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Viewpoints on Psychopathology

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Week 3 for PSYC 3553 - Psychopathology, looking at different perspectives on the origins and explanations of abnormal behaviour.

Week 3 for PSYC 3553 - Psychopathology, looking at different perspectives on the origins and explanations of abnormal behaviour.


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  • 1. PSYC 3553 – Psychopathology Week 3: Perspectives on Abnormality • September 22, 2009
  • 2. What is a paradigm?
    • Framework
    • Set of assumptions providing guidelines for research and practice
    • Major schools of thought:
      • Biological
      • Psychoanalytic
      • Behavioural
      • Cognitive
  • 3. The Biological Paradigm
    • Also known as the medical or disease model
    • Guiding belief : Behaviour is linked to physical causes, brought on by malfunctioning components of the body
    • In psychopathology, mainly focuses on brain
  • 4. Biological Explanations of Psychopathology
    • Brain anatomy : problems in brain structure
      • Swelling
      • Atrophy
    • e.g. :
    • Huntington’s disease & basal ganglia (forebrain)  motor difficulties
    • Stroke & temporal lobe swelling  speech deficits
  • 5. Biological Perspective: Structural Abnormalities
  • 6. Parts of the Brain
  • 7.
    • Biochemistry
      • Electrical impulses travel along neurons
    • Reaches the end, releases neurotransmitters
    • The chemicals will either excites or inhibits the nearby neurons
    Biological Explanations of Psychopathology
  • 8.  
  • 9. Examples of Neurotransmitters
    • Norepinephrine: Arousal  anxiety
    • Serotonin: Mood, sleep, hunger  depression
    • Dopamine: Movement, pain/pleasure, attention  schizophrenia
    • GABA: Inhibitory neurotransmitter  anxiety
  • 10. Biological Explanations of Psychopathology
    • Also, the endocrine system
    • Implicated by working with neurons to release hormones
    • E.g., hippocampus, stress and the release of cortisol
      • Memory impairments
  • 11. Biological Explanations of Psychopathology
    • Genetics
      • Inheriting mutated or missing genes
      • Unable (yet) to identify specific gene
      • Or extent genetic factors contribute to disorders
    • E.g.
    • Schizophrenia & twin studies
  • 12. Biological Explanations of Psychopathology
    • Family method: relatives of the affected individual
    • Twin studies: study pairs of MZ and DZ twins
    • Adoption studies: study twins in/out of family home
    • Linkage analysis: co-occurring genetics (e.g., eye colour and illness)
  • 13. Biological Treatments
    • Three main types of biological treatment:
      • Drug therapy (1950s)
        • Antianxiety drugs (anxiolytics, tranquilizers)
        • Antidepressant drugs
        • Antibipolar drugs (mood stabilizers)
        • Antipsychotic drugs
      • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
      • Psychosurgery (e.g., lobotomy)
  • 14. Evaluating Biological Paradigm
    • Strengths :
      • Huge progress on mental illness research
      • Respected and accepted by society
    • Weaknesses :
      • Reductionism – making it too simple
      • Inconclusive evidence
      • Possibility of negative/severe side effects
  • 15.  
  • 16. The Psychoanalytic Paradigm
    • Psychotherapy : social therapist-client interaction
    • Sigmund Freud : father of psychodynamic theory and psychoanalytic therapy
    • Guiding belief : behaviour is linked to underlying dynamic psychological forces of which she or he is not aware
  • 17. The Psychoanalytic Paradigm
    • The id : basic urges for survival (food, water…)
      • Direct gratification or by primary process thinking
    • The ego : deals with reality
    • The superego : conscience
    • Healthy personality: compromise between these forces
  • 18. The Psychoanalytic Paradigm
    • Psychosexual stages of development
    • Oral stage: feeding
    • Anal stage: bowel movements
    • Phallic stage: genital stimulation
    • Latency period
    • Genital stage: adult sexual impulses
  • 19. Psychodynamic Explanations of Psychopathology
    • Fixation at a stage
      • Unsuccessful developmental stage
    • e.g . – Anal retentiveness & obsession with cleanliness
      • OCD?
    • e.g . – Neurotic anxiety
    • e.g . – Moral anxiety
  • 20. Psychodynamic Explanations of Psychopathology
    • 2. Resolving the Oedipal/Electra complex
    • Freud claimed that resolving the complex was critical…
      • … to superego development
      • … to future romantic relationship success
      • … to future views of intimacy and expression of sexual desires
  • 21. Psychodynamic Explanations of Psychopathology
    • 3. Coping with anxiety – defense mechanisms
    • Repression
    • Denial
    • Projection
    • Regression
    • Rationalization
  • 22. Variations on Freudian Theory
    • Ego theorists
      • Emphasize the role of the ego; consider it independent
    • Self theorists
      • Emphasize unified personality over any one component
    • Object-relations theorists
      • Emphasize human need for interpersonal relationships
  • 23. Psychodynamic Therapies
    • Classical psychoanalysis: Gain insight into repressed conflicts and resistances
    • Ego analysis: Use classical techniques but focus more on current living conditions
    • Brief psychodynamic therapy: Short-term, target specific problems
    • Interpersonal therapy: Emphasis on present relationships with others
  • 24. Assessing Psychoanalytic Paradigm
    • Strengths:
      • Elevated psychological theories and “internal forces” as possible cause of illness
      • First to apply theory and techniques systematically to treatment – monumental impact on the field
    • Weaknesses:
      • Unsupported ideas (anecdotal evidence)
      • Lead the client into focusing on certain experiences
      • Difficult to research
  • 25. Cognitive & Behavioral Paradigms
    • Guiding beliefs:
      • Behavioural : abnormal behaviour is learned and maintained over a time period
      • Cognitive : abnormal behaviour results from how a person attends to , interprets , and uses available information
    • Looking at overt behaviour versus internal processes
  • 26. Behavioural Explanations of Psychopathology
    • Classical & operant conditioning, modeling
    • John B. Watson, B.F. Skinner, Albert Bandura
    • Classical conditioning – Pavlov, Watson
      • Events become associated in time, so person reacts same way to both events e.g.:
    • Phobias – the Little Albert experiment
  • 27. Example: Classical Conditioning UR Fear UR Fear US Gong NS Rabbit CS Rabbit CR Fear US Gong +
  • 28. Behavioural Explanations of Psychopathology
    • 2. Operant conditioning – Thorndike, Skinner
      • Behaviour associated with reward will be repeated: law of effect
      • Shaping - successive approximations
    • e.g.: Conduct disorder and aggressive behaviour
  • 29. Behavioural Explanations of Psychopathology
    • 3. Modeling – Bandura
    • “ Copying” others’ actions
    • Attention, retention, reproduction, motivation
    • e.g. : Learning from parents…
      • … addictive behaviours
      • … phobias
  • 30. Behavioural Therapies
    • The goal : identify behaviors causing problems and replace them with more appropriate ones
    • Classical conditioning: systematic desensitization
    • Operant conditioning: token economies
    • Modeling: role playing
  • 31. Assessing Behavioural Paradigm
    • Strengths:
      • Powerful force in the field
      • Rooted in empiricism
      • Significant research support for behavioral therapies
    • Weaknesses:
      • Too simplistic
      • Unrealistic
      • Downplays role of cognition
  • 32. Cognitive Explanations of Psychopathology
    • Schemas: past experiences shape interpretation
    • Maladaptive thinking
      • Faulty assumptions and attitudes
      • Illogical thinking processes e.g. : overgeneralization – “Bad things ALWAYS happen to me”
    • e.g. : Depression
  • 33. Cognitive Therapies
    • Beck’s cognitive therapy
      • Recognize and restructure their thinking
    • Ellis: rational emotive therapy
      • Eliminate self-defeating beliefs – “musts” & “shoulds”
  • 34. Assessing Cognitive Paradigm
    • Strengths:
      • Clinically useful and effective therapies
      • Focuses on a uniquely human process
      • Research-based
    • Weaknesses:
      • Singular, narrow focus
      • Overemphasis on the present
      • Verification of cognition is difficult
  • 35. Integrative Approaches to Psychopathology
    • General framework for psychopathology
      • … while also allowing for specification of factors especially relevant to a particular disorder
    • Often called “ eclectic ”
      • Take strengths from each model, use in combination
  • 36. Integrative Approaches to Psychopathology
    • The biopsychosocial model
      • Interaction of genetic, biological, developmental, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, social, and societal influences
    • The diathesis-stress approach
      • Diathesis = predisposition (bio, psycho, or social)
      • Asserts that a predisposition to a disorder is triggered by an environmental stressor
  • 37.  
  • 38.