I. Defining and Explaining Abnormal Behavior
  • Abnormal behavior- a mental illness that affects or is manifested in a person's brain and can affect the way the individual thinks, behaves, and interacts with others
  • Three criteria: deviant
maladaptive
personally distressful
A. Theoretical Approaches to Psychological disorders
1. Biological Approach- organic and internal causes
-Focus is on brain, genetic factors, and neurotransmitters
2. Psychological Approach- emphasizes the contributions of experiences, thoughts, emotions, and personality characteristics
3. Sociocultural Approach- Social contexts in which a person lives
- cultures influence the way psychological disorders are understood and treated
4. Biopsychosocial Model- Abnormal behavior is affected by biological factors, psychological factors and sociocultural factors.
- all significant in producing both normal and abnormal behavior
B. Classifying Abnormal Behavior
1. Provides a common basis for communicating
2. If an individual's disorder has a name it can be a comfort and a signal that a person may expect relief
3. Labeling a disorder can also have negative outcomes as the person may become ashamed or shunned by others who do not approve
4. DSM-IV
- classes individuals on the basis of five axes
II. Anxiety Disorders
  • Involve fears that are uncontrollable, disproportionate to the actual danger the person might be in, and disruptive of ordinary life
  • Features: motor tension, hyperactivity, apprehensive expectations and thoughts
  • Five types of Anxiety Disorders:
-Generalized anxiety disorder- sufferers experience persistent anxiety for at least six months and are unable to specify the reasons for the anxiety
-Panic disorder- a person experiences recurrent, sudden onsets of intense apprehension or terror, without warning and no specific cause
-Phobic disorder- irrational, overwhelming, persistent fear of a particular object or situation (also called a phobia)
-Obsessive-compulsive disorder- (OCD) anxiety-provoking thoughts that will not go away and/or urges to perform repetitive, ritualistic behaviors to prevent or produce some future situation
-Post-traumatic stress disorder- (PTSD) develops through exposure to a traumatic event that has overwhelmed the person's abilities to cope
III. Mood Disorders
  • there is a primary disturbance of mood: prolonged emotion that takes over the person's entire emotional state
1. Depressive Disorders- the individual suffers from depression: an unrelenting lack of pleasure in life
- Major depressive disorder (MDD) involves a significant depressive episode and depressed characteristics for at least two weeks
- Dysthymic disorder (DD) generally more chronic and has fewer symptoms than MDD; individual is in a depressed mood for most days for two years as an adult and one year as a child or adolexcent
  • Biological Factors- specific brain structures and neurotransmitters are involved
  • Psychological Factors- an individual's acquisition of feelings of powerlessness when exposed to aversive circumstances
2. Bipolar Disorder- extreme mood swings that include one or more episodes of mania
- Two kinds: Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorder
3. Suicide
- not diagnosable
- a tragic consequence of psychological disorders; most commonly: depression and anxiety
- thinking about suicide is not considered abnormal, attempting or completing the act is abnormal
  • Biological Factors- genetics seem to play a role, and a number of studies have linked it to low levels serotonin
  • Psychological Factors- mental abuse and trauma can contribute to suicidal thoughts- feelings of being alone and hopelessness
  • Sociocultural Factors- ecomonic hardship can contribute along with ethnic and cultural stress
-A major risk factor is the abuse of alcohol
4. Dissociative Disorders
- Dissociative refers to a state in which the person feels disconnected from immediate experience
- involve a sudden loss of memory or change in identity
-believed to be a way of dealing with extreme stress
-Three types:
  • Amnesia- the inability to recall certain events; can result from a blow to the head; Dissociative Amnesia is a type of amnesia characterized by extreme memory loss as a result of extreme psychological stress
  • Dissociative Fugue- individual not only develops amnesia but also travels away from home and assumes a new identity
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder- (mulitple personality disorder) most dramatic, least common, and most controversial disorder; two or more distinct personalities in which one dominates at one time and each having their own behavior patterns and memories and relationships; changes usually occur under distress
5. Schizophrenia- severe psychological disorder characterized by highly disordered thought processes
- see things that are not there
- hear voices
- live in a strange world of twisted logic
- it can be debilitating
- suicide risk is eight time that of the general population
  • Symptoms-
  1. Positive- hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and disorders of movement
  2. Negative- social withdrawl, behavioral deficits, loss or decrease of normal functions
  3. Cognitive- difficulty sustaining attention, problems holding information in memory, and inability to interpret information and make decisions
  • Causes-
  1. Biological- heredity, brain abnormalties, and problems in neurotransmitter regulation
  2. Psychological- difficult childhood experiences with parents, stress can contribute to the development
  3. Sociocultural- not considered a cause but that factors do affect the course of the development
6. Personality Disorders- chronic, maladaptive cognitive-behavioral patterns that are thoroughly integrated into an individual's personality
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder- characterized by guiltlessness, law-breaking, exploitation of others, irresponsibility, and deceit
  • Borderline Personality Disorder- a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions, and of marked impulsivity beginning in early adulthood
7. Psychological Disorders and Health and Wellness
- psychological disorders are about people
- clearly present a challenge to living a healthy and full life
  • Consequences of Stigma
- can provoke prejudice and discrimination and can negatively affect the physical health of an individual
  • Overcoming Stigma
- one way to help eliminate stigma is to not think of people with disorders as a person with limitations- recognize their strengths and achievements, give them a postive environment


- Work done by Amber Levita

Works Cited:
King, Laura A. The Science Of Psychology. 2nd. New York : McGraw-Hill , 2008. 488-516. Print.