Ivan has a high self-esteem and a strong sense of identity. There are many other criteria’s that could be described for him if he were psychologically healthy. Looking at psychological health, Jahoda (1958) names six categories on what would classify an individual of ideal and mentally stability. The first would be the ability of independently acting out and being able to regulate himself, e.g. timekeeping for a job or appointments, making sure he is on time and punctual rather than being late and giving invalid excuses. The second characteristic criteria is having an accurate perception of reality meaning he can set himself goals that are achievable and not having deluded goals, e.g. endeavouring to become a nurse rather than aiming to the heights of being the prime minister. Finally, the third criteria to show psychological stability would be the ability to cope with what events life hands you, e.g. knowing how to conduct and compose oneself for a vitally important meeting for employment.
Whilst defining abnormality in terms of mental health there are many strengths and weaknesses Jahoda (1958)’s view and perception shows that strengths come in the form of:
Positive attitude towards oneself:
Having a relatively high self-esteem.
Potential for growth and development:
Displayed in self actualisation. Maslow (1968) defines this statement as ‘becoming everything that you are capable of.’ Thus the more things you do, the healthier you are and more goals are achieved.
Being able to work through life independently if needed and not rely on others to make judgement calls or decisions.
Resistance to stress:
The ability to cope with stressful and anxiety provoking situations.
Accurate perception of reality:
To have a realistic and non-deluded view of the world whilst coinciding with not being too optimistic or pessimistic.
On the other hand there are weaknesses or limitations to his views. These are:
Jahoda (1958)’s views are culturally specific and not a universal indication of what ideal mental health is. For example, Great Britain and the United States of America are pushed to concentrate on themselves as an individual whilst other Eastern countries are encouraged to concentrate on themselves as a group who are responsible for their own family and surroundings rather than an individual achievement. Therefore a British citizen would be classed as normal in their own country/culture but over in Asia this would be classed as being selfish.
Validity would be a major limitation to Jahoda’s views has no individual on the planet achieves complete ideal mental health as we, from time to time, therefore the positive attitude view would be invalid meaning that everyone is abnormal and not one person falls into the ‘normal’ category.
Levels of stress and the individual capabilities of coping with them are a weakness to the views as various people work more efficiently and productively under the element of stress.
Mental health criteria has changed over the past few centuries, for example hearing voices in the 13th century meant a visit from God had occurred but in today’s day and age it means that the person suffers from schizophrenia therefore the validity of Jahoda suffers as in time this will become an invalid point of criteria.
Sally becomes anxious and distressed when meeting new people for the first time due to her lack of confidence in herself and the inability to move out of her ‘home environment’. In reality this means that sally’s behaviour interferes with her everyday life as meeting new people will halter her ‘normal life’.
According to the definition, failure to function adequately means that a person is unable to live a normal life, e.g. go to work, form close relationships, or in worst case scenarios even venture outside. When a particular behaviour interferes with everyday life, it is referred to as being abnormal. Rosenham and Seligman identified seven features of abnormal functioning, including suffering, maladaptiveness, vivid, unpredictable, irrational, observer discomfort and violation of ideal/moral standards.
Sally is suffering from a psychological illness and on most occasions, people suffering from an illness are not always in the happiest of moods. In Sally’s case, she suffers from anxiety which indicates out of the seven of Rosenham and Seligman’s features of abnormal function, Maladaptiveness meaning her behaviour is preventing her from reaching her desired goals due to not having the ability to cope with a mere thing such as a conversation.
Failing to function adequately definition of abnormality does have strengths but at the same time it has weaknesses/limitations in how it is measured.
Rosenham and Seligman (1989) stated the most suitable approach to defining mental abnormality may be to identify a set of seven characteristics which can be classed as abnormal (as stated previously). I will be looking at a few of these, they are:
Suffering: Many abnormal individuals tell that they are suffering and that this is a tell-tale sign of abnormality, however almost every person suffers or grieves when a person close to them falls ill or passes away, or when they hear something important to them like losing their job, while some people handle this situation a lot better than better than others, therefore invalidating this point.
Maladaptiveness: Maladaptiveness thwarts a person from achieving goals they set themselves in life such as forming a bond with a loved one, however if this is the case then the majority of behaviour we present is abnormal but this can be due to a lack of relevant knowledge of abilities to overcome these obstacles.
Violation of moral and ideal standards: Behaviour may be moderated and referred to as abnormal when it infringes moral standards recognized previously, unfortunately many people fail to keep moral high standards therefore, and again, we all could fall into this category of abnormal behaviour. For example, living in a residentially built up estate would not tolerate a group of youths wandering the streets in the evenings with a can of alcohol in their hands, but this does happen.
Alex declines the option of wearing shoes at any time, including his journey to school. His behaviour displays a deviation of social norm due to his lack of ability and his choice not to cohere with the way his behaviour should be within society. His presentation is abnormal and undesirable.
Deviant behaviour means an anti-social behaviour. Social standards should be met for actions to be classified as normal such as sticking to rules, values and moral issues. There are several strengths to this classification and also several weaknesses/limitations. These are:
Setting and noticing a distinction between what is classed as desirable and undesirable behaviour. Actions taken by an individual are examined on how they will have an impact of others. Transgression of social rules is also considered as social rules are considered as fundamental in helping people live together whether that is in a family in a household or families in a neighbourhood.
The notion ‘social deviancy’ is linked to moral standards, subjectively defined by a society, which vary from society to society due to each ones attributes. For example, centuries ago being gay was seen as anti-social and not accepted, classing the people as mentally ill. However, Szasz (1960) claims that mental illness is just a fictional statement used by the state in a way of gaining control over everything.
Social deviance is not immediately a bad thing. Some individuals simply choose to act the way they do as they don’t want to live a conformist lifestyle.
The psychodynamic approach set on Freud’s theory that creativity occurs from tension between conscious reality and unconscious drives and that the creative product is a way to put across unconscious wishes in a publicly accepted manner. Freud put forward that all human encouragement is aimed at maximising the fulfilment of instinctual needs (especially sexual and aggressive needs) and defined sublimation as a diversion of energy from the pursuit of the unattainable or forbidden pleasures into socially approved endeavours.
Freud’s theory of the psychodynamic approach has been further developed by his followers. Ernst Kris (1952) initiated the theory of preconscious and considered the use of the primary process in creativity as a regression in the service of the ego. Kris’s idea of the preconscious as a starting place of creativity was supported by Lawrence Kubie (1958). Another important idea was the one of dissociation. Phyllis Greenacre (1953) recommended that the ego of the future is competent enough to dissociate itself from the real objects and thus developing a love affair with the world. Philip Wiseman (1963) suggested that the future artist as an infant, had the ability to hallucinate the mother breast independently of oral needs or, in other words, that the creative person is able to dissociate his early personal life from what will be creative work.
There are several key features when you are regarding to the psychodynamic approach of psychology. The assumptions of this theory are that:
our feelings are forcefully affected by unconscious intentions
Our behaviour and feelings as mature specimens (including psychological problems) are based and collected from out childhood experiences.
All behaviour has a cause (usually unconscious) including slips of the tongue, therefore all behaviour is determined.
Personality is made up of three parts. The id, ego and super-ego.
Behaviour is driven by two instinctual movements: Eros (the sex drive and life instinct) and Thanatos (the aggressive drive and death instinct). Both these drives come from the ‘id’.
Segments of the unconscious mind (the id and superego) are in constant conflict with parts of the conscious part of the mind (the ego).
The individual’s personality is moulded as the drives are modified by different conflicts at different times in childhood (during the psychosexual development stages).
The timeline of how the psychodynamic approach came about is as follows:
Anna O a patient of Dr. Joseph Breuer (Freud’s mentor and friend) from 1800 to 1882 suffered from hysteria.
In 1895 Breuer and his assistant, Sigmund Freud, wrote a book, Studies on Hysteria. In it they explained their theory: Hysteria is the result of a traumatic experience, one that cannot be integrated into the person’s understanding of the world.
By 1896 Freud had found the key to his own system, naming it psychoanalysis. In it he had replaced hypnosis with “free association.”
In 1900 Freud published his first significant work, The Interpretation of Dreams, which recognized the importance of psychoanalytical movement.
In 1902 Freud established the Psychological Wednesday Society, later renamed into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. As the organisation develops, Freud established an inner circle of devoted followers, the so-called “Committee” (including Sàndor Ferenczi, and Hanns Sachs (standing) Otto Rank, Karl Abraham, Max Eitingon, and Ernest Jones)
Freud and his colleagues ventured to Massachusetts in 1909 to address their new methods of understanding mental illness. Those in the number present included some of the country’s most important intellectual figures, such as William James, Franz Boas, and Adolf Meyer.
The following time after the visit to the United States, the International Psychoanalytic Association was founded. Freud designated Carl Jung as his successor to lead the Association, and chapters were created in major cities in Europe and elsewhere. Regular assemblies were held to converse the theory, therapy, and cultural applications of the new discipline.
Jung’s work on schizophrenia, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, led him into partnership with Sigmund Freud.
Jung’s close collaboration with Freud lasted until 1913. Jung had become progressively more critical of Freud’s exclusively sexual definition of libido and incest. The journal of Jung’s Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (known in English as The Psychology of the Unconscious) auctioned advances to a final break.
Following his materialization from this period of crisis, Jung developed his own theories systematically under the name of Analytical Psychology. Jung’s concepts of the combined unconscious and of the archetypes resulted in him exploring religion in the East and West, myths, alchemy, and later flying saucers.
Anna Freud (Freud’s daughter) became a major figure in British psychology, specialising in the application of psychoanalysis to children. Amongst her best known works is The Ego and the Mechanism of Defence (1936).
History derived from http://www.simplypsychology.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/psychodynamic.html
Collective unconsciousness (Jung)
Psychosexual development (Freud)
Unconscious mind (Freud)
Defence mechanisms (Freud)
Psychosocial development (Erikson)
Case studies (Little Hans)
Projective tests (TAT, Rorschach)
Slips of the tongue (papa praxes)
Areas of Application
The major causes of behaviour have their origin in the unconscious
Psychic determinism: all behaviour has a cause or a reason.
Behaviour is motivated by instinctual drives (Eros and Thanatos)
Different parts of the unconscious mind are in constant struggle
Our behaviour and feelings as adults are rooted from our childhood experiences.
Gender role development
Moral development (super-ego)
Aggression (Displacement/ Thanatos)
Personality (Erikson, Freud)
Made case study method popular in psychology
Projective tests (TAT, Rorschach)
Highlighted the importance of childhood
Case studies – subjective / cannot generalise results
Unscientific (lacks empirical support)
Too deterministic (little free-will)
Biases sample (e.g. middle aged women from Vienna)
Ignores Mediational processes (e.g. thinking, memory)
Rejects free will (e.g. humanism believe free will exists)
Unfalsifiable (difficult to prove wrong)
Helen was referred to a therapist regarding her weight gain, however it is also disclosed that she is a ‘chocoholic’ and consumes approximately ten bars a day since her split from her partner. Her mother states chocolate has been a major part of her dietary intake since she was around two years old.
Being a chocoholic is an abnormal behaviour in comparison from ‘the norm’ and the rest of society however this also shows that she has acquired this behaviour as a really young infant, possibly due to a traumatic personal event which occurred (e.g. her parents divorcing), and with children knowingly love sweets and chocolate, her parents (either mother or father) gave her a bar of chocolate to stabilise her mental state fluctuation. Eating after a major event in life is one of many ‘coping strategies’ when dealing with stress or anxiety.
In coping with stress, people seem to be inclined to use one of the three main coping techniques: appraisal-focused, problem-focused, or emotion-focused coping.
Appraisal-focused techniques occur when the person alters the way they think, for example: employing denial, or distancing oneself from the problem. People may modify the way they think regarding a problem by altering their goals and values, such as by observing the humour in a situation.
People utilising problem-focused strategies attempt to deal with the cause of their problem. They do this by locating information on the problem and learning new skills to manage the problem.
Emotion-focused strategies entail releasing unexpressed emotions, distracting one-self, managing hostile feelings, meditating, using systematic relaxation procedures, etc.
Classically, individuals use a combination of all three types of coping, and coping skills will usually change over time. All these processes can prove useful, but some argue that those using problem-focused coping strategies will regulate better for life
Men often favour problem-focused coping, whereas women tend to lean towards an emotion-focused response. Problem-focused coping systems may allow an individual a higher perceived control over their problem, while emotion-focused coping may further lead to a reduction in superficial control. Certain individuals therefore feel that problem-focused mechanisms symbolise a more effective means of coping.
The behavioural approach to psychopathology, like all other approaches, has many strengths and limitations. A definite strength would be that it has had a major influence on psychology and a lot of insight into other theories and further studies to emphasise the stability of the claims.
One of the main strong points of the behaviourist approach is that its focal point is only on behaviour that can be observed and manipulated. As a result, this approach has proved very practical in experiments under laboratory circumstances where behaviour can be observed and manipulated, particularly in relation to the independent variable and the dependent variable. The behaviourist morality of learning have been, and continue to be, tested in the laboratory where learning can be objectively measured.
The behaviourist approach focuses on the ‘here and now’ rather than investigating a person’s past or their medical history. This is an advantage because many individuals do not know the past causes for their irregular behaviour. And for many people getting rid of objectionable behaviour may be more important than understanding the causes of such behaviour. For example, a patron with an absurd compulsion to wash his hands unnecessarily many times every day may be satisfied by simply ridding himself of the abnormal behaviour.
On the other hand, if an approach cannot take care of the underlying causes of the behaviour, it is likely the conduct, after an uncertain amount of time, will return. Behavioural actions such as Systematic Desensitisation and Token Economies are valuable for certain disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorders and phobias. However, they are not so effective for more severe disorders, such as schizophrenia.
The behaviourist approach has been criticised for suggesting that most human behaviour is mechanical, and that human behaviour is simply the product of stimulus-response behaviours. This seems to be a very reductionism attitude.
A major positive of the cognitive approach is that it solely focuses on current information-processing by the brain. It does not depend on the history of the client, for example, recovering repressed thoughts from the unconscious. This is an advantage as details about an individual’s past are often unclear, irrelevant, deceptive and misremembered. However, it does seem clear that a person’s medical history should be taken into account as there may be biological explanations, e.g. excess dopamine, for their behaviour.
Many psychologists would see this slender focus as a weakness. They could possible object you may well change the client’s surface thoughts but you won’t be tackling the underlying cause of the irregularity. There could also be medical, environmental and cultural influences affecting a person’s behaviour. Focussing only on a person’s cognition may be too fine and distinct as an approach.
Cognitive psychology has been influenced by the expansion in computer science and resemblances are often made between how a computers and the human brain process information. However, we should remember that the human brain is far more complicated and refined than a computer, and that we are also influenced by past experiences as well as by our cultural experiences. Most cognitive research occurs under laboratory conditions and focuses on specific rather than general problems; this may make the research findings limited in their application in real-life settings.
In spite of these weaknesses, the cognitive approach has been demonstrated in being useful in researching, describing and understanding human behaviour. Loftus and Palmer’s (1974) study of eyewitness demonstration reveals how memory can be out of shape and warped by post-event information, i.e. information supplied after an event. This research showed that memory is not merely a tape recording of events but is a dynamic procedure that can be influenced by data such as leading questions. These answers have had a powerful influence in the ‘real world’.
Finally, cognitive therapies, primarily when used in collaboration with behavioural therapy, have a good success rate in assisting clients. It is a favourable and much-used approach. It also sanctions the individual to take responsibility for his own thinking processes by monitoring, evaluating and altering self-defeating thought processes.