Comer Abnormal Psychology Chapter 1

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Abnormal Psychology
The scientific study of abnormal behavior in an effort to describe, predict, explain, and change abnormal patterns of functioning.
Clinical Scientists vs. Clinical Practitioners
Clinical Scientists: gather info so they may describe, predict and explain the phenomena they study.
Clinical Practitioners: detect, assess, and treat abnormal patterns of functioning.
The 4 D’s
Deviance, Distress, Dysfunction, Danger
Different, extreme, unusual, and bizzare
Unpleasant and upsetting to the person.
Interferingwith the person’s ability to conduct daily activities in a constructive way.
Poing risk of harm
Behaviors, thoughts, and emotions differ markedly from a society’s idea of what proper functioning.

Social norms

Judgments of abnormality vary from society to society as “norms” grow from a particular culture.

Also dependent on specific circumstances.

According to many clinical theorists, behaviors, ideas, or emotions usually have to cause distress before they can be abnormal… However this isn’t always the case.
Abnormal behavior tends to be dysfunctional-it interferes with daily functioning, however here again culture plays a role in the definition of abnormality.
Abnormal behavior may become dangers to oneself or others.

Behavior can be careless, hostile, or confused.

Although danger is often cited as a feature of psychological abnormality, research suggests that dangerousness is the exception rather than the rule.

What is treatment
After clinicians decide that a person is “suffering from abnormality” they seek to treat it.

Treatment or therapy is a procedure designed to change an abnormal behavior -> more normal behavior.

3 Features of Treatment
According to Jerome Frank
1. A sufferer who seeks relief from the healer.
2. A trained, socially accepted healer is accepted by the sufferer and his/her social group.
3. A series of contact between the healer and sufferer, where the healer tries to produce certain changes in the suffers’s emotional state, attitudes, and behavior.
Ancient Views and Treatments
Historians have concluded that ancient societies probably regarded abnormal behavior as the work of evil spirits

This view may have begun as far back as the Stone Age

The treatment for severe abnormality was to force the demons from the body through trephination and exorcism

believed and taught that illnesses had natural causes

He looked to an unbalance of the four fluids, or humors

To treat psychological dysfunctioning, Hippocrates sought to correct the underlying physical pathology

Europe in the Middle Ages: Demonology Returns
The church rejected scientific forms of investigation, and it controlled all education

Religious beliefs came to dominate all aspects of life

Once again, abnormality was seen as a conflict between good and evil

Abnormal behavior apparently increased greatly during this period

Some of the earlier demonological treatments reemerged

At the close of the Middle Ages, demonology and its methods began to lose favor again

The Renaissance and the Rise of Asylums
Demonological views of abnormality continued to decline

German physician Johann Weyer believed that the mind was as susceptible to sickness as the body

The care of people with mental disorders continued to improve in this atmosphere

Across Europe, religious shrines were devoted to the humane and loving treatment of people with mental disorders

One, at Gheel, became a community mental health program of sorts

Unfortunately, this time also saw a rise of asylums – institutions whose primary purpose was care of the mentally ill

The intention was good care, but because of overcrowding they became virtual prisons

The Nineteenth Century: Reform and Moral Treatment
As 1800 approached, the treatment of people with mental disorders began to improve once again

Pinel (France) and Tuke (England) advocated moral treatment – care that emphasized moral guidance and humane and respectful techniques

In the U.S., Benjamin Rush (father of American psychiatry) and Dorothea Dix (Boston schoolteacher) were the primary proponents of moral treatment

Dix’s work led to the creation of state hospitals

By the end of the nineteenth century, several factors led to a reversal of the moral treatment movement:
Money and staff shortages
Declining recovery rates
Emergence of prejudice

By the early years of the twentieth century, the moral treatment movement had ground to a halt; long-term hospitalization became the rule once again

The Early Twentieth Century: Dual Perspectives
As the moral movement was declining in the late 1800s, two opposing perspectives emerged:

The Somatogenic Perspective
Abnormal functioning has physical causes

The Psychogenic Perspective
Abnormal functioning has psychological causes

The Early Twentieth Century: The Somatogenic Perspective
Two factors were responsible for the rebirth of this perspective:

Emil Kraepelin’s textbook argued that physical factors (such as fatigue) are responsible for mental dysfunction

New biological discoveries were made, such as the link between untreated syphilis and general paresis

Despite the general optimism, biological approaches yielded mostly disappointing results throughout the first half of the twentieth century, when a number of effective medications were finally discovered

The Early Twentieth Century: The Psychogenic Perspective
The rise in popularity of this perspective was based on work with hypnotism:

Friedrich Mesmer and hysterical disorders
Sigmund Freud’ s theory of psychoanalysis
Freud and his followers offered psychoanalytic treatment primarily to patients who did not require hospitalization – now known as outpatient therapy

By the early 20th century, psychoanalytic theory and treatment were widely accepted

How Are People with Severe Disturbances Cared For?
In the 1950s, researchers discovered a number of new psychotropic medications:
Antipsychotic drugs
Antidepressant drugs
Antianxiety drugs
These discoveries led to
deinstitutionalization and a rise in outpatient care

This change in care was not without problems

Outpatient care has now become the primary mode of treatment

Multicultural Psychology
In response to growing diversity in the U.S., this new area of study has emerged
Multicultural psychologists seek to understand how culture, race, ethnicity, gender, and similar factors affect behavior and thought and how people of different cultures, races, and genders may differ psychologically
What Are Today’s Leading Theories and Professions?
One of the most important developments in the field of abnormal psychology has been the growth of numerous theoretical perspectives, including:
At present, no single perspective dominates the clinical field
The Case Study
Provides a detailed, interpretative description of a person’s life and psychological problems
Can be a source of new ideas about behavior
Freud’s theories based mainly on case studies
May offer tentative support for a theory
May challenge a theory’s assumptions
May inspire new therapeutic techniques
May offer opportunities to study unusual problems

Has limitations:
Is reported by biased observers
Relies on subjective evidence
Provides little basis for generalization

The Correlational Method and The Experimental Method
Do not offer richness of detail
Do allow researchers to draw broad conclusions
Preferred method of clinical investigation
Typically involve observing many individuals
Researchers apply procedures uniformly
Studies can be replicated
Researchers use statistical tests to analyze results
Describing a Correlation
When variable change the same way, their correlation is said to have a positive direction
In a negative correlation, the value of one variable increases as the value of the other variable decreases
Variables also may be unrelated, meaning there is no consistent relationship between them
Special Forms of Correlational Research
There are two special forms of correlational study:
Epidemiological studies
Reveal the incidence and prevalence of a disorder in a particular population
Incidence = number of new cases that emerge in a given period
Prevalence = total number of cases in a given period
Longitudinal studies
Researchers observe the same individuals on many occasions over a long period
The Experimental Method
Statistics and research design are very important
Researchers must try to eliminate all confounds – variables other than the independent variable that may also be affecting the dependent variable
Three features are included in experiments to guard against confounds:
A control group
Random assignment
Blind design
The Control Group
A control group is a group of research participants who are not exposed to the independent variable, but whose experience is similar to that of the experimental group
By comparing the two groups, researchers can better determine the effect of the independent variable
Random Assignment
Researchers must also watch out for differences in the makeup of the experimental and control groups
To do so, researchers use random assignment – any selection procedure that ensures that every participant in the experiment is as likely to be placed in one group as another
Examples: coin flip; picking names out of a hat
Blind Design
A final confound problem is bias
To avoid bias by the participant, experimenters employ a “blind design,” in which participants are kept from knowing which assigned group (experimental or control) they are in
One strategy for this is providing a placebo – something that simulates real therapy but has none of its key ingredients
To avoid bias by the experimenter, experimenters employ a “double-blind design,” in which the experimenters and the participants are kept from knowing which condition of the study participants are in
Often used in medication trials
Alternative Experimental Designs
It is not easy to devise an experiment that is both well controlled and enlightening
Clinical researchers often must settle for designs that are less than ideal and include:
Quasi-experimental designs
Natural experiments
Analogue experiments
Single-subject experiments
In quasi-experimental, or mixed, designs, investigators do not randomly assign participants to groups, but make use of groups that already exist
Example: Children with a history of child abuse
To address the problem of confounds, researchers use matched control groups
These groups are “matched” to the experimental group based on demographic and other variables
Natural Experiments
In natural experiments, nature manipulates the independent variable and the experimenter observes the effects
Example: Psychological impact of flooding
Analogue experiments
Analogue experiments allow investigators to freely manipulate independent variables while avoiding ethical and practical limitations
They induce laboratory subjects to behave in ways that seem to resemble real life
Example: Animal subjects
single-subject experimen
In a single-subject experiment, a single participant is observed both before and after manipulation of an independent variable
An example is the ABAB, or reversal, design
ABAB (reversal) design
In an ABAB (reversal) design, a participant’s reactions are measured during a baseline period (A), after the introduction of the independent variable (B), after the removal of the independent variable (A), and after reintroduction of the independent variable (B)
Categories: Abnormal Psychology