August 12, 2013
Ms. Karen Croley
Abnormal Psychology and Therapy
For many decades’ scientists, psychologists and biologists have been trying to understand human behavior. It is important to avoid looking for a single cause of a behavior or event. The psychological experiences of humans lie at the intersection of biology and culture. “At the intersection of biology and culture lies psychology, the scientific investigation of mental processes (thinking, remembering, feeling, etc.) and behavior” Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). Like many things, there is a “normal” side to psychology and what is considered to be “abnormal” psychology. Abnormal psychology refers to psychology that studies people who are considered “abnormal” or “atypical” compared to members of a given society. “Psychopathology is the problematic patterns of thought, feelings, or behavior that disrupt an individual’s sense of well-being or social or occupational functioning” Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). A disturbance of thought, experience, or emotion serious enough to cause functional impairment would be considered a mental disorder. Mental disorders can make it difficult to sustain interpersonal relationships, carry on jobs, and lead to self-destructive behavior. Most mental disorders can be treated with therapy and/or medication. Two in particular are Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Normal psychology is the terminology used to classify people in good mental health. Societal expectations demand people conform. This is how the general population classifies what is and is not normal. Behavioral patterns of those who are considered mentally healthy tend to reflect the same behavior as the majority of society. When an individual does what everyone else is doing and goes along with the crowd, it is done in an attempt to fit in. Psychological experiments can be conducted to prove this. If a person gets into an elevator and everyone is facing the rear, it is likely that they will soon turn and face the rear as well despite the norm being to face the front. This shows that conformity plays a large role in society and going along with others determines the normal behavior of a group.
If a person operates outside of the parameters of what’s normal they are generally considered to have a mental disorder. This is where abnormal psychology becomes relevant. Abnormal psychology is the study of what is different, often deemed weird or freaky behavior. A person is likely to have extreme difficulty functioning in society because their behavioral patterns are so different from the whole of society. The appropriate psychological treatment can be determined once the cause of the individual’s abnormal psychology is identified. Treatment therapies included the psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, behavioral, humanistic, evolutionary, cognitive, and biological. Depending on the mental disorder of an individual, the treatments and therapies were often combined to determine the best possible results for the client. Cognitive- behavioral is an appropriate treatment for a patient suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). There is such a wide variety of therapies that even two people who suffer from the same mental disorder could potential use different therapy. This is because of the specific individual details of each patient. A mental disorder can present itself different in people which is why professionals take time to determine which approach is the best for the client.
Autism is considered a type of abnormal psychology. According to "Autism" (2013), “autism can be described as a challenging developmental disorder that disturbs the brain’s typical development of social and communication skills.” This disorder is normally found within the first 3 years of life. Children who have autism do not follow the normal development patterns that the average child follows. Autism