AQA A Level Psychology Psychopathology
Terms in this set (23)
Define the four definitions of Abnormality
Definition 1: Deviation from Social Norms - Standards of acceptable behaviour are set by a social group and anything that deviates from this behaviour is deemed abnormal. In the past being homosexual was seen as deviant from social norms, campaigners have now changed the social perception and have made it normal. This proves that this explanation is subject to change.
Definition 2: Failure to Function Adequately - This is where people are not able to cope with everyday demands such as eating in public. It interferes with everyday life and the individual judges when their behaviour becomes abnormal.
Definition 3: Deviation from Ideal Mental Health - Physical illness being defined as the absence of signs of physical healthiness. This definition says we should look at mental illness in the same way, there are 6 categories that if are not there then this would suggest mental illness. They are: Self Attitudes, Self Actualisation (max potential), Integration, Autonomy, Reality and Mastery of Environment.
Definition 4: Statistical Deviation - Uses numbers to define abnormality, unusual behaviours occurring frequently. (using distribution curve)
Outline Limitations of 'Deviation from Social Norms' as a definition of abnormality.
-It lacks any cultural relativism as different actions are considered normal in different cultures thus the definition cannot be generalised across cultures.
-The definition will need to evolve with time as social norms do.
-There is no objective factual way of saying wether what someone is doing is deviating from social norms or not.
Outline Limitations of 'Failure to Function Adequately' as a definition of abnormality.
-Not everyone admits when they are failing as some may feel content with the way they are functioning, making it difficult to diagnose.
-It may not be obvious that someone is not functioning, therefore it is difficult to diagnose using this definition alone.
-It lacks cultural relativism, as what is considered adequate in on culture differs to another.
Outline Limitations of 'Deviation from Ideal Mental Health' as a definition of abnormality.
-The criteria that we should meet is over demanding, can individuals realistically achieve all 6 categories at once.
-Also the definition lacks cultural relativism, collectivist cultures believe in the greater good for the community but individualistic cultures believe in the 'autonomy' therefore it cannot be generalised across cultures.
-The definitions are all very subjective, you think you achieving to full potential but someone else may think you aren't.
Outline Limitations of 'Statistical Deviation' as a definition of abnormality.
-Characteristics that are 'abnormal' are not all negative for example having a IQ would make you technically abnormal but you wouldn't want to treat it.
-If someone is happy and content with their life then there is no point in labelling them abnormal just because the don't fit in with everyone else's statistics.
Outline the Behavioural, Emotional and Cognitive characteristics for Phobias
Panic, in response to a stimulus people may freeze of scream and run away.
Avoidance, people will often avoid facing their fears which can make it difficult to go out and about.
Endurance, the opposite of avoidance where the sufferer takes it and endures it.
Anxiety, phobias are classified as anxiety disorders, this prevents relaxation and makes it difficult to feel positive emotions.
Unreasonable emotional responses, the emotional response we have is much to over the top of what is reasonable and is disproportional to the danger.
Selective attention, people with a phobia may not be able to take their eyes off the stimulus if close by, this can interfere with their everyday life.
Irrational beliefs, the person may feel that if they show they have a phobia of something they may look weak.
Cognitive distortions, the persons perceptions of the stimulus will be distorted.
Outline the Behavioural, Emotional and Cognitive characteristics for Depression
Activity levels, levels of activity are bought down and many people become lethargic, meaning they will withdraw from work and social life.
Disruption to sleep and eating, suffers can experience insomnia or hypersomnia, along with this their appetite can fluctuate.
Self-harm, depression can lead to increased violence to themselves and others.
Lowered mood, the clinical definition of low mood is characterised by emptiness.
Anger, often experienced with sufferers of depression.
Lowered self esteem, sufferers may report of hating themsleves.
Cognitive Bias, sufferers attend to the negative aspects of life and not the positive.
Absolutist thinking, will look at things as black and white.
Outline the Behavioural, Emotional and Cognitive characteristics for OCD
Compulsions are repetitive, the sufferer feels compelled to do the behaviour over and over.
Compulsions reduce anxiety, most sufferers perform the behaviour to reduce anxiety.
Avoidance, sufferers may avoid situations where they need to do the compulsion, this can effect their everyday life.
Powerful anxiety, obsessive thoughts are unpleasant and the anxiety that comes with it can be overwhelming.
Depression, anxiety can lead to low mood and lack of activity this in turn leads to depression.
Guilt & Disgust, the sufferer may feel moral issues towards something external or internal.
Obsessive thoughts, they can take over their lives ie. worrying about germs.
Cognitive strategies to cope, sufferers cope with their obsessions by trying to manage their anxiety.
Excessive anxiety, sufferers are aware of their compulsions and know they are irrational, yet they still have thoughts about the worst outcomes of their anxiety.
Definition of a Phobia
A group of mental disorders characterized by high levels of anxiety in response to a stimulus.
Definition of OCD
An anxiety disorder which arises from irrational obsessions and compulsions.
Definition of Depression
A mood disorder where an individual feels sad and lacks interest in their usual activities.
Outline & Explain the Behavioural Approach to Explaining Phobias
Psychologists assume that all our behaviour is learnt and thus can be unlearnt. Watson stated that we are born as a blank slate and any behaviour that we act is all learnt from the environment around us. Most behaviour we learn is adaptive and helps us lead a happy and productive life however maladaptive behaviour can be learnt ie. Phobias.
According to this approach there is two main ways in which a phobia is learnt; Classical Conditioning & Operant Conditioning.
The two process model was developed which states that phobias start with classical conditioning and are maintained via operant conditioning. (Little Albert + Mowrer)
Evaluate the Behavioural Approach to Explaining Phobias
:) - The two way process model explains well why phobias are maintained over time and also has very important implication for therapy as it explains why exposure to the feared stimulus is vital. If patients are prevented from avoidance behaviour then the behaviour will stop being reinforced and so declines.
:) - The behavioural approach has extremely effective practical applications such as systematic desensitisation that help treat phobias. This means that it can be used by doctors in the medical profession help relieve symptoms.
:( - Nature vs Nurture - The behaviouralist approach completely overlooks any effects of nature and simply 100% relies on nurture. Bounton said that we easily acquire a fear of snakes and of the dark etc as this is an adaptive evolutionary skill for survival. These were called preparedness which are innate predispositions to certain fears. This is a serious limitation as it shows there is more than just conditioning in learning.
:( - The approach is highly reductionist and tries to simplify complex human behaviours like phobias into a stimulus response relationship. It neglects holistic ideas such as thoughts and genes. It also cant explain for situations where people develop a phobia but have never been in contact with the stimulus before.
:( - The two way process model states that the neutral stimulus associates with the unconditioned stimulus, however not everyone who is for example bitten by a dog will have a phobia of dogs. This can be explained via the stress diatheses model that states we have a genetic vulnerability but we still need an environmental trigger to elicit behaviours, this shows us that the two way process model is too simplistic on its own as there are individual differences.
Outline & Explain the Cognitive Approach to Explaining Depression
This approach focuses on the cognitive aspect such as irrational thinking. It states that our thoughts are responsible for all of our actions. It explains depression through three different ways:
Negative Self-Schemas - Schemas are a template of an idea that people develop through experiences. They act as a framework for our mental state. Self schemas are templates we have about ourselves so someone with depression will have negative self schemas.
The Negative Triad - Depressed people develop an irrational way of thinking via three types of thoughts which are: a negative view of the world, a negative view of ones self and a negative view about the future.
The ABC Model - This suggests that depression is caused by irrational thoughts that interfere with being happy.
A = The activating event ie. failing a test.
B = Beliefs, a range of unrealistic beliefs 'Musturbation' the belief that we must always be perfect and 'Utopianism' the belief that life must always be fair.
C = Consequences, when an event triggers irrational beliefs then there are emotional and behavioural consequences.
Evaluate the Cognitive Approach to Explaining Depression
:) - Practical applications such as CBT, this means it can be used in the medical profession to relieve symptoms and thus is an important area of psychology.
:) - Psychologist found that 65 pregnant woman for cognitive vulnerability and depression before and after birth, they found women who had been judged to have high cognitive vulnerability were likely to have post natal depression.
:( - ABC Model can't explain why some suffers experience anger and hallucinations etc. This is a big problem and lowers value of insight.
:( - Cognitive approach is oversimplified as it reduces complex behaviour to rational and irrational thoughts. It is not clear whether irrational thoughts cause the depression or vice versa, thus being difficult to prove cause and effect
Explain the Biological approach to explaining OCD
This suggests that people are born with abnormalities based on their genes/DNA.
Genetic Explanation to OCD -
A study found that 37% of OCD suffers had OCD parents and 21% had OCD siblings. It is then clear that OCD runs in the family however is not an absolute and thus is a genetic vulnerability. Stress diathesis model suggests that some people are more likely to suffer OCD more than others.
Candidate genes are genes that create a vulnerability for OCD, these regulate the serotonin:
COMT Gene is a gene that regulates the production of dopamine, OCD sufferes have seen to have lower levels of COMT and higher levels of dopamine.
SERT Gene is a gene that affects the transport of serotonin creating lower levels of it.
OCD is said to be polygenic meaning that it is multiple genes that make up OCD, some studies suggest it may be up to 230 genes involved.
Neural explanations -
Abnormal levels o neurotransmitters are thought to be a possible cause of OCD, for example the high amount of dopamine in sufferes or the low amount of serotonin.
Abnormal brain circuits are also a possibility in the cause of OCD, the basal ganglia supresses signals from the orbital frontal cortex but if damaged then these signals are not suppressed meaning the thalamas is altered meaning signals are sent back to the orbital frontal cortex causing anxiety.
Evaluate the Biological approach to explain OCD
:) - Supported by twin studies, a researcher found that identical twins were more than twice as likely to develop OCD if their twin had it compared to non identical twins. However these results are never 100% every time and thus environmental factors must have to play a role and thus the stress diatheses model makes sense of this.
:( - The stress diathesis model states that environmental factors also play a role in causing OCD, a study found that 50% of OCD suffers had been through a traumatic event in the past. This suggests that you can't simply base OCD of just biological factors.
:) - Practical applications such as anti-depressant drug treatments like SSRI to help relieve symptoms.
:( - Research shown that different areas of the brain function for different jobs however the findings cant be 100% as it is very difficult to prove a cause and effect relationship. This limits the value of the insight.
:( - The link between OCD and serotonin could in fact just be due to comorbidity. Its thought that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin too, so to say low levels of OCD cause serotonin it could in fact be the other way round.
Treatment to Phobias
Stages of systematic desensitisation:
Relaxation - Teach individual how to relax using muscle technique.
Hierarchy of anxiety - Individual makes a graded scale of those that scare him the least to those that scare him the most.
Reciprocal Inhibition - The concept that two incompatible states cant co-exist at the same time ie. using a relaxation technique when anxious.
Complete Treatment - Treatment ends when the client is desensitised.
Flooding - This involves immediate exposure to the phobia but without the gradual build up. Participants learn that the phobic stimulus is harmless. The conditioned stimulus is encountered without the unconditioned stimulus.
Evaluate the behavioural treatment to phobias
Supporting evidence - Researcher had 42 patients who had received SD for three 45 minute sessions for arachnophobia. A control group were given relaxation without exposure. At both 3 and 33 months the SD group were less fearful. This shows that SD is effective at reducing arachnophobia.
Suits a diverse range of participants - Alternate options such as CBT are not useful for everyone as they require a high amount of will power. Thus SD works better for particular people.
Time - Flooding is super efficient as it takes such a small amount of time especially compared to SD.
Less effective for some types of phobia - Flooding cant work for all types of phobia such as public speaking for example, this is because social phobias have cognitive aspects too. Therefore this may benefit more from therapies as they also tackle irrational thinking.
Traumatic - Flooding is a highly traumatic experience as participants are immediately exposed to their fear. It is not unethical as participants give consent but many people do decide to drop out, this is a weakness as resources are wasted.
Outline the cognitive treatment to depression
CBT aims to deal with thinking such as challenging irrational or negative thoughts.
Based on the negative triad Beck's created a cognitive theory which forces people to test the reality of their views and in between sessions they will be set cognitive homework.
Three stages to Ellis's rational emotional behaviour therapy are:
Llamas Eat Prawns
Logical disputing - this is where the therapist suggests that self defeating beliefs are not logical i,e, "Does thinking like this make sense?"
Empirical disputing - this is where the individual is asked "Where is the proof for this?"
Pragmatic disputing - this challenges the usefulness of the thought "Will this belief help?"
Doing this continuously will turn their negative views into positive ones.
Evaluate the cognitive approach to treating depression
:) - Researcher conducted an experiment with 327 teenagers with depression. After 36 weeks 81% of CBT group, 81% of antidepressant drug group were significantly improved. This is a strength as it shows it is just as effective as medication without any side effects.
:( - CBT requires lots of self motivation and will power which based on the emotional status of the individual just might not be a realistic option, meaning that medication may be better.
:( - Time/cost effectiveness is much lower than for example drugs.
Outline the biological treatment to OCD
The aim of drugs is to increase or decrease levels of neurotransmitter activity in the brain. We know that serotonin is linked with OCD so drugs try to increase levels of serotonin.
SSRI (Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) these are the most common antidepressants used for OCD and they work by increasing the amount of serotonin available to be absorbed.
This is done by blocking the re-uptake site on the presynaptic knob of neurotransmitters. This means that the serotonin is readily more available and will move to the post synaptic knob at an increased rate.
SNRI (Selective noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitor) are an alternative to SSRI and have been developed in the past 5 years, these work the same as SSRI but also increase the availability of noradrenaline.
Tricyclics are an older antidepressant that was used for treating OCD, these block the transporter mechanism that reabsorbs both serotonin and noradrenaline after it has fired.
Anti anxiety drugs are also used such as benzodiazepine, BZ's slow down the central nervous system by enhancing the neurotransmitter GABA, which has a quietening effect on many of the neurons in the brain. GABA locks onto receptors and opens a channel that increases flow of chloride ions into the neuron thus making it harder for the neuron to be stimulated.
Evaluate the biological approach to treating OCD
:) - SSRI was investigated compared to a placebo and found that SSRI's were more effective than the placebo as it declined 70% of cases, the other 30% could be helped with other drugs.
:) - Cost/Time effective, drugs are very quick to tae effect (3-4 months) and also easy to prescribe unlike a therapist. They are also very cheap to manufacture and require no one on one treatment.
:( - There is the chance when taking drugs of getting unpleasant side effects such as blurred vision and loss of sex drive. With older tricyclic drugs the sexual side effects are more series with 10% suffering with erectile disfunction.
:( - Chemical straight jacket, lack of control over their body unlike CBT.