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Psychological Theories + Application

by: Gina

Psychological Theories + Application PSYC 3005 31

Marketplace > Fairleigh Dickinson University > Psychology > PSYC 3005 31 > Psychological Theories Application

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About this Document

These notes cover an example case study, the beginning of the section explaining the theories, and application of these theories in relation to the case study provided.
Abnormal Psychology
Donalee Brown
Class Notes
Psychology, abnormal psych
25 ?




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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Gina on Friday September 23, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSYC 3005 31 at Fairleigh Dickinson University taught by Donalee Brown in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see Abnormal Psychology in Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University.


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Date Created: 09/23/16
Case study and application of theories Phillip Burmen  25 , single  One of two children  Middle class family  Perceives his father as being very weak and ineffectual  Completely dominated by a cruel and domineering mother  Hates his mother with an almost uncontrollable rage  Claims his mother called his names and harmed him when he was younger  Claims his parents are a powerful, rich, selfish couple  His parents contacted the psychologist and claims his behavioral problems started around age 10, when his younger brother was born  Phillip doesn’t remember his brother being born, said it probably didn’t matter  Phillip’s mom was once hospitalized for depression (meaning it was serious) – she blows it off and says she doesn’t believe in psychology  Went to college, has average grades  3 different jobs in publishing companies, never lasting more than a year  Placed the blame on others – they didn’t appreciate him, etc. etc.  Still lived at home, would hang around the how for months until his parents prodded him to get a job (unmotivated)  Numerous occasions where he felt that people didn’t appreciate him, had frequent arguments because of this  No outside interests, spent most of his time alone, made no real connections to people  Had a constant air of anger around him  Former copy editor for a large publishing company  Just got out of the hospital after a suicide attempt  Deeply gashed wrists with a razor, watched his blood drip into the tub for a while before calling his father  Went to the ER to get his wrist stitched up  Convinced doctor and himself he could go home  Stayed in his room all day, didn’t come out or want to eat food  Dad went to bring him food, Phillip took the tray and threw it against the wall  Said he didn’t want to see his father  He eventually calmed down and told his dad he thinks he should go to the hospital again  The night before, he had ran into his ex-girlfriend at the bar o She was there with another guy, invited Phillip to come sit with them o Phillip has two drinks, couldn’t concentrate and was very upset o He worked himself into a jealous rage o Trying to figure out how he could pay her back  Burmen had been frequently depressed  Since he was 21 had periods of depression  Hard on himself for his limited social life, mad at himself for never having sexual intercourse  Told his therapist he could laugh at him for never having sex  Had several girlfriends but felt he was very critical of them o Felt it wasn’t a rewarding relationship o Broke up with them  Had seen 3 different psychiatrists over the last year o This showed that he needed medications and was on medications o Had gotten different medications from each doctor o Had an unusual reaction to one medication o Said the hospital that he had to stay in was a dump  They didn’t listen to him  Said they treated patients sadistically o Doctor, when contacted, said that Burmen was a very aggressive and uncooperative patient  Had repeated and frequent aggressive episodes  Left the hospital AMA – against medical advice  Collateral Contacts: The psychologist has contacted many different people that the patient has had contact with, since you cannot get all your information from the patient – you need signed permission from the patient to do this  Would ask how he was feeling right then (if he felt like hurting him)  He has difficulty interacting with people socially  Seems to be somewhat self conscious  Feels as though he’s been neglected – doesn’t acknowledge his anger that arose with the birth of his brother  His parents report it, but he does not  Depression – shows that he’s maladaptive to his life Look at this case through the different theories, try to explain his behavior The patient’s depression  Biological theory: the patient could have been born with the chemical imbalances in his brain, making him predisposed to have depression and cycles of depression.  Psychodynamic theory: Although the patient does not acknowledge the birth of his brother as the beginning of his behavior issues, his parents noted it. He may have felt as though he was not good enough for his parents, or that his parents were trying to replace him with his younger brother. This could be a definite cause for the depression he has suffered from throughout his life. This would also explain the suicide attempt after he had seen his ex-girlfriend with another man – this would be another instance where he has felt replaced in his life.  Erikson/Psychosocial theory: In the case study, it was mentioned that the patient never really made anything meaningful connections with people, and when he did have girlfriends he was very critical of them. The lack of interactions with people may have caused him to be depressed, as well as his constant feeling of being critiqued and judged by others. The lack of meaningful connections with others may have led the patient to feel isolated.  Behavioral theory: Since the patient began acting out after his perceived replacement with his younger brother, it is possible to say that he was conditioned to respond to being replaced by acting out. It isn’t that his parents actually did replace him with his brother, but he was receiving less attention do to his parents having to care for the brother. As most children do, Phillip began acting out to try and get the attention from his parents back. As he got older and the depression began to arise, his way of acting out when he saw his ex girlfriend with another man was to attempt suicide. In both of these cases he’s receiving the attention he wants, but not for good reasons.  Cognitive theory: Phillip may have a cognitive problem that causes him to feel replaced – he did not understand that his parents having another kid meant that he wasn’t being replaced. This misunderstanding may have led to him thinking that he could be replaced and that he was disposable, which we see in his constantly switching jobs. Phillip’s depression could stem from him being unable to understand that he isn’t being replaced, and that he is not being constantly scrutinized.  Humanistic-Existential Theory: Due to Phillip feeling as though he was replaced by his brother when he was a child, he may have developed a much lower value of himself. His depression may have developed due to this low self value, making him feel has though he was never good enough. As well as the depression being caused by this self value, Phillip has a history of being unmotivated to get a job once he has left his previous job. According to this theory, Phillip’s depression may also be stemming from his avoidance of getting a job.  Sociocultural Theory: If Phillip did not receive as much attention from his parents after his brother was born, he may have unlearned or never finished learning the rules that his parents would instill on him. As well as that possibility, since Phillip never really made connections with people nor did he really get involved in social groups, he may have never finished learning the societal expectations that one would develop in these groups. Theories Theoretical Perspectives and Application to Abnormal Psychology  The first thing we do is try to explain why a person has an illness, through a theoretical perspective  Example: A person has anxiety that is so bad it prevents them from going outside because they have been mugged. They feel as though they are too vulnerable when they go outside. This could be explained by the Behavioral theory – this person was mugged, and in order to avoid danger, they fear going outside.  We have theories in our lives – think of words to live by that your parents have told you o Treat others how you want to be treated o If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all  We were all raised, for the most part, with a theoretical approach to life Theoretical Model  Spells out basic assumptions  Gives order to the field under study  Set guidelines  Everyone has a basic theoretical model when we’re raised  Finding a theory that is applicable can help people find treatment that can help them  You can look at the historical treatments based on these theories  Every theory has a type of treatment  Biological Theories  Psychological Theories (on a continuum)  Sociocultural Theories Biological Model  Views abnormal behavior as an illness  Brain malfunction may be main cause of abnormal behavior (regions of the brain, neurotransmitters, genes)  A biological theorist would say that Phillip’s symptoms, from our case study, would be caused by abnormalities in the brain  The brain is made up of a hundred million cells, and made up of thousands of additional cells called glia  All these areas of the brain have different functions  Messages are sent as impulses throughout the brain  They are first received by the dendrites, like antennae on the end of the neuron  From there, it travels down the axon of the neuron  The synapse separates one neuron from another, the electrical impulses must travel across this space via neurotransmitters o They are chemicals that lead the neurons to either fire again, or not fire  Researchers have identified dozens of neurotransmitters in the brain o These neurotransmitters can be a cause of mental illnesses o Low GABA can lead to anxiety o Excessive dopamine can lead to schizophrenia o Low serotonin can lead to depression  Researchers have also learned that there is another chemical in the body that can effect behavior o Hormones, that come from the adrenal gland (the endocrine) affect our bodies greatly during puberty o Ex. The adrenal gland can secret cortisol, which creates the fight or flight feeling, excess of this can cause anxiety o When your body has a burst of cortisol, other systems shut down so you may flee or fight, whichever your body needs  Family history, so genetic make up, can cause a person to have a biological predisposition to have certain disorders  Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other disorders can be hereditary Biological Therapies  The psychologist would look for clues in the family’s history (genetic predisposition)  Physiological effects  Drug therapy o Psychotropic drugs (anti anxiety, anti depressants, mood stabilizers, anti psychotics) o This is relatively new! Within the last 50 years o Many people may take a medication for a while, and the medications stop working  Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) o Works almost as a reset button when a patient is no longer helped by medication o Used very widely on depressed patients o Two electrodes are attached to a person’s forehead, and an electrical current is passed through the brain and causes a seizure o This seizure lasts for a few minutes  Psychosurgery o Isn’t usually used – related back to lobotomies and the prehistoric practice of chipping a hole in the brain o Things like this are still done now, but they’re experimental o They now have fewer unwanted side effects  Example: In the case study, Phillip had had some drinks the night he had seen his ex. With his already low serotonin levels, and alcohol being a depressant, his reaction was exaggerated Diathesis-Stress Model Case – Client who had just graduated college  Done very well in high school, went to Colgate university  Great all around guy  Parents are both successful attorneys  Both also have mood disorders, but they were functional  Father had bipolar disorder  Mother had depression and eating disorders  In his senior year of college, he had a huge honors project and was worried about doing well  He had a possibility of getting a job at the white house from his mother’s connections  He started taking Adderall, but he didn’t have ADHD.  He took this because it has a paradoxical affect  He was partying a lot since it was his senior year, along with taking more Adderall  He began getting agitated, due to the ups and downs his brain became very scrambled  He would only allow himself to sleep 15 minutes on the weekdays, and an hour on weekends  By the time he graduated, he was a mess  He went to visit his grandparents after he graduated and he had a break  He was at the airport and became very paranoid  Thought he saw all his parents friends at the airport, telling them all this advice  He was convinced that the airline was trying to keep him on the ground  He was put on a no fly list  He went to Colorado with his friends and had an additional break  He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and remained there for a while While Michael did not have a mood disorder himself, he had a pretense for them. Chances are, if he had not put so much stress on himself, he would have been fine.  He now has bipolar disorder, and will be on bipolar medication for his whole life  If there is a major stressor in someone’s life can cause these mental illnesses to develop  This all depends on a person’s support system, their familial support, their personal resilience  A person can have a genetic predisposition to have a disorder, but it never has to arise


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