Abnormal Psychology
What makes something a disorder?
• Typicality – the degree to which the mental
process or behavior is average or typical of the
majority of people
• Maladaptivity – the mental process or
behavior impairs an individuals ability to
function in everyday life
• Emotional Discomfort – the person feels bad
• Socially Unacceptable Behavior – behavior
that violates societies norms
MUCH madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you ’re straightway
And handled with a chain.
Classifying Psychological Disorders
• DSM – IV – TR
• Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
• First one came out in 1952
• Fourth edition came out in 1994, TR means
Text Revision which is the edition from 2000
• DSM – V is due in 2013
• http://allpsych.com/disorders/disorders_dsmI
Anxiety Disorders
• Anxiety – a general state of dread or
uneasiness that occurs in response to a vague
or imagined danger
Types of Anxiety Disorders
• Phobic Disorders – a persistent excessive or
irrational fear of a particular object or situation
• the most common of all anxiety disorders
• Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia
– panic attacks: a relatively short period of intense fear
or discomfort
– Agoraphobia – a fear of being in places or situations
where escape may be difficult (e.g. the mall)
– 50%-80% of phobic individuals treated have one or
both of these
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
• Excessive or unrealistic worry about life
circumstances that lasts for at least 6 months
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
• Obsessions – unwanted thoughts, ideas,
mental images that occur repeatedly
• Compulsions – repetitive ritual behaviors,
often involving checking or cleaning
• Most people with OCD are aware that their
actions are unjustified
Stress Disorders
• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
• Intense persistent feelings of anxiety that are
caused by an experience so traumatic that it
would produce stress in almost anyone
• e.g. rape, severe child abuse, assault, severe
accident, natural disasters, war atrocities
• People with PTSD may experience flashbacks,
nightmares, numbness of feelings, avoidance of
stimuli associated with trauma, increased tension
Explaining Anxiety Disorders
• Psychoanalytic view – anxiety
result of forbidden urges
• Learning view – conditioning
– Childhood traumatic event (lost in a
– Observation of adult behavior
(screaming at spiders)
• Cognitive view – people make
themselves feel anxious by
responding negatively to situations
• Biological view – heredity plays a
Dissociative Disorders
• Dissociation – the separation of certain mental
processes from conscious thought
• Happens all the time (daydreaming, reading a
book, watching TV)
• Disorders are more extreme examples used to
avoid stressful events or feelings
• Dissociative Amnesia – sudden loss of memory
usually followed by a traumatic event
• Dissociative Fugue – not only forgetting
personal information and past events but also
relocating from home or work and taking on a
new identity
• Dissociative Identity Disorder – also called
multiple personality disorder
• The existence of two or more personalities
within one individual
Explaining Dissociative Disorders
• Psychoanalytic view – people dissociate to
repress unacceptable urges
• Learning view – people dissociate to avoid
feelings of shame, guilt, or pain. This is reinforced
by reduced anxiety when trauma is forgotten
• Sybil
Somatoform Disorders
• Somatization – the expression of psychological distress
through physical symptoms
• Conversion disorders – a change or loss in physical
functioning of major part of the body in which there is
no medical explanation
• Hypochondriasis - a person’s unrealistic preoccupation
with the idea that they have a serious medical illness
Explaining Somatoform Disorders
• Same as Dissociative Disorders
Mood Disorders
• Depression – feelings of
helplessness, hopelessness,
worthlessness, guilt, and
great sadness
• The most common of all
psychological disorders
• Some estimates say
between 8%-18% of worlds
population experience
depression at some point in
their lives
• Major depression is diagnosed when an individual
experiences at least five of the following nine
symptoms of depression (and one or two of the five
have to be the first two):
• Persistent depressed mood for most of the day
• Loss of interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities
• Significant weight loss or gain due to changes in
• Sleeping more or less than normal
• Speeding up or slowing down of physical and emotional
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Feelings of worthlessness or unfounded guilt
• Reduced ability to concentrate or make meaningful
• Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Bipolar Disorder
• Formerly called manic depression
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYdq0A
• Periods of mania (extreme excitement,
hyperactivity, chaotic behavior) followed by
periods of depression
• Manic moods may also include delusions of
grandeur or even hallucinations
Explaining Mood Disorders
• Psychoanalytic view – child suffers loss of
important object or loved one. Child feels anger
about loss but internalizes it and blames
• Learning view – Learned Helplessness, people
come to believe they have no control over events
• Cognitive view – some people are prone to
depression because of the way they explain
events. Do they blame themselves or outside
events? Is the problem temporary or permanent?
• Biological view – genetics are a key factor
• Two neurotransmitters – serotonin and
noradrenaline – play a role in mood
regulation. Low levels in each may result in
depression (causation or downward spiral?)
The most serious of psychological disorders
Loss of contact with reality, very disabling
Typically appears in young adulthood
Extremely difficult to treat
Relatively rare
• Symptoms include:
• Hallucinations – often auditory
• Voices often tell the person what to do or
comment on behavior
• Delusions of grandeur or persecution
• Thought disorders – people are illogical,
disorganized, or confused
• A 20th-century artist,
Louis Wain, who was
fascinated by cats,
painted these pictures
over a period of time in
which he developed
schizophrenia. The
pictures mark
progressive stages in the
illness and exemplify
what it does to the
victim's perception.
• The false progression of Louis Wain:
Types of Schizophrenia
• Paranoid Schizophrenia – delusions and / or
auditory hallucinations relating to a single
theme. Often delusions of grandeur or
• Disorganized Schizophrenia – delusions and
hallucinations but fragmentary and
unconnected. Often speak nonsense.
• Catatonic Schizophrenia – disturbance of
• Activity may slow to a stupor and then switch
to agitation
• May hold unusual body positions for a long
• Sometimes poseable
Explaining Schizophrenia
• multifactorial
Impulse Control Disorders
• Trichotillomania - the uncontrollable plucking
of one’s hair
• Usually limited to hair on the head, but
removal of eyebrows, eyelashes and other
body hair is not uncommon
• Intermittent Explosive Disorder – the inability
to control violent impulses
• Different than having a bad temper / anger
issues but diagnosis is difficult
• Pathological gambling - the uncontrollable
impulse to gamble
• often results in disrupted relationships,
financial problems, and/or criminal behavior
• Kleptomania - the impulse to steal for no
great gain, when he or she has sufficient
money to pay for the item and no need for
what is stolen.
• Pyromania - the uncontrollable impulse to
repeatedly set fires with no obvious motive
(such as: concealment of a crime, financial
gain, and such).
• Not Otherwise Specified or NOS
• Impulsive Sexual Behaviors
• Repetitive Self- Mutilation - While this behavior can be
present in a wide range of psychiatric disorders, this
impulsive behavior is also part of the Impulse Control
Disorder, NOS catchment. It refers to the actions of
individuals who fail to resist impulses to episodically cut,
carve or burn their skin, interfere with healing of their
wounds, and so on.
• Compulsive Shopping
• Tourette syndrome - a neurological disorder
characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary
movements and vocalizations called tics
• Although the symptoms of TS are involuntary, some
people can sometimes suppress, camouflage, or
otherwise manage their tics in an effort to minimize
their impact on functioning. However, people with TS
often report a substantial buildup in tension when
suppressing their tics to the point where they feel that
the tic must be expressed (against their will). Tics in
response to an environmental trigger can appear to be
voluntary or purposeful but are not.
Personality Disorders
• Patterns of inflexible traits that disrupt social
life or work and / or distress the affected
• Paranoid PD – tend to be distrustful and
suspicious of others. Perceive others behavior
as insulting or threatening
• Schizoid PD – no interest in relationships with
other people, they do not become attached to
• Antisocial PD – show a persistent behavior
pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the
rights of others. No feelings of remorse or
• Avoidant PD – these people desire
relationships but have tremendous fear of
rejection or feelings of inadequacy