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A History of Great Ideas in Abnormal Psychology T.E. Weckowicz H.P. Liebel- wieckowicz North-Holland A HISTORY OF GREAT IDEAS IN ABNORMAL.
Table of contents

Looking at this bell-shaped curve, the majority of individuals are clustered around the highest point of the curve, which is known as the average.

The History of Mental Illness – Essentials of Abnormal Psychology

People who fall very far at either end of the normal curve might be considered "abnormal. It's important to note that the distinctions between normal and abnormal are not synonymous with good or bad. Consider a characteristic such as intelligence.

A person who falls at the very upper end of the curve would fit under our definition of abnormal; this person would also be considered a genius. Obviously, this is an instance where falling outside of the norms is actually a good thing. When you think about abnormal psychology, rather than focus on the distinction between what is normal and what is abnormal, focus instead on the level of distress or disruption that a troubling behavior might cause.

If a behavior is causing problems in a person's life or is disruptive to other people, then this would be an "abnormal" behavior that may require some type of mental health intervention.

Diagnostic Criteria

There are a number of different perspectives used in abnormal psychology. While some psychologists or psychiatrists may focus on a single viewpoint, many mental health professionals use elements from multiple areas in order to better understand and treat psychological disorders. These perspectives include:.

Psychological disorders are defined as patterns of behavioral or psychological symptoms that impact multiple areas of life. These mental disorders create distress for the person experiencing symptoms. The manual contains a listing of psychiatric disorders, diagnostic codes, information on the prevalence of each disorder, and diagnostic criteria. Abnormal psychology may focus on atypical behavior, but its focus is not to ensure that all people fit into a narrow definition of "normal.


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References to abnormal behavior in early writings show that the Ancient Chinese, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Hebrews, and Ancient Greeks often attributed such behavior to a demon, Spirits or god who had taken possession of a person. Such people were often treated with considerable awe and respect, for it was thought that they had supernatural powers. Most possessions, however, were considered to be the work of an angry god or an evil spirit, particularly when a person became excited or overactive and engaged in behavior contrary to religious teachings. The primary type of treatment for demonic possession was Trephining and exorcism, which included various techniques for casting an evil spirit out of an afflicted person.

More sever measures, such as starving or flogging, were sometimes used in extreme cases to make the body of a possessed person such an unpleasant place that an evil spirit would be driven out. Exorcism was originally the task of healers or persons regarded as having healing powers.

Therefore, in this super natural tradition also called as the demonological method, abnormal behavior is attributed to the agent outside human bodies and According to this model abnormal behaviors are caused by demons, spirits or the influence of planets. Hippocrates denied that gods and demons intervened in the development of illnesses and insisted that mental disorders had natural causes and required treatments like other diseases.

He believed that the brain was the central organ of intellectual activity and that mental disorders were due to brain pathology. He also emphasized the importance of heredity and predisposition and pointed out that injuries to the head could cause sensory and motor disorders. Hippocrates classified all mental disorder into three general categories-mania, melancholia, and phrenitis brain fever — and gave detailed clinical descriptions of the specific disorders included in each category.

For the treatment of melancholia, for example, he prescribed a regular and tranquil life, sobriety and abstinence from all excesses, a vegetable diet, celibacy, exercise short of and bleeding if indicated.

Explanations of Abnormality

Hippocrates had little knowledge of physiology. He believed that hysteria the appearance of physical illness in the absence of organic pathology was restricted to women and was caused by the uterus wandering to various parts of the body, pining for children. He also believed in the existence of four bodily fluids or humors — blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. Pleasant surroundings were considered of great therapeutic value for mental patients, who were provided with constant activities, including parties, dances, walks in the temple gardens, rowing along the Nile, and musical concerts.

One of the most influential Greek physicians was Galen A. D , who practiced in Rome.

History of Abnormal Behavior

Moreover, Galan made a Number of original contributions the anatomy of the nervous system. Galen also maintained a scientific approach to the field, dividing the causes of psychological disorders into physical and mental categories. Among the causes he named were injuries to the head, alcoholic excess, shock, fear, adolescence, menstrual changes, economic reverses, and disappointment in love.

Roman physicians wanted to make their patients comfortable and thus used pleasant physical Therapies, such as warm baths and massages. They also followed the principle of contraries opposite by opposite — for example, having their patients chilled wine they were in a warm tub.

Historical perspectives on the theories, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness

The contributions of Hippocrates and the later Greek and Roman physicians were soon lost in the welter of popular superstition. The first mental hospital was established in Baghdad in A. D ; it was soon followed by others in Damascus and Aleppo Polvan, In these hospitals, the mentally disturbed individuals received humane treatment. The outstanding figure in Islamic medicine was Avicenna from Arabia c. In his writings, Avicenna frequently referred to hysteria, epilepsy, manic reactions, and melancholia.

During the Middle Ages in Europe c. Mental disorders were quite prevalent throughout the middle Ages in Europe. During this time, supernatural explanations of the causes of mental illness grew in popularity. During the last half of the middle Ages in Europe, a peculiar trend emerged in efforts to understand abnormal behavior. It involved mass madness- the widespread occurrence of group behavior disorders that were apparently cases of hysteria. Whole groups of people were affected simultaneously. Dancing Manias epidemics of raving, jumping, dancing, and convulsions were reported as early as the tenth century.

One such episode, occurring in Italy early in the thirteenth century was known as tarantism. Isolated rural areas were also afflicted with outbreaks of Lycanthropy- a condition in which people believed themselves to be possessed by wolves and imitated their behavior. Exorcism and Witchcraft. In the middle Ages in Europe, management of the mentally disturbed was left largely to the clergy. Making Sense with Sam Harris.

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