• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss problems inherent to diagnosis and classification of abnormality

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss problems inherent to diagnosis and classification of abnormality This essay will be a critical evaluation of the diagnosis and classification of abnormality and the intrinsic problems involved. The term 'abnormality' is defined as 'deviation from a norm or standard', but how do psychologists determine what is abnormal or normal behaviour? The first attempt at classification of psychological abnormality was made by the Greek physician Hippocrates. He identified three categories, mania, melancholia and phrentis (fever of the brain). The first prevalent classification was developed by Kraeplin (1913) who collated earlier systems and elaborated on them. This then led to classification systems, different models and four definitions of abnormality being developed to define abnormal behaviour however, this is not an infallible system as discussed further on in the essay. Statistical infrequency is based on the idea that if certain behaviour, a person's personality or ways of thinking are statistically rare or unusual, then it is deemed as abnormal. They make no value judgements, for example homosexuality is no longer classed as wrong or unacceptable, just less statistically common. Nevertheless, the desirability of certain traits is not taken into account. If a person has a high IQ, they are deemed as 'abnormal', however, this should be classed as a gift not an abnormality. ...read more.

Middle

The individual must also exhibit behavioural, psychological or biological dysfunction. As the DSM IV has been mainly influenced by psychiatrists, the system tends to be more consistent with the medical perspective; therefore diagnosing a psychological disorder only describes the symptoms and not the origins. As classification becomes more complex, more patients are being diagnosed with more than one disorder (Kessler et. al. 1994). No classification scheme is flawless and no two people with the same diagnosis will behave in the same way. This is illustrated by a study by Rosenhan (1973) whereby eight 'pseudo patients' were sent to different psychiatric hospitals where they claimed they could hear voices saying 'thud' hollow' and 'empty'. All were admitted with the majority being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Shortly after admission they stopped claiming that they could hear voices and all were eventually discharged after varying lengths of stay, with the diagnosis of 'schizophrenia in remission'. The diagnoses seemed to bias the staff at the hospitals, for example, one of the pseudo patients was writing notes which were construed as 'patient engages in writing behaviour'. The study showed that mistakes can be made with opinions and that diagnoses vary greatly. The danger comes that when people are labelled with a disorder, they will then show the characteristics of that label. ...read more.

Conclusion

The therapist then explains to the patient their thoughts and feelings. This was the first attempt to explain mental illness and is supported by comprehensive theory and practice. However, critics suggest that there is too much emphasis on childhood trauma and by looking too closely at early conflicts, present conflicts may be overlooked. To conclude, defining a person or their behaviour as 'abnormal' can imply that they are undesirable and require to change to the 'norm', however using a definition to explain abnormality is unavoidable but necessary so that psychologists can distinguish between 'normal' and 'abnormal'. The classification and diagnosis should be objective and produce the same results no matter which psychologist gives the diagnosis, but this is not always achievable, as demonstrated by the experiment conducted by Rosenhan (1973). Critics (Szasz, 1962, MacLeod 1998 and Farina, 1992) suggested that labelling could have a negative effect, such as former patients being discriminated against or becoming pigeon holed and thus leading them to 'live' their diagnosis. The classification of disorders although extensive, does not take into account the causes of abnormal behaviour, if the causes are unknown how can the disorder be treated correctly? Abnormal behaviour and mental illness are stigmatized in most cultures; therefore defining, classifying and diagnosing abnormality may always be complex task. Word count 1647 ?? ?? ?? ?? Nicky Goddard ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Levels Of Processing

    The researcher introduced herself using a script, see appendix 1, general consent was gained. People were given the chance to withdraw at any time and made aware that if they did not wish to participate they could leave the room.

  2. Task1 Counselling 1aPhysical signs and symptoms of stress

    Various factors influence a persons preferred style, notably in his experimental learning theory model. Kolb defined three stages of a persons development, the development stages are: 1. Acquisition - birth to adolescence - development of basic abilities and cognitive structures.

  1. Free essay

    Unmasking Anxiety with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Though intestinal/neurological functions may still not recognized as related to some scientists, the BNC maintains that due to recent studies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may be a large factor in many individuals' depression or anxiety (BNC). In a meta-analysis of a hundred studies, up to 90% of individuals with IBS

  2. Using studies from the list below, answer the questions which follow: Rosenhan (sane in ...

    An example of the environment hindering the pseudo patients from displaying normal behaviour was when the staff would ignore the pseudo patients' attempts at starting conversations. Hence, this could lead to problems relating to accurately investigating and categorizing abnormal behaviour.

  1. PERSONALITY DISORDERS

    the individual is notably impaired in social or occupational functioning or is significantly distress BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER Borderline personalities show a pattern of behaviour resembling both personality disorders as well as some of the more severe psychopathologies, particularly major affective disorders and schizophrenia.

  2. What causes crime?

    Biological theories draw attention to the fact that our biology can influence a certain degree of our behaviour. They also account for differences in personality that occur from birth, and therefore cannot have been learned. Biological theories also link genes to intelligence and social interaction, which in turn can be linked to criminality.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work