Psychological disorders affect a person’s everyday life, as well as the lives of the people around them. “Psychologist typically define abnormal behavior broadly, considering it to be behavior that causes people to experience distress and prevent them from functioning in their daily lives” (Feldman, 2009, p.518). In order to diagnose psychological disorders we need to be able to judge what normal and abnormal behavior is. In this essay I will address the topic of psychological disorders by reflecting on; perspectives on abnormality, major psychological disorders, and different approaches to treatment of psychological disorders.
In Understanding Psychology, Feldman reflects on a few definitions for abnormality; Abnormality as deviation from the average, abnormality as deviation from the ideal, and abnormality as a sense of personal discomfort, to name a few. (2009). Abnormality as deviation from average is when we will observe the behavior of others and acknowledge their behavior as a reflection on that culture or society. We observe abnormality when those behaviors are rare in that society. Abnormality as deviation from the ideal is when we consider abnormality as behavior which does not reach universal standards and codes of conduct. Last, abnormality as a sense of personal discomfort considers behavior abnormal if it produces personal discomfort and pain to the individual or those around them.
In today’s world of modern science, there are six major perspectives on abnormality. They are; medical, psychoanalytic, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, and sociocultural. “These perspectives suggest not only different causes of abnormal behavior but different treatment approaches as well” (Feldman, 2009, p.519). Before these perspectives came to exist, society’s in history assumed unknowledgeable positions about abnormal behavior. An example of this is how they would put people away and declare them metal insane without any further type of diagnose. They did not have the tools or knowledge that we have today.
Medical perspectives on abnormal behavior suggest that when people display this type of behavior it is because of some kind of fundamental cause that could be linked to hormonal imbalance, a chemical deficiency, or brain injury. (2009). In past studies, abnormal behaviors such as depression and schizophrenia have been associated with biological and genetic factors. Medical perspectives also suggest that a physical examination will identify the cause of these abnormal behaviors.
In contrast to a medical perspective is the psychoanalytic perspective which suggests that abnormal behavior is a product of action that stems from childhood experiences and conflicts in regards to sex and aggression. “According to Freud, children pass through a series of stages in which sexual and aggressive impulses take different forms and produce conflicts that require resolution” (Feldman, 2009, p.520). What this means is that unresolved conflicts from childhood experiences stick with an individual through adulthood thus resulting in them acting abnormal. Although this is just a perspective, it indicates that previous experiences in ones life can have profound effects on their psychological state of being.
The behavioral perspective refers to the actual behavior itself as the problem. In contrast to psychoanalytic perspectives and medical perspectives that look at symptoms of abnormal behavior, the behavioral perspective focuses its attention on the behavior as the problem. “Using the basic principles of learning, behavioral theorists see both normal and abnormal behaviors as responses to various stimuli, responses that have been learned through past experience and that are guided in the present by stimuli in the individual’s environment” (Feldman, 2009, p.521). What a theorist does in order to explain abnormal behavior from a behavioral perspective is analyze where and how that individual learned the...