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Psychology for AS

Models of Abnormality

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1. The Biomedical Model
Assumptions - causes
Abnormaility can be inherited (genes).
Physical changes (brain abnormalities) can cause abnormality.
Wrong neurotransmitter levels can cause abnormality.
Assumptions - treatments
Drug therapy - rebalance neurotransmitter levels
Gene therapy - isolate affected genes/abort affected foetuses.
Psychosurgery - brain fibres cut (eg, lobotamy).
+ Shows a link between neurotransmitter levels and disorders.
- However, Cause and Effect - not neurotransmitters causing disorder but the other way around.
+ Shows that it runs in families.
- However, Families also share environment. Environment not genes could be cause.
+ Chemotherapy can be effective in relieving symptoms.
- However, Drugs can have dangerous side effects.
- Treating symptoms not the causes.
+ However, If symptoms are relieved the patients feel better.
2. The Psychodynamic Model
Assumptions - causes
Mental illness has a psychological origin - conflicts between different parts of personality.
Abnormality occurs when the ego is not strong enough to control the id and superego. Id dominant = psychopathy. Superego dominant = Phobias, Obsessions, Anxiety.
When ego is under stress we use defence mechanisms to allow us to cope ;
Defence Mechanisms normal and natural - satisfying id without offending superego. However, used too often - psychological problems!
Assumptions - treatment
Therapy - gaining insight, accessing thoughts and bringing them to conscious mind.
Treatment must focus on past rather than present behaviour because source is unresolved conflicts of early childhood.
Gaining access to mind - Free association and Dream Analysis
- Biased - Freud used middle class Viennese women only who were suffering from mental disorders - cannot be generalised to everyone.
- Id, Ego, Superego - abstract concepts - cannot be observed/measured.
+ may be able to test in future when a method is found.
- Not suitable for certain disorders such as Sz because the patient would not be able to talk of their feelings.
- Therapy is costly and patients can become dependent on their therapy and therapist.
- False memory syndrome - therapists introduce ideas and they work their way into the unconscious.
3. The Behaviourist Model
Assumptions - causes
Behaviours are learned through conditioning ;
Classical Conditioning (things become associated with each other when happen at same time).
Operant Conditioning (behaviours in unknown situations - rewarded = do it again, punished = don't do it again).
Social Learning (copying what someone else is doing especially if they are rewarded).
Only behaviour is important - the mind is an unnecessary concept.
The same laws apply to human and non-human animal behaviour.
Assumptions - treatment
Unlearning behaviour ;
Systematic Desensitisation (introduced gradually)
Flooding (introduced straight away)
Token economy (good behaviour rewarded - exchange tokens for prizes)
Therapy - treating symptoms not causes.
+ Simple model so easy to conduct research with animal studies.
- However, animals may learn different things.
+ Behavioural therapies effective for some disorders.
- However, Not for others such as Sz.
- Only treats symptoms, problem will show itself in another way (symptom substitution).
+ However, Behaviourists claim there are no underlying causes and that if symptoms are treated then the disorder is gone.
4. The Cognitive Model
Assumptions - causes
Faulty thinking - The issue is not the problem itself but the way you think about it. Faulty and irrational thinking prevent the individual behaving normally.
Cognitive processes can be faulty;
Over-generalisation (a conclusion is reached on the basis of oen event or incident).
Magnification (magnifying failures).
Minimisation (minimising successes).
Faulty control over our own thoughts.
Assumptions - treatment
Treatment must aim to change the way a person thinks - cognitive restructuring. Make the patient's irrational and negative thoughts more rational and positive.
Patient in control - only they can make themselves better.
+ People suffering from anxiety and/or depression do report irrational thought processes. Beck found that depresses individuals have negative views on themselves, the world and the future.
- However, cause and effect - not irrational thoughts causes disorder, disorder causes irrational thoughts.
+ Cognitive therapies popular. Work well with anxiety, depression etc.
+ Patient given control - empowering.
- However, if they fail to recover themselves they may blame themselves and feel worse due to the therapy.
- Focuses on present not past.
- Unscientific - thoughts cannot be observed or measured.




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