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» A-Level Psychology Notes Abnormal Behaviour
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Posted on: May 2nd, 2011

Abnormal behavior – Behavior that is maladaptive and harmful

Behaviorist – Medical Model/Disease Model – Forerunner of the biological approach, abnormality is a disease or illness precipitated by internal physical causes.

Interactionist – Abnormal behavior is influence by biological factors (brain processes), psychological factors (emotional turmoil), and by social factors (inadequate relationships).

Woman are diagnosed more then males because

  1. Woman more likely to behave in ways that others label as mental disorders.
  2. Woman are taught to express their emotions, while men are trained to control them.
  3. Woman have unequal social positions and greater discrimination, more likely to experience trauma-inducing circumstances
  4. Woman often placed in ‘double-blind’ situations in society. Woman labeled as mentally disordered for either over conforming or under conforming to feminine gender role stereotypes.

Anxiety Disorders – Psychological disorders that include the following main features: motor tension (jumpiness, trembling, inability to relax); hyperactivity (dizziness; a racing heart, perspiration) and apprehensive expectorations and thoughts.

Types of anxiety disorder:

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Persistent anxiety for at least a month; the individual with a generalize anxiety disorder is unable to specify the reasons for anxiety.
  2. Panic Disorder – Reoccurring sudden onset of intense apprehension or terror. Feeling of impending doom, may not feel anxious all of the timeAnxiety attack strikeswithout warning and produces severe palpitations, extreme shortness of breathchest painstremblingsweatingdizziness, and feeling of helplessness. Victims seize by fear that they will die, go crazy or do something they cannot control.
  3. Phobic Disorders (Phobias) – Individual has irrational, overwhelming, persistent fear of a particular object or situation. Can pinpoint the cause of nervous feelings.
    1. Agoraphobia – Fear of entering unfamiliar situations, especially open or public spacesMore common phobic disorder.
    2. Psychoanalytical reasons why phobias develop as a defense mechanism to ward off threatening or unacceptable impulses.
    3. Learning theorist reason why phobia are learned fears.
    4. Cross-cultural psychologist phobias are influenced by cultural factors
  4. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Individual has anxiety provoking thoughts that will not go away (obsession) and/or urges to perform repetitiveritualistic behaviors to prevent or produce some future situation (compulsions)
    1. Repent & rehearse normal doubts & daily routines.
    2. Obsessive thinks; compulsive action.
    3. Most common excessive checking, cleaning, counting.
  5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Exposure to any of several traumatic events such as war; severely oppressive situations (holocaust), severe abuse (rape); natural disasters (floods); and accidental disaster (plane crashes). Anxiety symptoms that may immediately follow the trauma or by months of years.
    1. Symptoms
      1. Flash backs
      2. Constricted ability to feel emotions
      3. Excessive arousal
      4. Difficulties in memory and concentration
      5. Feelings of apprehension
      6. Impulsive outbursts of behavior
  6. Stomatoform Disorders – Mental disorders in which psychological symptoms take a physical or somatic, form even though no physical causes can be found.
    1. Hypochondriasis – Individual has a pervasive fear of illness and disease.
    2. Pill enthusiast
    3. Often depressed/ comes with other disorders
    4. Switch doctor to find diagnosis that matches their own
  7. Conversion Disorder – Individual experiences specific, genuine physical symptoms even though no physiological problems can be found
    1. Some loss of motor or sensory ability
    2. Unable to speed, may faint, become deaf or blind
  8. Dissociative Disorders – Sudden loss of memory or change in identify. Under extreme stress of shock, the individual’s conscious awareness becomes dissociated from previous memories and thoughts.
    1. Psychogenic Amnesia – Memory loss caused by extensive psychotically stress.
    2. Fugue – Individual develops amnesia, but also unexpectedly travels away from home and assumes a new identity.
    3. Multiple Personality – Individuals have two or more distinct personalities or selves.
  9. Mood Disorders – Wide emotional swings, ranging from deep depression to extreme euphoria and agitations.
    1. Major Depression – Individual is deeply unhappydemoralizedself-derogatory and bored showing changes in appetite, and sleep patternsdecreased energy,feelings of worthlessnessconcentration problems, and guilt feelings that might prompt thoughts of suicide.
  10. Bipolar Disorder – Individual might be depressed, manic, or both.
    1. Manic – Elation, exuberance, tireless stamina, humorous, scheming, tendency for excess, relentless, irritable, almost constant motion. Garbled incoherent, rapid speech. Do stuff not usually done.
    2. Causes
      1. Psychanalytic – Turing inward of aggressive instincts. Combo of insecure attachment to the mother, a lack of love and affection as child , and the actual loss of a parent during childhood gives ride to a negative cognitive set, or schema.
    3. Cognitive – Self-defeating ways, and negative expectations about the future, reflect schemas that shape the depressed individual’s experiences. Habitual negative thoughts magnify and expand a depressed person’s negative experiences.
    4. Biogenetic – Genetic inheritance and chemical changes in the brain. Depressed lacks neropinephrinemanic have more.
    5. Sociocultural – Society emphasis on self, independence and individualism, coupled with an erosion of connectedness to others, family and religion… widespread hopelessness.
  11. Schizophrenic Disorders – Characterized by distorted thoughts and perceptions, odd communication, inappropriate emotion, abnormal motor behavior, and social withdrawal. Individual’s mind is split from reality, and personality loses its unity.
    1. Words – Delusions, False beliefs, may think he is JC or Napoleon.
    2. Hallucinations – Hear, see, feel, smell and tast things now, often hear voices.
    3. World Salad – loose, incoherent, word associations, language does not follow any rules
    4. Disorganized schizophrenia – Individual has delusions and hallucinations. little or no recognizable meaning. Withdraws from human contact. Silly, childlike gestures and behavior
  12. Catatonic Schizophrenia — Bizarre motor behavior Immobile stupor.
  13. Paranoid schizophrenia — Delusions of reference, grandeur, and persecution…. Misinterpretation of actual events… delusions of reference (singled out for attn.) Misinterpret change events… Delusions of grandeur…(IM pope) delusions of persecution (target of conspiracy)
  14. Undifferentiated schizophrenia — Disorganised behavior, hallucinations, delusions, and incoherence.


  1. Genetics — high change of getting if it identical twin has it…
  2. Neurobiological — imbalances in brain chemistry… defects in brain metabolism, malfunction dopamine system, distorted cerebral blood flow…
  3. Enviro. Factor — Diathesis-stress view — combo of enviro & biogenetic disposition


Personality Disorders — Personality traits become inflexible and thus maladaptive

  1. Schizotypal Personality Disorder — Odd/eccentric cluster… appear to be in contact with reality, but many aspects of their behavior are distasteful… leads others to retreat or withdraw from them…
  2. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder — Anxious/fearful cluster of personality disorders… anxious adjustment is primary feature…
  3. Borderline Personality Disorder — dramatic/emotional/erratic cluster of personality disorders.
  4. Antisocial Personality Disorder — Dramatic/emotional/erratic cluster of personality disorders…. Most problematic disorder for society… often resort to crime, violence, and delinquency…

Substance-use Disorders?
Psychotherapy — process used by mental health professionals to help individuals recognize, define, and overcome their psychological and interpersonal difficulties and improve their adjustment.

  1. Talking, interpreting, listening, regarding, and modeling….
  2. Insight therapy — both psychodynamic and humanistic therapies.. encourage insight and awareness of oneself.

Psychodynamic theories — emp. Unconscious thought

  1. Psychoanalysis
    1. free associations
    2. Catharsis — release of emotional tension
    3. dream analysis
    4. manifest content — conscious part of dream
    5. latent content — unconscious part of dream
    6. Transference — client re-living imp. Relationships
    7. Resistance — unconscious defense strategies

Humanistic Therapies — encouraged to understand themselves, and grow personally… emp. Conscious thought , present (vs. past), growth & fulfillment.

  1. person- centered therapy — warm supportive atm… improve clients self concept and encourage the client to gain insight about problems…
  2. Gestalt therapy = questions and challenges clients to help them become more aware of their feelings and face their problems…

Behaviorist – principles of learning to reduce or eliminate maladaptive behavior

  1. systematic desensitivation
  2. Aversive conditioning — repeating pairing of undesirable behavior with aversive stimuli to decreases the behavior’s rewards so the individual will stop doing it…
  3. Flooding
  4. Behavior Modification

Cognitive — Emp. That the indiv’s cogitation or thoughts are the main source of abnormal behavior.

Attempt to change the indiv’s feeling and behaviors by changing cognitions.

  1. Rational-emotive therapy — Indivs. Become psychology disordered because of their beliefs, especially those that are irrational and self-defeating. ABCDE. Activation Experience, Believe, Consequences, Disputation, Effects.
  2. Beck’s Cognitive Therapy — Depression. 4 phases 1.) identify self labels 2.) notice when they are thinking distorted or irrational thoughts 3.) substitute appropriate thoughts. 4.) given feedback and motivation comments from the therapist to stimulate their use of these techniques.


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