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Chapter 15 - Psychological Disorders

Psychological Disorder- a condition in which behavior is judged

  • Atypical-not enough in itself
  • Disturbing- varied with time and culture
  • Maladaptive- harmful
  • Unjustifiable- sometimes there's a good reason

Historical Perspective

  • Perceived Causes- movements of sun or moon; evil spirits
  • Ancient Treatments- exorcism, caged like animals, beaten, burned, castrated, mutilated, blood replaced with animals blood

Psychological Disorders

  • Medical Model
  • Concept that diseases have physical causes
  • Can be diagnosed, treated, and in most cases, cured
  • Assumes that these "mental" illnesses can be diagnosed on the basis of their symptoms and cured through therapy in a psychiatric hospital
  • Bio-psycho-social Perspective- assumes that biological, sociocultural, and psychological factors combine and interact to produce psychological disorders


  • DSM-IV
  • American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • A widely used system for classifying psychological disorders
  • Neurotic disorder
  • Usually distressing but that allows one to think rationally and function socially
  • Freud saw the neurotic disorders as ways of dealing with anxiety
  • Psychotic disorder
  • Person loses contact with reality
  • Experiences irrational ideas and distorted perceptions

Anxiety Disorders

  • Anxiety Disorders- distressing, persistent anxiety or maladaptive behaviors that reduce anxiety
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder- client is tense, apprehensive, and in a state of autonomic nervous system arousal
  • Phobia- persistent, irrational fear of a specific object or situation
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder- characterizes by unwanted repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and/or actions (compulsions)
  • Panic Disorder- marked by a minutes-long episode of intense dread in which a person experiences terror and accompanying chest pain, choking, or other frightening sensation

Dissociative Disorders

  • Dissociative Disorders- conscious awareness becomes separated (dissociated) from previous memories, thoughts, and feelings
  • Dissociative Amnesia- selective memory loss often brought on by extreme stress
  • Dissociative Fugue- flight from one's home and identity accompanies amnesia
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder- rare dissociative disorder in which a person exhibits two or more distinct and alternating personalities; also known as multiple personality disorder

Mood Disorders

  • Mood Disorders- characterized by emotional extremes
  • Major Depressive Disorder- a mood disorder in which a person, for no apparent reason, experiences two or more weeks of depressed moods, feelings of worthlessness, and diminished interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Mania- a mood disorder marked by a hyperactive, wildly optimistic state
  • Bipolar Disorder- a mood disorder in which the person alternated between the hopelessness and lethargy of depression and the overexcited state of mania; formerly called manic-depressive disorder


  • Schizophrenia
  • Literal translation "split mind"
  • A group of severe psychotic disorders characterized by:
  • Disorganized and delusional thinking
  • Disturbed perceptions
  • Inappropriate emotions and actions
  • Delusions- false beliefs, often on persecution or grandeur, that may accompany psychotic disorders
  • Hallucinations- false sensory experiences such as seeing something without any external visual stimulus

Subtypes of Schizophrenia

  • Paranoid - Preoccupation with delusions or hallucinations
  • Disorganizes - Disorganized speech or behavior, or flat or inappropriate emotion
  • Catatonic - Immobility (or excessive, purposeless movement), extreme negativism, and/or parrotlike repeating of another's speech or movements
  • Undifferentiated or residual - Schizophrenia symptoms without fitting one of the above types

Personality Disorders

  • Personality Disorders
  • Disorders characterized by inflexible and enduring behavior patterns that impair social functioning
  • Usually without anxiety, depression, or delusions
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder- disorder in which the person (usually male) exhibits a lack of conscience for wrongdoing, even toward friends and family members; may be aggressive and ruthless or a clever con artist


Myers, David G., Psychology Fifth Edition. Worth Publishers, Inc. New York, NY ©1998

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