Abnormal Psychology and Therapy
University of Phoenix
Erika Redmond Ayanaw
Many have wondered if whether or not they really even exist, abnormal psychology. Thomas Szasz, who wrote a popular book called The Myth of Mental Illness (1974), proposed that mental illness is a myth used to make people conform to society’s standards of normality. In his view, which was highly influential in changing laws for commitment to mental institutions, people should be treated for mental illness only if they consider their symptoms a problem. Kowalski, R. & Western, D (2009)
Psychopathology refers to problematic patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that disrupt an individual’s sense of well-being or social or occupational functioning. Kowalski, R. & Western, D (2009). Psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Until the early 1950s, psychologists and psychiatrists lacked a standard set of diagnoses. This lack of a guiding framework changed when the American Psychiatric Association (1994) published the first edition of the manual of clinical syndromes that researchers and clinicians use to make diagnoses, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, now in its fourth edition (DSM-IV). Kowalski, R. & Western, D (2009)
From the perspective of psychology, mental illnesses deal with chemicals in the brain that are for various reasons disrupted. Serotonin and other neurotransmitters send signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse where it is received by the dendrite end of another neuron. If this process or chemical synapse is challenged or disrupted in any way, medication will likely be needed to help the process. Mental illnesses are usually inherited, whereas mental disorders are usually rooted in childhood traumas. Basically, if a child is exposed to something so intense it cannot be handled by the brain at that time; mental and emotional...