1. List and briefly describe the six criteria that help draw the line between normal and abnormal behavior. Six criteria that categorize normal and abnormal behavior include unusualness, social deviance, emotional distress, maladaptive behavior, dangerousness and faulty perceptions of reality (Nevid 562). Unusualness describes abilities or traits demonstrated by few people. Social deviance means behavior that defies social customs. Emotional distress is the demonstration of emotion more extreme than called for in a particular situation. Maladaptive behavior characterizes behavior that is harmful to an individual, such as excessive drinking or smoking. Dangerousness defines the engagement in violent behavior outside of the social contexts of sports or war. Finally, faulty perceptions of reality involve observing signs that are not present or drawing illogical conclusions.
2. Choose one of the criteria that might be difficult to recognize and explain why. That is, if you and someone else were evaluating behavior, why might you disagree about whether it is normal or abnormal? Perhaps the most difficult criteria to determine of these six is the category of unusualness. This category is based almost completely on social norms and expectations which also relates to the criteria of social deviance and as such, could shift depending on context. However, some cases of unusualness can be positive, such as athletic or intellectual ability as referenced by Nevid on page 562. Consequently, this criteria cannot be used on its own to categorize a psychological disorder.
3. List and briefly describe the four major models of abnormal behavior: the medical model, psychological models (select one or more), the sociocultural model, and the biopsychosocial model. The first model to emerge, the medical model, posited that psychological illness had a biological cause, not a demonic one as believed before this method of thinking. The second group of models, the psychological models, deal with situations involving perception or mental development. This group includes Freud’s psychodynamics, which believes that phobias result from developmental issues, Pavlov’s conditioned phobias, Rogers and Maslow’s humanist approach or the belief that psychological issues result from a distorted self image, and Ellis and Beck’s thoughts on faulty thinking leading to emotional problems. In the sociocultural model, theorists believe that psychological disorders result from societal rather than personal problems. Support for this model comes from the increased occurrence of schizophrenia and depression in the poor and other low social groups. Finally, the biopsychosocial model recognizes that psychological problems may be a result of a combination of biological, psychological and social triggers, as explained in the diathesis-stress model. In that model, a psychological may or may not develop from a biological condition, or diathesis, depending on the social and psychological situations, or stresses, that a person faces. This model uses the psychosocial elements in order to make it more ‘humanistic’ and less purely biological (Smith 309).
4. Select one of the four models that you believe is most credible. Explain why. Of these types of models, the most valid model seems to be the biopsychosocial model because it takes into account all the possible factors leading to a disorder (Nevid 566). Because it is also the most complex model, it may lead to more diagnoses not currently known in the psychological community.
- Nevid, J.S. (2009). Psychology: concepts and applications (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadswoth, Centage Learning.
- Smith, R.C. (2002). The biopsychosocial revolution: interviewing and provider-patient relationships becoming key issues for primary care. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 17(4), 309-310.