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Chapter 2

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PSYC 3140
Joel Goldberg

Chapter 2: Contemporary Theories of Abnormality Theory: set of ideas that provides a framework for asking questions about a phenomenon and for gathering and interpreting information about that phenomenon Biological approach: you would suspect Ellis’s symptoms were caused by a biological factor: e.g. genetic vulnerability to anxiety, inherited from his parents Psychological approach: Ellis’s own rational-emotive theory—suggests symptoms are rooted in psychological factors: e.g. belief systems or early childhood experiences Social approach: look to interpersonal relationships and the social environment in which he lived Traditionally, the three approaches mentioned have been seen as incompatible with one another “is the cause of this disorder biological or psychological or social?” nature vs. Nurture  This implies a disorder has to have one cause, rather than multiple causes—MOST theories of psychological disorders have searched one factor: one gene, one traumatic experience, one personality trait  Takes an accumulation of several factors before an individual develops the disorder  Multiple factors present, threshold reached and disorder develops Vulnerability-stress models(diathesis-stress models): three factors being integrated to develop comprehensive models of many factors that lead some people to develop given mental disorder  must develop vulnerability to disorder to develop it  vulnerability could be biological (genetic disposition), psychological (character trait prone to vulnerability), or social (relationships) to develop disorder—experience stress  trigger of stress could also be biological, psychological or social Vulnerability + Stress = full-blown disorder emerging Another feature of contemporary theories of abnormality  recognize feedback effects biological and psychological factors have on one another  Changes in one factor result in changes in second factor which feedback to first factor  e.g. increase in levels of certain brain chemicals  person angry & irritable  friends react angry and irritable  person becomes more angry = higher increase in levels of brain chemicals most mental health professionals now take integrated approach to understanding mental disorder, viewing them as the result of a combination of biological, psychological, and social vulnerabilities and stresses that come together feed off one another Biological Approaches people suffering damage to same area of brain as Gage’s injury reveal they have trouble making rational decisions in personal and social matters & processing information about emotions; no trouble with math or memory  basic intellectual functions intact, emotional control and judgement impaired structural damage to the brain: 1 of 3 causes of abnormality on which biological approaches to abnormality often focus  other 2 out of 3: biochemical imbalances and genetic abnormalities  all influence one another Structural Brain Abnormalities unpopular to believe person’s ch
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