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Abnormal Psychology Essay

5375 words - 22 pages

(SOC SCI 101)



> the science seeking to describe, understand, and predict the behavior and mental processes of organisms.
> the goals of psychology are to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior.

* Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that studies unusual patterns of behavior, emotion and thought, which may or may not be understood as precipitating a mental disorder.

* Although many behaviors could be considered as abnormal, this branch of psychology generally deals with behavior in a clinical context.

* There is a long history of attempts to ...view middle of the document...

* The theoretical field known as 'abnormal psychology' may form a backdrop to such work, but clinical psychologists in the current field are unlikely to use the term 'abnormal' in reference to their practice.

* Psychopathology is a similar term to abnormal psychology but has more of an implication of an underlying pathology (disease process), and as such is a term more commonly used in the medical specialty known as psychiatry.

* People have tried to explain and control abnormal behavior for thousands of years. Historically, there have been three main approaches to abnormal behavior: the supernatural, biological, and psychological traditions.

* In the supernatural tradition, also called the demonological method, abnormal behaviors are attributed to agents outside human bodies. According to this model, abnormal behaviors are caused by demons, spirits, or the influences of moon, planets, and stars.

* Swiss alchemist, astrologer, and physician, Paracelsus (1493–1541), rejected the idea that abnormal behaviors were caused by witches, demons, and spirits and suggested that people's mind and behaviors were influenced by the movements of the moon and stars.

* In the biological tradition, psychological disorders are attributed to biological causes and in the psychological tradition, disorders are attributed to faulty psychological development and to social context. The medical or biological perspective holds the belief that most or all abnormal behavior can be attributed to a medical factor; assuming all psychological disorders are diseases.

* The Greek physician Hippocrates, who is considered to be the father of Western medicine, played a major role in the biological tradition. Hippocrates and his associates wrote the Hippocratic Corpus between 450 and 350 BC, in which they suggested that abnormal behaviors can be treated like any other disease. Hippocrates viewed the brain as the seat of consciousness, emotion, intelligence, and wisdom and believed that disorders involving these functions would logically be located in the brain.

* In Psychological explanations, the behavioral approach to abnormal psychology focuses on observable behaviors. In behavioral therapy, the focus is on reinforcing positive behaviors and not reinforcing maladaptive behaviors. This approach targets only the behavior itself, not the underlying causes.

* Abnormal psychology revolves around two major paradigms for explaining mental disorders, the psychological paradigm and the biological paradigm. The psychological paradigm focuses more on the humanistic, cognitive and behavioral causes and effects of psychopathology. The biological paradigm includes the theories that focus more on physical factors, such as genetics and neurochemistry.

* There are recent concepts of abnormality:
* Statistical abnormality – when a certain behavior/characteristic is relevant to a low percentage of the population. However, this...

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