Friday, March 16, 2012

Abnormal Psychology Research Paper

Abnormal Psychology Research Paper

Introduction to Abnormal Psychology
Origins of Abnormal Psychology.
Deviation from type is as old as the human race and people always tried to explain and control abnormal behavior. There are three main conceptions of abnormal behavior: the supernatural, biological, and psychological (Barlow & Durand, 2004, p. 7).

Supernatural Conceptions
Popular conceptions of abnormal mental phenomena have always been strongly animistic, and also closely linked with religious doctrines. Four rather distinct stages in the supernatural conceptions may be traced, from earliest days down to the present, which we may designate the Demonological, the Satanic, and the Sinful epochs. They are all alike characterized by the notion of conflict between good and evil powers.


The Demonological period reflects the animism of primitive thought, when abnormal behavior was explained as caused by the demons which possessed or inhabited the body of the individual. The Satanic period represents a later development, under the influence of Christian theology, where demons were condensed or crystallized into the one arch fiend, Satan, and many deviations were considered Satanic manifestations. The concept of Sinfulness, also resulting from theological notions, was based on the idea of alliance of the victim with the evil powers and the symptoms represented retribution at the hands of God.

Biological and Psychological Conception
Supernatural conception, though still popular among some people, nowadays is largely replaced in modern science by the biological and psychological conceptions, were biological reasons and faulty psychological development with social context cause disorders(Barlow & Durand, 2004, p. 26).

Evolvement of Abnormal Psychology as a Science
Early Materialistic Conceptions
A period from about 500 B.C. to 200 A.D. in European history was strongly influenced by doctrines attributed to Hippocrates, the “father of medicine”. Hippocrates asserted mental abnormality to be due to disease or injury of the brain. He therefore advocated physical therapy, as in other forms of “sickness” - diet, medication, etc. Hippocrates emphasized that a material basis for mental disorder was imbalance in “bodily fluids”: fire and water - two notions that have developed into neurology and endocrinology.

The “Dark Ages” and the Renaissance
During a “Dark Ages” and the Renaissance little was done in the field of abnormal psychology. Scientific efforts were scarce if at all existed as the animistic conception prevailed. The victims were often accused in being in league with the devil, or being Satan himself. The witchcraft persecutions were based on some such notion as this. Cure was to be either through the ministrations of priests, or by the aid of dungeons, cells, executions, and varied sorts of exorcism, while “scientific” work regarding mental deviation lied primarily in the field of theology.

The Anatomy Movement and the Reformation
The 18th century was characterized by a remarkable increase of interest and knowledge and by definite reforms in the attitude toward mental abnormality. Medicine received a new impulse and sought to imitate Linnaeus in facility and completeness of classification. Instead of the few old terms, such as paranoia, insania, melancholia and mania, used for almost any sort of mental deviation except perhaps imbecility, long lists of forms and varieties and symptoms were introduced, and a great variety of nomenclature.

There also developed a tendency to pay more attention to the complete life history of the patient, and to portray the complete "course" of a condition rather than isolated episodes or momentary symptoms. There were also notable developments in the methods of handling and treating the mentally disordered, whose care now shifted more definitely from the ecclesiastic authorities to medical men.

Contemporary views of Abnormal Psychology
Biological Model
The basis for biological explanations of mental abnormalities is that behavior and mood are regulated by nervous system and, in case of its disruption, inappropriate perception, mood and behavior may occur (Bennet, 2003, p.62).

Such disruptions may have number of reasons, which fall in one of three categories: structural (e.g. trauma, infection), biochemical (e.g. hormone imbalance, medication) and genetic (e.g. Down’s syndrome).

Psychosocial and Socio-cultural Model
While biological model may explain nearly any type of disorder and provide corresponding treatment, it does not take into account that disorders may result from psychosocial factors.

Psychosocial model deals with the unique internal processes that occur within the individual with regards to her social interaction and in many cases mental disorders may be caused by psychosocial and socio-cultural factors, such as: place of inhabitation (rural/urban), gender, minority status, etc.

For example, results of British Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (Jenkins, 1998), which included diagnostic interviews on 10,000 people, revealed, among others, increased rates of neurotic disorders among people living in urban dwellings, unemployed, and separated, divorced or widowed individuals.

None of these models can be viewed as exhaustive and in many cases both of them should be applied in order to determine reasons of mental disorders and develop treatment. __________________________________________________________
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