12 Clinical Psychology
STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High
Defining abnormal behavior—statistically rare, violates cultural norms, personally interferes with day-to-day living, and legally may cause a person to be unable to know right from wrong (insanity).
Causes of abnormal behavior by psychological perspective:
• Psychoanalytic: unresolved internal conflict in the unconscious mind.
• Behavioral: maladaptive behaviors learned from inappropriate rewards and punishment.
• Humanistic: conditions of worth imposed by society, which cause lowered self-concept.
• Cognitive: irrational and faulty thinking.
• Biological: neurochemical and/or hormonal imbalances, genetic predispositions, and structural damage to brain parts, and/or faulty processing of information by the brain.
Brief descriptions of common psychological problems:
• Anxiety—a feeling of impending doom or disaster from a specific or unknown source that is characterized by mood symptoms of tension agitation, and apprehension; bodily symptoms of sweating, muscular tension, and increased heart rate and blood pressure; as well as cognitive symptoms of worry, rumination, and distractibility. Anxiety disorders include the following:
Generalized anxiety disorder—characterized by persistent, pervasive feelings of doom for at least 6 months not associated with a particular object or situation.
Panic disorder—unpredictable attacks of acute anxiety accompanied by high levels of physiological arousal that last from a few seconds to a few hours.
Phobia—irrational fear of specific objects or situations, such as animals or enclosed spaces.
• Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders include the following:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder—recurrent, unwanted thoughts or ideas or compelling urges (obsessions) to engage in repetitive, ritual-like behavior (compulsions).
Hoarding—persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save the items and distress parting with them.
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—feelings of social withdrawal accompanied by atypically low levels of emotion caused by prolonged exposure to a stressor, such as a catastrophe; an individual may experience flashbacks and nightmares.
• Somatic symptom and related disorders include the following:
Somatic symptom disorder—physical symptoms include pain, high anxiety about disease.
Illness anxiety disorder—preoccupation with mild or nonexistent symptoms such as nausea with high anxiety.
Conversion disorder—actual loss of bodily function, such as blindness, paralysis, or numbness, due to excessive anxiety with no physiological cause.
• Dissociation—experience of two or more streams of consciousness cut off from each other. Dissociative disorders involve loss of memory or identity. The Freudian explanation is hurtful situations too painful for the individual to deal with are repressed into the unconscious mind. Dissociative disorders include the following::
Dissociative amnesia—characterized by inability to remember repressed events or personal information. Dissociative fugue—“traveling amnesiac disorder” characterized by moving away and assuming a new identity, with amnesia for the previous identity.
Dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder)—rare disorder in which two or more distinct personalities exist within the same person.
• Depressive disorders—affective disorders characterized by extremely sad mood that affects normal perception, thought, and behavior. Depressive disorders include the following:
Major depressive disorder (single and recurrent episodes)—involves persistent and severe feelings of sadness and worthlessness accompanied by changes in appetite, sleeping, and behavior.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder—recurs most months in the days preceding menstruation with symptoms such as the following: mood swings or increased sensitivity to rejection, marked irritability or anger, depressed mood, anxiety or tension, decreased interest in usual activities, perceived difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, change in appetite or food cravings, change in sleep pattern, sense of being out of control, and breast tenderness, joint or muscle pain, sensation of “bloating” or weight gain.
• Bipolar disorder (in a category of bipolar and related disorders)—characterized by extreme mood swings from unusual excitement (mania) to serious depression. Often treated with lithium.
• Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders characterized by psychosis includes schizophrenia and catatonia:
Schizophrenia—a serious mental disorder (psychosis) characterized by thought disturbances, hallucinations, anxiety, emotional withdrawal, and delusions.
Psychosis—disorder characterized by an apparent break with reality.
Delusion—fixed belief (such as being plotted against, being extraordinarily important, or being controlled by others) that is maintained even when compelling evidence to the contrary is presented.
Hallucination—false sensory perception such as hearing voices or seeing images that are not present.
Catatonia—characterized by bizarre or frenzied movements or a lack of movement, such as immobile stupor and waxy flexibility, and unresponsive behavioral interactions with others (mutism), negativism, meaningless repetition of words or sounds (echolalia), and/or withdrawal.
• Personality disorders—characterized by long-standing maladaptive thought and behavior patterns that are troublesome to others, harmful, or illegal. Personality disorders are grouped into three clusters: odd/eccentric (including paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal), dramatic/emotionally problematic (including histrionic, narcissistic, borderline, and antisocial), and chronic fearfulness/avoidant (including avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive).
• Neurodevelopmental disorders involve disturbances in learning, language, and motor or social skills showing up in infancy, childhood, or adolescence. Neurodevelopmental disorders include intellectual disability, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD)—characterized by the inability to focus attention, distractibility, and impulsivity.
Autism spectrum disorder—characterized by impaired social interaction, poor communication, and limited activities and interests.
Professionals who treat people with psychopathologies include the following:
• Psychiatrists—medical doctors (MD); can prescribe medication and perform surgery.
• Clinical psychologists—have doctoral degrees (PhD or PsyD); use different therapeutic approaches depending on training and diagnosis.
• Counseling psychologists—have PhD, EdD, PsyD, or MA in counseling; tend to deal with less severe mental health problems.
• Psychoanalysts—may or may not be psychiatrists, but follow the teaching of Freud and practice psychoanalysis or other psychodynamic therapies.
• Clinical or psychiatric social workers—typically have earned a master’s degree or doctoral degree in social work (MSW or DSW), which includes a supervised internship, and have passed a certification exam.