Abstract In the following paper, abnormal psychology will be discussed in length. The origins of abnormal psychology will be discussed, including the challenges to defining and classifying normal and abnormal behavior. There will also be a brief overview of how abnormal psychology has evolved into a scientific discipline. Finally the biopsychosocial, biological/medical, and sociocultural theoretical models, will also be analyzed in relation to the development of abnormal psychology. Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology.
Abnormal psychology, also known as psychopathology, is the subfield of psychology devoted to the study of mental disorders (Hansell & Damour, 2008). The subfield also aims to understand the nature, causes, and treatment of these mental disorders (Pearson Higher Education, 2010). Abnormal psychology has come a long way in regard to how it is defined, viewed, and even treated. There are many challenges when it comes to defining and classifying normal and abnormal behavior. Over time, abnormal psychology has evolved into a scientific discipline.
When it comes to the development of abnormal psychology, there are many theoretical models in which we can study as well. Origins of Abnormal Psychology It is difficult to define abnormality, and the scientific characterization of abnormality depends on five criteria: help seeking, irrationality/dangerousness, deviance, emotional distress, and significant impairment (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Help seeking, irrationality/dangerousness, and deviance are more indicators to abnormal behavior because they tend to be circumstantial.
On the other hand, emotional distress and significant impairment are more useful from a scientific standpoint, and therefore are preferred in modern day diagnosis. Individuals can experience emotional distress and significant impairment outside of mental disorders, but mental disorders do not often occur without these two criteria present. The field of abnormal psychology, as a scientific discipline, has existed for a little more than 100 years, however abnormal behavior and explanations of, go back to biblical times (Hansell & Damour, 2008).
One of the earliest explanations for mental illness was an approach known as animistic/spiritual approach. This approach suggested that the metaphysical and spirit world, could affect the physical and observable world (Pearson Higher Education, 2010). When this approach was brought about, the treatment for mental illness was boring holes into the skull of an individual to let out the evil spirits causing the illness. Later, Hippocrates proposed a biological explanation of abnormal behavior.
Hippocrates suggested that an imbalance in four fluids accounted for mental illness. These four fluids were known as humors, and consisted of blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile (Pearson Higher Education, 2010). While these theories may seem difficult to believe, they are the foundation that the scientific discipline of psychopathology was first built upon. The Development of Abnormal Psychology into a Scientific Discipline Hysteria was first diagnosed and treated was by the ancient Greeks.
Hysteria was mostly found in women, therefore the Greeks suggested that the uterus would move around the various areas of the body, this in turn caused a blockage of fluids. Later, Sigmund Freud proposed a systematic theory of psychodynamics that could account for the psychological components of hysteria (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Sigmund Freud then suggested that the cause of hysteria was a conflict between the conscious and unconscious. Freud’s theory was known as the psychodynamic perspective.
Due to Freud’s finding being mainly based on observable case studies, the theory tends to lack a scientific foundation. However, Freud is still responsible for the first theory of psychopathology or abnormal psychology (Hansell & Damour, 2008). The first laboratory for psychology was built in 1879 and set up by William Wundt. In addition to the first laboratory, in 1892, the American Psychological Association (APA) was created by G. Stanley Hall.
The APA released the first diagnostic manual in which to diagnose mental disorders known as the DSM-I (Pearson Higher Education, 2010). Lightner Witmer opened the first psychology clinic at the University of Pennsylvania (Pearson Higher Education, 2010). All of the above stated events have helped abnormal psychology become what it is today. Models of Psychology:
Biopsychosocial, Biological/Medical, and Sociocultural Differing from the majority of traditional theories within psychology, the biopsychosocial model was developed to explain the complex interactions between the biological, psychological, and social aspects of a disease (Hansell & Damour, 2008). This theory was first brought about by George Engel in 1977. It was originally designed as an alternative to the biomedical model. It was created to oppose the biomedical model because the biomedical model suggested there was one factor to contribute to one’s disease, rather than considering the many factors like psychological and social.
Obviously the difference among biopsychosocial and biomedical models is the way in which they view causes or factors of disease or illness. Biopsychosocial recognizes that there are several factors, while biomedical tends to only recognize one. The sociocultural model suggests that abnormal behavior is best understood in the light of the social and cultural factors that influence and individual. For instance, the norms in society, roles an individual plays in the social environment, family structures, and how other people view or react to the individual.
These models relate to the development of the field of abnormal psychology because they seek to answer the questions of what is abnormal behavior, and what causes it. These models are important aspects in abnormal psychology (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Conclusion In conclusion, field of abnormal psychology has come a long way in the last 100 years. With the first approach to abnormal psychology, to Freud’s explanation of abnormal psychology, there have been many ideas and hypothesis to help us understand the cause and cure for abnormal behavior.
The first psychological laboratory and clinic as well as the establishment of the APA and the publication of the first DSM, have also played very big roles in the advancement of abnormal psychology. Psychologists have a long way to go to reach a total understanding of abnormal psychology, and as time goes on more understanding will be gained.
References Hansell, J. , & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal psychology (2nd ed. ). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Pearson Higher Education. (2010). Abnormal Psychology over Time. Retrieved from http://www. pearsonhighered. com/assets/hip/us/hip_us… /0205765319. pdf.