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Abnormal Psychology Notes Week 1

by: Ashlyn Masters

Abnormal Psychology Notes Week 1 PSYC 3560

Marketplace > Auburn University > Psychlogy > PSYC 3560 > Abnormal Psychology Notes Week 1
Ashlyn Masters
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About this Document

These notes cover an introduction to abnormal psychology as well as casual factors and viewpoints
Abnormal Psychology
Dr. Fix
Class Notes




Popular in Abnormal Psychology

Popular in Psychlogy

This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ashlyn Masters on Friday January 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSYC 3560 at Auburn University taught by Dr. Fix in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 89 views. For similar materials see Abnormal Psychology in Psychlogy at Auburn University.


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Date Created: 01/22/16
Introduction to Abnormal Psychology 1/19/16 Overview • Define “abnormal behavior” – it’s not very straightforward to define (need for than 1 of these factors to be categorized as normal) o Deviant- is the behavior uncommon or statistically rare? § Deviancy • Can be a good deviancy (Cam is deviant at football, Yo-Yo Ma is deviant at playing cello) § Violation of societal standards • What is normal and abnormal is culturally relative • Most disorders exist cross-culturally (but prominent features may differ) o Distressing § Suffering • Does the behavior cause distress for the person? • Everyone experiences distress from time to time § Social discomfort • Does the behavior impact others? Uncomfortable to interact with the person? o Debilitating § Maladaptiveness • Does the behavior lead to some type of impairment or interfere with one’s life? • E.g., substance abuse § Irrationality or unpredictability Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM) • Has existed since 1952, with several revisions • Current edition: DSM-5 (just released in May 2013) • Syndromes/disorders • Groups disorders by category • Checklist of observable symptoms • Why do we have it? o Used to classify disorders o Often guides treatment, provides codes for insurance companies o Can be used to guide research o Classification comes with its own problems § Advantages: provides a nomenclature for structuring information, facilitates communication, facilitates research, practical reasons § Disadvantages: stigmatization (stereotyping, labeling), loss of information, diagnostic categories are heterogeneous • Defining abnormal according to the DSM-5 o Clinically significant syndrome o Distress or disability (impaired functioning) o Not culturally sanctioned o Considered to reflect behavioral, psychological…. o Symptoms alone are not enough Stigma and Stereotyping • Stigma: a mark of disgrace; a mark characteristic of a defect • Stereotype: an automatic, simplified and standardized conception of a group; to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same • Be proactive and reduce prejudice o Spend time with people who differ from you o Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable o Ask difficult questions (with permission) o Be an ally for underserved populations Casual Factors and Viewpoints 1/21/16 Culturally Specific Disorders • What can we learn from these disorders? o The DSM is very focused on Western European cultures o The interesting notion that our culture can shape our mental health § Positives: means we can do something about mental health § Negatives: can make things more difficult o The authors of the DSM care enough about cultural differences to mention them § Limited research § Very low prevalence in clinical cases seen in dominant Western culture • Criticisms of the DSM-5 o Are disorders truly categorical (i.e., have it or not)? o Arbitrary cutoffs o Lack of theory about etiology o Lack of scientific support General Issues and Terminology - Studying causes of abnormal behavior, or psychopathology, is very difficult - There is generally not one sole cause for a disorder - Often competing theories about what causes a disorder • Terminology o Etiology: the study of causation, or origination, of [psychological] disorders o Necessary Cause: something that HAS to happen in order for something else to occur o Sufficient Cause: enough to get the job done. Without more information, you can’t assume that it’s a requirement § Decapitation is sufficient to cause death. However, there are other causes of death o Contributory Cause: increases the probability of a disorder developing but is not necessary or sufficient (most studied within psychology) o Distal: causal factors that occur relatively early before the onset of the disorder (genetics to depression) o Proximal: causal factors that occur prior to the onset of a disorder (bullying to depression) • The relationships between causal factors and psychopathology are reciprocal Etiological Models • Diathesis-Stress Model o Many disorders are believed to develop as the result of some kind of stressor operating on a person with a diathesis, or vulnerability, for that disorder • Bio-psycho-social Model o Complex interaction of biological, psychological and social/cultural factors • Biological Viewpoint o Disorders are diseases of the nervous and endocrine systems that are inherited or caused by some pathological process o Disorders are the result of neurological abnormalities o Biological factors interact with psychological and sociocultural factors o Biological factors: § Often genetically determined § Impact normal and abnormal behavior § Biological differences do not necessarily classify something as an illness, as all behaviors are biologically determined • Biological Causes o Neurotransmitter Abnormalities: abnormalities in the communication between neurons § Types of abnormalities • Too much production • Dysfunctions in deactivation o Too long/short in synapse • Problems with receptors o Too sensitive o Not recognizing neurotransmitter o Hormonal Abnormalities: endocrine system influences nervous system § Sex hormones are also implicated • Testosterone, estrogen, progesterone • Influences of hormones on developing nervous system partially explain sex differences in behavior § Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis • Stress response system • Problems in this system related to depression and post- traumatic stress disorder o Genetic Vulnerabilities: chromosomal abnormalities and gene abnormalities § However, most disorders are not related to chromosomal abnormality § Epigenetics: DNA expression changes based on experience • Molecules attach/influence DNA • DNA passed on to offspring may have molecules attached to it (with changes from parent experience) § Genotype (genetic code)-environment correlation • Passive effect: parent and child genetically similar • Evocative effect: others respond differentially • Active effect: child seeks out certain environments § Genotype-environment interaction • Phenotype (observed characteristics) § Twin Studies • Concordance: percentage of twins sharing disorder or trait • Disorder entirely due to genetics, monozygotic twins should be 100% concordant, and dizygotic twins ~50% concordant • If a disorder is entirely due to environment, MZ twins and MZ twins should be about equally concordant • If genes and environment play a role, MZ twins will have higher concordance than DZ twins o Temperament: a child’s characteristic emotional and arousal response to various stimuli (almost like a “baby personality”) § Believed to be biologically based § May form the basis of our future personality § Interacts with our environments § Environment still makes a big difference • Psychological Viewpoints o Attachment Theory § Harry Harlow: conducted a series of famous experiments § Gave baby monkeys a choice btween 2 artificial “mothers” (a soft terrycloth mother without food or a wire mother with food) § Baby monkeys form a closer attachment with the terrycloth mother o


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