions (especially the sympathetic) o Somatic = controls muscles o Autonomic = contains sympathetic and parasympathetic systems that function to produce homeostatic activity in a variety of bodily functions such as heart rate, digestive and eliminatory processes, sexual arousal, breathing , perspiration, etc. o Stress physiology – individuals differ in both the strength and the duration of their response to threat, and this variability has been related to the person’s propensity to develop psychophysiological disorders. o An overreactive ANS may increase readiness to acquire phobias or other anxiety disorders. o The strength of an individual’s ANS response to a “frightening experience” may determine whether he/she acquires a conditioned phobic reaction, and it has been found that there is a heritable component to the level of emotionality o Individual differences in the regulation of various ANS and somatic nervous system functions may also play a part in disordered behaviour  Autonomic and somatic inflexibility may be particularly important to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)  They display cognitive inflexibility in that they are unable to stop or control their worries, which is associated with decreased parasympathetic regulation  This type of repetitive thought has been demonstrated to specifically predict later symptoms of GAD, but not depression in male or female subjects.  Endocrine System o Aspects of CNS interact with endocrine system in feedback loop, maintaining levels of hormones o Hormones – chemical messengers that are secreted by various glands.  these secretions maintain adequate bodily functioning and play an important role in the development of the organism  they also appear to be involved in the activation of some behaviours o in response to feedback indicating that the circulating levels of sex hormones are low, the CNS activates the hypothalamus, which secretes “releasing” hormones, in turn, activate the pituitary gland. o Increased levels of circulating sex steroids alert the hypothalamus and pituitary to shut down this activity. o The hormones secreted by the pituitary influence hormonal production in the adrenal gland and the testes and ovaries. o The pituitary (often called “master gland”) releases many different hormones, some of which activate other glands while others have more direct actions. o Growth hormone promotes and regulates muscle, bone, and other tissue growth  Prolactin stimulates milk production in women  Adrenocorticotrophic hormone helps the body handle stress o 2 known disorders related to malfunctioning endocrine glands:  Cretinism – a disorder involving a dwarf like appearance and mental retardation resulting in a defective thyroid gland Chapter 2 – Theoretical perspectives on abnormal behaviour  Hypoglycemia – pancreas failing to produce balanced levels of insulin or glycogen, which mimics anxiety o Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis – the intricate system of communication between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal cortex is the release of cortisol  Cortisol – a hormone that is released into the bloodstream by the adrenal cortex in response to a variety of stressors  This hormone facilitates an individual’s response to short-term threat by producing a number of changes in the body  E.g. it causes an increase in intracellular glucocorticoid receptors, which leads to anti-inflammatory effects and other survival benefits  When the HPA axis is chronically activated, a number of adverse effects may result, including symptoms of:  Depression  Anxiety  Hypertension  heart disease  Genetics/Behaviour o Recall, biological determinism – what a person is, is determined largely by inherited characteristics.  Thomas Hobbes  aggression and self-interest were inborn features of all humans and that it was the business of political systems to restrain and usefully channel these impulses.  In 19th century  people took their biologically allotted place in society (rich people displayed their hereditary advantages)  Cesare Lombroso  criminals could be identified by the physiological features they had inherited from their degenerate parents  Paul Broca  males were born with brains superior to those of females  Hernnstein and Murray, Arthur Jensen, Philippe Rushton  arguments about the superiority of one race over the other about presumed IQ differences o Claims about the inheritance of defective features can easily be used by those who would treat these individuals in a prejudicial manner o Rejecting the idea that genes completely determine behaviour doesn’t require us to accept that society, culture, or personal experience wholly account for human thought and action. o Most behaviours are the product of an interaction between these sources of influence o Behavioural genetics – the study of the way in which inherited features interact with the environment to produce behaviour o Genotype-environment interaction – genes may influence behaviours that contribute to environmental stressors which increase the risk of psychopathology  Capsi’s study  examined interactive effects of a genotype associated with depression and SLE  The relationship between SLE and depression was much stronger among adults who showed short variant of a particular gene related to negative emotionality  There was no direct link between genotype and depression  Adults with negative emotionality genotype only developed depression if they also experience SLE. o Behavioural research into genetic bases of psychiatric disorders takes one of three forms:  Family studies  Twin studies  Adoption studies  In all three, a person with a disorder is identified (called the index case or proband) and other people (family or nonfamily members) are examined to see if there is a match for the disorder. Chapter 2 – Theoretical perspectives on abnormal behaviour  When the problem that characterizes the inde case also occurs in the comparison person, the two are said to be concordant (or display concordance for the problem.) o Genetic linkage studies – researchers examine families that have a high incidence of a particular psychiatric disorder  Within extended families, they look for the presence of particular traits (genetic markers) that can be linked to the occurrence of the disorder  Genetic markers like eye colour, colour blindness, and the presence of medical disorders that have a known genetic basis. o Molecular biology – researchers have been able to compare specific DNA segments and identify the genes that determine individual characteristics  They have been able to pinpoint the defective genes that cause various medical and psychological disorders  Multiple gene defects appear to interact with environmental factors to produce this disorder. PSYCHOSOCIAL THEORIES:  Psychodynamic theorists (Freud) behaviour is motivated by unconscious processes acquired during formative years of life; followed the Oedipus Complex  They interpret fears or phobias as symbol of underlying psychic conflict  This belief characterizes behavioural, cognitive-behavioural, and social learning theorists. 1. Psychodynamic Theory:  Freud – father of psychodynamic school of thought  Claim behaviour is controlled by unconscious forces of which the person is unaware, believe origins of an unconscious controls to reside in the individual’s personal experience  Like biological theories, see the person as having little control over his or her actions o Catharsis  identifying original traumatic experiences during hypnosis (Anna O)  Anna revealed traumatic past experiences with deep emotional responses during hypnosis  Memories were apparently repressed since patient couldn’t recall them during her waking state  This lead Freud to conclude that traumatic experience early in life become repressed because they are to distressing to contemplate  These repressed or unconscious memories influence current functioning.  Four features determine behaviour and thinking: o 1) Different levels of consciousness – determine the accessibility of thoughts and desires o 2) Structures of personality – represent the embodiment of various controlling forces o 3) Stages of psychosexual development – indicate the points in experience where problems can arise o 4) Defense mechanisms – means by which people channel their psychic energy in functional or dysfunctional ways 1. Levels of Consciousness:  Conscious – info we are currently aware  Preconscious – holds info not presently in awareness but can be easily brought to awareness  Unconscious – majority of memories, can only be raised to awareness with difficulty and typically only in response to particular techniques; this is also the most important level of the mind 2. Structures of personality:  Id – present at birth, contains biological/instinctual drives, “pleasure principle”  Ego - curbs the desires of the id so avoidance of suffering unpleasant consequences, there is no concern for what is right/wrong, “reality principle” Chapter 2 – Theoretical perspectives on abnormal behaviour  Superego – internalization of moral standards of society, serves as the person’s conscience by moni
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