Clinical Psychology

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Clinical Psychology: A Brief Overview
Elaine Moore
University of Phoenix

Clinical Psychology: A Brief Overview
“What is wrong with that girl? Why does she seem so different from us?” This is a phrase commonly uttered by many individuals, especially the youth of today. The field of clinical psychology is a direct result of initial studies attempting to integrate mind and body with abnormal behavior. Abnormal behavior is stunningly obvious in some and quietly hidden in others, but who is to say what is normal? Once the complex field of abnormal behavior was acknowledged as a scientific discipline, clinical psychology slowly emerged from it. This paper will discuss the history and evolution of clinical psychology while providing a brief overview of how abnormal psychology evolved into a scientific discipline itself. This paper will also analyze the role of research and statistics in clinical psychology, discuss its importance, and provide an example. The History and Evolution of Clinical Psychology

There are not many issues in the field of psychology that all can agree upon, but the origins of clinical psychology as its own discipline, seems to be one of the rare few. The history and evolution of clinical psychology can be traced back through the decades to a time when scientific minds were first attempting to understand abnormal behavior as it pertains to the mind and body (Plante, 2005). Sigmund Freud believed that most forms of psychopathologies originated during childhood and adolescents and further research and studies have confirmed his theory, although not through empirical data (Muris, 2006). There are four prevalent factors involved with his theory: genetics and temperament, parental rearing and modeling, life events and negative information, and society and culture (Muris, 2006). Although these factors relate to children and adolescents, when abnormal behavior is not acknowledged and addressed, a more severe form of pathology may develop, thus providing advancements in clinical psychology.

The University of Pennsylvania also provided a milestone for the field of clinical psychology. In 1896, Lightner Witmer was employed by the university as head of the psychology lab and it was he whom established the first practicing psychology clinic. This event is considered the true birth of clinical psychology (Plante, 2005). Witmer was asked by a fellow professor to assess a student that was having a difficult time in class. Witmer assessed the problem, followed through with treatment, and clinical psychology was essentially born (Plante, 2005). Although, Witmer did approach the APA with his ideas, his research alone was not enough to provide the APA with sufficient cause to form a new discipline of psychology, thus the emerging field struggled through and slowly advanced as abnormal psychology became a distinguished field in its own right. A Brief Overview of Abnormal Psychology

In the early years of societal history, people exhibiting abnormal behavior were treated inhumanely and cruelly with no empathy, sympathy, or understanding. It took many centuries for humane treatment to evolve, but the unfortunate afflicted prior to the 19th century were essentially tortured and degraded (Long, 2009).

During ancient times animism was a popular belief. People “suffering” from animism were considered possessed by demonic spirits, thus explaining the abnormal behavior (Hansell & Damour, 2005). The process of trepanation, drilling holes through the skull, would take place to allow the evil spirit to depart the mind (Long, 2009). Exorcisms were also popular treatment methods during this period.

The mid 16th century brought about the insane asylum (Long, 2009). Large buildings were constructed to house the abnormal and treatments were not yet considered as valuable options. If a treatment was attempted, it would usually result in long term injury or even death to the...
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