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Abnormality and Mental Illness in Social Psychology

Describe and evaluate the definition of abnormality

The first explanation of abnormality is nonconformity to social standards. The main problem with this definition is that social norms change quickly. A situation that is not socially acceptable now may change and become acceptable in the future. For example, an individual may be considered insane judging on clothing the person puts on during leisure time (Hill, 2001). Being not able to do things in the right way is the second definition of abnormality. The main problem with this definition is that it is difficult to explain who is mandated to judge whether an individual is functioning in the best way or not (Hill, 2001). There are five broad models that are used to describe mental illness.

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The spiritual approach is a model used to understand mental illness. Spiritual model is associated with supernatural forces. The model insists that those who commit bad things to other people will develop a mental illness. The second model is medical. The third model is the neurophysiological commonly referred to as biological. The model insists that genetics or a certain disease may cause mental illness. The fourth model is psychological, which allege that mental illness may be caused by physical factors. Lastly, there is a sociological model, which state that stresses and poverty may lead to mental illness.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a system used to treat abnormal behaviours which contain diagnoses of psychiatric disorders. It was first published in 1952 in the United States. The advantage of using the DSM is that its level of reliability and sensitivity is generally high. The system assumes that a cause of mental disorders remains unknown. Doctors use the DSM classification to come up with the analysis of abnormal behaviour by comparing a patient’s behaviour with the described features. For instance, panic disorder and anxiety are some of the features doctors use to diagnose a mental disorder (Dziegielewski, 2010). There are a number of factors recommended by the DSM when evaluating a patient’s mental disorder, including psychosomatic and environmental aspects. The DSM, however, received criticism, especially regarding its diagnostic reliability, superficiality, unjustified distinctions between disorders and cultural bias.

Explain and evaluate the main theoretical approaches to the causes of mental health problems

To understand the situation, a theoretical approach is applied. There are three theoretical approaches to the causes of mental health problems. These are biological, sociological and physiological. The first theoretical approach that explains the cause of mental problems is biological factors. Some examples of biological factors include genetics, substance abuse, injuries, and problems during birth (Scheid, 2010). In some cases, mental diseases occur in certain families. Being depressed or paranoid is a long-term result of abusing drugs. Injuries, especially on the head can lead to the damage of the various parts of the brain.

The second theoretical approach that defines the causes of mental problems is sociological factors Some examples of it include stress, poverty, poor nutrition, war and culture (Scheid, 2010). Factors that lead to poverty, such as unemployment and lack of education are more likely to cause mental illness. Poverty and mental illness are closely related. If the factor is more serious, chances that an individual will develop a mental illness are higher (Scheid, 2010). Finally, psychological factors also contribute to mental health problems. Even though mental factors have not been known, they are directly associated with environmental factors.

Explain and evaluate the main Therapeutic approaches used to treat mental disorders

The therapeutic approach is a method used to treat persons that suffer from a mental disorder. The process involves helping the patients to understand their illness. An example of a commonly used treatment includes Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (National Institute of Mental Health, 2014). This type of therapy includes behavioural therapy and cognitive therapy. Another therapeutic approach is Dialectical Behavioural therapy (National Institute of Mental Health, 2014). The main aim of it is treating individuals who suffer from the thoughts that may make them commit suicide. The third approach is interpersonal therapy for treating dysthymia. This is often carried out on a one-on-one basis.

Cognitive therapy concentrates on how beliefs affect a person’s mood. The main aim of this treatment is to enable sick people to make decisions that will help them live in a healthy lifestyle. When undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy, the therapist and the patient should pay attention to the entire process. On the other hand, in Dialectical Behavioural therapy, the therapist role includes coaching a patient. Coaching is necessary to make the patient understand the responsibility of keeping off from disruptive behaviour. In interpersonal therapy, the therapist role involves helping patients to identify things that trigger his emotions. The patient is also subjected to reflect and examine his past relationships that have been affected by his behaviour (National Institute of Mental Health, 2014).

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Dziegielewski, S 2010, Dsm-iv-tr in Action, Hoboken, New Jersey, John Wiley & Sons.

Hill, G 2001, A level psychology through diagrams, New York, Oxford University Press.

National Institute of Mental Health, 2014, Psychotherapies.

Scheid, T 2010, A handbook for the study of mental health, social contexts, theories, and systems, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

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