Mental health professionals define a psychological disorder as a condition that either seriously impairs a person’s abil- ity to function in life or creates a high level of inner distress, or both. This view does not mean that the category “disordered” is always easy to distinguish from the category “normal.” In fact, it may be more accurate to view abnormal behavior as merely quanti- tatively different from normal behavior.
How has the view of psychological disorders changed over time? In early societies, abnormal behavior was often attributed to supernatural powers. As late as the 18th century, the mentally ill were thought to be witches or possessed by the devil. In modern times, three approaches have helped to advance our understanding of abnormal behavior: the biological, the psychoanalytic, and the cognitive behavioral.
How can biology influence the development of psychologi- cal disorders? The biological model holds that abnormal behav- ior is caused by physiological malfunction, especially of the brain.
Researchers assume the origin of these malfunctions is often hereditary. Although neuroscientists have demonstrated that genetic/biochemical factors are involved in some psychological disorders, biology alone cannot account for most mental illnesses.
What did Freud and his followers believe was the underlying cause of psychological disorders? The psychoanalytic model orig- inating with Freud holds that abnormal behavior is a symbolic expres- sion of unconscious conflicts that generally can be traced to childhood.
According to the cognitive–behavioral model, what causes abnormal behavior? The cognitive–behavior model states that psy- chological disorders arise when people learn maladaptive ways of thinking and acting. What has been learned can be unlearned, however. Cognitive–behavioral therapists strive to modify their patients’ dys- functional behaviors and distorted, self-defeating thought processes.