Abnormal Psychology part 1
What is “Crazy?” – there is no such thingWhat is “Insanity?” – Legal term, not medicalSo, what makes someone No-Longer-Normal? 3 things:1. The behaviour must beunusual2. The behaviour Must bedysfunctionalThe person does it, but it is NOT helpful to them in any way.3. The behaviour MUST beunjustifiableWhen you ask them why they do this, they can’t explain.There is no 4thbut if there was, it might be that the behaviour isconsistent;it occurs more often than not and usually on a daily / weekly basis. Abnormal behaviour does not occur just “once in a while.”
The Medical Model
When you hear about abnormal behaviour, many times we are talking about behaviours that have their origins in a dysfunctional brain:DepressionPsychosisSchizophreniaAttention Deficit / Hyperactivity
Everyone gets sad, but what about if you’re “normal” state (almost every day of the year) was depressed?You might have trouble getting a job, keeping a job, you might not be able to have friends to help support you emotionally (because they can’t stand being around you all the time).Dysthymia– Lightest kind of depression. You’re “kinda” sad, but you can work and have friends. Doesn’t go away – lingers for years.Depression– What most people get, lasts no longer than 6 months in most cases.Major depression– Extreme sadness, last for years. A person cannot hardly function and cannot live without emotional / financial assistance.Manic Depression(Bipolar) is here also.
The first and most common treatment isdrug therapy. The main reason for this is that it has the quickest effect and allows a person to be more functional.There are a few different reasons that a person may become clinically depressed and that this condition is due to a medical problem. For exampleHypothyroidismcan cause depression (and this would not be related to an emotional problem or some external event).Even if a person is suffering from a biological depression they would more than likely bereferred to a psychologistso that they might be able to better cope with their problem.Lastly, in extreme cases where an individual lives in a mental institution, depressives may getECT– shock treatment. It is believed that such treatments may “re-set” the brain’s chemical balance and patients do show short term benefits.
Psychosis is a blanket phrase that literally meansbroken mind (or in this case Break-With-Reality). A person with psychosis may seriously believe in things that can not actually be:A patient in a hospital mayfeel like they are drowningand fight with the nurses as they gasp for air act like they’re swimming.A person may feel like they are not in their own bodies and outside of themselves. In this case,a person may be completely unresponsive(no talking, no eating, staring off into space, no response to pain stimuli) – calledcatatonic.Someone who is psychotic can be a danger to themselves (suicidal) a danger to others (abusive), or non-interactive. They could even be all three of these things. Such patients are usuallyin a locked facilityand heavily medicated.
Schizophrenia is a subtitle under psychosis. In this case however, the person is not quite as disturbed.Most common symptoms of schizophrenia are:1.Hallucinations– Seeing / Hearing things that aren’t there. You see people who aren’t real; You hear voices that no one else can hear.2.Delusions– Believing that something is going on that isn’t. You believe that people are out to hurt / kill you. Yet you may be unable to identify exactly who it is that are coming to hurt you, and you may not be able to say exactly why they want to do this.
A mother and her oldest daughter got into a fight. The daughter used a kitchen knife to cut the mother on the leg. The stress of the fight made the mother believe that the daughter was setting the mother and the youngest daughter to be killed by “bad people.”The oldest daughter went into the bedroom to cry. The mother came in and beat the daughter unconscious with a wine bottle and then stabbed her in the heart.When the police questioned the mother, she was very upset that she had killed her daughter, but felt justified.“She was secretly plotting against us. She was going to wait until me and the little one were asleep, and then she was going to let THEM in.”The mother could not identify who “they” were or why they were after them, nor what the family had done to get “their” attention.This is Delusional thinking.
ADD is a disorder that is also chemical in nature. However, it can be difficult to diagnose – especially in very young children.In this disorder, theperson can not focus on any one task for more than a few minutes. They eventually lose interest or something else captures their attention and they lose track of what they were doing.The problem with this is that in very young children, itcan be difficult to tell what is age appropriate childhood behaviourand what is dysfunctional ADD.Adults who had this disorder as children may still have it in adulthood.For reasons unknown amphetamines and other CNSstimulants actually act to calm these individuals down. As in many cases, patients don’t like the side effects of the medication and may stop taking their meds.
Heavy sedatives reduce Dopamine in the brain:HaldolThorazineAntidepressants increase the availability of Serotonin:BusparZoloft / ProzacBenzodiazepines depress the CNS, relax people:ValiumXanaxLibrium
Some mental disorders are the direct result of a brain dysfunction and not due to psychological or external events. Like Diabetes,they didn’t “catch” this disorder, they were likely born with it.However, in manycases talk therapy along with drug therapy is the bestkind of treatment as the talk therapy helps a person to learn to cope with their condition.Some people will have a disorder so strongly that they must be hospitalized.
One last thing: S.A.D.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a chemically based kind of depression, however it is not permanent.Lack of daily exposure to natural sunlightcauses a deepening state of depression: Dysthymia, Depression, Major Depression. These tend to happen in geographic areas where there is very little sunlight during the winter months (Seattle WA, Anchorage AK, Ontario Canada, etc.)In order to treat this, there are no drugs that can mimic natural sunlight. So they actually have peoplesit in front of a wide spectrum white light(with their eyes open). Being exposed to these full-spectrum lights is usually enough to alleviate the depression enough so that they can regain a productive life.
Texas University Shooting
In the middle 60’s a young man went to the top floor of a tower at the University of Texas. That morning, he had killed his wife and his mother (and then called into their jobs and told co-workers they were sick). He barricaded himself up on the top floor and with a hunting rifle he started shooting students crossing campus. After forcing their way onto the upper floor, police shot and killed the gunman.During the autopsy, it was shown that he had a tumor that was growing around the area of the brain known as the Amygdala. This area is known to be associated with Fear and Rage emotions. While the police later denied that the growth had any bearing on the young man’s behaviour, the implication is still there that a brain abnormality might have caused the abnormal behaviour or at least added to the impulsivity of theact itself.