Sunday, August 28, 2011

Abnormal Psychology and Therapy

Group paper-

Abnormal Psychology and Therapy

Psychology is a study of thoughts, feelings, and the way a person thinks and uses his or her senses be it physical, mental, or cognitive. Abnormal psychology is thoughts or behavior causing the person problems. The problem can be unhappiness, conflict, or even discomfort in the person everyday life. Mental disorders or mental illness are patterns not generally associated with an individual. Some of these disorders can cause harm to others or the person who is suffering with the disorder. The therapies for these disorders are different in each case. A closer look and contrast of normal and abnormal psychology is need along with mental disorders and mental illnesses from a psychology perspective finishing with a look at different therapies used for normal and abnormal psychology.

Compare and Contrast of Normal and Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal and normal psychology both deals with behavior, rather the behavior are typical or not. Different cultures have different beliefs that make certain behaviors typical. Someone may see a behavior as abnormal to their culture but it might be normal in someone else culture. For example, if a manager is talking to one of his employees and the employee is not looking the manager in the eye, he just holds his head down someone may consider this a disorder (abnormal) but in that employee culture it may be disrespectful to look his manager in the eye. I read an interesting example out of a psychology book; “In some cultures it is normal for women to appear in public bare breasted but, would be abnormal for a female executive to go to work that way” (p. 538). Therefore, abnormal and normal psychology can be the same under different cultures.

Abnormal Psychology occurs when one of the following occur stated a professor from the University of Idaho: “bizarreness, extremeness, disturbances of others, subjective distress or interfering with daily functioning.” I was at work one-day and one of the clients didn’t take his psych meds so he became very erratic and out of control, so I had to remove him from the other group and call the mental health therapist to assess the client. His behavior was abnormal because he refused his meds and had no control of his actions.

Abnormal and Normal Psychology are alike because they both deal with behaviors and because different cultures beliefs some behaviors are normal. On the other hand they are different if a behavior is not typical or something out the ordinary. Knowing the difference between normal and abnormal psychology helps with recognizing mental disorders from a psychological perspective.

Mental Disorders from the Perspective of Psychology

Schizophrenia is an alteration of thinking and perception; it may include a loss of contact with reality, and is considered a major disorder. Schizophrenia patients often believe that their unexpressed thoughts are known to others and can be influenced by external forces. With this mental disorder minor events and objects take on significant meaning. The causes of schizophrenia are not fully understood, but there is a belief of genetic component along with a well-established higher incidence in winter-born children. Relapses in this condition can be cause by brain damage, either at birth or subsequently and social stresses are thought to be of particular significance of this condition. Management includes minimizing social stresses, and prophylactic drug treatment, skillful counseling concerning the impact of the illness for the sufferer’s, and rehabilitation.

Obsessive compulsive disorder also known as OCD is recurrent, persistent, and unwanted thoughts of repetitive, purposeful ritualistic behaviors. A feature of OCD is an awareness of the irrationality obsessions and compulsions accompanied by an inability to control them. Some of the typical compulsions are irresistible urge to wash hands or clean, to check locks on doors, to repeatedly check appliances to make sure they are off, count, arrange, or to save.

The difference between obsessive-compulsive disorder and milder forms of the disorder seen in healthy people is that the obsessions or compulsions cause distress, at times consuming, and significantly interfere with the person’s normal routine, occupational functioning, usual social activities, and relationships with others. Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is also refractory to most drugs used to treat anxiety, depression, and psychosis. However, it often will ease with medications that affect the brain’s seratonegic system, such as clorimipramine, flavoxamine, and fluoxetine. Mental illnesses also can be seen with a psychological perspective.

Mental Illnesses from the Perspective of Psychology

A mental illness in the perspective of psychology are illnesses which cause the individuals to have disturbances of thought, and lead to emotional issues which can be so bad that it can cause the individual to have bad behavior which can lead to thoughts or even attempts of suicide. (Christian Perring). There are several different types of serious mental illnesses out there yet the two that stand out the most is schizophrenia and major depression, both can be chronic and cause serious disability.(Christian Perring). Schizophrenia is based on delusions that a person goes through. Schizophrenia patients suffer extreme and pervasive delusions and most of the time they don't know what they are doing. When a person with
schizophrenia goes thru a delusion it is a significant lack of distortion and the individual has trouble understanding a situation. Schizophrenia may also cause other issues such as emotional problems which can hinder their behavior. Due to their act of behavior they will look for reasons to make them not be responsible for how they are acting. Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness and leads right into the next mental illness of major depression. While being schizophrenic it can also make people go into major depression. Major depression is a serious medical illness affecting many of million adults, and children the percentage rate per given year is about 5 to 8 percent.(Nami). Many people may develop the feeling of not being wanted and that they are useless and a waste of space. Even though there is medication out there such as antidepressants people still get the thoughts through their head of wanting to hurt themselves or even commit suicide. Major depression can be cause by a number of things but it is most commonly caused by biological, psychological and social issues, similar to the causes of schizophrenia. Therefore the two mental illnesses that are most common in individuals today is schizophrenia and major depression. The difference and similarities in therapies should be discussed for treatment of these mental disorders and illnesses.

Similarity and Differences in Therapies

Treatment for mental disorders and illnesses vary between each psychological school of thought. The first types of psychotherapy were the psychodynamic therapies. Psychodynamic therapy “attempts to change personality patterns through insight and the therapist-patient relationship” (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). Under this branch of therapy lie the techniques of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy. These therapies require the patient to lie on a couch or sit face-to-face with a therapist and discuss what comes to mind, a technique known as free association.

Contrastingly are the therapies of the cognitive-behavioral school of thought. Cognitive-behavioral therapy “views symptoms as maladaptive learned behavior that could be changed by applying behavioral principles of learning” (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). Under this school of thought lie six therapeutic techniques; systematic desensitization, exposure and operant techniques, participatory modeling, skills training, and cognitive therapy. These therapies rely heavily on classical and operant conditioning techniques. Although psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral therapies are widely used there are also humanistic approaches to treating mental disorders. Humanistic therapies “help people get in touch with their inner feelings, with their ‘true selves’, and with a sense of meaning in life” (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). The two most practiced humanistic therapies are Gestalt therapy and the client-centered therapy. Gestalt therapy is somewhat similar to psychodynamic psychotherapy. The most common technique of this therapy is the empty chair technique. Through this technique the patient practices emotional expression by imagining that the person he or she wants to speak to is in the chair. The second humanistic therapy is the client-centered therapy. Through this technique the therapist demonstrates an attitude of total acceptance for the patient by listening emphatically. Therapeutic change occurs as the patient hears his or her own thoughts or feelings reflected by the nonjudgmental listener.


In conclusion normal and abnormal deal with behavior, this behavior can be causing the person problems, conflict, or even discomfort in everyday life. Mental disorders such as schizophrenia and Obsessive compulsive disorder can cause harm to others or the person suffering with them. Mental illnesses involve disturbances of thought, experience, and emotion cause functional impairment making difficult to sustain relationships, keep a job, and can lead to suicide. Treatment will be different depending on the type of disorder a person has and the person’s willingness to seek help with a therpist.

Credo Reference - The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia

Credo Reference - (2004) McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology.

Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2009). Psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Nami ( National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, retrieved October 13, 2010.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, retrieved October 11, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2010

Wood, S. E., & Wood, E. R. The World of Psychology. Boston, MA: A Pearson Education Company. Page 538

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