Essay on Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology

1323 Words Jun 2nd, 2012 6 Pages
Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology
Susan Hardin
University of Phoenix
Abnormal Psychology
Krisit Lane, Ph.D.
October 25, 2011

Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology Historical perspectives of abnormal psychology sounds complicated, mainly due to the differing definitions, or interpretations, of what is considered abnormal. Identifying someone at work or in a social situation who appears to be behaving abnormally is easier to spot than it is to define the term abnormal behavior. No matter what the definition of abnormal the different perspectives each present a theory concerning its cause. This paper will provide a brief overview of the different perspectives and the theories presented by each.
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Theoretical Viewpoints Relying on one theoretical viewpoint when trying to discover the cause for abnormal behavior can lead to reductionism. Reductionism occurs when one viewpoint is used to try and explain all abnormal behavior; unfortunately most mental disorders have compound causes and require the use of a combination of theoretical perspectives for explanation which is known as multiple causality (Hansell & Damour, 2008). An important factor when exploring multiple causality is precipitating causes and predisposing causes. A precipitating cause refers to an immediate trigger and a predisposing cause refers to an underlying process that sets things in motion (Hansell & Damour, 2008). This interaction plays a key role in explaining psychopathology because most mental disorders have both causes; this is referred to as the diathesis-stress model of psychopathology. The following section will provide a brief overview of the psychosocial, biological/medical, and the sociocultural perspectives as relates to causes of abnormal behavior.
The psychosocial (psychodynamic) perspective is said to have evolved from Freud’s psychoanalytical perspective and involves conflicts among drives, however much of the psychodynamic theory differs from Freud’s ideas. Usually when the term psychosocial is used the name Erik Erikson comes to mind.

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