Abnormal Psychology - Topics

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Lauren Minor
July 27, 2010

Topic 1. Indicate, describe and discuss the major theories and principles in abnormal psychology
The Biological approach believes that abnormal behavior is caused by structural damage to the brain, biochemical imbalances, and genetic abnormalities. Research proves that certain characteristics of a person, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain, can be passed on from parent to child. These studies show patterns of abnormal behaviors from generation to generation. Other research provides proof that some individuals have abnormal behaviors because of defects in the brain or nervous system. The defects of the brain and nervous system can range from a lack or abundance of a certain chemical (such as serotonin) or damage done to the brain or nervous system from an illness, accident or other disorder. The brain requires many chemicals to work efficiently and effectively. When there is too much or too little of a certain neurotransmitter in the synapse that will cause certain types of psychopathology. Freud believed that personality develops in psychosexual stages; in each stage a part of the body becomes the child's main source of pleasure. Failure to resolve conflicts at any stage can cause fixation, an unconscious preoccupation with the pleasure area associated with that stage. Personality characteristics are a reflection of each person's fixation. The oral stage occurs during the first year of life because the mouth is the center of pleasure. The anal stage occurs during the second year when toilet training begins. The phallic stage emerges at three and lasts until age five . The boy experiences the Oedipus complex; he sexually desires his mother and wants to kill his father out of jealousy. The girl develops penis envy and begins to hate her mother for not providing a penis. After age five, the latency period ensues, during which sexual impulses lie dormant and the child turns away from anything sexually related. During the genital stage, which begins at adolescence and lasts until death, sexual desires reappear and boys and girls begin to get more involved with the opposite sex. The personality is shaped as the drives are modified by different conflicts at different times in childhood. Freud also believed that the human mind had both conscious and unconscious areas. One of the key beliefs of the psychodynamic approach is that our adult personality and behavior are determined by our childhood experiences. These were; firstly, that majority of the mind is unconscious and contains our instincts, drives and repressed memories. The only ways to discover the contents of the unconscious mind are dream analysis, word association and hypnosis. Secondly, that the mind is made up of three parts, the id, the ego and the superego. The id works on the pleasure principle. The drive to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The ego works on the reality principle. It aims to fulfill the ids desires while keeping them in line with what is possible in the real world. The superego pressures the ego to keep the id in line with the rules of society. It sets ideals and consists of the conscience, which makes us feel things such as pride and guilt. To enable the ego to deal with the demands of the id and superego, it uses a number of defense mechanisms. Some of these are Regression - where we go back to an earlier stage or situation that gives comfort. Denial where we refuse to accept the truth and repression where we push unpleasant ideas into the unconscious.

The Behavioral Perspective believes that abnormal behavior can be explained by the environment that a person is surrounded. Behavioral researchers believe that abnormal behavior is caused by defective learning and/or conditioning. This perspective uses classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning theories to support its theories. Classical conditioning is an automatic response to a stimulus based on similar experiences...
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