People always fluctuate in their behavior from day to day and we all have had our times in which we acted rude to people, and had the pleasure of having the reverse happen as well. Kay Redfield Jamison an international guru of about mood disorders has had her share of mood swings during her times. For years she kept this extreme psychological disorder a secret in which she had moods that switched from being super excited known as mania, to times that she was lethargic and depressed. She actually wrote a book about these events and tells about it in more detail. By the way, the disorder was known as bipolar disorder and effects many people around the world. With determination, a strong will, and support from her family and friends she overcame her struggles and continue to teach about psychological disorders to this day. I know that you’re probably wondering what are the types of characteristics of deviant or abnormal behavior? Well, one way abnormal behavior can be diagnosed is with some common symptoms. It may surprise you that there are about 40 million Americans that are affected by some type of psychological disorder. You may think of a psychological disorder as what the main character had in the movie “A beautiful Mind.” In essence you are right but there are a lot more other characteristics involved and a psychological disorder can also be defined by having an addiction to a substance like alcohol or drugs. To fully understand psychological disorders an individual must analyze abnormal behavior. Let’s take a look at three different case studies.
A twenty six year old woman named Helena has a need to walk in a specific way. When she is walking on the street in the public she believes that if she steps on certain cracks she will have bad luck, but in order to reverse that bad luck she has to turn around and walk back a block. She doesn’t like to do this much so she often stay home and pay people to go and pick up her groceries and other needed items. A thirty five year old woman has recently got a divorce from her husband who she has been previously married to for eleven years and has two children with. Her husband have left her for her best friend and she is going back to college to continue her education so she can earn some more money to better support her children. She has a hard time struggling with school work and has grown separate from her friends and colleagues. A lot of the time she doesn’t feel like doing much and tends to cry a lot at nigh time. She also has a more pessimistic view in life and doesn’t believe in true love anymore. A thirty year old man named Don has to have things arrange in his house a certain way. Even though he is wealthy enough to afford a maid he constantly has to rearrange things in his house after she leaves. He sweeps the floor and wipes off tables even though she has done that before.
Most people would say that the behavior of all of these individuals are abnormal, but are all of them bizarre? That’s a common myth about behavior, because people will automatically assume that abnormal behavior is bizarre and it’s not necessary true. Take the women in the second case study described even though her behavior is abnormal it is not necessary bizarre. A lot of times people with abnormal behavior cannot easily be distinguished from people with normal behavior. Also, just because a person currently has a mental disorder doesn’t mean that they will always have it. The term abnormal behavior varies from different academic mediums. However, the federal courts define insanity which is more of a legal term rather than a psychological on as the inability to differentiae right from wrong. This is a very common term that comes up in terms. One infamous example is in 1996 when multimillionaire John Dupont shot and killed Olympic Gold medalist wrestler David Schultz. He also has been charged with a couple of assaults earlier. Dupont lawyers used the “insanity” definition as a lame excuse to get him off the hook and it worked because in the end because the jury declared that he had a psychological disorder and he was found guilty of third degree murder. There are three criteria’s for crossing the line between abnormal behavior and normal behavior. Abnormal behavior is usually deviant which means it abstracts from the norms of society. However, remarkable people like Martin Luther King and Bill Gates are not the average person but they are far from being abnormal. When a behavior deviate from what is expected by society than it could be called abnormal. The second criteria are that it is usually maladaptive which means that it interferes with a person’s ability to function properly in the real world. Last, abnormal behavior includes personal distress. This means that the person is deeply bothered by this and it causes them unnecessary pain and suffering. The causes for abnormal behavior can vary tremendously. We can look at several factors such as biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors to help determine this. Psychologists who favor the biological approach tend to emphasize the brain and genetic traits as the primarily cause of abnormal behavior. When using this approach the primarily form of treatment is drugs or drug therapy. The biological approach is used often in the medical model, which describes psychological disorders as diseases related to biological origins. From the medical view abnormalities are seen a mental illness. The people that are infected with the mental illness are known as patients and they have to be treated by doctors. The biological view can also be broken done into three more categories. These are known as structural views, biochemical views and genetic views. The structural view thinks that abnormalities in the brain structure are the main lead to mental disorders. The biochemical view looks at the imbalances in the brain’s chemical structure such as neurotransmitters and hormones as the cause to mental disorders. In the genetic view they look at distorted genes as the main contributor to mental disorders. While the biological approach focuses on inherited traits to be the main contributor to mental disorders, the psychological approach looks at the environment and the unconscious mind as the main contributor to abnormalities. This has three parts to it which includes the psychodynamic perspective, behavioral and social cognitive prospective, and the humanistic perspective. The psychodynamic perspective thinks that psychological disorders come from unconscious conflicts that can cause anxiety and a maladaptive behavior. The main contributor to deviant behavior in this approach is from early bad relationships. If an individual develops bad relationships with either offspring early on in their life than the individual will develop abnormalities. Sigmund Freud was the developer of the psychoanalytic approach in which it places more emphasis on what you can’t physically see. In the behavioral and social cognitive prospective they place an emphasis on the environment in shaping abnormal behavior. They believe that people learn behavior by observing those around them, through self control, through their beliefs in themselves, and through a variety of other cognitive factors which are the key to psychological disorders in this approach. In the humanistic perspective they place an emphasis on an individual’s freedom to do what they want and chose their own destiny and personal characteristics. They believe that psychological disorders come up when an individual fails to meet their own potential. All of the psychological perspective focuses on the individual. The next approach is the sociocultural approach. This concept places a larger emphasis on the area in which an individual lives such as their family, neighborhood, economic status, and culture. For one example, they believe that a conflict between one’s cultures will be a contributor to a mental disorder in an individual. It’s not necessary the individual that has a mental disorder but rather to an unbalanced social life. There are also some gender effects in determining mental disorders. Women are more likely to have internal mental disorders, which are disorders that affect them inside. They are more likely to be effected with anxiety attacks, and moods of depression. On the other hand, men are more likely to be effected with external disorders or disorders that are seen outward. Some examples of these disorders are substance abuse and moods of aggression. Many psychologists now believe that psychological disorders are universal which means that they are the same for people everywhere around the world regardless of geographic location or their social status. However, depending on the factors I just mentioned they do vary. There are also some disorders that strictly effect people of one culture, and here are three big ones that I’m currently aware of: Amok, Windigo, and Anorexia Nervosa. The Amok effect people of Malaysia and the Philippines and in this disorder and individual suddenly has a fierce burst of rage and anger and kill and injure as many people as possible before they are killed. This disorder is commonly found in males and the cause of this can be numerous of factors such as jealously, or losing a lot of money through gambling. Windigo is a disorder commonly found in Algonquin Indian hunters and is very similar to a horror story in which an individual is hunted and chased by a fictionist character and become bewitched such as by a bit of a vampire or werewolf. The hunter becomes worried that they will turn into a flesh eating cannibal and harm other around them. The last disorder, I think that many Americans is aware of the last disorder and that is called anorexia nervosa and effects people of mainly Western cultures with a special emphasis on the people in the United States. This is an eating disorder in which an individual tries to maintain an unhealthy low weight through starvation which can ultimately lead to death.