Psychology - Abnormality // Individual Differences Unit

Megan Price
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Psychology - Individual Differences // Abnormality Unit

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Psychology - Abnormality // Individual Differences Unit
1 Definitions of Abnormality
1.1 Definition 1: Deviation from Social Norms
1.1.1 Limitations: Social norms are susceptible to change. For example,, homosexuality is accepted nowadays but before was listed as under sexual and gender identity disorders. Szasz claimed that the concept of mental illness was simply a way to exclude nonconformists from society. Making judgements on deviance is often related to the context of a behaviour. For example, wearing a bikini on a beach is acceptable but is not seen normal if worn to school. There is not a clear line between abnormality and eccentricity.
1.2 Definition 2: Failure to Function Adequately
1.2.1 Limitations: Some 'dysfunctional' behaviour can be adaptive/functional for the individual. For example, an eating disorder may lead to wanted extra attention. Failing to function might mean different things in other cultures. Lower class and non-white paitents are more often diagnosed with mental disorders - their lifestyles are less traditional and may lead to a judgement that they are failing to function.
1.3 Definition 3: Deviation from Ideal Mental Health
1.3.1 Marie Jahoda said that the absence of six signs would mean abnormality. Self-attitudes: having high self esteem and strong sense of identity. Personal Growth and self-actualisation:: individual develops their full capabilities. Integration: being able to cope in stressful situations. Autonomy: being independent. An accurate perception of reality. Mastery of the environment: including the ability to love, adjust to new situations, solve problems.
1.3.1.1 Limitations: How many are lacking before you are abnormal? Who can achieve all this criteria? It is also unlikely that we can diagnose mental ability in the same way as we diagnose physical abnormality. Collectivist cultures may not have the same ideal mental health criteria, for example, being dependent vs independent and where individuals strive for the greater good of the community rather than self-centred goals.
2 Biological Approach
2.1 B: Brain Injury - I: Infection - N: Neurotransmitters - G: Genetics -
3 Behavoural Approach
3.1 Approach focuses on behaviour – i.e. the way a person responds to their environment. This can be internally (experiencing a particular feeling) or externally (displaying signs of how you’re feeling). Abnormal behaviours are learned through learning theory. Learning environments may reinforce problematic behaviours, for example avoidant behaviour lowers anxiety, and depressive behaviours may elicit help from others. Society also provides deviant maladaptive models that children identify with and imitate: for example, drug taking if they judge that doing so will achieve social approval by their friends. Similarly, people may develop a fear of flying by watching a plane crash on TV.
3.2 Learning Theory: Classical – learning through association. A neutral stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus, resulting in a new stimulus-response link. The neutral stimulus is now a conditioned producing a conditioned response. This process applies to emotional learning as well as to behaviours. For example, it is assumed that a phobia of a spider is due to a bad past experience. Links to case study Little Albert. Operant – learning through reinforcement. Psychological disorder is produced when a maladaptive behaviour is rewarded. This means that such behaviours are functional, at least at the time they were learned. For example, a child may find that they get extra attention if they have panic attacks, but they might become so frequent they are hard to stop. Social Learning – behaviours learned by seeing others rewarded or punished. When researchers find that some disorders run in families (e.g. anxiety disorder) it is hard to separate social learning and genetics.
4 Cognitive Approach
4.1 Cognitive model assumes that thinking, expectations and attitudes direct behaviour. Mental illness is therefore the result of irrational thinking. Ellis refers to this as the ABC model. A refers to the Activating Event, for example a spider B is the belief which may be irrational (e.g. 'I'm going to die') or rational (e.g. 'it's harmless'). C is the consequence - rational beliefs lead to a healthy emotion (e.g. indifferent) and a irrational belief leads to an unhealthy emotion (e.g. fear). The cognitive model portreys the individual as being the cause of the problem as they control their own thoughts.
4.1.1 Limitations: Ethical issues of this approach is that it blames the individual. Blames the individual rather than the situation. Do beliefs and faulty thinking come before mental disorder, or does mental disorder create faulty thinking? Irrational thinking may not be irrational. Alloy and Abrahmson said that depressive realists see the world for what it really is and normal people seeing the world through rose tinted glasses.
5 Psychodynamic Approach
5.1 Freud believed that the origins of mental disorder lie in the unresolved conflicts of childhood which are unconscious. Conflicts between the ID, ego and superego create anxiety. Ego defences can be the cause of mental disorders if they are overused. In childhood, the ego has not developed enough to deal with traumas and therefore the memories are repressed. Later in life, if the problem happens again, this makes them re-experience it and this can lead to depression. Ego defences exert pressure through unconsciously motivated behaviour. This underlying problem cannot be controlled until brought back into conscious awareness.
5.2 Limitations: Abstract concepts such as the ID, ego and superego are difficult to define and research. Because actions motivated by them operate at an unconscious level, there is no way to know for certain that they are occurring. Another criticism is that Freud’s theory has cultural bias of Victorian society. His work is criticised for being sexist as during Victorian times women were not seen as equals. Freud’s work was not applicable for women. However, the reduced emphasis on the oedipal complex, and other changes have made this explanation apply to women too. Freud’s theory is difficult to prove or disprove, therefore a lack of research evidence. Evidence that would contradict this could be argued that this is because of defence mechanisms.
6 Therapies
6.1 Dream analysis: Freud believed that during dreams the normal barriers to unconscious material were lifted and the symbolic imagery of dreams was a reflection of this. Therefore by analysing the content of dreams, the therapist might be able to identify significant conflicts that have been repressed. According to Freud, dreams were basically wish fulfilment from the ID that were too threatening to be consciously acknowledged. Firstly, dreams have obvious content that the client can recall which is called the manifest content. Beneath that lies the actual content meaning of the dream that can only be recalled through the therapist’s interpretation. This is latent content. The client can work through the issues with the therapist by identifying and hopefully resolving the source of the current anxieties.
6.2 Free association: The client is encouraged to express anything that comes into their mind. Each situation that they mention may lead to other ideas, thoughts and memories perhaps extending back to childhood. The client must not censor the material at all, and this may lower the ego defences. Therapists draw conclusions about the possible causes of the problems.
7 Therapies
7.1 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT). REBT was developed by Albert Ellis, which is based on the idea that many problems are the result of irrational thinking. REBT helps the client understand their thoughts are irrational and the consequences of thinking that way. It then helps them substitute more effective problem solving methods. The ABC model – A being the activating event, B being the belief and C being the consequence – targets the belief so that if they can change the irrational belief to a rational one, they will get a healthy emotion instead. During therapy, the client is encouraged to dispute these beliefs.
7.1.1 Logical disputing – self-defeating beliefs do not follow logically from the information available (e.g. “does this thinking make sense?”) Empirical disputing – self-defeating beliefs may not be consistent with reality (e.g. “where is the proof that this belief is accurate?”) Pragmatic disputing – emphasises the lack of usefulness of self-defeating beliefs (e.g. “how is this likely to help me?”)
7.1.2 An extension to Ellis’ ABC model, successful REBT therapy adds DEF. D stands for disputing – the therapist has helped the client to challenge the irrational thought to a rational one that is more (E)ffective attitude to life and with a new set of (F)eelings which are more positive.
7.1.3
8 Therapies
8.1 Drugs: Antipsychotic drugs - used to combat symptoms of schizophrenia. These drugs block the action of neurotransmitter Dopamine by binding to the dopamine receptors. Such as chlorpromazine. Antidepressant drugs - Depression is thought to be because of low levels of serotonin. Antidepressants work by reducing the rate of re-absorption or blocking the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitters. Typical antidepressants are SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) which works by blocking the mechanism that re-absorbs serotonin Thus, more serotonin is left in the synapse.
8.1.1
8.2 ECT:
9 Therapies
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