Abnormal Psychology and Therapy Essay

Teresa Neal Abnormal Psychology and Therapy Paper In a world where nothing seems to be considered normal anymore, psychology tries to draw the line between what it is and what is not. The different schools of thought have their own perspective on the definition, origin, and treatment of abnormal behavior and this paper will cover a few, trying to make it possible to have a clear difference between normal and abnormal psychology. Normal and Abnormal Psychology Specifically defining behavior as normal or abnormal is a contentious issue in abnormal psychology.

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To try to distinguish between normal psychology and abnormal psychology, psychologists use three criteria; whatever is infrequent, maladaptive, and deviant from the cultural norm, falls under the category of abnormal behavior (Spoor, 1999). Mental health, also known as normal psychology, and mental illnesses and disorders, also known as abnormal psychology, have been defined in many ways, but should always be viewed in the context of ethnocultural factors and influence because what is considered normal in some environments may be considered abnormal in others.

A person with a normal behavior and mental processes has the ability to adapt and cope with adversity, has a correct perception of reality, accepts self, avoids harm, and experiences continual psychological growth and development (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). Abnormal psychology, on the other hand, is characterized by unusual patterns that some people might show in their behavior, thought process, and expression of emotion, patterns that are associated with distress or disability and can cause harm and an unreasonable response to a particular situation.

Mental Disorders Daily functions such as the ability to think, read, remember, plan, and understand rely on an individuals cognitive skills (Medalia & Revheim, 2002). Cognitive disorders are disorders of thinking or memory that signify an evident change from the personal former level of functioning. In certain situations the exact origin of the disorder can be identified, other cases the cause is unclear.

Even though these disorders are biologically founded, the environment and psychological factors play significant roles in shaping the effect and extent of disabling symptoms in addition to the personal capacity to deal with them. (Nevid, et a. 2008). The most common cognitive disorders are amnestic, delirium, and dementia disorders. Amnestic disorders are a cognitive impairment relating a failure to develop new memories and the failure to remember old memories.

Delirium is a severe, and reversible state of mental disorder, which involves confusion, and the lack of ability to focus on information or the surrounding environment. Individuals that suffer from delirium may suffer frightening hallucinations, particularly visual hallucinations. The loss of memory and understanding usually associated with behavior and personality changes describes dementia disorders. Different forms of dementia exist, depending on the cause; therefore; some types of dementia may be reversed with treatment.

For example; those cases that are caused by brain tumors. Dementia caused by the disease Alzheimer’s cannot be reversed (Nevid, et al. 2008). On a personal note; these patients are difficult, they have to watch be continually as they can do harm to themselves and others. Mental Illnesses Although diagnoses of ADHD are based on behavioral symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity, evidence suggests that children with ADHD also show important cognitive weaknesses in areas that are necessary to daily functioning at home work and school.

Particularly research studies indicate that children with ADHD often have problems in; Executive functions (for example, planning a project, keeping attentive to a task, ignoring irrelevant information) Working memory (which is often considered an executive function) speed of information processing (children with ADHD process information more slowly than their peers) Many of these cognitive processes are often interrelated. For example problems in working memory can negatively affect other executive functions, or slow processing speed may lower an individual’s ability to recall and organize information. ttp://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/15499890 From the cognitive perspective, theorists suggest that a person diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorders suffer from impaired information-processing. The impairment is present in defined categories and boundaries that are maladaptive and result in an over-structuring of input but there is no evidence to show that this is the cause, rather than a consequence of OCD symptoms. Another cognitive theory suggests that OCD “fear structures” are especially various and a large number of stimuli can become associated with threat or danger.

Passive avoidance of such a large number of stimulus associations can be extremely difficult and compulsions become necessary for the individual to feel safe. Although cognitive theories do provide insight into the outward aspect of OCD, they fail to clearly define how and why OCD and this cognitive impairment can arise. Similarities between the Schools of Thought There are quite a few similarities between the different schools of thought in treating mental disorders.

All but the Psychodynamic therapies are short term usually lasting a year or less and most all therapies have the client or patient facing the therapist and are conversational. All therapies also look to help the client or patient change behaviors or thought patterns that are causing problems of one kind or another. Cognitive-Behavioral therapies help patients with behavior and cognitive problems. The therapist helps the patient focus on the problematic behavior and helps him or her find ways in which to address these behaviors and learn skills to change them.

These therapies use a variety of techniques to help patients with phobias, social skills, accomplishing goals, anxiety disorders, and the like. Psychodynamic therapies both examine the patient’s thought patterns to get to the bottom of the undesired behavior or emotional responses. Humanistic therapies including Gestalt and Client-Centered therapies focus on the patient’s feelings and to experience themselves as they really are. Family, Marital, and Group therapies use group communication either one- on-one or in a group to help with problematic relationships and behaviors.

Self-help groups are another type of group therapy that aims to help people either cope with undesired behavior, loss of a loved one, addictions, and disease. [ (Kowalski, 2009) ] The common thread here with most therapies, the approach is a warm relationship with the therapist who shows empathy for the patient or client and giving him or her hope or efficacy in coping with their problem [ (Kowalski, 2009) ] Differences between the Schools of Thought While each school of thought has common factors in treatment methods, each school has developed different ways of addressing psychological problem.

For instance, Psychodynamic therapies rely on two principles: the role of insight and the role of the therapist-patient relationship (Kowalski & Western, 2009). It is believed that in order for therapeutic change to occur, a person must understand his or her own psychological processes. When in therapy it is one on one; the patient is either face to face with the therapist or lying on a couch with the therapist sitting behind them. Psychodynamic therapy emphasizes the notion that the patients problems stemmed from childhood.

These problems follow the child into adulthood causing a conflict within new relationships. This transfer of emotion from past experiences is called transference, one of the techniques psychotherapies rely on. The two main treatments, psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy, are a long term process that focuses on developing awareness of these unconscious feelings. Psychodynamic therapy, like psychoanalysis, consists of three days a week over a long period of time. It is considered that patients who meet at least twice weekly benefit more than those who do not.

Unlike psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the person’s life as it is now; the current and conscious thought patterns and behavior. They are not concerned with exploring and altering underlying personality patterns or unconscious processes (Kowalski & Western, 2009). The focus is on the present feelings and not the childhood experiences. Cognitive-based therapies are relatively short term and direct. Specific recommendations are made to bring about change in behavior.

The sessions are well structured with questioning, and the patient usually is sent home with an assignment (Mote, 2011). While most cognitive behavioral techniques try to alter behavior, such as classical conditioning, cognitive therapy focuses on changing dysfunctional cognitions (Kowalski & Western, 2009). These behaviors are automatic, and not unconscious. Therapy is a process of identifying and altering these automatic thoughts. Cognitive therapy techniques such as rational-emotional behavior therapy recognize the behaviors and works to mediate between the activating conditions and the emotional reactions.

As each of the other therapies are more therapist-patient, Humanistic therapies focus on the world of the patient and qualities that make him or her unique (Mote, 2011). The therapy techniques that are used, Gestalt therapy and Roger’s client centered therapy, are primarily based on becoming aware of one’s own emotions, values, and motivations to bring about change. With group therapy, the individuals are concentrated on the individual dynamics and their reactions in the group process. Family therapy is centered on the structure of the family, and the main roots of conflict in family interaction.

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