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Dysfunctional behaviour Introduction First, it is important to understand that psychology is a science that looks at trends, not certainties, so for

every piece of evidence that appears to explain human behaviour, there is probably another that refutes it. This is particularly important in the case of dysfunctional behaviour and disorders. No psychologist can say for certain what causes dysfunctional behaviours; the evidence can point to factors that may cause a disposition or tendency towards a disorder, but as humans are all individuals, and more complex than animals, it is clear that not everyone will behave in the same way. Having said that, any concerns about dysfunctional behaviour are genuine, and the weblinks below may be helpful in reaching a better understanding of disorders and their implications. Dysfunctional behaviour has been called many things abnormal, atypical and currently dysfunctional which seem to reflect societys view of the individual. If someone is not able to function as a human being, the label dysfunctional carries less stigma than the label abnormal. Clinical psychology looks at people with problems, such as stress and bizarre mood swings. The first part of this area of the course will look at dysfunctional behaviour in general terms, from the basic question of what dysfunctional behaviour is and how to diagnose it, to some of the main approaches and how they explain and treat dysfunctional behaviour. Explanations of dysfunctional behaviour You will know from your study of AS Psychology that there are different explanations for human behaviour. These are based on approaches such as the cognitive or biological approach and perspectives such as the behaviourist perspective. Basic assumptions about behaviour should be transferable to any behaviour, including dysfunctional behaviour, if the approach is to stand up to scrutiny. You will have looked at Freuds psychodynamic approach to abnormality in the case study of Little Hans in the AS course. More modern approaches would identify other ways of explaining dysfunctional behaviour. Cognitive psychology, which has formed the basis of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), is one of the stronger contemporary explanations, but it is difficult to see how it can be applied to all disorders. Treatments of dysfunctional behaviour There are many treatments of dysfunctional behaviour in use today. Things may have moved on from the days when people who showed some dysfunctional behaviour were labelled mad and were believed to be possessed by evil spirits. By cutting holes in their skulls (trepanning), these evil spirits could be allowed out. We may not use this technique now, but it does clearly show that the treatment of any disorder depends on what is perceived to be causing it.