Abnormal Psychology - Behaviour That Is Not Socially Acceptable

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Lecture 1
What is Abnormal Psychology?
Students’ Definitions and Examples of Abnormal Psychology Behaviour that is not socially acceptable
Science of learning how biological changes affect personality & behaviour Prolonged or repeated psychological state that is harmful to the individual or others Person with an illness, on medication, deviates from the norm Study of illnesses, mental disorders that the DSM-IV does not recognize as normal Myths and Misconceptions

No single definition of psychological abnormality
No single definition of psychological normality
Many myths are associated with mental illness
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“The Four Ds”:
Deviance – Different, extreme, unusual
Distress – Unpleasant and upsetting
Dysfunction – Causes interference with life
Danger – Poses risk of harm
Deviance: From What?
From behaviors, thoughts & emotions considered normal in a specific place, time and by specific people From social norms
Stated and unstated rules for proper conduct in a given society or culture
Distress
According to many clinical guidelines, behavior must be personally distressing before it can be labeled abnormal Breakdown in cognitive, emotional, or behavioural functioning Example:

Personality Disorders
Eating Disorders
Psychosis
Dysfunction
Abnormal behavior tends to be dysfunctional – it interferes with daily functioning Difficulty performing appropriate and expected roles
Culture has an influence on determinations of dysfunction as well Dysfunction alone does not mean abnormality
Danger
Abnormal behavior may become dangerous to oneself or others Behavior may be careless, hostile, or confused
Although cited as a feature of psychological abnormality, dangerousness is the exception rather than the rule The Elusive Nature of Abnormality
Ultimately, a society selects the general criteria for defining abnormality and then uses those criteria to judge particular cases Szasz argues that, because of the influence of culture, the whole concept of mental illness is invalid {text:list-item} {text:list-item}

Inconsistent Application
Even if we agree with the concept of abnormality, it is often applied inconsistently Examples:
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In sum, while abnormality is generally defined as behavior that is deviant, distressful, dysfunctional, and (sometimes) dangerous, these criteria often are vague and subjective Psychopathology is the scientific study of psychological disorders The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV)

Latest version is DSM-IV-TR
Widely accepted system for classifying psychological problems and disorders {text:list-item} {text:list-item} {text:list-item} {text:list-item} Mental Health Professionals

Clinical psychologists complete a Ph.D. and are trained in assessment, psychotherapy, and applying scientific principles to the study of abnormal psychology {text:list-item}
Social workers generally hold a M.S.W. and are committed to action that may be socially based or individually based Epidemiology of Abnormality
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Epidemiology of Abnormality
Comorbidity—the presence of more than one condition at one time Gender differences are found in many but not all mental disorders Causation, Treatment, and Outcome in Psychopathology Study of etiology

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How can we best improve the lives of people suffering from psychopathology?...
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