Psychopathology Paper

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Historical And Contemporary Views Of Abnormal Behavior And Psychopathology

Historical And Contemporary Views Of Abnormal Behavior And Psychopathology

A. Describe the origins of abnormal psychology

As far back as history can recall, different forms of madness have been recognized in every culture and multitudes of theories and myths have been developed to account for such conditions. Society's view on behavior that would be deemed as abnormal has been connected with such phenomena as supernatural forces, the anger of the gods, the influence of the moon, an unbalanced temperament, 'bad blood' (i.e. hereditary factors), and decadence. (Frude, 1998) History will also show that people have continued to develop a variety of theories to explain psychological disturbances, usually falling on one of three general themes: mystical/supernatural (possession of spirits), scientific/medical (biological imbalances, faulty learning processes or emotional stressors), or humanitarian (cruelty or poor living conditions). These different etiological theories and continuing advancements in knowledge have been the building blocks for the study of abnormal psychology. To understand the impact that these aspects of psychology have had on this field of study it's important to know the origins of where abnormal behavior was recognized and how it was treated, how abnormal psychology evolved into a scientific discipline, and the theoretical models related to the development of abnormal psychology.

B. Provide a brief overview of how abnormal psychology has evolved into scientific discipline.

The field of abnormal psychology goes back about 100 years, but the recognition of what people deemed as abnormal behavior goes as far back as primitive and pre-modern societies. One typical approach of explaining abnormal behavior was a form of animism which indicated that a person inflicted with a mental disturbance was possessed with an evil or malevolent spirit. Associated with animism a primitive form of surgery, called trephination was performed, which consisted of cutting an opening or drilling a few holes in the skull of a living person, thus releasing the evil spirits that were causing the abnormal behavior. Surprisingly enough, evidence showed that a good number of these patients survived the procedure! Exorcism became a second method associated with animism which described a ritual carried out by religious authorities by means of casting out evil spirits thought to have caused the pathological behavior in an individual.

During Greek and Roman civilizations a more scientific view of mental illness begins to develop. The foundation of a systematic approach to psychological and physical disorders began with the Greek philosopher, Hippocrates who believed that all diseases, including mental disorders were caused by the imbalance of four fluids or humours that were thought to circulate throughout the body. (Hansell & Damour, 2005) He theorized that an excess of black bile would cause a person to become melancholic (depressed) and an excess of yellow bile would make a person choleric (anxious or irritable). An excess of blood was thought to have caused sanguine (moodiness) and the excess of phlegm was thought to have caused lethargy (indifference). Hippocrates believed that reestablishing a balance among the four humors, through dietary ...
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