Defining Abnormality THREE CLASSIC SYMPTOMS of MENTAL DISORDER: • Hallucinations: false sensory experiences • Delusions: disorders of logical thinking • Affective Disturbances: inappropriately strong or absent emotional response
Spectrum of Disorders No Mild Moderate Severe Disorder Disorder Disorder Disorder
Models of Pathology • Medical Model: Mental disorder is a disease with physical causes • Important step in validating pathology as real illness and lifting it from suspicion of demonic possession and similar “lay” theories • Psychological Model: Mental disorder is an interaction of biological, cognitive, social and other environmental factors. • Considers factors outside of the person (environment, family, stress, etc.)
Diathesis: Pre-disposition to a particular disorder. Stress: Environmental factors that increase the likelihood of a disorder appearing. The Diathesis - Stress Model You can have a pre-disposition to a disorder without ever manifesting it. You can also have very stressful circumstances and never develop a disorder.
The DSM • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders • Five Axes of assessment • Clinical problem • Aspects of personality • Medical conditions • Social and environmental stressors • Level of functioning
The Effects of Labels • Provides us comfort and a sense of control • BUT, they can be “sticky” and affect our construal of people and situations • Rosenhan’s Pseudo-Patient Study • Self-Fulfilling Prophesies • We risk treating the label, not the person
Difficulty Defining Abnormality • Distress • Maladaptiveness • Irrationality • Unpredictability • Unconventionality • Observer Discomfort
Cultural Variability • Reasons for differences in rates of disorders and types of symptoms -- are there real cultural differences? • Personality / cognitive style • Definitions of mental illness • Acceptability of mental (as opposed to physical) distress • Usage of medical and psychological services • Views of the origins and treatment of illness • Or, are clinicians biased? • Or, are there problems with assessment or assessment tools?