Unit 17: Psychological Disorders
Abnormal Behavior
Definition: Behavior that is judged to be atypical, disturbing, maladaptive and unjustifiable.
Biological (medical model): Abnormal behavior has a biochemical or physiological basis.
Diathesis-stress model: people biologically or genetically predisposed to a disorder can develop that disorder when exposed to stress.
Psychoanalytic Model : Abnormal behavior is a result of unconscious conflicts.
Behavioral Model
: Abnormal behavior is a result of faulty learning.
Cognitive Model : Abnormal behavior is a result or irrational or maladaptive ways of thinking.
Classifying Psychological Disorders
Neurotic vs. Psychotic Disorders
DSM-IV: The American Psychological
Association’s (APA) Diagnostic &
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Anxiety Disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder : continual tenseness & nervousness.
Panic Disorder : intense fear or terror that seems to come “out of the blue”. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder : person is compelled to think disturbing thoughts (obsessions) and perform senseless rituals (compulsions)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder : anxiety
& nightmares result from some disturbing incident from the past.
Phobic Disorder : irrational fear & avoidance of a specific object or situation.
     Social Phobia (ex: public speaking)
     Simple Phobia (snakes, heights, etc.)
Phobic Disorder (cont.)
Agoraphobia : fear of leaving home or being in open spaces.
Explaining Anxiety Disorders
Behavioral (learning) Model:
     classical conditioning
     operant conditioning (reinforcement)
     observational learning (Bandura)
Biological Model:
Psychoanalytic : anxiety is a result of repressed impulses that begin to come into consciousness.
Somatoform Disorders
Somatization Disorder : vague, recurring physical symptoms for which no medical cause can be found.
Conversion Disorder : specific and dramatic physical disability for which no medical cause can be found (e.g., blindness, and paralysis).
Hypochondriasis : small & insignificant symptoms are interpreted as signs of serious illness.
Dissociative Disorders
Disorders in which some aspect of the personality seems separated or fragmented from the rest.
Dissociative Amnesia : selective memory loss often brought about by severe stress. Dissociative Fugue : amnesia accompanied by flight from one’s home and identity. Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personality disorder): more than one personality seems to be present in a single individual.


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