Historical Perspectives Of Abnormal Psychology

Topics: Abnormal psychology, Psychology, Sociology Pages: 8 (1005 words) Published: June 29, 2015

Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology
Johnny Williams
October 16, 2012

Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology focuses on abnormal behavior, its definition, classifications, explanations, and treatment (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Although its history is merely 100 years old, its story is richly textured. During its evolution, decisions regarding areas of focus evolved into six core concepts that enabled a more accurate definition of the field. To fully understand the scope and significance of contemporary abnormal psychology one must consider psychopathology and its origins, its distinct evolution, and the theoretical models of abnormality, which, in their diversity, attempt to treat those suffering from various disorders. This paper will concentrate on the genesis of Abnormal Psychology and go over a concise summary for how Abnormal Psychology has evolved into a methodical regulation.

The relatively young science of abnormal psychology has existed for approximately one hundred years although many forms of mental illness have been recorded throughout history. Stories from biblical times describe suffering similar to contemporary illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.

Briefly examine the origins of abnormal psychology. Include challenges to defining and classifying normal and abnormal behavior. One of the earliest known explanations for mental illness in primitive cultures was animism, predicated on belief in the power of the spirit world (Hansell & Damour, 2008). According to this view, mental affliction was associated with possession by an evil or hateful spirit. Archeologists have documented evidence of a treatment called trephination as early as 3000 BCE. This medical procedure consisted of boring holes into the skull to release the offending spirit (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Although this treatment seems archaic and primitive, in a world in which the spirit permeated life, it seemed a logical way to release the entrapped spirit. According to historic relativism, this was a normal reaction to a debilitating problem. Behavior vacillates on a wide spectrum between expected and accepted behavior and its abnormal counterpart, and identifying the point at which behavior deviates from normal and becomes abnormal is challenging. Hansell and Damour (2008) Abnormal behavior is often an exaggerated normal state with many shades of gray between it and its normal complement. Adding further challenge to differentiating between the two is the changing palette and cultural texture of humankind as it moves through time. Relativism, is the notion that normalcy and abnormality is defined within the relative parameter of the culture and period in which the behavior transpires. As such, the perception of behavior is always changing and relative to the social, cultural, and historical context surrounding and immediately preceding the behavior. Behavior and thinking considered pathological in one place and time is neither abnormal nor unexpected in another culture and period. The line of demarcation is somewhat arbitrary (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Provide a brief overview of how abnormal psychology has evolved into a scientific discipline.

During the course of scientific evolution, in 460 BCE Hippocrates attributed mental illness to the imbalanced biological state of four fluids within the human body. Although flawed, his explanations were a significant step toward contemporary medical thinking (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Early biological theory influenced other Greek physicians to diagnose according to medical observations rather than folklore, anecdote, or spiritual belief. In the forward movement of the medical field, associations made between psychological symptoms directly resulting from biological causes inspired new thinking (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Early in the twentieth century, two psychological perspectives emerged: somatogenic and...

References: Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2009). Theories of personality (7th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.
Hansell, J., & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal psychology (2nd ed.) [PDF]. Hoboken, NJ:
Comer, R. J. (2007). Abnormal psychology. New York: Worth.
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