Models of Abnormality
June 20, 2014
Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that studies unusual patterns of behavior, emotion and thought, which may or may not underlie a mental disorder. There are several models used to explain the nature and treatment of mental illness. A model is a set of assumptions and concepts that help scientists explain and interpret observations. Over the past half-century, improvements in clinical research has resulted in the shifts of values and beliefs in some models. All the models attempt to explain the causes and cures for all psychological illnesses, and all from a different approach. Through the centuries, approaches have developed and there are many models for explaining why a person may display abnormal behavior including the biological, psychodynamic, humanistic-existential, behavioral, and cognitive and the sociocultural approach. All models are unique and similar to each other, but the biological model and psychodynamic model seem to be the most extreme when compared to each other. The biological model takes on more of a medical perspective, it takes its roots in human biological or genetic makeup. The main focus of the biological approach is the brain and how psychological abnormality stems from malfunctioning parts of the person. The psychodynamic model, the oldest model, has a completely different approach than that of the biological model. The psychodynamic model states that a person's behavior is the result of underlying dynamic psychological forces, whether they are independent or interactive. A conflict between these dynamic forces is what causes abnormal behavior. Freud, the founder of the psychodynamic model, believed that it was an unconscious conflict between three forces: the id, ego, and superego. The biological model and the psychodynamic model take very different approaches on understanding thoughts and emotions.
The biological model is a popular one in modern psychology, and there are many reasons why. For one thing, it's a very scientific way of looking at problems. Brain scans and other forms of technology allow psychologists to see what is happening in a patient's head. Supporters of the medical model consequently consider symptoms to be outward signs of the inner physical disorder and believe that if symptoms are grouped together and classified into a syndrome, the true cause can eventually be discovered and appropriate physical treatment administered. The implication of this model for treatment is that it is possible to cure the patient by changing their biological processes. There are three suitable treatments; electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), drugs and psychosurgery. “Biological explanations may be structural (e.g., problems in brain structures), biochemical (e.g., neurotransmitter imbalance), or genetic (e.g., presence of certain genetic markers associated with psychological disorders).”( Hartmann P. The Five-Factor Model: Psychometric, biological and practical perspectives). Technology for studying the nervous system and brain has grown tremendously advanced with access to tools such as PET and MRI scans making the biological perspective in psychology increasingly important. “Many biopsychologists have concentrated on abnormal behavior and have tried to explain it in physiological terms. For example, they believe that schizophrenia is affected by levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter).” ( Hartmann P. The Five-Factor Model: Psychometric, biological and practical perspectives). The brain is composed of 100 billion nerve cells called neurons and thousands of billions of support cells called glia. Within the brain, large groups of neurons form distinct areas called brain regions. “Researchers have identified dozens of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Studies indicate that abnormal activity in certain neurotransmitters can lead to a specific mental disorder....
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