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Introduction Psychopathology Paper

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Introduction to Psychopathology

Throughout this paper, I will describe the origins of abnormal psychology, provide a brief overview of how abnormal psychology has evolved into a scientific discipline, and provide theoretical viewpoints and interpretations of the biological, psychosocial, and sociocultural models. According to Webster, abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with mental and emotional disorders (as neuroses, psychoses, and mental retardation) and with certain incompletely understood normal phenomena (as dreams and hypnosis).

The Origin of Abnormal Psychology

The origin of abnormal psychology has been around for decades. The display of abnormal psychology can be dated all the way back to the 1400's -1600's. The exhibit of abnormal human behaviors can be dated back before Biblical history (Damour & Hansell, 2008). There were many different theories ranging for demonic possession to biological perspective. One of the earliest explanation and or validation of mental illness were the amistic/spiritual approach. This approach was formulated from the belief that the metaphysical, spirit world has an affect on the corporeal observable world. The real-world presentation with regards to this belief in relation to psychopathology required the use of trepidation or the practice of boring holes in the skull of a living person with the expressed intent of releasing the evil spirit or spirits. This practice was common amongst Hispanic Aztec and Incan cultures as early as 3000 B.C. (Shieff, Smith & Wadley, 1997). In or around 460 B.C Hippocrates a Greek physician was the first to propose a biological explanation of abnormal behavior. Anyone with a mental illness would be shunned from normal society. Many were killed or died due to non-treatment of the


illnesses in question. The Salem Witch Trials in 1692 is a prime example of innocents with and even without personality disorders being sentenced to death or life in prison due to abnormality, which wasn't able to be understood by society. During ancient history, mental health was based on or viewed as being possessed by a demon. Voices being heard and people talking back to the voices is an example of being demon possessed. The results of these studies revealed the presences of rituals that were performed with the intentions of ridding the individual from their abnormal behavior. A technique used during the ritual was cutting a hole into the forehead of the individual, in order to release the evil spirits or demons that were believed to be controlling the mind and behavior of the individual. The Egyptians believed this method is known as trephining- releasing, which is the releasing of mind and body controlling demons by using a trephine to cut a hole in the skull (Achenbach, 1982). This type of research led to the development of the abnormal psychology, which would eventually lead us into a scientific discipline.

Overview of How Abnormal Psychology has evolved into Scientific Discipline

The ancient Greeks were the first to diagnose and prescribe a course of treatment for hysteria, now called conversion disorder. The symptoms of hysteria include paralysis, confusion, various pains and ailments, and loss of sensation. These symptoms usually follow neurological damage, but in the case of hysteria no neurological damage could be found to account for the physical symptoms. Since hysteria was observed in mostly females and the affected parts of the body changed over time, the Greek physicians hypothesized that the uterus moved around the


body, thereby causing the blockage of fluids. Then in 1879 the first psychological laboratory was set up by Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzip Germany, which set the stage for the scientific elucidation of the causes of psychological dysfunction. What is more, in 1892 the American Psychological Associate (APA) was put together by G. Stanley Hall, which in 1952 released the first diagnostic manual for mental disorders (DSM-I) (Anthony & Goldstein, 1988). The DSM specifically catalogues the different diagnostic categories of mental disorders and helps clinicians and researchers set criteria for the diagnosis of mental illness. In 1892 the first psychology clinic opened its doors to patients at the University of Pennsylvania, at the hand of Lightner Witmer. With the first comprehensive theory of psychopathology in place, the first psychological laboratory and clinic opened, the APA set up as well as the first diagnostic manually published, the field of abnormal psychology graduated from the obscure reaches of spirituality into the more concrete concerns of scientific discovery.

In 1896, Sigmund Freud first proposed a systematic theory of psychodynamics that could account for the psychological components of hysteria (Damour & Hansell, 2008; History of psychology, 2010). In a majority of the case studies, Freud put forth the idea that conflicts between conscious and subconscious processes explained the odd physical symptoms usually associated with hysteria. Even though many of the assertions made by the psychodynamic perspective have been shown to lack scientifically objective evidence, Freud still offered the field of abnormal psychology



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