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Abnormal Psychology

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Ms Schwinge

on 27 April 2018

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Transcript of Abnormal Psychology


Abnormal Psychology
Mood disorders are characterized by emotional extremes
, and come in two principal forms:
1.) major depressive disorder
2.) bipolar disorder
Anxiety is a part of life
. However,
anxiety disorders
are marked by
distressing, persistent anxiety or dysfunctional anxiety reducing behaviors
that harm quality of life. There are five main anxiety disorders.
Personality disorders
are characterized by
inflexible and enduring behavior patterns that impair social functioning
Dissociative Disorders
Somatoform Disorders
Personality Disorders
Mood Disorders
Mental health workers view

psychological disorders as patterns of thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that are deviant, distressful and dysfunctional.
Standards for what constitutes "deviant" behavior varies by context and by culture.
For example, in times of war mass killing may be viewed as normal. For cultures who believe in ancient worship, hearing voices is often a sign of being blessed by the gods.
Men of the West African Wodaabe tribe put on elaborate makeup and costumes to attract women. In Western society, the same behavior would break behavioral norms and might be judged abnormal.
Standards for deviance also vary with time
. From 1952-1973,
homosexuality was classified as a psychological illness
. It was finally
removed from the DSM
(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) because more and more people of the American Psychiatric Association
no longer viewed it as a psychological problem
But there is more to a disorder than being deviant.
In order to be considered disordered, deviant behavior usually causes the person distress
There has been a stigma around psychological illnesses for centuries, and often people with these disorders were treated
and locked away from the outside world. By the 1800s, people like
Philippe Pinel created a mental health reform that urged people to treat patients with gentleness rather than brutality, and to give them activity and social interaction instead of isolation
"Dance in a Madhouse"
In keeping with the stigma of mental illness, if we presume that a person is "mentally ill," we immediately attribute the condition to a "sickness" that must be found and cured. But there is always an interchange in the person's environment, interpretations of events, bad habits, and social skills.
With that being said, we still do our best to
diagnostically classify disorders so that we may predict its future course, imply appropriate treatment, and stimulate research into its cause
. Currently the
(soon to be V) is what we use to classify psychological disorders.
It does NOT presume to explain the disorders' causes, but merely describes them
Some critics fault the manual for casting "too wide a net."
The number of disorder categories has swelled from 60 in the 1950s to 400 in today's
, and therefore so has the number of adults who meet the criteria for at least one of them (
at least 26% in any year, and 46% at some time in their lives
Labels matter.
Labels can act as self-fulfilling prophecies; they can bias perceptions, and also change reality
. But mental health processionals can also use them to communicate about their cases, figure out their underlying causes, and to discern effective treatment programs.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder

An anxiety disorder in which a person is
tense, apprehensive, and in a state of
autonomic nervous system arousal
. Impairs daily function.
Everyone experiences anxiety
, the symptoms are fairly commonplace. However, their
is not. It is often
accompanied by depression
, but even without depression it can be disabling. As time passes emotions tend to mellow, and
by age 50 generalized anxiety disorder becomes rare
Panic Disorder
An anxiety disorder marked by unpredictable
minutes-long episodes of intense dread
in which a person experiences terror and accompanying chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, choking, trembling, or other frightening sensations.
An anxiety disorder marked by a persistent,
fear and avoidance of a specific object, activity, or situation.
Some common and uncommon specific fears. A strong fear becomes a phobia if it provokes a compelling but irrational desire to avoid the dreaded object or situation.
There can be
specific phobias
(particular items or places that serve as triggers), or
social phobias
(generalized anxiety of being scrutinized by others).
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

An anxiety disorder characterized by
unwanted repetitive thoughts
(obsessions) and/or actions (compulsions)
Obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors cross the fine line between normality and disorder when they
persistently interfere with everyday living and cause the person distress
. OCD is more common among teens and young adults than among older people.
Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (Disorder)

An anxiety disorder characterized by haunting memories, nightmares, social withdrawal, jumpy anxiety, and/or insomnia that
lingers for four weeks or more after a traumatic experience
Although it is was once known as "shellshock" or "battle fatigue,"
PTSD is not just for soldiers
. Symptoms have also been reported by survivors of accidents, disasters, and violent, and sexual assaults.
The greater one's emotional distress during a trauma, the higher the risk for post-traumatic symptoms
Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is both a feeling and a cognition
, a doubt-laden appraisal of one's safety or social skill.
But how do these anxious feelings and cognitions arise
would say
, but today's psychologists have turned to
main perspectives.
The Learning Perspective
Fear Conditioning
When bad event happen unpredictably and uncontrollably, anxiety
often develops. This
link between conditioned fear and general anxiety
helps explain why anxious people are hyperattentive to possible threats, and how panic-prone people come to associate anxiety with certain cues.
although avoiding or escaping the feared situation reduces anxiety, it reinforces the phobic behavior
. This is how phobias and compulsions are maintained.
Observational Learning
We may also learn fear through
observational learning: by observing others' fear
. For example, parents often transmit their fears to their children.
The Biological Perspective
Natural Selection
Our general phobias focus on such specific fears: spiders,
snakes (and other animals), close spaces and heights, storms, and darkness.
Those fearless about these occasional threats were less likely to survive and leave descendants
. It is easy to condition and hard to extinguish fears of such stimuli.
Some people are more predisposed to anxiety than others
; we have our genes to thank for that. However, it also gives scientists clues to find specific genes that put people at risk for anxiety.
The Brain
Generalized anxiety, panic attacks,
PTSD< and even obsessions and compulsions are
manifested biologically as an overarousal of brain areas involved in impulse control and habitual behaviors
Somatoform disorders
are physiological disorders in which the
symptoms take a somatic
form without apparent physical cause
One type of somatoform disorder is known a
conversion disorder,
in which a person experiences
very specific genuine physical symptoms
(paralysis, blindness, loss of sensation)
for which no physiological basis can be found
Most somatoform disorders send people to a
medical doctor
rather than a psychologist.
is a somatoform disorder in which
a person interprets normal physical sensations as symptoms of disease
, an no amount of reassurance can convince the patient otherwise.
Dissociative disorders
are almost the opposite of somatoform disorders in the sense that they are disorders in which
conscious awareness becomes separated (dissociated) from previous memories, thoughts, and feelings
Dissociation itself is not rare
; many people often have a sense of being unreal, of being separated from their bodies, or of watching themselves as if in a movie.
Dissociative identity disorder (DID)
, once known as split personality disorder/multiple personality disorder, is when
a person exhibits two or more distinct and alternating personalities
. The personalities do not need to be the same sex, age, ethnicity, or sexuality as the "main" identity, and they may not all be aware of each other.
Some skeptics wonder
if DID is actually real, or just an extension of our normal capacity for personality shifts
. Others cite evidence of
shifting visual acuity and eye-muscle balance as patients switch personalities
, and link it to
and an attempt to detach from a horrific existence.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder
(MDD) [more commonly known as
], marked by its
prolonged hopelessness and lethargy
, has been called the "common cold" of psychological disorders. This is an accurate description of its pervasiveness, but not its seriousness.
Everyone feels depressed from time to time, especially in times of tragedy or loss.
Depression can act as a type of emotional hibernation
; allowing us time to recuperate and redirect energy in a more promising way.
occurs when at least
5 signs of depression
(including lethargy, feelings of worthlessness, or loss of interest in family, friends, and activities)
lasts two or more weeks and are not caused by drugs or a medical condition
. There does not have to be a "cause" or a "reason" to suffer from depression, and often that is the hardest part.
Dysthymic disorder
, its more subtle cousin, is a
chronic, low-grade depressive state lasting more than two years
(in children and adolescents it only needs to last one year). Patients must also present with
two or more
of the following symptoms:

- poor appetite or overeating - low self esteem
- insomnia or hypersomnia - low energy or fatigue
- feelings of hopelessness
-poor concentration/ difficulty making decisions
Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder
is a mood disorder in which the person
alternates between
the hopelessness and lethargy of
depression and
the overexcited state of
...But WHY?
The estimated
of major depression is around
The Brain and Biochemical Influences:

There is
less brain activity during depressive states
, and more activity during manic states.
The left frontal lobe
(more active when happy),
is more inactive during depressed states
. In some people with severe depression, MRI scans found that their frontal lobes are
7% smaller
than normal.
Norepinephrine and serotonin
(increases arousal and boosts mood)
is scarce during depression
and overabundant in mania.
Explanatory style and depression
Learned helplessness
Self defeating beliefs
Negative explanatory style
The vicious cycle of depressed thinking
If depression is the common cold of psychological disorders, schizophrenia is the cancer.
Nearly 1 in every 100 people will develop schizophrenia
during their lives.
Literally translated, schizophrenia means "
split mind
;" however it doesn't refer to a splitting of personalities, but a split from reality.
is a group of severe disorders characterized by
disorganized and delusional thinking, disturbed perceptions, and inappropriate emotions and actions
Disorganized Thinking
The thinking of a person with schizophrenia is
fragmented, bizarre, and often distorted by false beliefs called delusions
(often of persecution or grandeur).
Disorganized thoughts may result from a breakdown in selective attention
, meaning that schizophrenics are
unable to filter out irrelevant, minute stimuli
(like the grooves on a piece of wood or the inflection of a voice), and therefore have their
attention distracted away
from a bigger event or a speaker's meaning.
Disturbed Perceptions
A person with schizophrenia may have
(sensory experiences without sensory stimulation),
and see/feel/taste/smell things that are not there
. More often than not, the hallucinations are
, frequently voices making insulting remarks or giving orders.
Inappropriate Emotions and Actions
emotions of schizophrenics are often utterly inappropriate
, split off from reality (like laughing when someone is telling a tragic story, or crying when others are laughing).
Others can lapse into an emotionless state of flat affect
Motor behavior may also be inappropriate
. Some can perform
senseless, compulsive acts
(like rocking back and forth or rubbing an arm), or can
remain motionless for hours (catatonia) and then become agitated
For some, schizophrenia appears gradually
(like the cat artist Louis Wain),
for others it appears suddenly
(almost like a reaction to stress).
Understanding Schizophrenia
Dopamine Overactivity
Abnormal Brain Activity and Anatomy
Mothers who report being sick with influenza during the second trimester of pregnancy are more likely to have children who develop schizophrenia
Although the genetic contribution to schizophrenia is beyond question, the genetic formula is not as straight forward as the inheritance of eye color
Possible Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia:
- a mother whose schizophrenia was severe and long-lasting
- birth complications, often involving oxygen deprivation and low birth weight
- separation from parents
- short attention span and poor muscle coordination
- disruptive or withdrawn behavior
- emotional unpredictability
- poor peer relations and solo play
Dramatic Impulses
Eccentric Behaviors
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder is NOT the same as OCD
Antisocial Personality Disorder
The most troubling and highly researched personality disorder is the
antisocial personality disorder
(formally called a
sociopath or a psychopath
Antisocial personality disorder
is when the person (statistically male)
exhibits a lack of conscience for wrongdoing, even toward friends and family members
. May be
aggressive and ruthless
, or a
charming, clever con artist
Despite the antisocial behavior of many criminals, few of them actually fit the description of antisocial personality disorder
due to their concern for friends and family members
Understanding Antisocial Personality Disorder
As are the vast majority of things in psychology,
antisocial personality disorder
is a mix of
People with antisocial personality disorder have low stress levels and autonomic nervous system arousal
People convicted of homicide have
reduced activity in their frontal lobes
(which help control impulses), and repeat offenders actually have around
11% less frontal lobe brain tissue
than normal.
Rates of Psychological Disorders
Prior year prevalence of disorders
in selected areas
One predictor of mental disorder, poverty, crosses ethnic and gender lines
. The incidence of serious psychological disorders is
doubly high among those below the poverty line
. But does poverty cause disorders? Or do disorders cause poverty?
The stresses and demoralization of poverty can trigger disorders.
Psychopath vs Sociopath
Personality Disorders Overview
Anxiety Disorders
Depressive and
Bipolar Disorders
Schizophrenia and
Dissociative Disorders Overview
Louis Wain
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