Psych 101: Abnormal Psychology

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frequently occurring behavior is normal, while infrequent behavior is abnormal
not always applicable– intelligence
social norm deviance
going against norms or standards of society
dependent on situational context
situational context
social or environmental settings of a person’s behavior
subjective discomfort
emotional distress or pain
inability to function normally
sociocultural perspective
product of behavioral shaping within context of social groups
cultural relativity
need to consider the unique characteristics of culture in which behavior takes place
criteria for abnormality
Is the behavior unusual?
Does the behavior go against social norms?
Does the behavior cause subjective discomfort?
Is the behavior maladaptive (resulting in the inability to function)?
Does this behavior endanger self or others?
psychological disorder
abnormal behavior satisfying 2/5 criteria is classified as a _____________
biological model
psychological disorders have a biological or medical cause
Examples: schizophrenia related to chemical imbalances, and genetic variation
psychodynamic view
disorders result of repressing threatening thoughts/feelings in the unconscious mind
Example: ritualistic washing of hands
psychological disorders are a set of learned behaviors
Example: phobia of flying
biopsychosocial model
interactions between biological, psychological, and sociocultural influences cause abnormal behavior
Example: genetic X environment susceptibility to depression
(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) DSM IV
Used by most mental health professionals for diagnosis of psychological disorders
250 disorders included
Includes both statistics of disorder prevalence and disorder criteria
Axis 1
Axis of DSM-IV-TR:
clinical disorders—includes most psychological disorders (eg. depression, anxiety), except for personality disorders
Symptoms are transient
Axis 2
Axis of DSM-IV-TR:
personality disorders and mental disabilities
Symptoms are persistent
Axis 3
Axis of DSM-IV-TR:
physical and genetic disorders that affect wellbeing
Axis 4
Axis of DSM-IV-TR:
life stressors that may affect adjustment
Axis 5
Axis of DSM-IV-TR:
Global Assessment of Functioning
Overall judgment made on the person’s mental health and adjustment
labeling disorders:
helps psychological professionals communicate effectively and efficiently—common language
labeling disorders:
can affect how patients are viewed—bias has long lasting and power effects
putting things into a category which may actually be a continuum
anxiety disorder
main symptom of excessive or unrealistic anxiety and fearfulness
free floating anxiety
anxiety unrelated to any realistic, known factor — highly characteristic of anxiety disorders
phobic disorder
irrational, persistent fear of an object, situation, or social activity
social phobia
fear of interacting with others or being in social situations
Afraid of negative evaluation, avoid potentially embarrassing or humiliating situations
specific phobia
irrational fear of and object or specific situation
fear inescapable situations
Typically fear crowds, car traveling in planes/cars, leaving the house
Significant impairment compared to specific phobias
Severe cases result in person afraid to leave home
panic attack
sudden onset of intense panic, with multiple physical symptoms of stress, marked by feeling that one is dying
panic disorder
frequent attacks causing impairment are results in __________
panic disorder with agoraphobia
fear of panic attacks in public places prevents person from going to unfamiliar, exposed places
obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
intruding, recurring thoughts result in repetitive, ritualistic behaviors
Anxiety results when compulsion is not performed— negatively reinforcing
post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Symptoms include anxiety, dissociative symptoms, nightmares, problems with concentration
Hallmark symptom: relive the event in dreams and flashbacks
Onset occurs as long as 6 months post-event
generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
characterized by high levels of free-floating anxiety—person has feelings of dread and impending doom for >6 months
Usually occurs with other anxiety disorders and depression
psychodynamic model
cause of anxiety disorder:
repressed urges or conflicts attempting to surface create anxiety
behaviorist model
cause of anxiety disorder:
anxious behavioral patterns are learned
biological model
cause of anxiety disorder:
lower level of serotonin and GABA
decrease ability to calm oneself during stressors
cognitive model
cause of anxiety disorder:
irrational thinking patterns result in anxiety
make “mountains out of molehills”
all or nothing thinking
belief that only perfect performance will avoid failure
single negative event interpreted as pattern of defeat and failure
giving little importance to one’s successes or positive events/traits
mood disorder
disturbances in mood and emotions, in either direction
mild to moderate depression, but persistent, lasting 2 years or more
major depression
sudden depressed mood without any external cause
depressed most of the day, almost everyday
Symptoms: tiredness, sleeping disturbance (hypersomnia or insomnia), appetite and weight changes, excessive guilt or feelings of worthlessness, difficulties concentrating, thoughts of suicide
Most commonly diagnosed mood disorder, twice as common in females
inability to find pleasure in previously pleasurable activities
bipolar disorder
severe mood swings major depressive episodes and manic episodes
Rapid cycling between 2 poles of possible emotions
manic episode
marked by excessive excitement, energy, and elation or irritability
causes of mood disorders:
learned helplessness
social cognitive perspective
causes of mood disorders:
irrational negative, self-defeating thoughts about selves
learned helplessness may lead to these negative self-defeating thoughts
biological perspective
causes of mood disorders:
linked with abnormal signaling of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine
anorexia nervosa
reduced eating results in 15% or more below expected body weight
Causes physiological damage to heart, muscle tissue, and abnormal hormone secretion
Obsession with food and exercise
Distorted body image
bulimia nervosa
cycle of “binging” and inappropriate methods of avoiding weight gain
Binges or overeating (usually in secret) characterized by lack of self-control due to anxious or depressed mood and social stressors
May avoid weight gain via purging but also use laxatives, inducing vomiting, excessive exercise, fasting
dissociative disorder
break into conscious awareness, memory, or sense of identity
dissociative amnesia
loss of memory for personal information, either partial or complete
Psychological cause (non-physical)
Stressful, emotionally traumatic experience
Memory deficit can occur for one particular moment, or for all previous personal details
dissociative fugue
traveling away from familiar surroundings with amnesia about the trip, possibly for personal information
Sometimes will take on a new identity
Occur after emotional trauma
dissociative identity disorder
persona seems to have two or more distinct personalities within one body
Main “core” personality unaware of events occurring in other personalities—loses memory and time when “alter” personalities appear
psychodynamic perspective
causes of dissociative disorders:
method used to repress traumatic, threatening thoughts from consciousness
cognitive/behavioral perspective
causes of dissociative disorders:
“thought avoidance” is negatively reinforced
Person feels guilt/shame/anxiety about a traumatic event, and avoiding these thoughts becomes negatively reinforced
severe disorder characterized by disordered thinking, bizarre behavior, hallucinations, and inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality
psychotic disorder
severe break from reality
Results in disturbances in thinking, emotions, behavior, and perception
bizarre false beliefs continue to persist despite conflicting evidence
delusion of persecution
others trying to hurt them
delusion of reference
others are trying to talk specifically to them (books, TV, etc)
delusion of influence
being controlled by external forces
delusion of grandeur
convinced they are powerful and can save the world
hear voices or see things or people that are not present
flat affect
lack of emotional responsiveness
disorganized behavior, speech and odd facial gestures
biological model
causes of schizophrenia:
most prevalent
Genetics, inflammation in the brain, altered neurotransmitters, and brain structural deficits
stress vulnerability model
biological sensitivity created by genetics, then become further exacerbated by environmental factors
Categories: Abnormal Psychology