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Psychological Disorders

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Psychological Disorders:

What is it? How is it Determined?

Diana Ruelas

General Psychology 172 - SECW1

Professor E. Sullivan

December 3, 2011

What are Psychological Disorders?

People over the years have misjudged and confused what it really means to have a psychological disorder because of some uniqueness of someone's personality who is absolutely "normal". But what might be normal to a person might be something completely different to what another person might consider normal. So, what does it really mean to be "normal" in today's society? How can we identify "normal" from "weird"? Professionals in the psychology field agree that someone who is average has the following qualities:

* An efficient awareness of reality. Meaning that this person can create rational and realistic judgment of himself or herself.

* Voluntary control over behavior. For example, when the person decides to drink alcohol but controls the intake.

* Has self-esteem and acceptance. He or she is comfortable being around other people.

* Able to form affectionate relationships with other, such as family and friends.

It is easier to classify people who are "normal", or ordinary, but identifying those with a disorder can be a challenge even to those who are professionals in the psychology field. It is important to recognize the symptoms but be aware of the person's personality as well as his or her religion or culture.

Classification of Psychological Disorders

The variety of behavioral, cognitive, and emotional symptoms can help form a particular syndrome, such as schizophrenia, hysteria, and manic-depressive psychosis. But since it is so easy to label someone with a disorder, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published an official criteria and classification system in 1952. This system is called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) but has been modified several times over the years for accuracy. The old model system had two main types of disorders, which differ in severity and characteristic problem: neurosis and psychosis. Neurosis is characterized by anxiety of inner conflict, but outward signs of anxiety may be hidden but use ego defenses to keep under control. It also shows no irrational thoughts, delusions, or hallucinations unlike psychosis, in which there is a loss of contact with reality.

The latest and most improved manual is DSM IV, which was published in 1994, that classifies about 400 different psychological illnesses. It includes a five axis classification system to diagnose and guide the necessary treatment for disorders.

Axis I : Acute clinical disorders

Axis II : Long-standing conditions

Axis III : Medical conditions

Axis IV : Environment

Axis V : Global Assessment of Functioning

The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scores how well the patient copes with a certain disorder diagnosed. With the help of this essential manual, mental health workers can make classifying a disorder easier and reduce mistakes in diagnoses. But of course there is always a way to improve, a new version of the DSM classification system (DSM V) is to be published in 2011.

What is the Medical Model of Abnormal Behavior?

The medical model is defined by David G. Myers as "the concept that diseases, in this case psychological disorders, have physical causes that can be diagnosed, treated, and, in most cases, cured, often through treatment in a hospital" (457). This model was developed during the nineteenth century and sees abnormal behavior as a disease. A discovery by Kraft-Ebing in 1897 stated that a spirochete caused many symptoms similar to the final stage of syphilis and that this model would be a useful tool for understanding abnormal behavior. It also indicates that to presume someone of having a disorder, it must be identified and cured, which today psychologists find inaccurate because they are just psychoanalyzes. "Even if psychoanalysis were always successful, it would still have little impact when one considers the number of persons that would benefit from therapy" (Medical Model of Abnormal Behavior).

What is the Biopsychological Approach?

The biopsychological approach contradicts, or sometimes adds, to the medical model. This is because "...there may be a difficulty in the person's



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