Abnormal Behaviour - Abnormal Psychology

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Chapter 1

Abnormal psychology is the scientific study whose objectives are to describe, explain, predict and control behaviours that are considered strange or unusual. •The scientific approach/method for investigating abnormal behavior consists of four steps: oFormulating a research question

oExpressing the research question in the form of an hypothesis oApplying methods of testing the hypothesis
oDrawing conclusions about the correctness or falseness of the hypothesis •The naturalistic observational method is used when the investigator observes naturally occurring phenomena and behavior under naturally occurring conditions •The research method explores relationships between variables and attempts to find correlations between variables •The longitudinal research method investigates possible correlations over time – observation during intervals over a long period •Experimental method reveals cause-effect relationships – the researcher controls the independent variable under controlled conditions •The epidemiological approach examines the rate at which abnormal behavior occurs in various population groups and in a variety of settings, e.g. twin study and adoptee research •The case-study method studies case experimental designs

The organic/biological perspective tends to view abnormal behavior as the result of emotional or cognitive processes as the reason for mental disorders – emotional/cognitive malfunction causes mental/behavioural malfunction

Psychodiagnosis – an attempt to describe, assess and systematically draw inferences about an individual’s psychological disorder – this is done using the person’s history and observation by an attentive professional. •Psychopathology is a synonym for abnormal behavior

Explaining abnormal behaviour
To explain abnormal behavior the psychologist must identify its causes and determine how they led to the described behavior •It is however important to note that normal and abnormal behaviours result from a combination of factors.

Predicting abnormal behavior
Once the source of the client’s difficulty is correctly identified it is possible to predict the kinds of problems the client will fact and the symptoms the client will display.

Controlling abnormal behavior
Abnormal behavior may be controlled through therapy – which is a program of systematic intervention whose purpose is to modify a client’s behavioural, affective (emotional) and/or cognitive state. •Family therapy and social skills training

Biological means and prescription of medication, e.g. antipsychotic drugs •The treatment of abnormal behavior follows from its explanation

Determining abnormality
DSM-IV-TR defines abnormal behavior as:
oA clinically significant behavioural or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress (e.g. a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability or an important loss of freedom. •Abnormal behavior represents behavior that departs from some norm and that harms the affected individual or others. •Four major means of judging psychopathology include (the four Ds): oDistress

oDeviance (bizarreness)
oDysfunction (inefficiency in behavioural, affective and/or cognitive domains) oDangerousness

Distress can be in the form of disorders – asthma, hypertension, ulcers, etc or physical symptoms like fatigue, nausea, pain, palpitations or extreme and prolonged emotions, like anxiety and depression

This can be determined using a statistical average – by equating normality with those behaviours. •Abnormal behaviours are those behaviours that occur less frequently in the population •Bizzare or unusual behavior is an abnormal deviation from an accepted standard of behavior, e.g. antisocial acts, false perception of reality (e.g....
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