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PSYC 1010 Chapter Notes -Explanatory Style, Observational Learning, Learned Helplessness

Course Code
PSYC 1010
Rebecca Jubis

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Psychological Disorders I: pp. 605 to 620
Abnormal Behaviour: Myths, Realities, and Controversies
The Medical Model Applied to Abnormal Behaviour
THE MEDICAL MODEL: proposes that it is useful to think of abnormal behaviour as a disease this includes mental
illness, psychological disorder, and psychopathy
- This gradually became the dominant way of thinking about abnormal behaviour during the 18th and 19th
- Before the 18th century, most conceptions of abnormal behaviour were based on superstition. Those that
behaved strangely were possessed. Their disorders were treated with chants, rituals, and exoticisms. They
were seen as dangerous therefore were chained, put in dungeons, tortured and put to death
- Medical model bought more sympathy and less hatred and fear
DIAGNOSIS: involves distinguishing one illness from another
ETIOLOGY: refers to the apparent causation and developmental history of an illness
PROGNOSIS: a forecast about the probable course of an illness
Criteria of Abnormal Behaviour
In making diagnoses, clinicians rely on a variety of criteria:
1. Deviance
o People are often said to have a disorder because their behaviour deviates from what their society
considers acceptable
2. Maladaptive behaviour
o People are judged to have a psychological disorder because their everyday adaptive behaviour is
3. Personal distress
o The diagnosis of a psychological disorder is based on an individual’s report of great personal
o People are labelled as having a disorder when they describe their subjective pain and suffering to
friends, relatives, and metal health professionals
Stereotypes of Psychological Disorders
- 3 stereotypes that are inaccurate:
1. Psychological disorders are incurable
o Vast majority of people that are diagnosed as mentally ill eventually improve and lead normal,
productive lives
2. People with psychological disorders are often violent and dangerous
o Stereotype exists because incidents of violence involving the mentally ill tend to command media
3. People with psychological disorders behave in bizarre ways and are very different from normal people
o At first, people with psychological disorders usually are indistinguishable from those without
Psychodiagnosis: The Classification of Disorders
- A sound system for classifying psychological disorders can facilitate empirical research and enhance
communication among scientists and clinicians
- The current 4th edition released in 1994, made us of intervening research to refine the criteria introduced

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- The current version describes about 3 times as many types of psychological disorders as DSM-I
The Prevalence of Psychological Disorders
EPIDEMIOLOGY: the study of the distribution of mental or physical disorders in a population
PREVALENCE: refers to the percentage of a population that exhibits a disorder during a specified time period
o LIFE TIME PREVALENCE: the percentage of people who endure a specific disorder at any time in
their lives
- 1/5 of the population exhibited clear signs of mental illness at some point in their lives
- It was found that psychological disorders occur in 1/3 of the population
- 44% of the adult population will struggle with some sort of psychological disorder at some point in their
- The lifetime risk of a psychiatric disorder is 51%
- Overall, 1 in 10 Canadians over 15 years of age reported symptoms consistent with 1 of the categories of
disorder listed
- 68% of the people who reported symptoms did not seek assistance
Major Depression
1 120 000 (4.5)
420 000 (3.4)
700 000 (5.5)
Mania Disorder
190 000 (0.8)
90 000 (0.7)
100 000 (0.8)
Any mood
1 210 000 (4.9)
460 000 (3.8)
750 000 (5.9)
Panic disorder
400 000 (1.6)
130 000 (1.1)
270 000 (2.1)
180 000 (0.7)
40 000 (0.4)
140 000 (1.1)
Social anxiety disorder
750 000 (3.0)
310 000 (2.6)
430 000 (3.4)
Any anxiety
1 180 000 (4.7)
440 000 (3.6)
740 000 (5.8)
Alcohol dependence
640 000 (2.6)
470 000 (3.8)
170 000 (1.3)
Illicit drug dependence
170 000 (0.7)
120 000 (1.0)
50 000 (0.4)
Substance dependence
740 000 (3.0)
540 000 (4.4)
200 000 (1.6)
- In 1999, 1.5 million hospital days were due to admissions for anxiety disorders, major depression, bipolar
disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders, eating disorders, and suicidal behaviour
- Between 1987 and 1999, hospital admission for eating disorders increased by 34% for those under 15
Anxiety Disorders
ANXIETY DISORDERS: a class of disorders marked by feelings of excessive apprehension and anxiety
- Those who develop one anxiety syndrome, often suffer from another at some point in their lives
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER: marked by a chronic, high level of anxiety that is not tied to any specific threat
- Also can be called free-floating anxiety because it is nonspecific
- People worry about minor matters
- They hope that worrying will help ward off negative effects
- They dread decision making
- Physical symptoms include trembling, sweating, muscle tension, diarrhea, dizziness, faintness, sweating,
and heat palpitations
- Seen more frequently in females than males
Phobic Disorder
PHOBIC DISORDER: marked by a persistent and irrational fear of an object or situation that presents no realistic
- Physical symptoms include anxiety, trembling and palpitations

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- 1% to 5% of Canadians suffer significant anxiety related to their driving fears but they are usually very
good drivers
- Common ones are acrophobia (fear of heights), claustrophobia (fear of small, enclosed places),
brontophobia (fear of storms), hydrophobia (fear of water), and various animal/insect phobias
Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia
PANIC DISORDER: characterized by recurrent attacks of overwhelming anxiety that usually occurs suddenly and
- After a number of panic attacks, they become worried when their next attack will occur
- Approx. 34% of undergraduates suffer from this disorder
AGORAPHOBIA: fear of going out to public places
- This is mainly a complication of panic disorder
- 2/3 of people who suffer from panic disorder are female
- The onset of panic disorder typically occurs during late adolescence or early adulthood
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
OCD: marked by persistent, uncontrollable intrusions of unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and urges to engage in
senseless rituals (compulsions)
- People troubled with obsessions feel that they have lost control of their mind
- Specific types of obsessions tend to be associated with specific types of compulsions (obsession about
contamination is paired with cleaning compulsions)
- Occurs in roughly 2.5% of the population
- Most cases of OCD emerge before the age of 35
- 4 factors seemed to underlie the symptoms: obsessions and checking, symmetry and order, cleanliness and
washing, and hoarding
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Often elicited by any of a variety of traumatic events, including a rape or assault, a severe automatic events,
a natural disaster, or the witnessing of someone’s death
- Does not surface until many months or years later after exposure
- 7% of people have suffered from PTSD at some point in their lives and occurs more in women (10%) than
men (5%)
- Common symptoms include re-experiencing the traumatic event in nightmares of flashbacks, emotional
numbing, alienation, problems in social relationships, an increased sense of vulnerability, and elevated
levels of arousal, anxiety, anger and guilt
- Individuals who have especially intense emotional reactions during or immediately after the traumatic
even go on to show elevated vulnerability to PTSD
Etiology of Anxiety Disorders
Biological factors
CONCORDANCE RATE: indicates the percentage of twin pairs or other pairs of relatives who exhibit the same
- Twin and family studies show that there is a moderate genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders
- Anxiety sensitivity make people vulnerable to anxiety disorders some are highly sensitive to the internal
psychological symptoms of anxiety and are prone to overact with fear when they experience these
- Disturbances in the neural circuits using GABA may play a role in some types of anxiety disorders
- Abnormalities in neural circuits using serotonin have been implicated in panic and OCD
Conditioning and learning
- An originally neutral stimulus may be paired with a frightening event so it becomes a conditioned stimulus
eliciting anxiety
- People are biologically prepared by their evolutionary history to acquire some fears much more easily than
others explains why people have phobias of ancient sources rather than modern sources (snakes versus
electrical outlet)
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