Causes of Abnormal Behavior
12 Clinical Psychology
STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High
What causes abnormal behavior? Each perspective of psychology assigns different reasons. The psychoanalytic/psychodynamic perspective believes abnormal behavior results from internal unresolved conflict in the unconscious stemming from early childhood traumas. The behavioral approach says abnormal behavior consists of maladaptive responses learned through reinforcement of the wrong kinds of behavior. Humanists believe abnormal behavior results from conditions of worth society places upon the individual, which cause a poor self-concept. Since behavior is influenced by how we perceive the world, the cognitive approach sees abnormal behavior as coming from irrational and illogical perceptions and belief systems. Evolutionary psychologists consider mental disorders as harmful evolutionary dysfunctions that occur when evolved psychological mechanisms do not perform their naturally selected functions effectively. The biological approach explains abnormal behavior as the result of neurochemical and/or hormonal imbalances, genetic predispositions, and structural damage to brain parts or faulty processing of information by the brain. Finally, the modern biopsychosocial model considers that biological influences such as evolution, genes, brain structure, and biochemistry; psychological influences such as stress, trauma, learned helplessness, mood-related perceptions and memories; and social-cultural influences such as roles, expectations, and definitions of normality and disorder all interact.
The Medical Model
Abnormal behavior is often talked about as mental illness. The medical model looks at abnormal behavior as a disease, using terms such as psychopathology, which is the study of the origin, development, and manifestations of mental or behavioral disorders; etiology, which is the apparent cause and development of an illness; and prognosis, which forecasts the probable course of an illness. The American Psychiatric Association used a medical model for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published in 2013 that classifies psychological disorders by their symptoms. This guidebook for mental health professionals lists diagnostic criteria for 22 major categories of mental disorders, subdivided into hundreds of disorders. DSM-5 enables mental health professionals to communicate information about individuals who suffer from abnormalities and helps them decide how to treat an individual. DSM-5 classifications have been used by special education teachers and school psychologists in preparation of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) required for classified students in schools and by psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health workers for health benefit reimbursement by medical insurance companies. As of October 2015, health care providers are required to use diagnosis code sets from the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11). The publishers of this book have created the “blue book” (The ICD-11 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines) with crosswalks to DSM-5. Essentially, DSM-5 and ICD-11 guide medical diagnoses and define who is eligible for coverage of medications, treatments, and special services.
Criticisms of the use of these documents include that those who don’t need diagnosis and treatment will receive it; that labeling is disabling, whereby diagnostic labels are applied to the whole person (e.g., John’s a schizophrenic) rather than used to mean the individual is suffering from a particular disorder; and that people who need services will not get them.