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Outline and evaluate the assumptions made by two models of abnormality

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Outline and evaluate the assumptions made by two models about the causes of abnormality One model of abnormality is known as the medical or sometimes the biological model. This model assumes that all behaviour is rooted in underlying physiological processes in the body, and therefore that abnormal behaviour is some sort of malfunction in the body, or perhaps due to genetic factors. Following on from this, the model suggests that it is possible to 'cure' abnormality, and it is done so by fixing the malfunction in the body or returning it to normal levels of functioning. This is why it has the medical name - the model assumes abnormality to be a mental illness, in the same way that physical illness is considered a medical problem that can be treated medically. The biological model is widely respected and influential, owing to its heavy scientific basis. The main assumption of the biological model of abnormality is that abnormality is caused by physical factors such as genes, biochemical substances, infection and brain injury (possibly since birth). ...read more.


If this were the case, even whilst treating with medication, the disorder might still remain. The biological model also suggests an element of inheritance with regard to psychological disorders, which is something that is investigated using twin studies, to discover if identical twins develop the same disorders. However, concordance rates are never 100%, and it could be argued that even in the cases where both twins develop the same disorder (for example eating disorders), it might be due to their environment rather than a genetic factor. It is possible though that they may inherit a genetic susceptibility to certain disorders, or perhaps a disposition to having neurotransmitter imbalances. One of the main criticisms of the biological model is a counter to one of the perceived strengths - that psychological disorders are treated rather systematically, and diagnosed in the same way that a physical illness might be diagnosed. These can lead to certain stereotyping, and doctors who might try to fit patients into specific diagnoses in order to be able to 'help' them. This can be damaging - psychological disorders can vary wildly, and whilst a broken arm is always a broken arm, there is a lot more flexibility with psychological disorders, and it could lead to patients being mis-categorised and treated incorrectly. ...read more.


Operant conditioning can cause psychological disorders when maladaptive behaviour is reinforced - in some cases, a punishment might be the desired response for attention reasons, and so a person might learn that by behaving in a maladaptive way, they can get the response they desire. In this way, the learning theory can account for some aspects of normal and abnormal behaviour, but it does ignore other possible causes, and the way humans think about things is also ignored by this model. A strength of this model is that, like the biological model, it is quite easy to test. The case of Little Albert (whilst unethical) showed that abnormal behaviour could be learnt and therefore, one assumes, changed. Indeed, behavioural therapies are effective in treating abnormal behaviour, but the underlying cause may still remain and could perhaps manifest in other ways. The model also accounts for cultural differences as behaviour is something that can be learned regardless of cultural setting. Perhaps one of the most influential aspects of the behavioural model is that it is a relatively quick and inexpensive treatment method for psychological disorders, even though from other perspectives it doesn't treat the causes, and it helped pave the way for cognitive behavioural therapy, which is successful today. ...read more.

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