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Abnormal Psychology

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Understanding of the concept of psychological abnormality

1. Statistical frequency

This definition states that the trait of a person is categorized as abnormal if the same is found to be unusual statistically. It is necessary to have clarity about the rareness of behaviour needs to be before it is categorized as abnormal.

For example, it can be said that any person having above or below the average level of IQ is considered to be abnormal (Cai et al., 2020).

As stated in this definition, it does not always happen that there is a presence of abnormal behaviour which should be considered as unusual instead there can be chances of presence of the specific abnormal behaviour which is not affected to the individual for a longer period and is only exhibiting to some point in the life of the individual.

This definition does not properly differentiate between the behaviour which is desirable and undesirable. Using this definition, the various specially-abled person can be categorized as abnormal and it does not take into consideration any behaviour which does not have any bearing on the normality and abnormality (Sridhar et al., 2019). For example, left-handedness.

2. Deviation from Social Norms

According to this definition, any person who is not able to pace up with the norms set up by society and is identified by strange behaviour can make anyone threatened or uncomfortable. When there is a comparison with different cultures, the social behaviour also varies. For example, it is common in southern Europe to stand much closer to any strangers than in UK (Himeur et al., 2021).

Social norms can be different with different cultures. In other words, any action or beliefs that are considered to be normal may not be considered normal in another culture. This definition sets out an example of cultural relativism. Another example that showcases this definition of having a different mindset about the social norm is homosexuality which was considered to be abnormal in the late 1980s whereas homosexuality in recent years has been considered normal (Zinchenko and Arsalidou, 2018).

3. Failure to function adequately

This definition relates to behaviour in which the abnormal condition prevents the individual from carrying out even the basic tasks daily such as getting out of bed each day. One of the limitations of this definition is cultural relativism in which the functioning can be varied from one culture to another (Simplypsychology.org, 2021).

4. Deviation from Mental Health

As per Rokicki et al., 2021, six criteria are necessary for ideal mental health and with the absence of these, the individual will be considered abnormal. These criteria include stress resistance, self-actualization, development and growth, a strong sense of identity and high self-esteem, accurate perception of reality and autonomy. One of the limitations of cultural relativism is that it is based on the western idea of suitable mental health and cannot be judged according to any different cultures (Roddy et al., 2020).

Understanding of biological and psychological models of abnormality

1. Biological Models

In biological models, mental illness is considered as same as that of broken arms and legs. In this approach, it is being believed that the disorder has a physical cause. Neurotransmitters, genetics, neurophysiology and neuroanatomy is the main focus of this approach. This approach claims that disorder is related to the functioning of the brain and physical structure. This approach focuses on the medical issues that cause mental illness. The main idea that underly in this approach is that there is a direct relationship between cognition and brain activity and the behaviour is affected due to biochemical imbalances and also due to brain physiology (Cao et al., 2020).

2. Bio-social models

This model emphasizes the cultural and social context of abnormality. This means any abnormality that occurs is viewed as a direct function of the criteria of society. For example, the early Greeks believed schizophrenia is divine prophecy as in this illness people hear voices that no one hears them while in the middle ages it is being believed that this phenomenon is due to witchcraft. The key underlying ideas of this approach is that any abnormality is seen to be a cause of social influence and not based on any medical or psychological abnormality (Arif, 2020).

3. Behavioural model

According to this model, there is a pattern of behaviour that is learned by an individual. This model was first conceptualized by Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner in which they noticed that the animal learnt to connect one thing with another. Behaviourist believed that the life experience greatly influences the action of the individual. This approach also explains the maintenance and development of phobias by using theories of classical and operant conditioning (Muneoka et al., 2020). The main aim of this theory is to identify the abnormality based on the behaviour of an individual through different behavioural theories such as classical and operant conditioning.

4. Cognitive model

As per the cognitive model, any psychological issue arises due to individual thought and the unhealthy feeling and behaviour are due to the thought. Hence in this model, a positive thought can lead to positive behaviour whereas a negative thought can lead to negative behaviour. As per this approach, any person who has irrational or slanted thinking is suffering from abnormality. in other words, think about the problems can lead to mental disorder rather than the problem itself (Parikh et al., 2020). Hence, the main idea underlying this model is that abnormality is caused due to irrational and negative thoughts.

Understanding of psychological disorder

Case Study 1: Joe’s Story

Explanation as per biological model h5

In the case of Joe where he was habituated to exercising a bit more than what he was expected to eat caused him to lose weight which has resulted to be a reason for anorexia. As per the biological model, the abnormality of eating less is due to the functioning of the brain which causes increased attention in exercising rather than eating and also increased attention towards the physical structure of the body rather than a balance between the exercise regime and dietary routine (Gulfbend.org. 2021). Hence it can be said that Joe eating disorder can be related to the biological model of abnormality.

Explanation as per cognitive model h5

Joe eating disorder has caused him to lose weight which led to a change in behaviour as he had kept a distance from his friends and was not able to concentrate on his study and he has become aggressive and angry if anyone challenges him about his weight and with that he also became superstitious and began to believe in rituals and his skin became dry and scaly. These all signs of his behaviour is due to the negative thought that was arising as he lost his weight which can be rightly related to the cognitive model where a person negative thought can lead to negative behaviour (Zhang et al., 2020).

Case Study 2: I Survived Bulimia

Explanation as per biological model

Eating disorders are often biologically inherited as there can be more chances that a person is likely to develop bulimia as in the case of Sarah. This abnormality is due to the biological reactions in the body as in the case of Sarah suffering from Bulimia where those suffering from bulimia, there is improper functioning of the hypothalamus which do not trigger a response feeling of being full or finished eating (Khanthavit, 2020). Hence the case of Sarah can be related to a biological model in which the improper functioning of the brain has caused the eating disorder.

Explanation as per behavioural model

The case study of Sarah suffering from bulimia can be correlated with the behavioural model as Sarah behaviour in her childhood days has impacted her negatively as she was not good at studies and her parents hardly appreciated her. She was only appreciated when she finished her foods. Hence, she was habituated to relate everything in having very full as that makes her happy and gradually, with this behaviour, she has developed the abnormal condition such as bulimia (Gulfbend.org. 2021). Hence, it can be concluded that the behaviour of having been full develop bulimia.

Evaluation of potential treatment approaches for eating disorders or depression

The two potential treatment for an eating disorder is cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy. The first therapy which is CBT is a well-established therapy that is based on the connection between thoughts and emotions and behaviour and how they influence each other (Simplypsychology.org. 2021).

The main advantage of CBT is it helps people to develop self-esteem through continuous motivation during therapy sessions however in this method of treatment, one needs to be committed to the process to get the desired result from it and also individual cooperation is required. Another treatment is the interpersonal psychotherapy method in which the stress is reduced with the help of interpersonal relationships and social functioning. The main advantages of this therapy are to help an individual communicate within the society and enable individual to express their problems which are contributing to depression (Arif, 2020). However, there is a limitation to it as it is of a shorter timeline which may not offer support to people with chronic disease. Hence there should be a maintenance session required for any symptoms which are recurring in nature.


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Cai, Q., Huang, D., Yu, H., Zhu, Z., Xia, Z., Su, Y., Li, Z., Zhou, G., Gou, J., Qu, J. and Sun, Y., 2020. COVID-19: abnormal liver function tests. Journal of hepatology73(3), pp.566-574.

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Khanthavit, A., 2020. Foreign investors' abnormal trading behaviour in the time of COVID-19. The Journal of Asian Finance, Economics, and Business7(9), pp.63-74.

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Parikh, N.A., He, L., Illapani, V.S.P., Altaye, M., Folger, A.T. and Yeates, K.O., 2020. Objectively diagnosed diffuse white matter abnormality at term is an independent predictor of cognitive and language outcomes in infants born very preterm. The Journal of paediatrics220, pp.56-63.

Roddy, M.K., Rhoades, G.K. and Doss, B.D., 2020. Effects of ePREP and our relationship on low-income couples’ mental health and health behaviours: A randomized controlled trial. Prevention Science21(6), pp.861-871.

Rokicki, J., Wolfers, T., Nordhøy, W., Tesli, N., Quintana, D.S., Alnæs, D., Richard, G., de Lange, A.M.G., Lund, M.J., Norbom, L. and Agartz, I., 2021. Multimodal imaging improves brain age prediction and reveals distinct abnormalities in patients with psychiatric and neurological disorders. Human brain mapping42(6), pp.1714-1726.

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Zhang, J., Yang, H., Wu, D., Yang, C., Yang, Y., Zhou, W., Zhang, X. and Sun, W., 2020. Electroencephalographic abnormalities are correlated with cognitive deficits in children with benign childhood epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes: A clinical study of 61 cases. Epilepsy & Behavior106, p.107012.

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