The Psychology of Dysfunctional Behaviour
(Source: IBO Diploma Programme, Psychology, For first examinations 2005)

Introduction

This area of psychology is concerned with the understanding and treatment of dysfunctional behaviours. It investigates the issues of identifying individuals with dysfunctional behaviour and the strategies related to changing such behaviour. Anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and affective disorders are three examples of dysfunctional behaviours that have received attention from psychologists and psychiatrists.

An important starting point is the examination of concepts such as “normality”, “abnormality” and “mental illness”. Psychologists working in this area have developed a range of explanations for the development of dysfunctional behaviours by focusing on, for example, biological, cognitive, and environmental factors. Since the definition of “abnormality” has important implications for the treatments offered, these are examined from the biological, cognitive, and learning perspectives, in addition to the humanistic and psychodynamic perspectives.

Students studying this option should develop an increased awareness of the controversial nature of the psychology of dysfunctional behaviour, along with an appreciation of its ethical considerations.


Learning outcomes


Students should expect exam questions asking them to:
Describe and evaluate relevant theories and empirical studies related to the psychology of dysfunctional behaviour
This focuses on explanations of dysfunctional behavior from the different perspectives

Explain, where appropriate, how cultural, ethical, gender and methodological considerations may affect the interpretation of dysfunctional behaviour
  • Please make sure that you review this section carefully Classification systems page
  • Look at gender in the context of depression - go to depression page

Discuss the diagnosis and classification of dysfunctional behaviour
Classification systems page
  • purpose and functions of diagnosis
  • usefulness of classificatory systems
  • Diagnostic process for depression (look at reading packet)
  • Diagnostic process for schizophrenia (look at reading packet)

Describe and evaluate approaches to treatments for dysfunctional behaviour
  • This learning outcome is looking at the different approaches in general.
  • You can illustrate your evaluation with reference to treatments for depression and schizophrenia
Focus on evaluation - can you identify what the most successful current approach to treatment is?

Analyse the etiology and treatment of dysfunctional behaviours
This learning outcome is looking at the context in relation to specific dysfunctional behaviors
  • Depression (see therapy packet)
  • Schizophrenia (see therapy packet)
Focus on evaluation - can you identify what the most successful current approach to treatment is

Describe and evaluate different concepts and models of dysfunctional behaviour.
  1. Models and theories of dysfunctional behavior, including basic assumptions
  2. The medical model and the concept of ‘mental illness’
  3. Overview of theories from the 4 perspectives and looking at the multi-dimensional approach
  • Behavioral (review)
  • Cognitive (review)
  • Humanistic (review)
  • Psychodynamic (review)
  • Social and environmental theories – the diathesis-stress model



Topic 1: Concepts, models and theories


Concepts of normality and abnormality

You need to be able to discuss this




Models and theories of dysfunctional behavior

You need to be able to discuss
  1. The medical model AND
  2. an explanation of dysfunctional behavior from ONE other perspective AND
  3. The multi-dimensional approach - diathesis stress model

The medical model
  • The medical model and the concept of ‘mental illness’

The 4 perspectives
Overview of theories from the 4 perspectives and looking at the multi-dimensional approach
  • Behavioral (review) OR
  • Cognitive (review) OR
  • Humanistic (review) OR
  • Psychodynamic (review)

INCLUDE:
  • Social and environmental theories – the diathesis-stress model

Review the reading packet for this section



Topic 2: Classificatory systems and diagnosis

Classification systems page

Are you able to compare and contrast TWO classificatory systems (DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10)
Are you able to discuss:

  1. purpose and functions of diagnosis
  2. usefulness of classificatory systems
  3. gender (see depression page), cultural, methodological and ethical considerations in the diagnostic process

Topic 3: Depression

Click on the Depression page

You need to be able to discuss:
  1. Description - diagnosis
  2. At least THREE explanations of etiology (Psychodynamic + Medical + ONE other)
  3. At least THREE approaches to the treatment of depression- approaches and evaluation (Psychodynamic + Medical + ONE other)


Topic 4: Schizophrenia

Click on the Schizophrenia page

You need to be able to discuss:
  1. Description - diagnosis
  2. At least TWO explanations of etiology (eg. medical and cognitive)
  3. At least TWO approaches to the treatment of schizophrenia – approaches and evaluation