Compare and contrast the various models of abnormal functioning using evidence from current psychological research.
For many years scientists, including doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, have been interested in trying to understand human behaviour, in particular behaviour that is described as being ‘abnormal’. It is difficult to define ‘abnormal’ in terms of behaviour because there are many differing descriptions which have radically changed over the years. ‘Abnormal’ behaviour is widely categorised as being persistent and in a serious degree contrary to the continued wellbeing of the individual and/or the surrounding community. Cultural beliefs and expectations determine which behaviour patterns are deemed as being ‘abnormal’. In ancient societies it was believed that ‘abnormal’ behaviours were caused by divine intervention or supernatural forces, although by the medieval ages the belief that individuals of who strayed from the accepted ‘norm’ were possessed by an evil spirit became a predominant explanation and exorcisms were carried out regularly to treat such individuals. Other beliefs such as magic, astral influences and physical illness were also thought to be the cause of ‘abnormal’ behaviour. However by the 19th Century a German physician Wilhelm Griesinger (1817-1868) argued that it was disease of the brain that caused ‘abnormal’ behaviour. Over the years many perspectives have been discussed, researched and explored in order to try and best understand and explain human behaviour, these perspectives are termed models, there are currently six prevalent models which try to explain the ‘abnormal’ functioning of individuals the medical model, the cognitive model, the psychodynamic model, the sociocultural model, the behavioural model and the biopsychosocial model. The various models that are used to try and understand the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders have been used to help group mental disorders which are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR: 2000) which currently categorises over four hundred mental disorders. Each of the six models will be briefly discussed, four of the six will be compared and contrasted, using relevant recent research, to try to establish which model if any have a greater weighting on how we understand abnormal functioning today. The four that have been chosen are the medical model, the sociocultural model, the behavioural model and the biopsychosocial model. Within the medical model the main focus is to explain abnormal functioning through genetic and medical influences. Clinical researchers have found a link between certain psychological disorders and problems in specific areas of the brain, for example Huntington’s disease, which has been traced to a loss of cells in the basal ganglia. Broyd et al (2009) found that there is a link between the default-mode network dysfunction which is related to dementia, schizophrenia, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, their research highlights common and unique elements of the disorders. Biological researchers have also found a relation with problems in the transmission of messages within the brain and psychological disorders, Song et al (2007) found that there is a link between neurotransmitter deficiency and behaviour and mental issues within adolescents. Research into hormonal and chemical imbalances within an individual’s body has also uncovered a link to some mental disorders Leventhal and Antonuccio (2009) found that a chemical imbalance within the body is an influence in depression however they highlight that instead of categorising it and treating it as a disease using tablets etc. it should be treated in a more biopsychosocial way as it is more than just a chemical imbalance, it involves social influences and mental processes. Abnormalities in the brain chemistry and anatomy can sometimes be a result of genetic...
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