Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology
University of Phoenix
20 December 2010
Facilitator: Janice Schneider
Abnormal psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with abnormal behaviors as well as experiences that are not fully explained, experiences such as dreams, altered mental states, and hypnosis (Smith, 2010). The goal of abnormal psychology is to understand the root causes of abnormal behavior, determine how and/or if the behavior should be treated, and develop a treatment plan to assist the patient (Smith, 2010).
This paper will examine the origins of abnormal psychology; provide an overview as to how the field evolved into a scientific discipline, and analyze the psychosocial, biological/medical, and sociocultural theoretical models of abnormal psychology.
Origins of Abnormal Psychology
The field of abnormal psychology both past and present continues to debate the causes of mental illness (Snitchler & Harris). Throughout history there have been a variety of theories developed to explain psychological disturbances and they generally fall into one of three categories. Those three general themes or categories are mystical or supernatural, medical or scientific, and humanitarian (Snitchler & Harris). Mystical explanations posit that abnormal behavior is the result of possession by evil spirits. The medical or scientific approach looks for natural causes, such as chemical imbalance, bad learning processes, or emotional stressors. The humanitarian theme views the cause of abnormal behavior to be cruelty or poor living conditions (Snitchler & Harris).
In general, early societies ascribed abnormal behavior on evil spirits. Skulls from as far back as the Stone Age have been found with parts removed by surgery and one suggested purpose for this surgery was the release of evil spirits (“Abnormal psychology,” 2010).
Mental health disorders, during the Greek and Roman period, were called...