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Read and respond (discussion)
A man living in the Ozark Mountains has a vision in which
God speaks to him. He begins preaching to his
relatives and neighbors, and soon he has the whole
town in a state of religious fervor. People say he has a
“calling.” His reputation as a prophet and healer
spreads, and in time he is drawing large audiences
everywhere he goes.
One day he ventures into St. Louis and attempts to hold a
prayer meeting, blocking traffic on a main street at rush
hour. He is arrested. He tells the policeman about his
conversations with God, and they hurry him off to the
nearest mental hospital.
1. How can a person be viewed as normal in one
community and abnormal in another?
2. What is a psychological disorder?
3. What is “normal?”
Defining “Abnormality”
• Deviation from Normality:
abnormality is any behavior that is
contrary to what most people
would do in a given situation.
– Does not take into account that the
majority may well be wrong.
– Does not take into account cultural
• Adjustment: normal people are
able to get along in the world.
Abnormal people are those
who fail to ‘adjust.’
– Not all people who fail to adjust
will display signs or symptoms.
– Again, does not take into account
cultural contexts.
• Psychological Health: those
who are abnormal suffer from
a mental illness and/or are no
longer striving toward ‘selfactualization’
– How can you tell if a person is
doing a good job of trying to ‘be
their best?’
– Stigmatizes those who are
abnormal as being ill or incurable.
Diathesis-Stress Hypothesis
• Genetic predisposition + environmental
factors = psychological disorder
• (Also called the vulnerability-stress model)
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)
• Helps psychologists diagnose and treat mental disorders
• Precise diagnostic criteria help increase accuracy of diagnosis and
• Recognizes the complexity of classifying people on the basis of mental
– Allows for multiple ‘labels’ in the event that a patient is suffering from more than
one disorder
– Describes disorders in terms of five axes
• Axis I: Classifies current symptoms into explicitly defined categories ranging from
those usually diagnosed in early childhood to schizophrenia or substance-abuse
• Axis II: Describes developmental disorders and long-standing personality disorders
• Axis III: Physical disorders or medical conditions that are potentially relevant to
understanding or caring for the patient. (ex: brain damage, chemical imbalance, or
other physical phenomena that may be causing the symptoms on Axis I or II)
• Axis IV: Stress: at what level of stress is the patient currently functioning? Is there a
severe stressor that might be causing the symptoms on Axis I or II?
• Axis V: the patient’s highest level of functioning over the course of the past year in
three areas: Social relationships, Occupational functioning, and Use of Leisure Time
• Unfortunately, the DSM still labels a person, which can negatively effect the
person’s self-esteem and how others view him or her. However, the DSM IV
analyzes the condition as it appears in a specific person, increasing the
effectiveness of treatment.
• Psychodynamic: “insight therapy” relies on:
Defense mechanism analysis
Free association
Dream interpretation (latent and manifest)
• Humanistic: Resolves incongruence (what you
believe you are vs. what you believe you should
• Cognitive: points out “Errors in thinking”
– Especially effective with depression
– Ellis’s Irrational Belief Chart p. 581- Passer-Smith
• Behavioral:
– Seeks to extinguish a “learned” abnormal behavior via
classical or operant conditioning principles
Important to Remember!
1 in 7 Americans will seek
help for a psychological
disorder at some time
during his or her lifetime!
• Many people develop a disorder listed in the DSM-IV at
some point in their lifetime, however many of this
incidences are temporary.
• Many people who qualify for a disorder as diagnosed in
the DSM-IV are not very different from anyone else.
Last, but NOT least…
• The disorders we are about to study are psychological
disorders, and diagnosis can stigmatize the patient- as
we’ve already discussed.
• While you may, after our study, be able to recognize
some symptoms of certain disorders remember that
those symptoms could also be nothing more than
someone having a bad day. Formal diagnosis requires
longitudinal observation by a trained professional.
• As students, you are neither trained nor encouraged to
attempt to identify any psychological disorder in yourself
or the people around you. If you have a serious concern
for someone you know, talk to your counselor- she is
trained to deal with and further probe the situation.