History of Abnormal Psychology

Topics: Psychology, Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, Abnormal psychology Pages: 5 (1333 words) Published: July 31, 2010

Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology
Psychology 410
Abnormal Psychology

Throughout the history of human kind there has been a fascination of human behavior, especially behaviors that are considered to be abnormal. Dating back to biblical times the pursuit of clarity and the desire to cure such behaviors has existed. Theories ranging for demonic possession to biological perspective have been considered. This intense research led to the development of the abnormal psychology, which would later blossom into a scientific discipline. This paper endeavors to examine and illustrate the unique and extensive history of the discipline of psychology that has made such a great impact in the understanding of mental development, cognition deficiency, disorders, and ailments. Origins of Abnormal Psychology

The journey of Abnormal Psychology has been ever changing; the growth within this discipline has come an extremely long way. Over the centuries there has been an overwhelming interest of human behavior, especially “abnormal” behavior. This intense curiosity evoked a desire to explain and understand such behavior. According to researchers, the exhibit of abnormal human behaviors can be dated back before Biblical history (Damour & Hansell, 2008). Such findings can be proven by the writings of early Egyptian writings, as well as the examination of early human skulls. The results of these studies revealed the presences of rituals that were performed with the intentions of ridding the individual from their abnormal behavior. A technique used during the ritual was cutting a hole into the forehead of the individual, in order to release the evil spirits or demons that were believed to be controlling the mind and behavior of the individual. This method is known as trephining- releasing, which is the releasing of mind and body controlling demons by using a trephine to cut a hole in the skull. Other methods previously used were exorcism and frontal lobotomies. Exorcism is the driving out of demonic spirits by way of prayer, fasting, or magical practices; and lobotomy is the cutting of the frontal lobe, which altered behavior and damaged the frontal area of the brain. During early history there has been a back and forth belief of the cause of mental abnormalities, between spiritual and biological. The earliest the biological cause of abnormalities can be seen is 460 B.C. by Hippocrates who introduced an absolute biological account of abnormal behavior. According to his position, if there is an imbalance of four vital fluids the development of mental illness occurs, which are phlegm, blood, yellow bile, and black bile. This position was a scientific evolution, though this theory was flawed, and it elucidates abnormalities from a completely physical aspect. This perspective was the foundation of the scientific discipline of which psychopathology was built upon and through this aspect was true clarity of abnormality discovered.

Evolution of Abnormal Psychology into a Scientific Discipline Ancient Greeks offered a more biological explanation of abnormal behaviors, with the use of terminology such as anxiety and hysteria. They not only diagnosed symptoms of hysteria, but they prescribed a course of treatment as well. Because it tends to impact the female demographic and alter the physical body, Greek physicians were led to believe that the uterus flooded about the body causing blockage of the vital fluids aforementioned. By 1896 Sigmund Freud introduced a systematic theory of psychodynamics, which gave a psychological explanation of hysteria (Damour & Hansell, 2008; History of psychology, 2010). With Freud’s studies, which were primarily based upon case studies, he presented an explanation for the mysterious manifestations associated with hysteria. This was made possible through Freud’s theory of the conflicts shared between the conscious and subconscious...
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