Articles/Health/Psychology/Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology is the study of people who suffer from psychological disorders. Abnormal behavior is:

-Maladaptive (harmful) and/or disturbing to the individual

-Disturbing to others

-Atypical (very uncommon)

-Irrational (does not make sense to the average person)

There are several theories as to why abnormal behavior occurs. Psychoanalytic (Freudian) psychologists believe abnormal behavior is caused by unconscious conflicts. Behaviorist psychologists believe abnormal behavior is caused by a person's history of reinforcement. Cognitive psychologists believe that abnormal behavior is caused by maladaptive ways of thinking. Humanistic psychologists assert that abnormal behavior is caused by a person's feelings, self-esteem, and self-concept. Biomedical psychologists believe abnormal behavior is the result of imbalances in neurotransmitter levels or differences in brain structure. Sociocultural psychologists believe that abnormal behavior is caused by the dysfunctional society we live in.

In spite of the large number of theories of the causes of abnormal behavior, most psychologists do not attribute such behavior to any one cause. Rather, most believe that more than one cause is involved in the development of abnormality.

Anxiety disorders are based around the symptom known as anxiety.

One type of anxiety disorder is a phobia, or a strong unreasonable fear of an object or situation.

Generalized anxiety disorder causes continuous, but mild anxiety. This makes a person feel nervous and disordered.

Panic disorders are acute episodes of strong anxiety without any trigger.

Obsessive-compulsive disorders are persistent and unwanted obsessions that cause someone to feel that a certain action is necessary. The obsessions cause anxiety and the anxiety is removed by performing the behavior.

Post-traumatic stress disorder consists of flashbacks or nightmares after a person's participation or observation of a very disturbing event.

Somatoform disorders happen when a person's psychological problem manifests as a physical problem in them.

Hypochondriasis causes a person to think that there is something wrong with them, when doctors cannot locate a cause.

A conversion disorder causes a person to state that they have a physical problem and experience that problem, even though no biological reason for the problem exists.

Dissociative disorders are caused by a disruption in conscious processes.

Psychogenic amnesia occurs when a person is unable to remember things and no medical cause for this can be found.

Organic amnesia is memory loss caused by actual physiological causes.

Fugue amnesia is characterized by psychogenic amnesia accompanied by complete disorientation.

Multiple personality disorder occurs when a person has several personalities rather than one personality.

Mood disorders consist of extreme or inappropriate emotions.

Unipolar depression occurs when a person is unhappy for at least two weeks without an obvious reason.

Seasonal affective disorder occurs when a person is only depressed during a certain time of the year (most often winter).

Bipolar disorder consists of depressive and manic episodes. At times the person may feel high energy, only to plunge into the depths of despair.

Schizophrenic disorders are the most severe of the psychological disorders and consist of disordered and distorted thinking, often in the form of delusions.

Delusions of persecution cause a person to believe that everyone is out to get them.

Delusions of grandeur cause a person to believe that they are greater and more influential than they really are.

Disorganized schizophrenics make strange use of language. They often compose their own words, or string words together that make no sense, but rhyme. They also might show inappropriate responses or no emotional response at all.

Paranoid schizophrenia is categorized by delusions of persecution.

Catatonic schizophrenia causes its victims to engage in very strange movements. Such movements include convulsions, waxy flexibility, or extreme absence of movement.

Undifferentiated schizophrenia is disordered thinking but no other symptoms of the specific types of schizophrenia.

Personality disorders are maladaptive ways of behaving that have strong foundations and negatively affect a person's ability to function.

Antisocial personality disorder causes a person to feel no remorse and little regard for the feelings of others.

Dependent personality disorder occurs when a person is too reliant on others.

Narcissistic personality disorders cause a person to see themselves as the center of the universe.

Histrionic personality disorders cause people to overdramatize.