What is Abnormal Psychology?
- A field of psychology concerned with the study, assessment, treatment, and prevention of abnormal behavior (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2004)
Field of Abnormal Psychology
Abnormal Psychology, also known as Psychopathology, is one of the most interesting areas of psychology. It is primarily research-based. Abnormal psychologists ideally utilize a huge literature of research studies to understand the nature of a mental disorder and to come up with the best treatment.
Abnormal psychology is the scientific study of abnormal behavior. Abnormal behavior is defined differently among professionals in this field. Generally, however, they agree that Jerome Wakefield’s definition of abnormal behavior as a “harmful dysfunction,” although inadequate, is good enough to stress the elements of both “risk to self or others” and social incompetence in abnormality. Others also suggest that abnormal behavior should meet various conditions, such as feeling pain and torment, inability to cope and adapt to differing situations, being atypical or out of the ordinary, breaching of social standards, inflicting discomfort on others, and being unreasonable and unpredictable. It is also widely accepted that abnormal behavior occurs in the context of culture. In fact, some forms of mental disorders are culture-specific, that is, appearing only in certain cultures and not in others.
As with other physical disorders, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders categorizes abnormal behavior as individual medical problems. This classification scheme has been largely criticized; however, it remains to be the most comprehensive and reliable tool for studying specific criteria used in diagnosing different types of mental disorders.
Abnormal psychology uses scientific research to objectively study about abnormal behavior. Scientific research in abnormal psychology prefers studying about overt behaviors more than reported feelings and mental experiences; ensures the representativeness of diagnostic groups; conducts extensive observations and experimentations; is careful to make a distinction between correlation and causation; and utilizes animal research (called analogue studies) when such studies are not apt (or are dangerous) to humans.
Abnormal psychology is an exciting field because it provides us the opportunity to study about and appreciate the range of human behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does abnormal psychology also study about the prevention of abnormal behavior?
- How do mental health professionals define abnormal psychology?
- Can you describe the field of abnormal psychology from the 1800s to 1900s?
- What were the focus of the study of abnormal psychology in ancient Greece and Rome? What events led to these subjects?
- How did abnormal psychology develop in Europe and in the United States? How does the field progress on those two regions today?
- What is the state of abnormal psychology in the late twentieth century?
- What advancements occured in the field of abnormal psychology during the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance?
- How did abnormal psychology evolve throughout history? What are the major events?
- What are some of the behavioral perspectives commonly utilized nowadays in the field of abnormal psychology? How do these perspectives enrich the field? How compelling and popular are these perspectives?
- What is the core focus of the biological perspective in the field of abnormal psychology? How does it relate with other sciences, specifically the biological sciences and medicine? How did it improve our understanding of abnormal behavior? How did it help develop the scope of abnormal psychology? Who were the first psychologists who utilized such a biological perspective in explaining, diagnosing, and treating mental disorders?
- What challenges did mental health professionals face when looking for, or devising a treatment that is both humane and effective? Do effective treatments sometimes come with the price of hurting a person's dignity, and even physical danger that comes along with torture? Are humane treatments sometimes simply just ineffective? What do mental health professionals practice in order to meet both of these criteria in providing treatment for the mentally ill?
- What are the different cognitively based perspectives being used in abnormal behavior? When did these perspectives emerge? Who were the proponents of these perspectives? How do these cognitively based perspectives propel a more comprehensive outlook on the field of abnormal psychology?
- What are the different pressing contemporary issues in the study of abnormal behavior? How does it impact the society today? How does it propel the direction of identifying causes and treatment of abnormal behavior?
- What are the contemporary trends on the study of abnormal psychology? How does it influence today's social changes?
- What ushered the development of alternative models for abnormal psychology? What existing models or perspectives of that time proved incomplete or lacking in scope or substance? What were the first models that sprung up? How did these models develop into perspectives that are being adopted by mental health professionals of today?
- When did the scientific model in abnormal psychology emerge? What events forced a more scientific approach to the study of abnormal behavior? How did science help shape the field?
- What is the field of abnormal psychology? How does the different specializations in psychology enrich it? What are the limitations of restrictions of the field? Which mental health professionals benefit in the study of abnormal psychology?
- What is the humanistic perspective on abnormal psychology all about? When did it originate? How did it come about? Who were the proponents? How did the perspective help provide a moral criteria in the study and treatment of abnormality?
- What is the core focus of the psychodynamic perspective in abnormal psychology? Why do some mental health professionals continue to adopt this kind of perspective? Who are the main figures?
- Was the study of abnormal psychology filled with spiritual explanations before? What stopped us from using supernatural explanations to analyze and treat mental disorders? What events then forced us to go back and adopt such kind of thinking?
- What did the reform movement in abnormal psychology bring? When did it happen, and who are the major players?
- What are the different research approaches in abnormal psychology? How do they differ in terms of their philosophical foundation and methodological background?
- What are the research methods used in the study of abnormal psychology today? How different are these research methods from each other?
- Are all research methods used and being used in abnormal psychology have scientific background? If not all, how do mental health practitioners nowadays ensure that the research method that they are adopting are scientific or not?
- Do mental health professionals still use theories in the study of abnormal psychology? If so, what are these theoretical perspectives?
- Abnormal Psychology is also known as: abnormality, pathopsychology, psychopathy, psychopathology?
- Knowledge of abnormal psychology is primarily based on: research, experiments, case studies, surveys?
- Abnormal psychologists do not need to consult research studies to come up with the best treatment for their clients. True or False?