What is normality?
A pattern of thought, feelings and behaviour that conforms to a usual, typical or expected standard
What is abnormality?
When thoughts, feelings and behaviour become dysfunctional, deviant or show distressq
What are the 6 approaches to how normality is defined/described?
- 1. Socio-cultural: defined by what a particular society or culture views as acceptable or unacceptable behaviour
- 2. Functional: By how well an individual can cope and function within society
- 3. Historical: by the time period or era in which the behaviour is performed. What is normal changes over time.
- 4. Situational: defined by the 'situation' or context in which a behaviour is occurring
- 5. Medical: defined on a physiological basis- a doctor defines your mental health
- 6. Statistical: normality is based upon calculating the behaviour of the majority
What is mental health
A state of emotional and social wellbeing where an individual can interact with others and the environment, cope with normal stresses and achieve optimal development and wellbeing.
What is 'mental illness'?
- A psychological dysfunction that involves the impaired ability to cope with everyday life
- Typical characteristics are distress, unusual thoughts, feelings and inappropriate behvaiour
- A set of symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. Symptoms are reasonably consistent between patients but causes may differ
- eg. Major depression
Define a 'syndrome'
A particular profile of symptoms. The origins and clinical severity may vary. eg dyslexia
What is a 'disease?
A condition with a known cause, predictable course and standard protocols for treatment. Eg. Alzheimer's dementia
What is the DSM?
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: A system for classifying and identifying mental disorders.
- It is descriptive- it does not specify causes or treatment
- Categorical approach: Has 5 axis
What are the weaknesses of the DSM?
- Cultural variation: the DSM is based on American culture, tradition and mores, and thus may not always be appropriate.
- Validity of the categories: It is possible that a very precise and specific description may not truly reflect the disorder (e.g. homosexuality was considered a mental disorder).
- Writing by committee: Committee members may have a disproportionate influence on the committee listing the diagnostic criteria for a particular disorder.
- Subjectivity: People may not disclose subjective feelings (these feelings are the symptoms that classification is based on), such as intense anxiety, unhappiness or distress.
What are strengths of the categorical approach?
- Based on ongoing scientific research and regularly revised.
- Very comprehensive in terms of the number of disorders included and amount of information.
- Useful for planning treatment.
- Provides user-friendly guidelines that help in the diagnosis of disorders with the ‘yes/no’ approach, thus assisting the decision making process, i.e. if treatment is needed.
- Assists communication between mental health professionals and their peers.
What are the limitations of the categorical approach of diagnosing mental illnesses?
- Only looks at whether the patient has a disorder or not—does not address the severity or provide an evaluation of the symptoms present.
- Some disorders do not have the same symptoms (e.g. personality disorders).
- High degree of overlap between symptoms for various disorders, this does not account for that
- Stigmatisation (e.g. shame due to labelling).
- Substantial loss of information (e.g. overlooks unique combinations of symptoms for each individual).
What is the categorical approach of diagnosing mental disorders?
- Organises mental disorders into groups or categories and sub-categories, each with specific symptoms and characteristics.
- It uses a ‘yes/no’ approach in that you either have a mental disorder or you don’t
- Used to classify the symptoms.
What is the dimensional approach to classifying mental disorders?
Quantifies a person’s symptoms and other characteristics with numerical values on one or more scales or continuums to determine the severity of these symptoms, rather than assigning them to a mental disorder category.
What are strengths of the dimensional approach?
- Doesn’t use single diagnostic labels, therefore no loss of information about unique combinations of symptoms.
- Can generate a profile and provide a detailed description of client’s mental condition.
- Does not lump people into single diagnostic categories, instead describes different dimensions.
- Quantifying and grading can provide richer and more detailed description of a client’s mental condition.
- Reduces possibilities of stigmatisation.
What are weaknesses of the dimensional approach?
- Can’t be applied to most disorders in the DSM-IV and ICD-10, e.g. mostly personality disorders.
- Time consuming for mental health professionals to rate clients on dimensions.
- There is not necessarily agreement on the number of dimensions and what they are.
- The wide range of symptoms people experience leads to a large number of potential dimensions associated with disorders.
- No specific system that can be used