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Psychological Disorders
(Abnormal or Clinical Psychology)

 Bellevue: Inside Out

Consider the following questions about these three people:

What did you see/hear which was "abnormal"?

How did the people at the hospital treat them?

Abnormal Behavior: Are they Diseases?


Demonic Possession

  Abnormal behavior  -> 

devil's work

DSM-5 (2013)

"Medical Model"

Abnormal behavior -> 


[Th. Szasz, MD]
Thomas Szasz, MD

Deficient Problem Solving

Abnormal behavior  ->

 socially unacceptable

Abnormal Behavior: What Does "Abnormal" Mean?

Psychology uses the term "abnormal" in at least three different ways:

1. Deviance

2. Maladaptive

3. Personal Distress


Psycho-diagnosis: Classifying Disorders


"Mental Disorder involves a clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotional regulation, or behavior that reflects a dyfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning..."

Mental disorders affect our lives negatively
Cultural responses to stress and loss like crying or grieving are not mental disorders

The fact that a specific culture doesn't like or approve of a person's political, religious, or sexual behavior does not make that behavior evidence of a mental disorder. 

Anxiety Disorders

Central Issue in All Anxiety Disorders  -> 

Fear - Apprehension - Anxiety

5 Types

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

2. Phobic Disorder

[different phobias]

Common Phobias:

Animals = Zoophobia
Closed spaces = Claustrophobia
Crossing bridges = Gephyrophobia
Death or dying = Thantaophobia
Heights = Acrophobia
Snakes = Ophidiophobia
Spiders = Arachnophobia
Storms = Brontophobia

Coulrophobia = Fear of clowns

Number 13 = Triskaidecaphobia (tris = 3;kai = "and";  deca = 10)

3. Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia

4. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

5. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Etiology (= Causes)

1. Biological

2. Conditioning & Learning: Fears come from experiences in life

  • Martin Seligman's Preparedness Theory

3. Cognitive Factors

  • thinking style:
    • Misinterpreting nonthreatening situations as threatening
    • Overemphasizing threat
    • Selectively recalling threat information

4. Personality Factors

  • High levels of neuroticism

5. Stress

This page was originally posted on 11/17/03 and last updated on November 29, 2016