The science of behavior and mental processes of both humans and animals

НазваниеThe science of behavior and mental processes of both humans and animals
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7.0 Objectives

Dear student! By the end of this chapter the student is expected to:

  • discuss the concept of normality and abnormality

  • outline the diagnostic statically manual (dsm) classification of mental illness.

  • discuss the relationship between genetic, environmental, neuro-chemical factors and mental disorders.

7.1 Introduction

Dear student! Despite some misconceptions, abnormal behavior is not limited to the strange actins of few individuals with unbalanced personality. We all have seen it in others to some degree and we all have experienced it ourselves. Abnormality' is part of every day life. Psychodrama s common in plays. Some characters play the role of a criminal offense, and others act as outlaws. Still others play. The role of drug abusers or alcoholics. What is interesting about Abnormal psychology is that it studies the unusual reactions and responses we make to our daily problems in life. Dear learner in this unit we will discuss about the abnormal psychology.

7.2 The Focus of Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology focuses on the following issues.

  • Why peoples show unusual reactions

  • How some people break with reality?

  • How communication fails between two or more peoples?

  • How violence erupts( Example terrorism)?

  • Why individual’s needs collide with social needs?

  • How sexual expression and enjoyment become blocked?

Abnormal psychology shares many things with others branches of psychology and discipline. Consider its relationship with the following sub fields of psychology. .

Mental health professionals


  • They get specialized training in mental hygiene settings

  • They receive training from medical school, followed by a three to four years practice in psychiatry

  • They are legally permitted to prescribe drugs and to use physical treatments such as electric shock and psychosurgery.

Clinical psychologists

They specialize in courses in

  • diagnosing and treating abnormalities.

  • They take courses in psychodynamics, psychotherapy

  • They are trained in psychological testing, research methodology and statistical designs.

Psychiatrics social workers

  • They obtain social history of the patient from families, investigate home conditions, and advise patients.

7.3 Defining Psychological Disorders

Problems in Defining ‘Abnormality’ and’ Normality’

Abnormality and Normality are difficult concepts to define. Human behavior is dynamic: because society is dynamic. Therefore before labeling a behavior as 'abnormal‘ 'normal‘ one has to look at the changing values in the society. One criterion in order to classify a behavior as abnormal or normal is violation of social accepted expectations. For example; in the southern Nations and Nationalities Regional states of Ethiopia the Surma people have a ritual ceremony called Donga. In this ceremony young adults are choosend and beat each others with long wooden sticks. The fighting goes until the actors bleed the one who tolerates the heavy lashes is taken as a hero. A stranger may consider the Donga play as savage act or may equate it as abnormal however play as savage act or may equate it as abnormal. However, for the Suram, it is a normal practice. It is a norm. a binding force in the particular society. Few citizens of Nazi Germany who actively resisted their government’s effort exterminate Jews can not be called abnormal. Though they violated social expectations. Worshiping ancestral ghosts in some cultures can be considered as abnormal, but in other widely accepted. There for, labeling a behavior as abnormal or normal on the basis of the social expectations is not always acceptable.

Abnormality and Normality have also statically connotation. Departures from the average are sometimes. Taken as abnormal. But they are not necessarily pathological. Pathology refers to harmful or undesirable departure from the average. If you find an usually intelligent person in relation to the general population, it can be abnormality but not pathological.

A behavior is said to be psychopathological if it is harmful to that person’s physical, social and mental health or proper functioning in the society. Is mental illness a diseases ? is behavior deviation an illness like a physical disorder? Or is it simply a disturbance in interpersonal relationships? These questions have different answers or instance compare the following tow views.

George Albea (1969). Former president of APA argued that, diagnosing and individual as sick when he is functions well as a member of society is not acceptable. He proposed that states hospital and public clinics should be replaced by social intervention centers staffed with less trained specialists like social workers.

In contrast David Ausbal (1990) Argued that:

  • personality disorder is a disease

  • considering mental disorders as both expressions of problems of living and manifestations of illness is almost the same.

  • a symptom need to necessarily reflect a physical wound or injury in order to qualify as a manifestation of disease.

There is no one and universally accepted definition of psychological disorder. Components of the widely accepted standard definitions are:

  • persistent emotional problem and suffering

  • behaving in away that is disturbing to other;

  • falling to perform ordinary day to day activities (at home, school. Work place.)

  • being irrational thinker or excessively lacking in self-control

In light of the above discussion let us define what abnormal psychology is?

Definition–Abnormal psychology a branch of psychology that studies behaviour defined as deviant, pathological, maladaptive, unfulfilling, self destructive and self defeating.

Perspective on the causes psychology disorders

      1. The biological perspective

  • The theory of wandering uterus: physicians in ancient Greece believed that the effects of a wandering uterus might cause headaches, a sudden paralysis, sudden blindness or deafness the uterus was considered as a separate living organism that could roam about the body. Causing destruction wherever it went.

  • These days the America women psychologists association also state that world ecology is womb ecology.' This is to explain the role of womb in producing healthy generation. Conversely, if the womb is unhealthy it will undoubtedly be a source of psychological, physical and other disorders.

      1. The psychological perspectives the psychological perspectives are

    1. Psychoanalytic perspective

  • Abnormal behavior is caused by the Ego’s inability to manage conflicts between the opposing demands of the Id and the Superego.

  • How people resolve emotional conflicts during childhood affects their thoughts and behaviors for the rest of their lives.

    1. Learning perspectives.

  • Most emotional and mental disorders arise from inadequate or inappropriate learning

  • People acquire abnormal behaviors through the kinds of learning or imitation

    1. Cognitive perspective

  • Whether we accept or belittle ourselves contributes to out behavior.

  • Over estimation or under estimation of ourselves has a profound effect on our mental health and social effectiveness.

Example consider a student who fails a difficult exam in medical school. He decides that he does not have the capacity for college. He becomes depressed and gives up trying. To stop his self defeating tendency, he must first stop attributing his failure to lack of ability

  • Changing negative cognitions to positive image about ourselves and logical assessment of our problems is important.

      1. The interpersonal or family – system perspectives

  • It assumes psychological disorder as arising partly from a person’s network of social relationship, the most important being the family.

      1. The socio-culture perspective

  • This perspective assumes that mental illness would result from such social problems as poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate housing, crime and discrimination.

  • The primary evidence in support of this view is the generally higher rate of mental disorders among the lowest socio economic classes (Examples schizophrenia and alcoholism).

    1. Classification of Psychological Disorder

The definition and classification used in this teaching material is the one provided by the America Psychiatric. Association, revised manual called the Diagnostic and Statically Manual of mental disorder (DSM –Iv)

  • The DSM-iv meant to assist psychiatrists psychologists, counselors, health and social workers in diagnosing disorders so that they can be effectively treated.

  • DSM-iv lists and describes many different psychological disorders. All of these are not covered in this material. Instead, those disorders that are most common and received most attention in systemic research by psychologist are discussed.

      1. Anxiety disorders

  • It is feeling of dread. Apprehension of fear manifested by physiological arousal like increased heart beat, perspiration, muscle tension and rapid breathing.

  • Anxiety affects cognition making problem solving difficult. We all experience moderate level of anxiety. Writing term papers test taking ( test anxiety) and several other day to day problems may give rise to mild forms of anxiety. Most people have difficulty in coping with anxiety producing situations. These situations become major source of anxiety, taking more time and energy. Anxiety becomes severe or so persistent when it interferes with every day function in family life, social activities, work or school. When his happens, it is characterized anxiety disorder anxiety can have different forms.

        1. Generalized anxiety disorder

  • It is a widespread anxiety that is impossible to manage by avoiding specific situations. The person expresses a great many worries but can not specifically tell the causes. Freud named such anxiety free – floating anxiety.

  • Physiological and behavioral manifestations are acing muscles, being easily tired, difficulty to relax, indigestion, diarrhea, frequent need to urinate, often complain if cold, clumsy hands and a racing heart.

  • Such people expect the worst to happen. They fear that they will faint or lose control of themselves or worry that members of their family will develop some disease or be dashed by a car. As a result, they find it difficult to concentrate or fall a sleep.

  • In the morning they feel tired rather than relaxed

        1. Panic disorder

  • The already existing states of tension as seen under reaches an acute and overwhelming level.

  • Heart begins to pound faster and breathing becomes difficult

  • This conditions may last from 15 minutes to an hour.

  • When panic attacks are related to a specific stimulus. It is classified as phobias.

        1. Phobic disorder

  • When anxiety is centered on a particular object or situation with out any good reason, it is called phobia.

  • Phobias sometimes develop after an initial association of fear with some stimulus. The stimulus can be a dangerous one, for example, dog, elevator, high place or a situation that carries no danger at all.

Common phobia types and stimuli in the environment

Phobia types Feared objects or situation

Haydro phobia-----------------------------------------------------------Water

Acrophobia High place

Claustrophobia Enclosed places

Ergasiophobia Work

Gramophobia Marriage

Haphephobia Being touched

Hematophobia Blood

Monophobia Being alone

Ocholophobia Crowds

Xenophobia Strangers

Ohidiophobia Fear of snakes

Activity – cite individuals from your life experiences (friends, relatives, etc) you know, having one or other forms of phobic disorders. Describe the behavioral manifestations and how they affect their day-today life. Describe how the society attempts to resolve the problem of people with phobic disorders. Obsessive-compulsive disorder

An Obsession is an involuntary, irrational thought that occurs repeatedly. Sometimes it is mild.

Example: a person locking and unlocking a door before leaving home

At other times it can be severe.

Example: the desire to burn down a house, rape a neighbor.

This violence and sexual desire makes the person feel quality and horrified.

Example: A bank clerk may go on adding a column of figure again and aging for fear that he was not sure of the result of the addition.

The normal person also can suffer from indigestion in a matter, which is important to him.

7.4 A Compulsion

is an action that a person uncontrollably performs again and again she or he has no conscious desire to do so. The act is often senseless such as looking under the bed. Several times before going a sleep or locking and unlocking the door several times before going out.

Two general categories of compulsions

  1. Checking rituals (example- looking under the bed.)

  2. Contamination compulsions (example – hand washing)

      1. Somatoform disorders

It is a persistence of symptoms that have physical form, but in

which there is no physiological malfunction.

The two typical somatoform disorders are:

      1. Hypochondrias is

It is the pre-occupation with bodily symptoms as possible signs of serious illness. The hypochondriac is perfectly healthy, built lives with the conviction that cancer, heart disease, diabetes or some other particular disorder is about to develop.

If a hypochondriac has a headache, he believes it is due to some series kidney disorder. The stomachache will be taken as an evidence of stomach ulcers or cancer.

  • Reading every popular magazine concerning health;

  • Adopt difficult health routines like hours of sleep and rest;

  • Stop eating certain foods and drinks

  • Consume vast quantities of vitamins and medicine;

  • Frequently visits doctors.

        1. Conversion Disorders

  • When certain part of the body is not functioning well (blindness, deafness, paralysis or loss of sensation) with no organic problems, it is called conversion disorder.

  • The individual expresses some psychological problem, which does not necessarily exist.

  • There are no hard and enough evidences to verify the causes of such disorders.

      1. Dissociative Disorders

It is the dissociation or splitting of a certain kind of behavior that are normally integrated.

Example- Cases indicate that people who are wandering in the streets without the notion of who they are or where they came from have dissociation disorders.

Among the dissociate disorders are:

        1. Amnesia

Amnesia is the partial or total loss of memory concerning past experiences, such as an automobile accident or a battle.

In the most severe forms, individuals cannot recall their names, unable to recognize their parents and do not know their addresses.

Psychological amnesia is different form organic amnesia in that:

  • it appears suddenly, often following serious stress.

  • it disappears suddenly.

  • the forgotten material or situation can often be recovered as a result of suggestion given by the therapist.

Organic amnesic syndrome is physiological and is caused by some form of damage to brain tissues.

Brain damage may result due to the disturbed proportion of acid to alkali in the blood.

The insufficiency of oxygen may damage the brain tissue as well.

        1. Fugue (flight)

  • It is related to amnesia. Fugue is the Latin word for light. It is a sudden and unexpected leaving from home and taking a new identity elsewhere.

  • The individual may be absent for days or months or years and may rake up a totally new life at the new place.

  • During the fugue the individual does not remember the earlier life.

  • Late recalling what had happened earlier might come back home.

        1. Multiple personality (split personality)

  • It is relatively rare disorder; fewer than 100 cases have been reported in the psychological literature.

  • When the usual integrity of one’s personalities becomes so partitioned that two or more relatively independent sub personalities emerge, we name it multiple personality. Most normal persons show pronounced changes in style., behavior and reactivity as they move between different social situations and different social roles. One personality may be conformist and nice while the other is rebellious and naughty.

      1. Major depression

Experiences of being happy or upset in life are normal. In some people, however, changes of feelings are so long lasting that they affect every day life. When disturbances in emotional feelings are so strong enough, we call them mood disorders. Mood disorders tend to turn in families; thus, genetic factors play a role in their occurrences.

        1. Major depression

It is the most frequent problem diagnosed in out patient clinics. Interviews conducted in many parts of the world show that incidence of depression has increased significant in the previous years. In one study, the cost of depression to society is estimate to be 43.7 billion a year. Propel who suffer from major depression may feel useless, worthless, and lonely and may despair over the future.

Depression also seems to involve disturbance in brain activity and biochemistry. Psychological factors such as learned helplessness, tendencies to attribute negative outcomes to internal causes, and neglect active perceptions of oneself and others are also involved. Suicides is a major cause of death among young people. Individuals are more likely to attempt suicide when they have recovered to some extent from depression than when they are in the depths of despair. The hallmark is that such feeling may continue for months and years. Women are found to experience major depression twice as men.

        1. Mania

It refers to an extended state of intense euphoric. People experiencing mania feel intense happiness, power and energy and may be involved in an activity much greater than their capacity believing that they will succeed at any thing they attempt. Sometimes mania and depression can come alternatively. The swings between high and low moods may alternate over a period of few days or years. This is called bipolar depression.

      1. Schizophrenia

Evgen Bleuler (1911) coined the tem schizophrenia. It is a general term for a number of psychotic disorders characterized by though disturbance that may be accompanied by delusions, hallucinations, attention deficits and bizarre motor activity. Schizophrenia is splitting in the function of the mind, emotion on one hand and thinking on the other. Schizophrenia has complex origins, involving generic factors, certain aspects of family structure, and biochemical factors. Schizophrenia may also be related to damage in several regions of the brain. Many homeless persons appear to be individuals suffering from serious psychological disorders such as schizophrenia or mood disorders. Schizophrenias are different and their causes and prognoses are also different. The distinct types are paranoid, disorganized, and catatonic. However the following features are taken as common properties.

            1. Deterioration from previous levels of social, cognitive and vocational functioning.

            2. Onsets before midlife (roughly 45-50 years of age)

            3. Duration of at least six months and mostly noticeable

            4. A pattern of psychotic features including thought disturbances, delusions, usually auditory hallucinations, disturbed sense of self and a loss of reality testing.

Schizophrenia is manifested in different forms. These are;

        1. Disorder of thought

    • A split among various ideas or between ideas and emotions;

    • Incoherence or dissociation in the thought process;

    • Concepts, idea, symbols are sometimes put together simply because they seem similar;

    • They tendency to jump from one track of thought to another.

        1. Disorder of perception

    • Distorted view or reality;

    • The schizoid consistently reports distortions of sensory perception, auditory, somatic and tactile hallucinations.

Auditory - takes the form of insulting.

Tactile - feel burning sensations

Somatic - Sensation of something crawling under the abdomen.

        1. Disorder of affect

    • Frequently show in appropriate emotional responses or none at all;

    • Might laugh when told of the death of a favorite relative;

    • Might get angry when given a present. Face remains immobile, voice becomes monotone;

    • The external situation or stimulus fails to trigger an appropriate response.

        1. Disorder Of motor behavior

Perform repetitive and inappropriate behavior or acts. The schizoid might spend hours rubbing his forehead, slapping leg, or might sit all day, sometimes no physical activity (catatonic stupor).

      1. Personality disorders

It is an umbrella term for a number of psychological disorders. It is a class of behavioral disorders manifested as pathological development in one’s overall personality. When personality traits become so inflexible and maladaptive that they impair a person’s functioning, we label it as personality disorder. The different forms are:

        1. Paranoid personality disorder

it involves pervasive mistrust of others. The paranoid suspects that virtually every one around him is trying to deceive or take advantage of him in some way.

        1. Schizoid personality disorder

It is a personality disorder in which individuals become almost totally detached from the social world. They show little interest in friendships, love affaires, or any other any other kind of intimate contact with other persons.

They are indifferent to praise and criticism and often show emotional coldness and detachment. They perceive the people around them as obstacles to the goals they wish to reach.

        1. Anti-social personality disorder

it is a personality disorder involving a lack of conscience and sense of responsibility, impulsive behavior, irritability, and aggressiveness.

Its essential feature is the violation of the rights of others.

Typical patterns of behavior are truancy from school, inability to hold a job, lying, stealing, aggressive sexual behavior drug and alcohol abuse, and a high rate of criminality.

Its main feature is absence of emotion in social relationships. They show no concern over the most callous murder and no sadness at the death of a parent or friend.

Even if they face prison terms, social sanctions, expulsion from school or face loss of jobs, they tend to repeat the same behavior patterns that resulted punishment upon them.

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