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explanations and evaluation of abnormalities and its treatment

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a) Give two limitations of the definition of abnormality in terms of statistical infrequency (3 + 3) Just because certain behaviours are statistically infrequent does not necessarily mean they are seen as abnormal of indicating a psychological disorder, for example being a genius is very rare but is not viewed as undesirable. Certain behaviours may statistically infrequent in particular groups in society but not in others, For example, night-clubbing may rare amongst pensioners but amongst people in their 20's. b) Outline two assumptions of the cognitive model in relation to the causes of abnormality (3+3) This model assumes people's thoughts direct their emotions and behaviours, therefore abnormal behaviours and emotions arise from abnormal thoughts such as 'irrational assumptions' and 'negative perceptions'. Abnormal thought processes are learnt through experience and exposure. c) Consider whether research supports the view that eating disorders are caused by psychological factors (18) The behaviourist's view of anorexia is that it is a learned behaviour that is maintained by positive reinforcement. A person may begin by dieting and receive admiration and praise from others for looking slim as this is a desirable characteristic in Western society. This dieting may then become more extreme and eventually develop into anorexia, A number of researchers have noted the pleasure and pride which anorexics feel from not eating or eating very little (Gilbert, 1986). ...read more.


However, these findings could reflect similarity in upbringing and not genetic similarity and so support a psychological view. Give a brief account of the biological (medical) model of abnormality and consider its strengths and limitations (18) The biological model regard psychological and behavioural abnormality as a sign or symptom of an underlying physical or organic disorder - usually some dysfunction of the brain or nervous system. There are various types of biologically based explanation for abnormality such as genetic inheritance, neurotransmitters or anatomy. Treatments for behavioural abnormality aim to treat the underlying physical dysfunction which should then effect a behavioural/psychological change, these include drug therapy, gene therapy, electroconvulsive therapy and brain surgery. One strength of the biological model of abnormality is that in recent years advances in biochemistry and genetics have increased our understanding of the biological aspects of psychological disorders. However this understanding is far from complete. There are still many aspects which we do not understand. Another strength is that many treatments for abnormality have been developed based on the biological model such as drug treatment. However drug treatment can have negative side effects, it can lead to physical and psychological dependence. In addition, it may only treat the symptom of a disorder rather than its cause. However, many psychiatrists argue that drugs can relieve extremely distressing symptoms and place people in a better frame of mind to overcome their disorder. ...read more.


The findings may also have important applications in medicine; they do imply that people who have undergone surgery, for example should avoid stress if their recovery is to be more effective. This particular research study does have some methodological drawbacks; the matching of participants was rather inexact, for example more of the carers were married and were non-smokers. However both of these participant variables are related to lower stress. Therefore this sampling bias would suggest that carers, if anything should have a better immune functioning. This actually serves to strengthen the validity of the findings and the conclusions of the researchers regarding the relationship between stress and immune system functioning. The findings of the research are also corroborated by findings of others; studies of men and women who have recently been divorced or separated indicate poorer functioning of the immune system compared with married couples of similar age and social position. For example, immune cells from separated and divorced people do not reproduce as effectively from those of married counterparts (Kiecolt-Glaser et al, 1987). However, a whole range of factors other than stress may affect the immune system. These include general health, diet and age and whilst studies may attempt to control for such factors in order to isolate the effects of stress complete control is unlikely. Despite this, there is considerable evidence that stress, particularly chronic or long-term, does suppress the immune system. This provides important explanation for the relationship between stress and the immune system. ...read more.

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