History of Abnormal Psychology

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History of Abnormal Psychology

Many people have heard of psychology before. It is simply a scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Did you know there are many different subdivisions of psychology? One major subdivision is abnormal psychology, which is concerned with understanding the nature, causes, and treatment of mental disorders. What comes to mind when you hear the names Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud, or Mary Whiton Clakins? They were all well known psychologists dating back as far as 430 B.C.E when Hippocrates proposed that mental illnesses were caused by an imbalance of four major fluids in the human body, blood, bile, black bile, and phlegm, even before the study of psychology became a science.

There were many different types of mental disorders in Hippocrates’ time ranging from Demonology, Gods, and Magic, to Natural causes and of course there were different ways to treating them each as well. Demonology, Gods, and Magic were considered types of possessions. Treatment for possessions usually resulted in exorcism (techniques- magic, prayer, incantation, noise-making, or horrible-tasting concoctions of sheep dung and wine).

In Hippocrates’ time, people with mental illnesses were institutionalized and kept out of the public eye. Also in earlier times to treat them, they would do a frontal lobotomy, removal of a section of brain in the frontal lobe said to control their personality. Their thought was if they took away their personality, (by removing their frontal lobe or part of it) it would make them easier to deal with and easier to care for. Now days, when people show signs of a mental illness such as obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, or schizophrenia they are treated by medication, therapy, and sometimes still institutionalization.

The adolescent years are the most important for influencing a child’s life. Therefore, when a child spends its infancy or adolescent years in institutionalization, they are more likely to develop...
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