Psychology: Schizophrenia and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Essay

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Rebecca Jones Abnormal Psychology What is abnormality and what do people define as abnormal? The word abnormal has changed its definition over many years.In the 1600’s it was not unusual for women would be burned at the stake, accused of being witches, which in other words meant that they simply did not conform to the norms and values of traditional society. Today, the word abnormal is defined as a difference in a person’s behaviour, being seen as unusual or unnatural from an outsider’s point of view. Standards of abnormal behaviour differ upon various cultures or society’s, it is determined by the society’s norms and values and whether or not the person’s behaviour is acceptable. Another example of abnormal definitions changing over time would be to discuss how for many centuries the practice of severely beating young children in order to show discipline was considered normal and acceptable behaviour, however, if a teacher were to discipline a child with such brutality today, it would be classed abnormal and cruel.Abnormal psychology, also called psychopathology, is the scientific study of psychological disorders; there are numerous disorders which can negatively affect every aspect of an individual’s life, such as the way people feel, think, speak and behave, most of these now being referred to as medical disorders.Studies in abnormal psychology are conducted by experts, mainly clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers, however, psychological experts may face certain problems when attempting to define abnormality, as the concept of abnormality is very concise and difficult to define. Definitions of abnormality can take many different forms, and are determined depending on the individual assessing the ‘abnormal behaviour’. It has been criticised that abnormality is seen as undesirable, such as the abnormal behaviour that requires medication and treatment, but there are certain traits in a person that are seen as most desirable, such as being extremely intelligent or in some cultures having the ability to contact spirits and hearing voices, however, in other cultures having this kind of ability can also be seen as abnormal.
There are many different models used to explain the nature and treatment of mental health illnesses. The five major schools of thought are the biological approach, the behavioural approach, the psychodynamic approach, the cognitive approach and the humanistic model. Firstly, the biological (medical) approach assumes that mental health illnesses resemble physical illnesses and can therefore be treated in the same way. This assumption comes from the fact that physical illnesses are caused from disease producing germs, biochemical imbalances or changes to the nervous system; it is assumed that the same can be said for mental health illnesses too. The behavioural approach denies the view that abnormal behaviour stems fromgenetics; instead it suggests that abnormal behaviour is a result of the environment, and that our actions are largely influenced by life experiences.The psychodynamic approach was developed by Sigmund Freud in the late 19th Century and has had a huge influence on the way abnormal psychology is analysed. The basic assumption of this approach is that the roots of mental disorders are psychological. Freud (1906) suggested that abnormal behaviour is caused by unresolved conflicts in the unconscious mind and are the result of failure of defence mechanisms to protect the ego from repression, anxiety or denial. This approach stresses that many adult problems stem from conflicts in earlier years, such as infancy or childhood. The cognitive approach has relatively similar ideas to the behavioural approach; expressing that certain behaviour is caused by the way a person interprets their environment before they react to it. The humanistic approach focuses more on the person as a whole. This approach suggests that people are able to make their own choices, and strive to…