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What is Normal?

Made up of "norms." These norms vary from society to society, a society's norms grow from its culture.


Abnormal Psychology

The scientific study of abnormal behavior undertaken to describe, predict, explain, and change abnormal patterns of functioning.



A society's stated and unstated rules for proper conduct.



A people's common history, values, institutions, habits, skills, technology, and arts.


Patterns of Psychological Abnormality (4 D's)

1) Deviant (different, extreme, unusual, sometimes bizarre),
2) Distressing (unpleasant and upsetting to the person or sometimes to others around),
3) Dysfunctional (interfering with the person's ability to conduct daily activities in a constructive way),
4) Dangerous (posing risk of harm),
~5) Duration (how long a symptom or behavior takes place may also help categorize it as abnormal).



A person who deviates from common behavior or patterns or displays odd or whimsical behavior.



A systematic procedure designed to change abnormal behavior into more normal behavior.


All Forms of Therapy Have 3 Essential Features

1) A sufferer who seeks relief from the healer,
2) A trained, socially accepted healer, who's expertise is accepted by the sufferer and his/her social group,
3) A series of contacts between the healer and the sufferer, through which the healer tries to produce certain changes in the sufferer's emotional state, attitudes, and behavior.



An ancient operation in which a tone instrument was used to cut away a circular section of the skull, perhaps to treat abnormal behavior thought to be caused by evil spirits.



According to the Greeks and Romans, bodily chemicals such as yellow bile (excess said to cause mania and aggression), black bile (excess said to cause melancholia), blood (excess said to cause a sanguine attitude/optimism), and phlegm (excess said to cause apathetic behavior) influence mental and physical functioning.


Mass Madness

Large numbers of people apparently shared delusions and hallucinations.



A type of institution that first became popular in the 16th century to provide care for persons with mental disorders. Most became spiritual persons.


Tarantism/Saint Vitus' Disease

Groups of people wold suddenly start to jump, dance, and go in to convulsions.


Johann Weyer

German physician who was the first to specialize in mental illness and is now considered the founder of the modern study of psychopathology.


Moral Treatment

a 19th century approach to treating people with mental dysfunctions that emphasized moral guidance and humane and respectful treatment.


State Hospitals

State-run public mental institutions in the US.


Somatogenic Perspective

The view that abnormal psychological functioning has physical causes.


Psychogenic Perspective

The view that the chief causes of abnormal functioning are psychological.



A procedure in which a person is placed in a trance-like mental state during which he/she becomes extremely suggestible.



Either the theory or the treatment of abnormal mental functioning that emphasizes unconscious psychological forces as the cause of psychopathology. Created by Sigmund Freud.


Psychotropic Medications

Drugs that mainly affect the brain and reduce many systems of mental dysfunctioning. Led to deinstitutionalization and a rise in outpatient care.



The practice, begun in the 1960s, of releasing hundreds of thousands of patients from public mental hospitals.


Private Psychotherapy

An agreement in which a person directly pays a therapist for counseling services.



Interventions aimed at deferring mental disorders before they can develop.


Positive Psychology

The study and enhancement of positive feelings, traits, and abilities.


Multicultural Psychology

The field that examines the impact of culture, race, ethnicity, and gender on behaviors and thoughts and focuses on how such factors may influence the origin, nature, and treatment of abnormal behavior.


Managed Care Program

Healthcare coverage in which the insurance company largely controls the nature, scope, and cost of medical or psychological services. They determine key care issues.



The use of computer technology, such as Skype or avatars, to provide therapy.



A pointed instrument is inserted into the frontal lobe and rotated, ultimately destroying much brain tissue. Caused irreversible brain damage.


Nomothetic Understanding

A general understanding of the nature, causes, and treatments of abnormal functioning, in the form of laws or principles.


Scientific Method

The process of systematically gathering and evaluating information through careful observations to understand a phenomenon.



A hunch or prediction that certain variables are related in certain ways.


Case Study

A detailed account of a person's life and psychological problems. The clues offered by a case study may help a clinician better understand or treat the person under discussion.
Limitations: Biased reports, subjective evidence (low internal validity), hard to generalize (low external validity).


Internal Validity

The accuracy with which a study can pinpoint one factor as the cause of a phenomenon.


External Validity

The degree to which the results of a study may be generalized beyond that study.



The degree to which events or characteristics vary along with each other.


Correlational Method

A research procedure used to determine how much events or characteristics vary along with each other. Doesn't explain relationships. Correlation doesn't equal causation.


Epidemiological Study / Descriptive Study

A study that measures the incidence and prevalence of a disorder in a given population.



The number of new cases of a disorder occurring in a population over a specific period of time.



The total number of cases of a disorder occurring in a population over a specific period of time.


Longitudinal Study

A study that observes the same participants on many occasions over a long period of time.



A research procedure in which a variable is manipulated and the effect of the manipulation is observed.


Independent Variable

The variable in an experiment that is manipulated to determine whether is has an effect on another variable.


Dependent Variable

The variable in an experiment expected to change as the independent variable is manipulated.



In an experiment, a variable other than the IV that is also acting on the DV.


Control Group

In an experiment, a group of participants who are not exposed to the IV.


Experimental Group

In an experiment, the participants who are exposed to the IV under investigation.


Random Assignment

A selection procedure that ensures that participants are randomly placed either in the control or experimental group.


Blind Design

An experiment in which participants don't know whether they're in the experimental or the control condition.


Placebo Therapy

A pretend treatment that the participant in an experiment believes to be genuine.


Double-Blind Design

Experimental procedure in which neither the participant nor the experimenter knows whether the participants has received the experimental treatment or a placebo.


Quasi-Experiment / Mixed Design

An experiment in which investigates make use of control and experimental groups that already exist in the world at large. Try to find participants who have similar characteristics but the IV.


Natural Experiment

An experiment in which nature, rather than an experimenter, manipulates an IV and the experimenter observed the effects. Cannot be replicated at will and cannot generalize. Ex. people affected by a fire.


Analogue Experiment

A research method in which the experimenter produces abnormal-like behavior in laboratory participants and then conducts experiments on the participants. Researchers can never be certain that the results they see in lab are similar to what they're looking for. Researchers can freely manipulate IVs.


Single-Subject Experimental Design

A research method in which a single participant is observed and measured both before and after the manipulation of an IV using the ABAB design. High internal validity, low external validity.


Institutional Review Board (IRB)

An ethics committee in a research facility that is empowered to protect the rights and safety of human research participants.



Systematic search for facts using careful observations and investigations and it's important to ensure effectiveness, safety, and generalizability for theories and techniques.


Correlation Magnitude

High magnitude: variables which vary closely together and fall close to the line of best fit.
Low magnitude: variables which do not vary as closely together and loosely scattered around the line of best fit.


Statistical Significance

The likelihood that finding has occurred by chance. Impacted by sample size and the magnitude of the correlation. p < .05.


Correlational Method Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages: high external validity (can generalize findings) and can replicate procedures.
Disadvantages: lack internal validity (correlation doesn't equal causation).


Model / Paradigm

A set of assumptions and concepts that help scientists explain and interpret observations. The perspectives used to explain events. Gives order to the field under study, and set guidelines for investigation. Models influence what investigators observe, the questions they ask, the info they seek, and how they interpret this info.



A nerve cell.



The tiny space between the nerve ending of one neuron and the dendrite of another.


Basal Ganglia

Plays a crucial role in planning and producing movement.



A chemical that, release by one neuron, crosses the synaptic space to be received at receptors on the dendrites of neighboring neurons.



A site on a neuron that receives neurotransmitters.



The chemicals released by endocrine glands into the bloodstream.



Chromosome segments that control the characteristics and traits we inherit.


Psychotropic Medications

Drugs that primarily affect the brain and reduce many symptoms of mental dysfunctioning.


Antianxiety Drugs / Minor Tranquilizers / Anxiolytics

Psychotropic drugs that help reduce tension and anxiety.


Antidepressants Drugs

Psychotropic drugs that improve the moods of people with depression.


Antibipolar Drugs / Mood Stabilizers

Psychotropic drugs that help stabilize the moods of people suffering from bipolar mood disorder.


Antipsychotic Drugs

Psychotropic drugs that help correct the confusion, hallucinations, and delusions found in psychotic disorders.


Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

A biological treatment in which a brain seizure is triggered as an electric current passes through electrodes attached to the forehead. Primarily used for depression when other therapies have failed.


Psychosurgery / Neurosurgery

Brain surgery for mental disorders. Started from trephination. Considered experimental and used only in extreme cases.


The Biological Model

Adopting a medical perspective, biological theorists view abnormal behavior as an illness brought by malfunctioning parts of the organism. They point to problems in brain anatomy or chemistry as the cause of such behavior. Theorists believe abnormal behavior comes from abnormal chemical activity in the endocrine system, genetic inheritances, human reactions (and the responsible genes) play(ed) a survival/adaptive role, and viral infections.
Treatment: Attempt to pinpoint the physical source of dysfunction to determine treatment course. Could use drugs, ECT, or psychosurgery.


The Biological Models S&W

Strengths: widely respected in the field, constantly produces valuable new info, treatments bring great relief.
Weaknesses: Can limit our understanding (too simplistic) and treatments produce significantly negative effects.


The Psychodynamic Model

Associated with Freud. Psychodynamic theorists believe that a person's behavior, whether normal or abnormal, is determined largely by underlying dynamic psychological forces of which he/she isn't consciously aware of. These internal forces are described as dynamic (that they interact with one another) and their interactions give rise to the behavior, thoughts, and emotions. Abnormal symptoms are viewed as the result of conflict among these forces. Focuses on the deterministic assumption that no symptom / behavior is accidental and that it's all determined by past experiences.
Therapies: ranges from Freudian psychoanalysis to modern therapies, all seek to uncover past trauma and inner conflicts.



According to Freud, the psychological force that produces instinctual needs, drives, impulses, and sexual needs fueled by libido (sexual energy). Guided by pleasure principle.


Pleasure Principle

Always seeks gratification.



According to Freud, the psychological force that employs reason and operates in accordance with the reality principle. Seeks gratification, but guides us to know when can do such things.


Reality Principle

The knowledge we acquire through experience that it can be unacceptable to express our id impulses outright.


Ego Defense Mechanisms

According to psychoanalytic theory, strategies developed the ego to control unacceptable id impulses and to avoid or reduce the anxiety they arouse.



According to Freud, the psychological force that represents a persons values and ideas. Guided by morality principle. Conscience; unconsciously adopted from our parents.


Morality Principle

A sense of what is right and what is wrong.



According to Freud, a condition in which the id, ego, and superego do not mature properly and are frozen at an early stage of development.


Ego Theory

The psychodynamic theory that emphasizes the role of the ego and considers it an independent force.


Self Theory

The psychodynamic theory that emphasizes the role of the self (our unified personality).


Object Relations Theory

The psychodynamic theory that views the desire for relationships as the key motivating force in human behavior. Especially between caregivers and children.


Free Association

A psychodynamic technique in which the patient describes any thought, feeling, or image that comes to mind, even if it's unimportant.



A psychodynamic technique. An unconscious refusal to participate fully in therapy.



According to psychodynamic theorists, the redirections toward the psychotherapist of feelings associated with important figures in a patient's life, now or in the past.
For example, not wanting to say something to your therapist bc you think she'll laugh just like your mom used to when you were younger.



A psychodynamic technique. The reliving of past repressed feelings in order to settle internal conflicts and overcome one's problems.


Relational Psychodynamic Theory

A form of psychodynamic therapy that believes the reactions and beliefs of therapists should be openly included in the therapy process.



A simple form of learning


Operant Conditioning

A process of learning in which behavior that leads to satisfying consequences is likely to be repeated.



A process of learning in which an individual acquires responses by observing and imitating others.


Classical Conditioning

A process of learning by temporal association in which two events that repeatedly occur close together in time become fused in a person's mind and produce the same response. Learning by temporal association bc two events repeatedly occur close together.


The Behavioral Model

Behavioral Theorists also believe that our actions are largely determined by our experiences, but their concentrate on behaviors and environmental factors, the responses an organism makes to its environment. Behaviors can be external (ex. going to work) or internal (ex. how you feeling). They base their explanations and treatments on principles of learning, the processes by which these behaviors change in response to the environment. Aim is to identify behaviors that are causing problems and replace them with more appropriate ones, may use any form of conditioning and therapist is a teacher rather than a healer.


Systematic Desensitization

A behavioral treatment in which clients with phobias learn to react calmly instead of with intense fear to the objects or situations they dread.



The belief that one can master and perform needed behaviors whenever necessary.


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Therapy approach that seeks to help clients change both counterproductive behaviors and dysfunctional ways of thinking.


The Psychodynamic Model S&W

Strengths: importance of psychological theories and treatment, normal and abnormal functioning rooted in the same processes, first to apply theory and techniques systematically to treatment.
Weaknesses: Unsupported ideas, difficult to research, non-observable, inaccessible to human subject (unconscious).


The Behavioral Model S&W

Strengths: Powerful force in the field, can be tested in the lab, significant research support for behavioral therapies.
Weaknesses: No evidence that symptoms are ordinarily acquired through conditioning, therapy is limited, too simplistic.


The Cognitive Model

According to cognitive theorists, abnormal functioning can result from several kinds of cognitive problems. Some people may make faulty assumptions and adopt attitudes that are disturbing and inaccurate like illogical thinking processes. People with psychological disorders can overcome their problems by developing new, more functional ways of thinking.



An illogical thinking process in which the drawing of broad negative conclusions on the basis of a single insignificant event.


Cognitive Therapy

Therapy developed by Aaron Beck that helps people recognize and change their faulty thinking processes.


The Humanistic-Existential Model

Humanists believe that human beings are born with a natural tendency to be friendly, cooperative, and constructive. They focus on drive to self-actualization through honest recognition of strength and weaknesses. Existentialists agree that human beings must have an accurate awareness of themselves and live meaningful authentic lives to be psychologically well-adjusted. They don't believe that people are naturally inclined to live positively. They believe that from birth we have total freedom, either to face up to our existence and give meaning to it or to shrink from that responsibility. Those who choose to hide from responsibility view themselves as helpless and may live empty, inauthentic, and dysfunctional lives as a result.



The humanistic approach by which people fulfill their potential for goodness and growth.


Client-Centered Therapy

The humanistic therapy developed by Carl Rogers in which clinicians try to help clients by conveying unconditional positive regard (full and warm acceptance), accurate empathy (skillful listening and restating), and genuineness (sincere communication).


Gestalt Therapy

The humanistic therapy developed by Fritz Perls in which clinicians actively move clients toward self-recognition and self-acceptance by using techniques such as role playing, using challenges, skillful frustrations, and self-discovery exercises. Rules including "here and now" and "I" language.


Existential Therapy

A therapy that encourages clients to accept responsibility for their lives and to live with greater meaning and value. Goals more important than technique.


The Sociocultural Model

According to its theorists, abnormal behavior is best understood in light of the broad faces that influence an individual. Abnormal behavior is influenced by social and cultural forces. Addresses norms and roles in society. Composed of the family-social perspective and the multicultural perspective.


Family-Social Perspective

Argues that clinical theorists should concentrate on the broad forces that operate directly on an individual as he/she moves through life (that is, family relationships, social interactions, and community events). They believe such forces help account for both normal and abnormal behavior, and they pay particular attention to 3 kinds of factors: social labels and roles, social networks, and family structure and communication.


Family Systems Theory

A theory that views the family as a system of interacting parts (the family members) who interact with one another in consistent ways and follow rules unique to each family. Abnormal functioning within a family leads to abnormal behavior even if it's just one person with the abnormality.


Self-Help Group / Mutual Help Group

A group made up of people with similar problems who help and support one another without the direct leadership of a clinician.


Structural Family Therapy

Therapists try to change the family power structure, the roles each person plays. and the relationships between members.


Conjoint Family Therapy

Therapists try to help members recognize and change harmful patterns of communication.


Integrative Couple Therapy

Helps partners accept behaviors that they cannot change and embrace the whole relationship nevertheless.


Community Mental Health Treatment

A treatment approach that emphasizes community care. Allows clients, particularly those with severe psychological difficulties, to receive treatment in familiar social surroundings as they try to recover.


Multicultural Perspective

The view that each culture within a larger society has a particular set of values and beliefs, as well as special external pressures, that help account for the behavior and functioning of its members. Seeks to understand how culture, race, ethnicity, gender, and similar factors affect behavior and thought and how people of different backgrounds differ psychologically.


Culture-Sensitive Therapies

Approaches that are designed to help address the unique issues facd by members of cultural minority groups.


Gender-Sensitive Therapies / Feminist Therapies

Approaches geared to the pressures of being a woman in western society.


Biopsychosocial Theories

Explanations that attribute the cause of abnormality to an interaction of genetic, biological, developmental, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, social and societal influences. Favors diathesis-stress approach.



Predisposition to some type of disease.


The Cognitive Model S&W

Strengths: very broad appeal, clinically useful and effective, focuses on a uniquely human process, theories lend themselves to research, therapies effective in treating several disorders.
Weaknesses: precise role of cognition in abnormality has yet to be determined, these therapies don't help everyone, some changes may not be possible to achieve.


The Humanistic-Existential Model S&W

Strengths: taps into domains missing from other theories, Weaknesses: Focuses on abstract issues, difficult to research, weakened by disapproval of scientific approach.


The Multicultural Perspective S&W

Strengths: added greatly to understanding and treatment of abnormality, increased awareness of clinical and social roles, clinically successful when other treatments have failed.
Weaknesses: Research is difficult to interpret, correlation doesn't equal causation, model unable to predict abnormality in specific individuals.


Idiographic Understanding

An understanding of a particular individual.



The process of collecting and interpreting relevant info about a client or research participant in effort to reach a conclusion. Helps determine how and why a person is behaving abnormally.


Clinical Assessment

Used to determine whether, how, and why a person is behaving abnormally and how the person may be helped. It also enables clinicians to evaluate people's progress after they've been in treatment and decide the treatment should change.



The process in which a test is administered to a large group of people who's performance then serves as a standard norm against which any individual's score can be measured.



A measure of the consistency of test or research results.



A measure of the accuracy of a test's or study's result.


Predictive Validity

A tool's ability to predict future characteristics or behaviors.


Concurrent Validity

The degree to which the measures gathered from one tool agree with the measures gathered from other assessment techniques.


Face Validity

A given assessment tool may appear to be valid simply bc it makes sense/reasonable.


Clinical Interview

A face-to-face encounter to see the client's reactions and get a sense of them. Gather detailed info, like personal history of a client. The interviewer's focus varies on their theoretical orientation. Can be structured (prepared questions) or unstructured (open-ended questions).
Limitations: May lack validity, interviewer bias, and/or mistakes in judgement, and may lack reliability.


Mental Status Exam

A set of interview question and observations designed to reveal the degree and nature of a client's abnormal functioning.


Clinical Test

A device for gathering info about a few aspects of a person's psychological functioning from which broader info about the person can be inferred.


Projective Test

A test consisting of ambiguous material that people interpret or respond to.
S: helpful for providing "supplementary" info.
W: have rarely demonstrated much reliability or validity, may be biased against minority ethnic groups.


Thematic Apperception Test

Shown 30 black and white pictures and asked to make up a dramatic story about each. They believe people always identify with one of the pictures.


Personality Inventory

A test, designed to measure broad personality characteristics, consisting of statements about behaviors, beliefs, and feelings that people evaluate as either characteristic or uncharacteristic of them.
S: easier, cheaper, and faster to administer than projective tests, objectively scored and standardized, appear to have greater validity than projective tests.
W: cannot be considered highly valid (measured traits often cannot be directly examined), we can never be sure if the assessment is correct, tests fail to allow for cultural differences in responses.


Response Inventories

Tests designed to measure a person's responses in one specific area of functioning, such as affect, social skills, or cognitive processes.
S: have strong face validity.
W: not all have undergone strict standardization, reliability, and/or validity procedures.


Psychophysiological Test

A test that measures a person's responses (such as heart rate and muscle tension) as possible indicators of psychological problems. Ex. lie detector test.
W: requires expensive equipment that must be tuned and maintained, can be inaccurate and unreliable.


Neurological Test

A test that directly measures brain structure or activity.
S/W: can be very accurate, general screening devices at best.


Brain Scanning / Neuroimaging Techniques

Neurological tests that provide images of brain structure or activity, such as CT scans, PET scans, and MRIs.


Neuropsychological Test

A test that detects brain impairment by measuring a person's cognitive, perceptual, and motor performances. Uses the bender visual-motor gestalt test.


Intelligence Test

A test designed to measure a person's intellectual ability. Typically includes subsets assessing both verbal and nonverbal skills.
S: very carefully produced, highly standardized on large groups of subjects, have high reliability and validity.
W: performance can be influenced by non-intelligence factors, may contain cultural biases in language or tasks.


Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

An overall score derived from intelligence tests. Mental age compared to chronological age.



A determination that a person's problems reflect a particular disorder.



A cluster of symptoms that usually occur together.


Classification System

A list of disorders, along with descriptions of symptoms, and guidelines for making appropriate diagnoses. Ex. DSM-5 and International Classification Disorders.


Test-Retest Reliability

Consistent results each time given.


Interrater Reliability

Different raters independently agree on how to score and interpret a tool.


Categorical Information

Refers to the name of the distinct category (disorder) indicated by the client's symptoms.


Dimensional Information

A rating of how severe a client's symptoms are and how dysfunctional the client is across various dimensions of personality and behavior.


Empirical Supported / Evidence-Based Treatment

Therapy that has received clear research support for a particular disorder and has corresponding treatment guidelines.


Rapprochement Movement

A movement to identify a set of common factors, or common strategies, that run through all successful therapies.



A psychiatrist who primarily prescribes medications.


Naturalistic Observations

Made by participant observers (so that the client doesn't know that they're being watched) in homes, schools, institutions. Focuses on parent-child, sibling-child, or teacher-child interactions.
W: reliability is a concern bc there might be differences between the observer's attention and what the client does at certain times, validity is a concern bc of risk of "overload," "observer drift," and observers bias. Client reactivity and behavior may change across situations.



Carefully record the frequency of certain behaviors, feelings, or cognition as they occur over time.
S: helps assess infrequent and overly frequent behaviors, way to measure private thoughts or perceptions.
W: validity is a concern bc of inaccurate recording and monitoring changes their behaviors.