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What are your beliefs about the causes of abnormal behaviour Essay Sample

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What are your beliefs about the causes of abnormal behaviour Essay Sample

In psychology there are six modern psychological perspectives. These perspectives are behavioral, psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive, sociocultural, and biological. Each perspective has its own unique way of explaining the human behavior. I believe to truly explain the complex mental processes and behavior; each perspective must be examined, not limited to just one.


1. Biological Causes

– Neurotransmitter imbalance/Hormonal imbalance.

– Genetic inheritance

– Influence of genotype on environment

– Chromosomal abnormalities.

– Brain Damage

– Physical deprivation/disruption.

2. Psychosocial Causes

– Schemas and self-schemas

– Inadequate parenting

– Early deprivation or trauma

– Pathogenic family structures

– Maladaptive peer relationships

3. Social-Cultural Causes

– Low socioeconomic status

– Prejudice and discrimination

– Economic/employment problems

– Social change and uncertainty

Behavioral disturbances can also be caused by boredom or over- stimulation if there are too many people around or too much going on. Unusual behaviour is a way of trying to cope in what some people perceive as a stressful or strange situation.

Yes, I do adhere to one of the paradigms we have discussed. I believe that my reasons for preferring a particular approach are based on the scientific evidence, which has been proven thus far, and my own personal opinion. The information that’s been presented so far has only reinforced my thoughts and beliefs about the causes of abnormal behaviour. The paradigm that I’m most likely to support is the cognitive behavioral approach.

Here’s a brief overview of what Cognitive behaviour therapy is, and why I’m so convinced it is a beneficial approach to treating abnormal behaviors.

What is it?

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment. That is used to treat a wide range of mental and physical illnesses, including anxiety, panic, eating disorders, and chronic pain.

Patients with depression tend to think more negatively about themselves, the world around them, the past, and the future. These thoughts can be self-fulfilling, and worsen the depression. CBT aims to change such thoughts and beliefs. This can then lead to improvement in mood.

CBT is delivered by highly trained therapists either one-to-one or to a group of patients. Patients having CBT need to play an active role in treatment. This may include, for example, keeping a written record of negative thoughts, or trying out a new approach to daily life as part of a ‘behavioral experiment’.

How it works

Depression changes the way in which people think about themselves and the world, in the past, present and future. Equally, such thoughts can affect mood, and become self-fulfilling. For example, if a person believes that they are not good enough to do a particular job, they are unlikely to apply for it and, even if they do, their interview performance is more likely to be lacking in confidence. Depression also changes how people behave. Motivation suffers, and activity levels can be reduced.

CBT aims to change such thoughts and behaviors in order to lift mood. It teaches people to recognize and challenge upsetting thoughts. Learning to challenge such thoughts helps the person to think more realistically and helps them to feel better. CBT also includes techniques, which help them to overcome their lack of activity.

How well it works

CBT works as well as antidepressants in the treatment of mild or moderate depression. It is not known whether it also works in severe depression.

CBT also appears to prevent relapse in patients who have had at least one episode of depression. It also reduces relapse in people with depression who have not recovered completely despite being on antidepressants.

A form of psychotherapy related to CBT – the cognitive behavioural-analysis form of psychotherapy – may be as effective as the antidepressant nefazodone in the treatment of longstanding depression. Both psychotherapy and nefazodone may be even more effective.

Who should have it

CBT is an option for patients with depression if they:

* respond positively to the concept of CBT

* prefer a psychological treatment to a drug treatment

* would not suffer by waiting for treatment

* have not responded to antidepressants

Willingness to engage actively in homework assignments, being of at least average intelligence, and basic literacy, are also desirable, although not necessarily essential.

If a patient is suitable for CBT, but there is a waiting list, CBT-based minimal contact psychotherapy may be appropriate while waiting.


CBT does not involve taking medicines or having surgery. Therefore, it is a very safe treatment. However, CBT is not widely available. Even where it is available, there is often a significant wait for treatment to start. Therefore, people waiting for CBT should either be receiving antidepressant treatment, or should not be harmed by waiting.

Who should avoid having CBT

There are no patients who should definitely not have CBT. However, if the wait is long and the person may suffer whilst waiting for treatment, an antidepressant is likely to be a better first choice.

CBT is less likely to be effective, and may not be possible, in people who:

* cannot read or write

* have significantly below average intelligence

* are unlikely to complete homework assignments, such as keeping written records of negative thoughts

* are not psychologically minded, in that, for example, they do not accept the influence of their thoughts and beliefs on their mood

Donald Meichenbaum’s work has also influenced my decision regarding which paradigm I support the most. I did some research regarding, Meichenbaum and found out some pretty interesting things. Donald Meichenbaum: The Clinical Application of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is based on the concept that behavior change may be achieved through altering cognitive processes. The assumption underlying the cognitively based therapeutic techniques is that maladaptive cognitive processes lead to maladaptive behaviors and changing these processes can lead to behavior modification.

Meichenbaum is a clinical psychologist who has invented and utilized some of the most operationally defined techniques of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Meichenbaum’s most famous piece of work, Cognitive-Behavior Modification: An Integrative Approach is considered a classic in the field of CBT. Meichenbaum bridged the gap between the clinical concerns of cognitive-semantic therapists (e.g. Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck) and the technology of behavior therapy. As an expert in the treatment of PTSD, Meichenbaum has treated all age groups for trauma suffered from violence, abuse, accidents, and illness.

Most CBT clients are able to complete their treatment in just a few weeks or months – even for problems that traditional therapies often take years to resolve, or are not able to resolve at all. According to Meichenbaum (1977), the quality and nature of the therapeutic alliance between the client and the therapist accounts for more variance in treatment outcome studies than does any other set of variables (except client characteristics). It is essential that the first task of therapy be to develop a therapeutic alliance and encourage clients to tell their stories (Meichenbaum, 1977). The development of a therapeutic alliance and a working collaborative client-therapist relationship is critical in all forms of psychotherapy.

A genuine, compassionate, empathic, emotionally-attuned, nonjudgmental, stance by the therapist facilitates a healthy therapeutic alliance and encourages the clients to tell their story at their own pace. Meichenbaum (1977) believes that a therapeutic relationship is the glue that makes the therapeutic procedures work. Following the client restating his/her story, the therapist highlights what exactly the client did to cope, survive, and even thrive despite the ongoing stress resulting from the experience. The second task of cognitive-behavioral treatment is to educate clients about the presented clinical problem (Meichenbaum, 1996).

For example, if a client seeks therapy because of anxiety, the therapist would explain to the client what anxiety behaviorally looks like and would inform the client of the cycles of anxiety. The client must then become an observer of his/her own behavior. Through heightened awareness and attention, the client may monitor his/her thoughts, feelings, physiological reactions, and interpersonal behaviors (Meichenbaum 1977). Meichenbaum and Goodman (1971) provide evidence that cognitive self-instructional training was successful in decreasing impulsive responding, confirming that when a client utilizes self-instructions, behavior change occurs and treatment effectiveness is enhanced. The first step in Meichenbaum’s approach of self-instruction is to help the client identify his/her negative statements that the client makes to him/herself.

Next, the client learns self-talk to counteract the negative self-statements in the presence of stressful situations. Third, the client is taught to self-instruct the steps for taking appropriate action. Finally, the client is instructed to make self-reinforcing statements immediately after he/she has successfully coped with the stressful situation (Martin & Pear, 1999). These learned skills will inevitably bolster the client’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. CBT provides clear structure and focus to treatment; the therapist continues with the steps and changes course only when there are sound reasons for doing so. When combined into CBT, behavior therapy and cognitive therapy provide clients with very powerful tools for stopping their symptoms and getting their life on a more satisfying track.

While examining the cognitive behavioral perspective, I have come to the conclusion that no situation or particular behavior can be attributed to just one reason. If a situation is looked at through only one perspective, then many questions are left unanswered. This is why I do not believe that any perspective is ‘wrong,’ nor do I believe any perspective is completely and solely ‘right.’ However, if I must choose which paradigm I’m more particular to, than I must say the cognitive behaviour approach (based on the reasons listed above).

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