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AQA AS Psychology: Abnormality

Explanations of abnormality
by

Joseph Mills

on 30 April 2012

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Transcript of AQA AS Psychology: Abnormality

Ethical issues

Behavioural model suggests mental disorder can be treated. Treatment is sometimes imposed on people without consent e.g. token economy in schools Cultural differences

Highlight the importance of the environment in shaping behaviour e.g. cultural differences Explanations of abnormality Biological approach Similar to a disease Symptoms Genetic inheritance Biochemistry Infection All mental illnesses have a physiological cause relating to the brain or physical structure:
Organic: Physical brain damage or disease
Functional disorders: No obvious pshysical cause e.g. depression For physical illnesses docs diagnose patients depending on their symptoms. Diagnostic manuals for mental illness are used to do the same. Compare symptoms with set classifications of illness e.g. using DSM or brain scans Genes have a major effect on development of a mental illness. Twin and family research has shown mental illness 'run in the family'

Gurling et al (2001) performed genetic linkage on 13 families. Results showed evidence that certain chromosomes were linked to schizophrenia Chemical imbalances in the brain maybe involved in certain mental illnesses e.g. excessive dopamine has been detected in the brains of schizophrenics (based on correlational data) Barr et al (1990) found increased levels of schizophrenia among children whos mothers contracted flu during pregnancy. Evaluation Physiological factors

Brain scans and post mortems support the biological approach Greater understanding

Rapid advances in biochemistry and genetics have increased our understanding of the biological aspects of psychological disorders Cause and effect

Biochemical imbalances maybe caused by the psychological disorder The classification system

Changes in classifications e.g. new classifications, reclassification of existing disorders, removal of others that usually model the change in society rather than presence of hard scientific evidence. Advantages Disadvantages Reductionism

Psychological disorders can not be reduced to biological factors. Inconclusive evidence

No evidence that mental disorders are caused purely by biology

It maybe that their biology makes them more susceptible but a stressful life condition develops the disorder. Effective treatment

Many psychiatrists and patients believe that drugs can relieve extremely distressing symptoms and put people in a better frame of mind to combat their disorder. The behavioural approach Suggests that mental illness is caused by underlying biological or physical factors such as: Suggests that actions are determined by life experiences therefore all behaviour is learned Classical conditioning




Learning through association Abnormal behaviour is learned through conditioning of which there are two main types Operant conditioning
Learning through the consequences of behaviour Pavlov's dogs Demonstrated dogs could be trained through association

UCS - Sound of food
UCR - Salivating
CS - Ringing of bell
CR - Salivating Little albert: Watson & Raynor Social Learning If a behaviour is rewarded then it is likely that it will be maintained. If it is punished it is likely to discontinue e.g. If an individual is praised for losing weight this could behaviour could continue causing an eating disorder Behaviours can be learned by observing others (observational learning)

E.g. children may grow up to be violent and class this as a social norm as a result of living in a violent household Skinners pigeon turn Bandura's bobo doll experiment Evaluation Present not past

Focuses on the here and now rather than the past Helps to concentrate on the present symptoms. Scientific approach

Focus on behaviour that can be directly observed and measured Rosenhan experiment
Being sane in an insane place Animal studies

Extrapolation: principles of learning have been tested mainly on animals, this makes it hard to generalise to humans Human behaviour

Difficult to assume all human behaviour is learned e.g. mental illnesses Reductionist

Simplistic and narrow view of human behaviour. Can all human behaviour be reduced to learning through association and reinforcement e.g. Schizophrenia Effective treatment

Behaviour model suggests treatments that are effective Psychodynamic approach Freud believed that mental disorders originated from unresolved mental conflicts that stem from childhood. These conflicts are unconcious!! Based around the theories of Freud who believed behaviour was a consequence of unconcious psychological conflicts There are 3 components to personality ID

Irrational, primitive part of the personality which demands immediate satisfaction and is ruled by the pleasure principle Ego

Concious rational part of the brain. Develops around 1 yr as the child interacts with the contraints of the environment. Governed by reality Superego

Embodies our conscience and sense of right and wrong Motives: pleasure Vs Reality: ideal behaviour The ego switches between the id & superego trying to cope with the demands of the conflict.

Conflict causes anxiety and to reduce this anxiety we have ego 'defence mechanisms' Repression

The ego uses repression to protect itself from threatening or traumatic experiences from the outside world.









This is seen to be the most important defence mechanism but maybe cause for mental illness Displacement

Redirecting repressed desires and impulses on to a relatively safe target extreme form of self protection that denies what has happened Humane approach

Attaches no blame to the individual If we become fixated at any of these points this could affect later behaviour e.g. developmentof a mental disorder Advantages Disadvantages Evaluation Psychological factors

The theory stresses the importamce of psychological factors causing abnormal behaviour Still influential

Psychoanalysis has been the most influential theory of 20th century which has shaped research in other areas Humane treatment

Psycholoanalysis focuses on talking - not just drugs, shocks and brain therapy Poor methodology

Theory is based on observations of behaviour
Case study of little Hans
freuds own children
Vienenese suffering from mental illness

Can we generalise to normal healthy children?? Blames parents

Individual is seen as a result of their parenting but there is no evidence to support this Unscientific

Evidence only from case studies of individual patients
- relies on therapists interpretations
- Retrospective
- Can't measure unconscious concepts Deterministic and pessimistic

Are peoples drives really dominated by unconcious drives? Old skool video on Freuds Id, Ego & Superego Cognitive approach Suggests that unrealistic thinking is responsible rather than events that impact on behaviour.

This involves the indiviuals thought processes that are classified as faulty! It is the way the individual views, anticipates and evaluates events which effect behaviour..........this behaviour is completely irrational

example: I am worthless and helpless and things will only get worse (this may lead to depression) Cognitive processes maybe faulty in the following ways:

Overgeneralisation - conclusion is reached through experience of one event or incident

Maginification and minimisation - magnifying failures and minimising success Cause and effect

Criticised for seeing thoughts as the cause for psychological disorders.

Does depression cause negative thoughts or does negative thoughts cause depression? Disadvantages Evaluation Advantages Successful treatment

Cognitive Therapy is as successful as anti depressants in treating depression.

Thase et al (2007) compared CT with antidepressants use as medication for treatment of depression. It was found that CT and antidepressants had the same effectiveness for treatment but better tolerated by patients. Inhumane

Puts the responsibility and blame on the patient when it could be caused by other situational factors e.g. the environment Smith & Glass (1977)

Meta analysis of research on psychotherapies. Cited cognitive therapy as having the second highest average success rate among 10 different forms of psychotherapy Faulty and irrational thinking prevents the individual behaving adaptively.

Ellis (1962) ABC model

A: Activating event e.g. sight of a large dog

B: Belief which maybe rational or irrational e.g. Dog is harmless = rational
Dog will attack me - Irrational

C: Consequence - rational beliefs lead to healthy emotions e.g. amusement
irrational belieifs lead to unhealthy emotions e.g. panic Beck (1967): Cognitive errors
People with psychological problems had:

More negative automatic thoughts
More inaccurate self and peer assessment
Inaccurate expectations
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