NCERT Textbook - Psychological Disorders Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Psychology Class 12

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Psychological Disorders Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Chapter 4 • Psychological Disorders
69
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Introduction
Concepts of Abnormality and Psychological Disorders
Classification of Psychological Disorders
Factors Underlying Abnormal Behaviour
Major Psychological Disorders
Anxiety Disorders
Somatoform Disorders
Dissociative Disorders
Salient Features of Somatoform and Dissociative
Disorders (Box 4.1)
Mood Disorders
Schizophrenic Disorders
Sub-types of Schizophrenia (Box 4.2)
Behavioural and Developmental Disorders
Substance-use Disorders
Effects of Alcohol : Some Facts (Box 4.3)
Commonly Abused Substances (Box 4.4)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the basic issues in abnormal behaviour and the criteria used to identify such
behaviours,
appreciate the factors which cause abnormal behaviour,
explain the different models of abnormal behaviour, and
describe the major psychological disorders.
Page 2


Chapter 4 • Psychological Disorders
69
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Introduction
Concepts of Abnormality and Psychological Disorders
Classification of Psychological Disorders
Factors Underlying Abnormal Behaviour
Major Psychological Disorders
Anxiety Disorders
Somatoform Disorders
Dissociative Disorders
Salient Features of Somatoform and Dissociative
Disorders (Box 4.1)
Mood Disorders
Schizophrenic Disorders
Sub-types of Schizophrenia (Box 4.2)
Behavioural and Developmental Disorders
Substance-use Disorders
Effects of Alcohol : Some Facts (Box 4.3)
Commonly Abused Substances (Box 4.4)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the basic issues in abnormal behaviour and the criteria used to identify such
behaviours,
appreciate the factors which cause abnormal behaviour,
explain the different models of abnormal behaviour, and
describe the major psychological disorders.
Psychology
70
CONCEPTS OF ABNORMALITY AND
PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Although many definitions of abnormality
have been used over the years, none has
won universal acceptance. Still, most
definitions have certain common features,
often called the ‘four Ds’: deviance,
distress, dysfunction and danger. That is,
psychological disorders are deviant
(different, extreme, unusual, even bizarre),
distressing (unpleasant and upsetting to
the person and to others), dysfunctional
(interfering with the person’s ability to
carry out daily activities in a constructive
You must have come across people who are unhappy, troubled and
dissatisfied. Their minds and hearts are filled with sorrow, unrest and
tension and they feel that they are unable to move ahead in their lives; they
feel life is a painful, uphill struggle, sometimes not worth living. Famous
analytical psychologist Carl Jung has quite remarkably said, “How can I
be substantial without casting a shadow? I must have a dark side, too, if I
am to be whole and by becoming conscious of my shadow, I remember
once more that I am a human being like any other”. At times, some of you
may have felt nervous before an important examination, tense and concerned
about your future career or anxious when someone close to you was unwell.
All of us face major problems at some point of our lives. However, some
people have an extreme reaction to the problems and stresses of life. In this
chapter, we will try to understand what goes wrong when people develop
psychological problems, what are the causes and factors which lead to
abnormal behaviour, and what are the various signs and symptoms
associated with different types of psychological disorders?
The study of psychological disorders has intrigued and mystified all
cultures for more than 2,500 years. Psychological disorders or mental
disorders (as they are commonly referred to), like anything unusual may
make us uncomfortable and even a little frightened. Unhappiness,
discomfort, anxiety, and unrealised potential are seen all over the world.
These failures in living are due mainly to failures in adaptation to life
challenges. As you must have studied in the previous chapters, adaptation
refers to the person’s ability to modify her/his behaviour in response to
changing environmental requirements. When the behaviour cannot be
modified according to the needs of the situation, it is said to be maladaptive.
Abnormal Psychology is the area within psychology that is focused on
maladaptive behaviour – its causes, consequences, and treatment.
Introduction
way), and possibly dangerous (to the
person or to others).
This definition is a useful starting point
from which we can explore psychological
abnormality. Since the word ‘abnormal’
literally means “away from the normal”, it
implies deviation from some clearly defined
norms or standards. In psychology, we
have no ‘ideal model’ or even ‘normal
model’ of human behaviour to use as a
base for comparison. Various approaches
have been used in distinguishing between
normal and abnormal behaviours. From
these approaches, there emerge two basic
and conflicting views :
Page 3


Chapter 4 • Psychological Disorders
69
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Introduction
Concepts of Abnormality and Psychological Disorders
Classification of Psychological Disorders
Factors Underlying Abnormal Behaviour
Major Psychological Disorders
Anxiety Disorders
Somatoform Disorders
Dissociative Disorders
Salient Features of Somatoform and Dissociative
Disorders (Box 4.1)
Mood Disorders
Schizophrenic Disorders
Sub-types of Schizophrenia (Box 4.2)
Behavioural and Developmental Disorders
Substance-use Disorders
Effects of Alcohol : Some Facts (Box 4.3)
Commonly Abused Substances (Box 4.4)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the basic issues in abnormal behaviour and the criteria used to identify such
behaviours,
appreciate the factors which cause abnormal behaviour,
explain the different models of abnormal behaviour, and
describe the major psychological disorders.
Psychology
70
CONCEPTS OF ABNORMALITY AND
PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Although many definitions of abnormality
have been used over the years, none has
won universal acceptance. Still, most
definitions have certain common features,
often called the ‘four Ds’: deviance,
distress, dysfunction and danger. That is,
psychological disorders are deviant
(different, extreme, unusual, even bizarre),
distressing (unpleasant and upsetting to
the person and to others), dysfunctional
(interfering with the person’s ability to
carry out daily activities in a constructive
You must have come across people who are unhappy, troubled and
dissatisfied. Their minds and hearts are filled with sorrow, unrest and
tension and they feel that they are unable to move ahead in their lives; they
feel life is a painful, uphill struggle, sometimes not worth living. Famous
analytical psychologist Carl Jung has quite remarkably said, “How can I
be substantial without casting a shadow? I must have a dark side, too, if I
am to be whole and by becoming conscious of my shadow, I remember
once more that I am a human being like any other”. At times, some of you
may have felt nervous before an important examination, tense and concerned
about your future career or anxious when someone close to you was unwell.
All of us face major problems at some point of our lives. However, some
people have an extreme reaction to the problems and stresses of life. In this
chapter, we will try to understand what goes wrong when people develop
psychological problems, what are the causes and factors which lead to
abnormal behaviour, and what are the various signs and symptoms
associated with different types of psychological disorders?
The study of psychological disorders has intrigued and mystified all
cultures for more than 2,500 years. Psychological disorders or mental
disorders (as they are commonly referred to), like anything unusual may
make us uncomfortable and even a little frightened. Unhappiness,
discomfort, anxiety, and unrealised potential are seen all over the world.
These failures in living are due mainly to failures in adaptation to life
challenges. As you must have studied in the previous chapters, adaptation
refers to the person’s ability to modify her/his behaviour in response to
changing environmental requirements. When the behaviour cannot be
modified according to the needs of the situation, it is said to be maladaptive.
Abnormal Psychology is the area within psychology that is focused on
maladaptive behaviour – its causes, consequences, and treatment.
Introduction
way), and possibly dangerous (to the
person or to others).
This definition is a useful starting point
from which we can explore psychological
abnormality. Since the word ‘abnormal’
literally means “away from the normal”, it
implies deviation from some clearly defined
norms or standards. In psychology, we
have no ‘ideal model’ or even ‘normal
model’ of human behaviour to use as a
base for comparison. Various approaches
have been used in distinguishing between
normal and abnormal behaviours. From
these approaches, there emerge two basic
and conflicting views :
Chapter 4 ? Psychological Disorders
71
The first approach views abnormal
behaviour as a deviation from social
norms. Many psychologists have stated
that ‘abnormal’ is simply a label that is
given to a behaviour which is deviant from
social expectations. Abnormal behaviour,
thoughts and emotions are those that differ
markedly from a society’s ideas of proper
functioning. Each society has norms,
which are stated or unstated rules for
proper conduct. Behaviours, thoughts and
emotions that break societal norms are
called abnormal. A society’s norms grow
from its particular culture — its history,
values, institutions, habits, skills,
technology, and arts. Thus, a society whose
culture values competition and
assertiveness may accept aggressive
behaviour, whereas one that emphasises
cooperation and family values (such as in
India) may consider aggressive behaviour
as unacceptable or even abnormal. A
society’s values may change over time,
causing its views of what is psychologically
abnormal to change as well. Serious
questions have been raised about this
definition. It is based on the assumption
that socially accepted behaviour is not
abnormal, and that normality is nothing
more than conformity to social norms.
The second approach views abnormal
behaviour as maladaptive. Many
psychologists believe that the best criterion
for determining the normality of behaviour
is not whether society accepts it but
whether it fosters the well-being of the
individual and eventually of the group to
which s/he belongs. Well-being is not
simply maintenance and survival but also
includes growth and fulfilment, i.e. the
actualisation of potential, which you must
have studied in Maslow’s need hierarchy
theory. According to this criterion,
conforming behaviour can be seen as
abnormal if it is maladaptive, i.e. if it
interferes with optimal functioning and
growth. For example, a student in the class
prefers to remain silent even when s/he
has questions in her/his mind. Describing
behaviour as maladaptive implies that a
problem exists; it also suggests that
vulnerability in the individual, inability to
cope, or exceptional stress in the
environment have led to problems in life.
 If you talk to people around, you will
see that they have vague ideas about
psychological disorders that are
characterised by superstition, ignorance
and fear. Again it is commonly believed
that psychological disorder is something to
be ashamed of. The stigma attached to
mental illness means that people are
hesitant to consult a doctor or psychologist
because they are ashamed of their
problems. Actually, psychological disorder
which indicates a failure in adaptation
should be viewed as any other illness.
Activity
4.1
Talk to three people: one of your
friends, a friend of your parents, and
your neighbour.
Ask them if they have seen
someone who is mentally ill or who has
mental problems. Try to understand
why they find this behaviour
abnormal, what are the signs and
symptoms shown by this person, what
caused this behaviour and can this
person be helped.
Share the information you elicited
in class and see if there are some
common features, which make us label
others as ‘abnormal’.
Historical Background
To understand psychological disorders, we
would require a brief historical account of
how these disorders have been viewed over
the ages. When we study the history of
abnormal psychology, we find that certain
theories have occurred over and over again.
One ancient theory that is still
encountered today holds that abnormal
behaviour can be explained by the
Page 4


Chapter 4 • Psychological Disorders
69
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Introduction
Concepts of Abnormality and Psychological Disorders
Classification of Psychological Disorders
Factors Underlying Abnormal Behaviour
Major Psychological Disorders
Anxiety Disorders
Somatoform Disorders
Dissociative Disorders
Salient Features of Somatoform and Dissociative
Disorders (Box 4.1)
Mood Disorders
Schizophrenic Disorders
Sub-types of Schizophrenia (Box 4.2)
Behavioural and Developmental Disorders
Substance-use Disorders
Effects of Alcohol : Some Facts (Box 4.3)
Commonly Abused Substances (Box 4.4)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the basic issues in abnormal behaviour and the criteria used to identify such
behaviours,
appreciate the factors which cause abnormal behaviour,
explain the different models of abnormal behaviour, and
describe the major psychological disorders.
Psychology
70
CONCEPTS OF ABNORMALITY AND
PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Although many definitions of abnormality
have been used over the years, none has
won universal acceptance. Still, most
definitions have certain common features,
often called the ‘four Ds’: deviance,
distress, dysfunction and danger. That is,
psychological disorders are deviant
(different, extreme, unusual, even bizarre),
distressing (unpleasant and upsetting to
the person and to others), dysfunctional
(interfering with the person’s ability to
carry out daily activities in a constructive
You must have come across people who are unhappy, troubled and
dissatisfied. Their minds and hearts are filled with sorrow, unrest and
tension and they feel that they are unable to move ahead in their lives; they
feel life is a painful, uphill struggle, sometimes not worth living. Famous
analytical psychologist Carl Jung has quite remarkably said, “How can I
be substantial without casting a shadow? I must have a dark side, too, if I
am to be whole and by becoming conscious of my shadow, I remember
once more that I am a human being like any other”. At times, some of you
may have felt nervous before an important examination, tense and concerned
about your future career or anxious when someone close to you was unwell.
All of us face major problems at some point of our lives. However, some
people have an extreme reaction to the problems and stresses of life. In this
chapter, we will try to understand what goes wrong when people develop
psychological problems, what are the causes and factors which lead to
abnormal behaviour, and what are the various signs and symptoms
associated with different types of psychological disorders?
The study of psychological disorders has intrigued and mystified all
cultures for more than 2,500 years. Psychological disorders or mental
disorders (as they are commonly referred to), like anything unusual may
make us uncomfortable and even a little frightened. Unhappiness,
discomfort, anxiety, and unrealised potential are seen all over the world.
These failures in living are due mainly to failures in adaptation to life
challenges. As you must have studied in the previous chapters, adaptation
refers to the person’s ability to modify her/his behaviour in response to
changing environmental requirements. When the behaviour cannot be
modified according to the needs of the situation, it is said to be maladaptive.
Abnormal Psychology is the area within psychology that is focused on
maladaptive behaviour – its causes, consequences, and treatment.
Introduction
way), and possibly dangerous (to the
person or to others).
This definition is a useful starting point
from which we can explore psychological
abnormality. Since the word ‘abnormal’
literally means “away from the normal”, it
implies deviation from some clearly defined
norms or standards. In psychology, we
have no ‘ideal model’ or even ‘normal
model’ of human behaviour to use as a
base for comparison. Various approaches
have been used in distinguishing between
normal and abnormal behaviours. From
these approaches, there emerge two basic
and conflicting views :
Chapter 4 ? Psychological Disorders
71
The first approach views abnormal
behaviour as a deviation from social
norms. Many psychologists have stated
that ‘abnormal’ is simply a label that is
given to a behaviour which is deviant from
social expectations. Abnormal behaviour,
thoughts and emotions are those that differ
markedly from a society’s ideas of proper
functioning. Each society has norms,
which are stated or unstated rules for
proper conduct. Behaviours, thoughts and
emotions that break societal norms are
called abnormal. A society’s norms grow
from its particular culture — its history,
values, institutions, habits, skills,
technology, and arts. Thus, a society whose
culture values competition and
assertiveness may accept aggressive
behaviour, whereas one that emphasises
cooperation and family values (such as in
India) may consider aggressive behaviour
as unacceptable or even abnormal. A
society’s values may change over time,
causing its views of what is psychologically
abnormal to change as well. Serious
questions have been raised about this
definition. It is based on the assumption
that socially accepted behaviour is not
abnormal, and that normality is nothing
more than conformity to social norms.
The second approach views abnormal
behaviour as maladaptive. Many
psychologists believe that the best criterion
for determining the normality of behaviour
is not whether society accepts it but
whether it fosters the well-being of the
individual and eventually of the group to
which s/he belongs. Well-being is not
simply maintenance and survival but also
includes growth and fulfilment, i.e. the
actualisation of potential, which you must
have studied in Maslow’s need hierarchy
theory. According to this criterion,
conforming behaviour can be seen as
abnormal if it is maladaptive, i.e. if it
interferes with optimal functioning and
growth. For example, a student in the class
prefers to remain silent even when s/he
has questions in her/his mind. Describing
behaviour as maladaptive implies that a
problem exists; it also suggests that
vulnerability in the individual, inability to
cope, or exceptional stress in the
environment have led to problems in life.
 If you talk to people around, you will
see that they have vague ideas about
psychological disorders that are
characterised by superstition, ignorance
and fear. Again it is commonly believed
that psychological disorder is something to
be ashamed of. The stigma attached to
mental illness means that people are
hesitant to consult a doctor or psychologist
because they are ashamed of their
problems. Actually, psychological disorder
which indicates a failure in adaptation
should be viewed as any other illness.
Activity
4.1
Talk to three people: one of your
friends, a friend of your parents, and
your neighbour.
Ask them if they have seen
someone who is mentally ill or who has
mental problems. Try to understand
why they find this behaviour
abnormal, what are the signs and
symptoms shown by this person, what
caused this behaviour and can this
person be helped.
Share the information you elicited
in class and see if there are some
common features, which make us label
others as ‘abnormal’.
Historical Background
To understand psychological disorders, we
would require a brief historical account of
how these disorders have been viewed over
the ages. When we study the history of
abnormal psychology, we find that certain
theories have occurred over and over again.
One ancient theory that is still
encountered today holds that abnormal
behaviour can be explained by the
Psychology
72
operation of supernatural and magical
forces such as evil spirits (bhoot-pret), or
the devil (shaitan). Exorcism, i.e. removing
the evil that resides in the individual
through countermagic and prayer, is still
commonly used. In many societies, the
shaman, or medicine man (ojha) is a
person who is believed to have contact with
supernatural forces and is the medium
through which spirits communicate with
human beings. Through the shaman, an
afflicted person can learn which spirits are
responsible for her/his problems and what
needs to be done to appease them.
A recurring theme in the history of
abnormal psychology is the belief that
individuals behave strangely because their
bodies and their brains are not working
properly. This is the biological or organic
approach. In the modern era, there is
evidence that body and brain processes
have been linked to many types of
maladaptive behaviour. For certain types of
disorders, correcting these defective
biological processes results in improved
functioning.
Another approach is the psychological
approach. According to this point of view,
psychological problems are caused by
inadequacies in the way an individual
thinks, feels, or perceives the world.
All three of these perspectives —
supernatural, biological or organic, and
psychological — have recurred throughout
the history of Western civilisation. In the
ancient Western world, it was philosopher-
physicians of ancient Greece such as
Hippocrates, Socrates, and in particular
Plato who developed the organismic
approach and viewed disturbed behaviour
as arising out of conflicts between emotion
and reason. Galen elaborated on the role
of the four humours in personal character
and temperament. According to him, the
material world was made up of four
elements, viz. earth, air, fire, and water
which combined to form four essential
body fluids, viz. blood, black bile, yellow
bile, and phlegm. Each of these fluids was
seen to be responsible for a different
temperament. Imbalances among the
humours were believed to cause various
disorders. This is similar to the Indian
notion of the three doshas of vata, pitta
and kapha which were mentioned in the
Atharva Veda and Ayurvedic texts. You
have already read about it in Chapter 2.
In the Middle Ages, demonology and
superstition gained renewed importance in
the explanation of abnormal behaviour.
Demonology related to a belief that people
with mental problems were evil and there
are numerous instances of ‘witch-hunts’
during this period.  During the early
Middle Ages, the Christian spirit of charity
prevailed and St. Augustine wrote
extensively about feelings, mental anguish
and conflict. This laid the groundwork for
modern psychodynamic theories of
abnormal behaviour.
The Renaissance Period was marked
by increased humanism and curiosity
about behaviour. Johann Weyer
emphasised psychological conflict and
disturbed interpersonal relationships as
causes of psychological disorders. He also
insisted that ‘witches’ were mentally
disturbed and required medical, not
theological, treatment.
The seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries were known as the Age of
Reason and Enlightenment, as the
scientific method replaced faith and dogma
as ways of understanding abnormal
behaviour. The growth of a scientific
attitude towards psychological disorders in
the eighteenth century contributed to the
Reform Movement and to increased
compassion for people who suffered from
these disorders. Reforms of asylums were
initiated in both Europe and America. One
aspect of the reform movement was the
new inclination for deinstitutionalisation
which placed emphasis on providing
Page 5


Chapter 4 • Psychological Disorders
69
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS CHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Introduction
Concepts of Abnormality and Psychological Disorders
Classification of Psychological Disorders
Factors Underlying Abnormal Behaviour
Major Psychological Disorders
Anxiety Disorders
Somatoform Disorders
Dissociative Disorders
Salient Features of Somatoform and Dissociative
Disorders (Box 4.1)
Mood Disorders
Schizophrenic Disorders
Sub-types of Schizophrenia (Box 4.2)
Behavioural and Developmental Disorders
Substance-use Disorders
Effects of Alcohol : Some Facts (Box 4.3)
Commonly Abused Substances (Box 4.4)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the basic issues in abnormal behaviour and the criteria used to identify such
behaviours,
appreciate the factors which cause abnormal behaviour,
explain the different models of abnormal behaviour, and
describe the major psychological disorders.
Psychology
70
CONCEPTS OF ABNORMALITY AND
PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Although many definitions of abnormality
have been used over the years, none has
won universal acceptance. Still, most
definitions have certain common features,
often called the ‘four Ds’: deviance,
distress, dysfunction and danger. That is,
psychological disorders are deviant
(different, extreme, unusual, even bizarre),
distressing (unpleasant and upsetting to
the person and to others), dysfunctional
(interfering with the person’s ability to
carry out daily activities in a constructive
You must have come across people who are unhappy, troubled and
dissatisfied. Their minds and hearts are filled with sorrow, unrest and
tension and they feel that they are unable to move ahead in their lives; they
feel life is a painful, uphill struggle, sometimes not worth living. Famous
analytical psychologist Carl Jung has quite remarkably said, “How can I
be substantial without casting a shadow? I must have a dark side, too, if I
am to be whole and by becoming conscious of my shadow, I remember
once more that I am a human being like any other”. At times, some of you
may have felt nervous before an important examination, tense and concerned
about your future career or anxious when someone close to you was unwell.
All of us face major problems at some point of our lives. However, some
people have an extreme reaction to the problems and stresses of life. In this
chapter, we will try to understand what goes wrong when people develop
psychological problems, what are the causes and factors which lead to
abnormal behaviour, and what are the various signs and symptoms
associated with different types of psychological disorders?
The study of psychological disorders has intrigued and mystified all
cultures for more than 2,500 years. Psychological disorders or mental
disorders (as they are commonly referred to), like anything unusual may
make us uncomfortable and even a little frightened. Unhappiness,
discomfort, anxiety, and unrealised potential are seen all over the world.
These failures in living are due mainly to failures in adaptation to life
challenges. As you must have studied in the previous chapters, adaptation
refers to the person’s ability to modify her/his behaviour in response to
changing environmental requirements. When the behaviour cannot be
modified according to the needs of the situation, it is said to be maladaptive.
Abnormal Psychology is the area within psychology that is focused on
maladaptive behaviour – its causes, consequences, and treatment.
Introduction
way), and possibly dangerous (to the
person or to others).
This definition is a useful starting point
from which we can explore psychological
abnormality. Since the word ‘abnormal’
literally means “away from the normal”, it
implies deviation from some clearly defined
norms or standards. In psychology, we
have no ‘ideal model’ or even ‘normal
model’ of human behaviour to use as a
base for comparison. Various approaches
have been used in distinguishing between
normal and abnormal behaviours. From
these approaches, there emerge two basic
and conflicting views :
Chapter 4 ? Psychological Disorders
71
The first approach views abnormal
behaviour as a deviation from social
norms. Many psychologists have stated
that ‘abnormal’ is simply a label that is
given to a behaviour which is deviant from
social expectations. Abnormal behaviour,
thoughts and emotions are those that differ
markedly from a society’s ideas of proper
functioning. Each society has norms,
which are stated or unstated rules for
proper conduct. Behaviours, thoughts and
emotions that break societal norms are
called abnormal. A society’s norms grow
from its particular culture — its history,
values, institutions, habits, skills,
technology, and arts. Thus, a society whose
culture values competition and
assertiveness may accept aggressive
behaviour, whereas one that emphasises
cooperation and family values (such as in
India) may consider aggressive behaviour
as unacceptable or even abnormal. A
society’s values may change over time,
causing its views of what is psychologically
abnormal to change as well. Serious
questions have been raised about this
definition. It is based on the assumption
that socially accepted behaviour is not
abnormal, and that normality is nothing
more than conformity to social norms.
The second approach views abnormal
behaviour as maladaptive. Many
psychologists believe that the best criterion
for determining the normality of behaviour
is not whether society accepts it but
whether it fosters the well-being of the
individual and eventually of the group to
which s/he belongs. Well-being is not
simply maintenance and survival but also
includes growth and fulfilment, i.e. the
actualisation of potential, which you must
have studied in Maslow’s need hierarchy
theory. According to this criterion,
conforming behaviour can be seen as
abnormal if it is maladaptive, i.e. if it
interferes with optimal functioning and
growth. For example, a student in the class
prefers to remain silent even when s/he
has questions in her/his mind. Describing
behaviour as maladaptive implies that a
problem exists; it also suggests that
vulnerability in the individual, inability to
cope, or exceptional stress in the
environment have led to problems in life.
 If you talk to people around, you will
see that they have vague ideas about
psychological disorders that are
characterised by superstition, ignorance
and fear. Again it is commonly believed
that psychological disorder is something to
be ashamed of. The stigma attached to
mental illness means that people are
hesitant to consult a doctor or psychologist
because they are ashamed of their
problems. Actually, psychological disorder
which indicates a failure in adaptation
should be viewed as any other illness.
Activity
4.1
Talk to three people: one of your
friends, a friend of your parents, and
your neighbour.
Ask them if they have seen
someone who is mentally ill or who has
mental problems. Try to understand
why they find this behaviour
abnormal, what are the signs and
symptoms shown by this person, what
caused this behaviour and can this
person be helped.
Share the information you elicited
in class and see if there are some
common features, which make us label
others as ‘abnormal’.
Historical Background
To understand psychological disorders, we
would require a brief historical account of
how these disorders have been viewed over
the ages. When we study the history of
abnormal psychology, we find that certain
theories have occurred over and over again.
One ancient theory that is still
encountered today holds that abnormal
behaviour can be explained by the
Psychology
72
operation of supernatural and magical
forces such as evil spirits (bhoot-pret), or
the devil (shaitan). Exorcism, i.e. removing
the evil that resides in the individual
through countermagic and prayer, is still
commonly used. In many societies, the
shaman, or medicine man (ojha) is a
person who is believed to have contact with
supernatural forces and is the medium
through which spirits communicate with
human beings. Through the shaman, an
afflicted person can learn which spirits are
responsible for her/his problems and what
needs to be done to appease them.
A recurring theme in the history of
abnormal psychology is the belief that
individuals behave strangely because their
bodies and their brains are not working
properly. This is the biological or organic
approach. In the modern era, there is
evidence that body and brain processes
have been linked to many types of
maladaptive behaviour. For certain types of
disorders, correcting these defective
biological processes results in improved
functioning.
Another approach is the psychological
approach. According to this point of view,
psychological problems are caused by
inadequacies in the way an individual
thinks, feels, or perceives the world.
All three of these perspectives —
supernatural, biological or organic, and
psychological — have recurred throughout
the history of Western civilisation. In the
ancient Western world, it was philosopher-
physicians of ancient Greece such as
Hippocrates, Socrates, and in particular
Plato who developed the organismic
approach and viewed disturbed behaviour
as arising out of conflicts between emotion
and reason. Galen elaborated on the role
of the four humours in personal character
and temperament. According to him, the
material world was made up of four
elements, viz. earth, air, fire, and water
which combined to form four essential
body fluids, viz. blood, black bile, yellow
bile, and phlegm. Each of these fluids was
seen to be responsible for a different
temperament. Imbalances among the
humours were believed to cause various
disorders. This is similar to the Indian
notion of the three doshas of vata, pitta
and kapha which were mentioned in the
Atharva Veda and Ayurvedic texts. You
have already read about it in Chapter 2.
In the Middle Ages, demonology and
superstition gained renewed importance in
the explanation of abnormal behaviour.
Demonology related to a belief that people
with mental problems were evil and there
are numerous instances of ‘witch-hunts’
during this period.  During the early
Middle Ages, the Christian spirit of charity
prevailed and St. Augustine wrote
extensively about feelings, mental anguish
and conflict. This laid the groundwork for
modern psychodynamic theories of
abnormal behaviour.
The Renaissance Period was marked
by increased humanism and curiosity
about behaviour. Johann Weyer
emphasised psychological conflict and
disturbed interpersonal relationships as
causes of psychological disorders. He also
insisted that ‘witches’ were mentally
disturbed and required medical, not
theological, treatment.
The seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries were known as the Age of
Reason and Enlightenment, as the
scientific method replaced faith and dogma
as ways of understanding abnormal
behaviour. The growth of a scientific
attitude towards psychological disorders in
the eighteenth century contributed to the
Reform Movement and to increased
compassion for people who suffered from
these disorders. Reforms of asylums were
initiated in both Europe and America. One
aspect of the reform movement was the
new inclination for deinstitutionalisation
which placed emphasis on providing
Chapter 4 ? Psychological Disorders
73
community care for recovered mentally ill
individuals.
In recent years, there has been a
convergence of these approaches, which
has resulted in an interactional, or bio-
psycho-social approach. From this
perspective, all three factors, i.e. biological,
psychological and social play important
roles in influencing the expression and
outcome of psychological disorders.
CLASSIFICATION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
DISORDERS
In order to understand psychological
disorders, we need to begin by classifying
them. A classification of such disorders
consists of a list of categories of specific
psychological disorders grouped into
various classes on the basis of some
shared characteristics. Classifications are
useful because they enable users like
psychologists, psychiatrists and social
workers to communicate with each other
about the disorder and help in
understanding the causes of psychological
disorders and the processes involved in
their development and maintenance.
The American Psychiatric Association
(APA) has published an official manual
describing and classifying various kinds of
psychological disorders. The current
version of it, the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
IV Edition (DSM-IV), evaluates the patient
on five axes or dimensions rather than just
one broad aspect of ‘mental disorder’.
These dimensions relate to biological,
psychological, social and other aspects.
The classification scheme officially used
in India and elsewhere is the tenth revision
of the International Classification of
Diseases (ICD-10), which is known as the
ICD-10 Classification of Behavioural and
Mental Disorders. It was prepared by the
World Health Organisation (WHO). For
each disorder, a description of the main
clinical features or symptoms, and of other
associated features including diagnostic
guidelines is provided in this scheme.
Activity
4.2
Certain behaviours like eating sand
would be considered abnormal. But not
if it was done after being stranded on
a beach in a plane crash.
Listed below are ‘abnormal’
behaviours followed by situations
where the behaviours might be
considered normal.
(i) talking to yourself - you are
praying.
(ii) standing in the middle of the street
waving your arms wildly - you are
a traffic policeman.
Think about it and list similar
examples.
FACTORS UNDERLYING ABNORMAL
BEHAVIOUR
In order to understand something as
complex as abnormal behaviour,
psychologists use different approaches.
Each approach in use today emphasises a
different aspect of human behaviour, and
explains and treats abnormality in line
with that aspect. These approaches also
emphasise the role of different factors such
as biological, psychological and
interpersonal, and socio-cultural factors.
We will examine some of the approaches
which are currently being used to explain
abnormal behaviour.
Biological factors influence all aspects
of our behaviour. A wide range of biological
factors such as faulty genes, endocrine
imbalances, malnutrition, injuries and
other conditions may interfere with normal
development and functioning of the human
body. These factors may be potential
causes of abnormal behaviour. We have
already come across the biological model.
According to this model, abnormal
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