Abnormal psychology is the study of abnormal or atypical behavior in people.
There are many things group into the category of atypical behavior. For example mental illness but being left handed is also considered atypical but is not an abnormality. Sometimes it is hard to use one definition to describe what abnormal psychology is. According to Saul McLeod (2008) abnormal psychology can be grouped into four different categories, statistical infrequency, violation of social norms, failure to function adequately and deviation from ideal mental health.Being included in one or more of these categories would be considered a classification of abnormal. Because there are so many elements of abnormal psychology we are going to narrow it down specifically to mental illness.
Mental illness has been around since the beginning of recorded history, although they used different terms and believe that the cause of these mental illnesses were different then we do today it still existed (Hergenhahn 2009). There are many different categories that specify mental illness.According to Hergenhanhn (2009) harmful behavior, unrealistic thoughts and perceptions, inappropriate emotions and unpredictable behavior are all descriptions of mental illnesses. These four aspects are all listed as the start of some symptoms of mental illness.
Harmful behavior is described as abnormal because normal individuals have a strong motive to survive and any behaviors that challenge this, such as self-mutilation, are out of the norm (Hergenhanhn 2009). Second, unrealistic thoughts and perceptions is the category for people suffering from delusions or hallucinations.Next is the category of inappropriate emotions, this gives people the title of mentally ill when they have extreme emotions or cry when they should laugh. The last category is unpredictable behavior.
People used in this group have extreme mood swings and it is hard to expect what is going to happen. There are a few different early explanations of these mental illnesses. There have been many different early explanations of mental illness that can also be broken down into three different categories, biological, psychological and supernatural (Hergenhanhn 2009).The first one, or biological explanation, looks into the genes and the biological make up of someone and how that influences their mental health. This explanation uses the medical model of mental illness; the model assumes that all diseases are caused by malfunctions in some aspect of the body (Hergenhanhn 2009). The second explanation, psychological, uses the idea that there is some sort of tension that begins the abnormal behavior. According to Hergenhanhn (2009) experiences like grief, anxiety, fear disappointment, frustration and guilt can all be factors that can make an influence.The last explanation is the supernatural.
People who believed in this explanation thought that other factors influenced their behavior. It was believed that supernatural forces were to be blamed for unacceptable behaviors (Hergenhanhn 2009). Today we use biological and psychological approaches or nature vs. nurture. There were also a few different early approaches to the treatment of different mental illnesses. According to Hergenhanhn (2009) psychotherapy is any attempt to help a person with a mental disturbance.There were three main approaches, psychological, supernatural and biological.
Just like the second explanation of mental illness the psychological approach looks at factors like fear, anxiety and conflict. The objective of this approach was to reach catharsis, or get rid of disturbing emotions (Hergenhanhn 2009). The second approach was supernatural. Although for many people today it is hard to wrap their minds around this approach it was much more utilized at the start of mental illnesses. Basically, this approach was surrounded by mysterious forces.
It was believed that evil forces entering the body caused illness, and a cure would involve removing those forces (Hergenhanhn 2009). Last was the biological approach and this seemed to have a little more religious undertones. According to Hergenhanhn (2009) God had inflicted mental illness and then Bible had given treatment of the patients with mental illnesses.
Theorists: The first important theorists involved with mental illness and abnormal behavior was Philippe Pinel. Pinel became interested in mental illness after he could not treat his friend who had a mental illness (Hergenhanhn 2009).According to Hergenhanhn (2009), Pinel agreed with the ideas of Joseph Daquin that mental illness was a natural phenomenon that should be studied and treated by means of the methods of natural science. Pinel was a strong advocate of the treatment of people who were mentally ill.
Philippe Pinel was the founder of the system of humane and kindly treatment for the violently insane (“Philippe Pinel and Insanity” 1886). He started to unchain the patients and ended the use of bloodletting and other harsh treatments (Hergenhanhn 2009).Although many people criticized what he was doing, he did what he believed in and thought that humans should not be treated like some sort of animal. He seemed to have a way with many of these people that have been locked up and considered lunatics.
As reported by Hergenhanhn (2009) under the leadership of Pinel more inmates were treated and released than ever before. Because of his influences in the treatment of mentally ill patients he was one of the most influential people in Europe and when he died in 1826 he was given a funeral of a hero and many of his former patients attended (Hergenhanhn 2009).The second theorist that had a large impact on the diagnosis, explanation and treatment of mental illness was Lightner Witmer. As stated by Hergenhanhn (2009).
Witmer worked under Wundt and started out as a teacher when he came across a boy he became interested in. This boy had what we call today dyslexia, but back then they believe that he was just unable to spell correctly. These advances tend to mark the beginning of his work in clinical psychology. Some people even referred to him as the father of clinical psychology (Baker 1988).Witmer founded the first psychological clinic and named the profession clinical psychology and defined it as, principles derived from psychological research to the diagnosis and treatment of disturbed individuals (Hergenhanhn 2009). According to Baker (1988) Witmer started different institutions to help children with mental retardation and learning disabilities to improve academic progress.
Although many people think of Witmers contribution to clinical psychology he also made many advances in school psychology and special education (Hergenhanhn 2009). Psychology Today:One field of psychology that abnormal behavior and mental illness have made and effect on is forensic psychology. This field of psychology has become growingly popular from the shows on the television, like Criminal Minds. According to Dr.
Mauro (2010) forensic psychology is the combination of the study of psychology and law; they work in organizations like prisons, jails, police departments, rehabilitation centers etc. There are many different requirements of people with this job title. Although they do work to help some people with family problems or other legal issues they are involved in a lot of work with the mental health of patients.“Generally though, psychologists working in corrections may attend to the mental healthcare needs of inmates including, screening, psychological assessment, individual therapy, group therapy, anger management, crisis management, court-ordered evaluations, or daily inpatient rounds (Mauro 2010).
” These practices that forensic psychologists are involved in are done to help either improve or maintain positive mental health. They also take part in mental health assessments to see if there are mental health issues that need to be addressed by law enforcement agents or courts.They check the competency to stand trial if they have been convicted of a crime and they also give advice for appropriate sentences of the crimes.
Many people who are mentally unstable and commit a crime are thrown in jails or prisons when they really need to be put on medicine and obtain the correct medical treatments and therapy. These forensic psychologist are also used to help people after an extremely crisis to help the victim or witnesses recover or eliminate stress that may affect someone’s mental health.“Psychologists working in police departments often provide services for the department employees, such as counseling or crisis management (Mauro 2010).
” As you can see mental health and mental illnesses along with abnormal behaviors have influences the field of psychology today. We need people like forensic psychologist to help the mental ill and improve the mental health of people that are struggling. References Baker, D.
B. (1988). The psychology of lightner witmer. Professional School Psychology, 3(2), 109-121.
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Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. Mauro, M. (2010). What is Forensic Psychology?.
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