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Name the four ways used to identify an abnormality.

Statistical infrequency
Deviation from social norms
Failure to function adequately
Deviation from ideal mental health


Explain and evaluate statistical infrequency.

Statistical infrequency is when an individual has a less common characteristic. Normal distribution describes how the majority of people's scores will cluster around the average and the higher or lower you look from the average, the fewer people will attain that score.

It has good real-life application in the diagnosing illnesses and disabilities. This makes it a useful part of clinical assessments.
A negative is that unusual characteristics can sometimes be positive. For example, statistical infrequency would identify someone with an extraordinarily high IQ to be abnormal. This is not something that needs treatment as it is not undesirable. This is a limitation as it means statistical infrequency will never be used alone to make a diagnosis.
Sometimes people who are abnormal in terms of statistical infrequency are living happy and fulfilling lives and so would not benefit from a label. For example, someone may have an abnormally low but be capable of working and not distressed by their abnormality. They would not benefit from the diagnosis of having an intellectual disability and it might affect the way they see themselves.


Explain and evaluate deviation from social norms.

Deviation from social norms is behaviour that is different from the accepted behaviour in a society. Social norms are specific to the culture we live in and so there are very few behaviours that are considered universally abnormal. For example, it is used to diagnose antisocial personality disorder.

Although deviation from social norms has good real-life application, it is never used as the sole method of defining abnormality as there are other factors to consider. For example in antisocial personality disorder, cannot be diagnosed just through this as the impact on others and failure to function adequately also needs to be recognised.
Cultural relativism is a problem because social norms vary greatly from one culture to the next. Something which is considered abnormal in one culture may not be in another. This might create problems for people living in a culture which they are not from.
This explanation has led to human rights abuse in the past. Drapetomania was an illness made to classify black slaves who ran away and nymphomania was used to classify women who were sexually attracted to working-class men. These were obviously used to maintain control over minority ethnic groups and women.


Explain and evaluate failure to function adequately.

Failure to function adequately is the inability to cope with the ordinary demands of day to day living. For example, they may be unable to hold down a job or to maintain basic standards of personal hygiene.
Rosenhan and Seligman identified some signs that someone is not coping.
- when a person no longer conforms to standard interpersonal rules such as maintaining eye contact and respecting personal space
- when a person experiences severe personal distress
- when a person's behaviour becomes irrational or dangerous to themselves or others.

- This acknowledges that the experience of the patient and others is important and captures the experience of many who need help. This suggests that this is a useful criterion for assessing abnormality.
- It is hard to distinguish whether someone is failing to function adequately or is simply deviating for social norms. For example, a new age traveler would not live in permanent accommodation and may not work. If we treat different behaviours as failures of adequate functioning, we risk limiting personal freedom and discriminating against minority groups.
-the judgement which needs to be main may be subjective. A person may say that they are distressed but then not be judged as suffering. While it is made as objective as possible, one person has the right to make this judgement.


Explain and evaluate deviation from ideal mental health.

Deviation from ideal mental health is when someone is unable to meet a set of criteria for good mental health. This is a different way of looking at abnormality by ignoring the issues that make someone abnormal and rather focusing on what makes anyone normal. Jahoda suggested that we have good mental health if we meet the following criteria:
- No symptoms or distress
- Are rational and can perceive ourselves accurately
- Can self-actualise
- Can cope with stress
- Have a realistic view of the world
- Have good self-esteem and lack guilt
- Are independent of other people
- Can successfully work, love and enjoy our leisure

- It is a comprehensive definition as it covers a broad range of criteria and probably covers all of the reasons which someone would seek help from mental health services. This makes it a good tool for thinking about mental health.
- Some of the ideas are culture-bound. For example, self-actualisation could be considered to be self-indulgent in some parts of the world where an emphasis is placed on the family. SUch traits are typical of individualist cultures.
- Very few people are able to attain Jahoda's criteria for good mental health which would make all of us abnormal. It has no value in thinking about who might benefit from treatment against their will because it sets an unrealistically high standard for mental health.


Define a phobia.

An irrational fear of an object or situation.


Describe the behavioural characteristics of a phobia.

Panic- a person may panic in response to the phobic stimulus. This could include crying, screaming or running away.
Avoidance- A sufferer will tend to go out of their way to avoid a phobic stimulus. This can interfere a lot with their daily life.
Endurance- The alternative to avoidance in which the sufferer remains in the presence of the phobic stimulus but continues to experience high levels of anxiety.


Describe the emotional characteristics of a phobia.

Anxiety- Phobias are classed as anxiety disorders. Anxiety is an unpleasant state of high arousal which prevents the sufferer from relaxing. Emotional responses are often unreasonable and disproportionate to the danger present.


Desribe the cognitive characteristics of a phobia.

Selective attention to the phobic stimulus- A sufferer will pay particularly close attention to the phobic stimulus because they believe it to be dangerous. This will cause them to struggle to concentrate on what they are doing.
Irrational beliefs- The sufferer may hold irrational beliefs in relation to the phobic stimuli. For example, a social phobia could consist of thinking 'I must always sound intelligent'. It increases the pressure on the sufferer to perform well in social situations.
Cognitive distortions- The person's perception of the phobic stimulus may be distorted. For example, a person with a belly button phobia may see them as being disgusting or ugly.


Define depression.

A mental disorder characterised by low mood and low energy levels.


Describe the behavioural characteristics of depression.

Low activity levels- Sufferers of depression have low energy levels which makes them lethargic and lowers their activity levels. The tend to withdraw from work/education and their social life. It could also have the opposite effect known as psychomotor agitation when they are unable to relax and may pace.
Disruption to sleep and eating behaviour: Sufferers may eperience insomnia or hypersomnia and appetite may increase or decrease.
Aggression or Self-harm: The sufferer may express verbal or physical aggression or direct aggression against themselves through self harm or suicide attempts.


Describe the emotional characteristics of depression.

Lowered mood- Patients feel worthless and empty
Anger- The patient may frequently experience extreme anger directed to themselves or others
Lowered self-esteem- Sufferers often describe hating themselves.


Describe the cognitive characteristics of depression.

Poor concentration- Poor concentration and poor decision making are likely to interfere with their work.
Attending to and dwelling on the negative- Sufferers are more likely to pay attention to the negative aspects rather than the positive ones. They also have a bias towards recalling unhappy events rather than happy ones; the opposite bias is what most people have when not depressed.
Absolutist thinking: Black and white thinking, all good or all bad. They see an unfortunate even as an absolute disaster.


Define OCD

OCD is a condition characterised by obsessions and/or compulsive behaviour.


Describe the behavioural characteristics of OCD.

Compulsions are the behavioural component of OCD. They have 2 elements:
- They are repetitive: The sufferer feels compelled to repeat a behaviour.
- Tey reduce anxiety: 90 percent of compulsions are perfomed in an attempt to manage the anxiety produced by obsessions.

Avoidance- A sufferer may also attempt to reduce anxiety by keeping away from situations that trigger it.


Describe the emtional characteristics of OCD

Anxiety and distress- OCD is an unpleasant emotional experience as powerful anxiety accompanies both obsessions and compulsions. These are unpleasant and frightening.

Accompanying dpression- OCD is often accompanied bu depression ie low mood and lack of enjoyment in activities. The relief brought by performing cumpulsive behaviour is temporary.

Guilt and disgust directed at the self


Describe the cognitive characteristics of OCD.

Obsessive thoughts- these reccur again and again and are always unplasant.

Cognitive strategies to deal with obsessions- ie a religious person may respond by praying and meditating to reduce their anxiety. This may make them appear abnormal and distract them from their everyday tasks.

Insight to excessive anxiety- Sufferers are aware that their obsessions and compulsions are not rational. They also tend to be hypervigilant.


What is the two process model?

It is based on the behavioural approach to phobias and states that phobias are acquired through classical conditioning (associating fear with a stimulus) and then maintained through operant conditioning (avoiding the phobic stimulus is successfully escaping fear and anxiety, which reinforces the behaviour)


Explain the study of Little Albert.

Psychologists created a phobia in a 9 month old baby. He displayed no unusual anxiety at the beginning of the study and when a white rat was presented, he tried to play with it. The psychologists then banged an iron bar near Albert's ear every time the rat was present, creating a loud and frightening sound. Little Albert was then afraid of the rat when he saw it, and also of other white furry objects.


Evaluate the behavioural approach to explaining phobias/

The two-process-model has good explanatory power as it explains how the conditioned response is maintained over time, and how once a patient is prevented from practising their avoidance behaviour, the behaviour ceases to be reinforced and so declines. It has good application to therapy.

Not all avoidance behaviour is motivated by anxiety reduction. Evidence shows some avoidance behaviour is motivated by positive feelings of safety. The two process model suggests otherwise.

The behaviourist approach is an incomplete explanation of phobias as it ignores biological factors.

It doesn’t explain phobias that don’t follow trauma.


Explain systematic desensitisation.

It’s is a behavioural therapy which worlds through counterconditioning. It involves creating an anxiety hierarchy, learning relaxation techniques and exposure to the stimulus.


Explain flooding

Flooding involves immediate exposure to a very frightening situation. Extinction is when the patient learns that the response is harmless. The learned response is extinguished when the conditioned stimulus is encountered without the unconditioned response. It is important to get informed consent for this.


Evaluate systematic desensitisation.

It is effective. A study found that systematic desensitisation is more effective than just relaxation after 33 months.

It is suitable for a diverse range of patients. Ie someone with a learning difficulty would struggle to understand flooding or engage in other therapies do this is appropriate for them.

It it preferred and acceptable to patients. The relaxation process is pleasant and fewer people drop out.


Evaluate flooding.

It is cost effective and quicker and highly efffftive.

It is less effective for some types of phobias such as social phobias because they have a cognitive aspect.

It is traumatic for patients they often don’t see it through which wastes resources and money.


Explain becks cognitive theory of depression.

Beck suggested three parts to cognitive vulnerability to developing depression.

Faulty information processing: dwelling in the negative and ignoring the positive, blowing small problems out of proportion.

Negative self schemas: interpreting all information about ourselves negatively.

The negative triad: negative view of the world, the future and the self.


Explain Ellis’s ABC model.

Poor mental health is an effect of irrational thinking

Activating event
Beliefs- irrational beliefs are triggered
Consequence: depression


Evaluate Becks cognitive theory of depression.

It has good supporting evidence. A study found that pregnant women judged to have been high in cognitive vulnerability were more likely to develop post-natal depression.

It has good practical value as it is used for CBT.

it does not explain all aspects of depression like hallucinations and bizarre beliefs.


Evaluate Ellis’s ABC model.

It’s only a partial explanation as it only explains reactive depression.

It has good application in CBT and REBT.

It doesn’t explain all aspects of depression like anger and hallucinations.


Explain the cognitive approach to treating depression.

CBT involves working to change negative and irrational thoughts and replace them with more effective behaviours.

CBT applies Becks theory of Depression. It involves identifying the thoughts of the negative triad and then challenging them. The patient might be set homeoworkto record good things which is then used to challenge their negative views.

Rational emotive behaviour therapy: ABCDE model, d- dispute E- effect. The aim is to identify and dispute irrational thoughts.

Behavioural activation: the therapist encouraging the patient to be more active and engage in more enjoyable activities.


Evaluate the cognitive approach to treating depression.

It is effective. A study compared the effect of CBT with antidepressant drugs and a combination of the two. CBT was equally as effective as drugs (81%) improved.

CBT may not work in severe cases and it requires the patient to engage with the hard work of therapy. Sometimes antidepressants need to be used first.

It might be the patient therapist relationship that causes success rather than the therapy. A study found that there are very small differences between different therapies which suggests having someone to talk to is what is most important.

There is an overemphasis on cognition and a persons current circumstances may be ignored as what is happening in their mind is what is focused on. Ie their environment: poverty or drug abuse.