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Explaining Mental Disorder

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  1. Explaining Mental Disorder

  2. The study of mental disorder involves: • Definition: What do we mean by mental disorder? • Classification: How do we distinguish between different mental disorders? • Explanation: How do we understand mental disorder? • Treatment: How do we treat mental disorder?

  3. Different Approaches to Explaining Mental Disorder • No completely dominant approach.

  4. Different Approaches to Explaining Mental Disorder • All of the approaches we will explore assume that the proximal cause of behaviour and experience is biological. • The approaches emphasize different distal causes.

  5. Different Approaches to Explaining Mental Disorder • Most psychologists today do not propose linear, one dimensional causal explanations

  6. Approaches to Explaining Mental Disorder Biological / Neuroscience Perspective Psychodynamic Perspective Cognitive Perspective Behavioural Perspective Sociocultural Perspective Humanistic / Existential Perspective Interpersonal Perspective

  7. Biological / Neuroscience Perspective • the functioning of the brain and other biological systems

  8. Behaviour Genetics • Behaviour Genetics studies the extent to which mental disorder is caused by genetics. • The “nature-nurture” debate explores the role of genes vs. the environment.

  9. Behaviour Genetics • Three different methods are used: • family studies • twin studies • adoption studies

  10. Family Studies • Examine family members of an individual with a mental disorder to see what percentage of relatives also have the disorder.

  11. Twin Studies • Monozygotic twins (MZ) share exactly the same genotype. • Dizygotic twins (DZ), have 50% of their genes in common.

  12. Adoption Studies • Attempt to remove environmental influence that DZ and MZ twins share by studying twins that have been separated at birth.

  13. Adoption Studies • Adoptions studies still do not control for all environmental factors because: • People with the same genes seek out and elicit the same kinds of environments. • Outgoing vs. Shy • Energetic vs. Passive

  14. Genes and BehaviourSummary • It is most helpful to think of how genes and environment interact to produce disorders.

  15. Interactions, or “that depends” • What is the influence of X? • that depends on Y.

  16. The Diathesis-Stress Model • Individuals inherit tendencies to express certain traits or behaviours, which are then expressed or activated under conditions of stress.

  17. The reciprocal Gene-Environment Model • Genes may actually increase the probability that an individual will experience a stressful event.

  18. Evaluating the Biological Approach • Effective treatment does not mean we understand causation • Side effects of biological treatments • Correlation does not mean causation • the disorder could cause the biological correlate • a third factor might cause both the disorder and the biological correlate

  19. The Psychodynamic Explanation of mental disorder • Psychodynamic Model • mental mechanisms • emphasis on childhood experiences • emphasis on unconscious motives

  20. Freud and the “Classical” Psychodynamic model • Unconscious: • most mental activity takes place outside of awareness • the unconscious contains passively and actively forgotten information

  21. The Structure of the Mind according to Freud • Id • basic primitive biological drives or instincts • Ego • develops to help the Id find adaptive ways to fulfill it’s desires and cope with reality

  22. Superego • internalized moral standards of parents • does not consider what is realistic only what is abstractly ideal

  23. Super Ego Competing / Conflicting Demands on the Ego Conscience Reality Ego Mediator Logical / Rational Id Illogical / Emotional

  24. The Ego’s Defense Mechanisms • Ego defense mechanisms involve distorting or denying internal and external reality.

  25. Repression • Repression is the basis of all defense mechanisms. • Impulses that are unacceptable to the ego are pushed into the unconscious

  26. Sublimation • Sublimation is the most adaptive defense mechanism • Sublimation is the transformation of Id impulses into more socially acceptable forms.

  27. Anxiety • Anxiety is a signal that the ego’s controls are at risk of being overcome by the id or the superego.

  28. The Psychodynamic Explanation of mental disorder • Disorder occurs when the ego is not able to adequately balance the Id, Superego and reality.

  29. The Psychodynamic Explanation of mental disorder • Poor ego defense leads to anxiety • Rigid ego defense leads to constricted behaviour and impoverished relationships. • Ego collapse leads to a flooding of id impulses.

  30. Evaluating the Psychodynamic Approach • First well developed approach to mental disorders that did not consider mental disorder as a biological or a moral, religious problem. • Difficult to subject many of the ideas to empirical testing. • Gender and cultural bias in original Freudian ideas

  31. The Cognitive Explanation of mental disorder • “Men are disturbed not by things but by the views they take of them” Epictetus

  32. Cognitive Appraisal • Stimulus--->Appraisal---> Response • evaluation of stimulus based on memories, beliefs, and expectations

  33. Cognitive Appraisal • Appraisals are determined by: • Competencies (acquired skills) • Perception/Understanding • Expectancies • Values • Plans and Goals

  34. Cognitive Appraisal • Attribution is an example of an appraisal • belief about the cause of an event • global/specific • stable/unstable • internal/external

  35. Information Processing • Selective Attention • what information we take in from the environment (Schizophrenia, depression, anxiety) • Schema • how we organize and understand the information we take in (self schemas)

  36. Evaluating the Cognitive Approach • Does it explain causes or describe symptoms? (Why do people have maladaptive beliefs?) • If an individual could change their thoughts then they would not have a problem. • Changing beliefs or views about the world may not be the best solution in some situations.

  37. Behavioural Approach • mental disorder is the result of “learning” or environmental experience

  38. The Background of Behaviourism • Learning • the process whereby behaviour changes in response to the environment • Pavlov • The conditioned Reflex • Watson • study only what can be observed • “Little Albert”

  39. The Background of Behaviourism • Thorndike • The Law of Effect • Skinner • Radical Behaviorism • predict and influence behaviour by focusing on environmental contingencies

  40. Respondent (Classical) Conditioning • UCS -----> UCR • the unconditioned or unlearned stimulus causes an unconditioned or unlearned response • UCS -----> UCR • CS -----> CR • after conditioning the conditioned stimulus causes a conditioned response

  41. Operant Conditioning • The organism does something or “operates” on the environment. • The likelihood of a response is altered by its consequences.

  42. Punishment and Reinforcement • Reinforcement • any consequence of a behaviour that increases the probability of the behaviour occurring again • Punishment • any consequence of a behaviour that decreases the probability of the behaviour occurring again

  43. Learning Mechanisms • Extinction • Generalization • Discrimination • Shaping

  44. Behavioural Explanation of Mental Disorder • Abnormal behaviour, or mental disorders are the result of various environmental experiences (learning or conditioning) • eg Dog Phobia • respondent conditioning • negative reinforcement • eg Depression • extinction

  45. Behavioural Explanation of Mental Disorder • Less inclined to use Diagnostic Labels • symptoms have different functional roles in different people • Less focused on the past, more focused on present environmental factors

  46. Sociocultural Approach • mental disorder is the result of social and political factors

  47. Sociocultural Approaches • Mental disorder is a social label or a social construction.

  48. Social Construction • Social Concept • the boundary between what is and is not a mental disorder is not “natural” but “cultural” (think back to mental disorder defined as a norm violation)

  49. Social Construction • Social Role • the “cause” of a mental disorder is the fact that an individual is fulfilling or carrying out a social role • this role has a function for the individual, and/or society as a whole

  50. Three umpires are sitting around over a beer, and one says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I call ‘em the way they are.” Another says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I call ‘em the way I see ‘em.” The third says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and they ain’t nothin’ until I call ‘em.” • Anderson, 1990 p. 75