Pathology and Vulnerability

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A Critical Analysis of the Concept of Vulnerability in Psychopathology

Even though the concept of ‘vulnerability’ in psychopathology is not a new one, there is still no general description of what comprises ‘vulnerability’. To the average person, vulnerability is familiar; individuals are vulnerable in the sense that they are prone to being injured or harmed. Psychological disciplines insightfully expand this description to include emotional trauma and the development of psychopathology (Pollock, 2001, 1172). However, as perceptively interesting as the idea of vulnerability has been, hardly any decisive or exact definitions of the concept are provided in scientific discourses. Apparently, straightforward and plain definitions of vulnerability are numerous. Vulnerability is like an umbrella that encompasses a multitude of factors and each factor is not only unique, but each combination produces its own unique outcome. Nevertheless, from a scientific perspective, replacing one weakly defined concept with another is an unacceptable way of understanding the features and intricacy of the concept of vulnerability (Carson, 2011, 145). In view of this, this essay provides a critical analysis of the concept of vulnerability in psychopathology. The concept of vulnerability in psychopathology is originally derived from the schizophrenia literature. Zubin and Spring (1977) were among the first scholars to clearly explain vulnerability. They explained that scientific development on the causes of schizophrenia was mostly unclear, and, consequently, researchers were usually disappointed with the sufficiency of the primary conceptual models of schizophrenia research (as cited in Ingram & Price, 2010, 49-50). In order to mitigate this issue, they hypothesized that vulnerability may be distinguished as the common trait that encompasses all of the different conceptual models of schizophrenia; thus, even though each of the primary empirical frameworks highlighted various...
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