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Abnormal Psychology

PSYC 3140 3.0D(F)

What are we studying?

Abnormal Behaviour Psychopathology Mental Disorder Mental Illness Deviant Behaviour

The study of mental disorder involves:


Definition: What do we mean by mental disorder? Classification: How do we distinguish between different mental disorders? Explanation: How do we understand mental disorder? Treatment: How do we treat mental disorder?

Why study abnormal psychology?


Abnormal behaviour is part of our common experience Lots of unanswered questions and complexities Preparation for future careers
www.apa.org/students/

Mental Health Professionals

Clinical Psychologist (Ph.D., C. Psych.) Psychiatrist (M.D.) Psychiatric Social Worker (M.S.W.) Psychoanalyst Therapist

Obtaining Personal Help

Room 145 Behaviour Science Building 416.736.5297

What do we mean by mental disorder?

Who has a mental disorder?


Mass

murders? People who want to cut off their arms and legs? People who cant pay attention and concentrate?

Is the concept of Mental Disorder problematic?

I should like to make clear, therefore, that although I consider the concept of mental illness to be unserviceable, I believe that psychiatry could be a science. I also believe that psychotherapy is an effective method of helping people not to recover from an illness but rather to learn about themselves, others and life. Szasz

Why clarify the definition of mental disorder?


Influences what is seen as pathological Influences explanation, classification and treatment Clarifies the role of professionals

Why clarify the definition of mental disorder?


Safe-guard against abuses Clarify contentious cases

Two broad ways to define mental disorder

In general, the concept of mental disorder can be defined as:


A

biomedical, culturally independent, value-free concept Or as a social, culturally relative, value-based concept.

Overview of definitions that will be discussed


Mental disorder as a statistical deviation Mental disorder as dysfunction Mental disorder as personal discomfort Mental disorder as maladaptive behaviour Mental disorder as norm or value violation

Mental disorder as statistical deviance

A person has a mental disorder when their behaviour, ability, or experience is significantly different from average.

Mental disorder as statistical deviance

Mental disorder as statistical deviance


Problems: We want to use the term disorder to describe some conditions that are statistically frequent positive deviations are not distinguished from negative deviations we do not want to call all negative deviations a disorder

Uggo Betti:
All

of us are mad. If it werent for the fact that every one of us is slightly abnormal, there wouldnt be any point of giving each person a separate name.

Mental disorder as a dysfunction


A person has a mental disorder when a mental mechanism is not performing the natural function it was designed to perform. Problems:
Natural

selection does not design mechanisms

Sedgwick (1982):
All

sickness is essentially deviancy from some alternative state of affairs which is considered more desirable The attribution of illness always proceeds from the computation of a gap between presented behaviour (or feeling) and some social norm.

Mental disorder as a dysfunction

Problems cont:
For

many mechanisms there is a wide range of adaptive functioning across people and situations (fear response).

Mental disorder as a dysfunction

Problems cont:
Many

things that we want to call a disorder might actually be adaptive reactions.

Mental disorder as personal discomfort


A person has a mental disorder if they experience personal distress. Problems:
What

about the person who abuses drugs or believes they are receiving messages from outer-space without experiencing distress?

Mental disorder as maladaptive behaviour


A person has a mental disorder if they engage in behaviour that prevents them from meeting the demands of life. Problems:
There

may be situations that people should not adapt to This approach emphasizes fitting in as being ultimately important

Mental disorder as norm or value violation


A person has a mental disorder if they have experiences and exhibit behaviours that are inconsistent with the norms and values of society. Examples:
Behaviour

others Poor reality contact Inappropriate emotional reactions Erratic behaviour

that is harmful to oneself or

Mental disorder as norm or value violation

Problems:
What

if violation is result of external circumstances Such a criteria can seem too arbitrary and open to abuse

DSM-IV definition of mental disorder

A mental disorder is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavioural or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress or disability or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom.

DSM-IV definition of mental disorder


The syndrome or pattern must not be merely an expectable and culturally sanctioned response to a particular event, for example, the death of a loved one. It must currently be considered a manifestation of a behavioural, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual.

Cross cultural issues

How one thinks about the role of culture depends on your definition of mental disorder

Cross cultural issues

If biomedical, then culture influences how a disorder impacts members of different cultures
Different

risk Idiom of distress

Cross cultural issues

If culturally based, then influences what will be considered a disorder


Behaviour

or experience may not be a disorder in all cultures

Non-Western approaches to mental disorder

Often do not separate psychology and spirituality


Disruption

in relation to spirit world

Often based on more collective and less individualistic conceptualizations


Disruption

in interpersonal relations

The study of mental disorder involves:


Definition: What do we mean by mental disorder? Categorization: How do we classify mental disorder? Explanation: How do we understand mental disorder? Treatment: How do we treat mental disorder?

Further exploration:

Linienfeld, S. O., & Marino, L. (1995). Mental Disorder as a Roschian Concept: A critique of Wakefields Harmful Dysfunction analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104(3), 411420. Szasz, T. (2000). Second commentary on Aristotles function argument. Philosophical Psychiatry and Psychology 7(1), 3-16. Wakefield, J. (1992). The concept of mental disorder: On the boundary between biological facts and social values. American Psychologist, 47(3), 373-388.