The Sociocultural Model

• social and cultural influences create abnormal behavior
-abnormality is defined by what society expects
• societal labels- what society considers normal and abnormal
-basically society defines what “mentally ill” means and the
label itself can influence behavior
• Lev Vygotsky- the founder of a theory of human cultural
and bio-social development
• David Rosenhan- conducted a study that proved normal
people can believe they are crazy if they are labeled as
• PJ Henry- Low Status Compensation Theory: lower status
individuals have higher tendencies toward violent and
abnormal behavior
• Distress- environmental pressures can lead to stress, anxiety, and
-Example: Lower class societies
-lack resources for help
-racial and ethnic differences prevent opportunity to see a therapist
-environmental pressure from parents and society
• Dysfunction- lack of social networks and support can lead to an
inability to have functional relationships within a society
-Example: Someone who is isolated for a significant period would lack the
ability to interact with others normally and would not be able to find a job or be an active
member of society
• Danger- external influences can lead to dangerous behavior
-Example: The son of an alcoholic will turn to alcohol in times of stress
and use alcohol to cope with life, instead of finding a healthier strategy
• Deviance- violating social norms
-Example: A guy never wears clothes in public
-society labels public nudity as abnormal, making him more likely to
think he is abnormal which leads to more abnormal behavior
• approaches that seek to address the unique issues faced by
members of minority groups
• cultural beliefs, language barriers, lack of information, and
traditional remedies contribute to underuse of mental
health services
therapy format in which a group of people with
similar problems meet together with a therapist to
work on those problems
therapy format in which the therapist meets
with all members of a family and helps them to
change in therapeutic ways
• family systems theory- structure and
communication patterns of some families
force individual members to behave
therapy format in which the therapist works with two
people who share a long term relationship
• treatment that emphasizes community care
• allows clients to receive treatment in familiar
surroundings while they try to recover
• directly addresses issues surrounding family and society
• examines the impact of societal labels
• high success rate
-most clinicians believe in biopsychosocial theories
(explanations that attribute the cause of abnormality to an interaction of all
abnormal models)
• disregards genetic components of certain mental illness
• research is difficult to interpret
• inability to predict abnormality in specific individuals