Abnormal Behavior and Mental Health
West Chester University
Abnormal psychology is the study of abnormal or atypical behavior in people. There are many things group into the category of atypical behavior. For example mental illness but being left handed is also considered atypical but is not an abnormality. Sometimes it is hard to use one definition to describe what abnormal psychology is. According to Saul McLeod (2008) abnormal psychology can be grouped into four different categories, statistical infrequency, violation of social norms, failure to function adequately and deviation from ideal mental health. Being included in one or more of these categories would be considered a classification of abnormal. Because there are so many elements of abnormal psychology we are going to narrow it down specifically to mental illness. Mental illness has been around since the beginning of recorded history, although they used different terms and believe that the cause of these mental illnesses were different then we do today it still existed (Hergenhahn 2009). There are many different categories that specify mental illness. According to Hergenhanhn (2009) harmful behavior, unrealistic thoughts and perceptions, inappropriate emotions and unpredictable behavior are all descriptions of mental illnesses. These four aspects are all listed as the start of some symptoms of mental illness. Harmful behavior is described as abnormal because normal individuals have a strong motive to survive and any behaviors that challenge this, such as self-mutilation, are out of the norm (Hergenhanhn 2009). Second, unrealistic thoughts and perceptions is the category for people suffering from delusions or hallucinations. Next is the category of inappropriate emotions, this gives people the title of mentally ill when they have extreme emotions or cry when they should laugh. The last category is unpredictable behavior. People used in this group have extreme mood swings and it is hard to expect what is going to happen. There are a few different early explanations of these mental illnesses.
There have been many different early explanations of mental illness that can also be broken down into three different categories, biological, psychological and supernatural (Hergenhanhn 2009). The first one, or biological explanation, looks into the genes and the biological make up of someone and how that influences their mental health. This explanation uses the medical model of mental illness; the model assumes that all diseases are caused by malfunctions in some aspect of the body (Hergenhanhn 2009). The second explanation, psychological, uses the idea that there is some sort of tension that begins the abnormal behavior. According to Hergenhanhn (2009) experiences like grief, anxiety, fear disappointment, frustration and guilt can all be factors that can make an influence. The last explanation is the supernatural. People who believed in this explanation thought that other factors influenced their behavior. It was believed that supernatural forces were to be blamed for unacceptable behaviors (Hergenhanhn 2009). Today we use biological and psychological approaches or nature vs. nurture. There were also a few different early approaches to the treatment of different mental illnesses. According to Hergenhanhn (2009) psychotherapy is any attempt to help a person with a mental disturbance. There were three main approaches, psychological, supernatural and biological. Just like the second explanation of mental illness the psychological approach looks at factors like fear, anxiety and conflict. The objective of this approach was to reach catharsis, or get rid of disturbing emotions (Hergenhanhn 2009). The second approach was supernatural. Although for many people today it is hard to wrap their minds around this approach it was much more utilized at the start of mental illnesses. Basically, this approach was surrounded...