Overview of the Models of Abnormal Behavior

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Today, even with all these leading models, there isn’t just one that is superior. Many clinicians feel that abnormal behavior can have more than one cause, which leads them to the biopsychosocial model. These therapists take the strengths from numerous models and combine them, which is a great method because today there are many factors that can contribute to abnormal behavior. The socio-cultural model has two perspectives, the family-social perspective and the multicultural perspective, and focus on the forces that influence a person.

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Family-social theorists focus on the role of social-labels and roles, social connections and supports, and family structure and communication. Family-social treatments include individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, couples therapy, and community treatments. Multicultural theorists explain abnormal functioning through the role of culture, the impact of poverty, and the role of prejudice and discrimination. The sociocultural model has increased awareness of social and clinical roles, and it has been shown that therapies of the sociocultural model have helped people while other therapy methods have failed. Even with these strengths, this model is unable to predict abnormality in specific individuals.

Existentialists focus on authenticity, and emphasizes self-determination, choice, and individual responsibility. They believe that abnormal behavior is caused by self-deception. Through therapy, a person learns to accept responsibility to their problems, and recognize freedom of action. The humanistic-existential model is more optimistic than other models of abnormal psychology, and it emphasizes on health rather than on an illness. One of the biggest weaknesses of this model is that it focuses on abstract issues and doesn’t deal with serious mental health problems. The humanistic-existential model is a combination of two views, humanistic and existential. Humanists believe that people are born with the natural characteristics of being friendly, constructive, and cooperative, and have a potential to fulfill goodness, but to do so they first must accept both their weaknesses and strengths. Once a person accepts their strengths and weaknesses then they can live their life according to values. The humanistic approach follows several different theories.

The first primary theory is that of Carl Rogers’ Humanistic Theory and Therapy. Rogers argued that people need unconditional positive regard, if received then it leads to one’s unconditional self-regard, and if not received then it leads to “conditions of worth”. Rogers’ therapy is “client-centered”, and the therapist provides the client with unconditional positive regard through reflective listening and empathy. The second humanistic theory is the gestalt theory which was developed by Fritz Perls and has very little research supporting it. The goal of this theory is that a client should achieve self-recognition through patient-challenging techniques, such as role-playing.

The cognitive model explains abnormal behavior by studying the way a person handles, interprets, and uses information. This model explains that in order for us to understand abnormal behavior, we need to look at the cognitive processes which is the center of emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. Cognitive theorists have been able to identify different types of abnormal thinking such as illogical thinking processes, and faulty assumptions and attitudes. The main form of therapy that is used in the cognitive model is cognitive therapy, which was developed by Aaron Beck.

Through cognitive therapy, a person gets help in reorganizing and restructuring the way they think, therapists help them challenge their dysfunctional thoughts, and apply the new ways of thinking into their daily lives so that they can try to lead normal lives. The cognitive model is research based has been shown effective and useful, but even so is not effective for everyone. Because some changes may not be possible for one to achieve, new therapies such as Commitment Therapy and mindfulness-based techniques have emerged.

The behavioral model concentrates on a behavior and theorists believe that abnormal behavior is a result of one’s environment and can either be internal or external. It is believed that a behavior can be unlearned just as much as it can be learned. Operant conditioning, modeling, and classical conditioning are all forms of conditioning that are addressed by the behavioral model, and they can produce either normal or abnormal behavior. The behavioral perspective is very similar to the psychodynamic perspective, because of the theory that one’s actions are determined by experiences in life. Through treatment and therapy, therapists focus on identifying the behaviors that cause problems and then try to replace these behaviors with appropriate behavior. There are two main forms of cognitive-behavior therapy that are used by therapists, cognitive therapy and rational-emotive behavioral therapy. Over the years, behavioral therapy has become one of the most common forms of therapy. One of the strongest factors of the behavioral model is that its basic concepts of stimulus, response, and reward can be tested. On the other hand, a major weakness is that sometimes therapists are only treating the symptoms that are observable and not the underlying causes. Psychodynamic treatments and therapies focus on uncovering a person’s past traumas and inner conflicts, which is done through psychoanalysis. Psychodynamic therapists focus on helping the patient resolve these conflicts so that they could try to continue to live a normal life. Some techniques that therapists might use are free association, catharsis, therapist interpretation, and working through.

The psychodynamic model has many strengths such as understanding how an individual’s present and future can be greatly affected by their childhood, and by taking both nature and nurture into account. Even though this is one of the most popular models of therapy there are also weaknesses such as being unfalsifiable, because any assumptions that are made cannot be proved scientifically. The psychodynamic model of abnormality is one of the most famous and oldest models, and it was introduced by Sigmund Freud. The main theory of the psychodynamic model is that the source of mental illness is psychological and is related to the unconscious mind, and psychodynamic theorists believe that a person’s behavior is determined by their past experiences. Freud believed that the id, ego, and superego were the three main forces that shape a person’s personality, and if there were to be any conflict between these forces then it would result in dysfunction and abnormal behavior.

Today, there are different types of psychodynamic theories such as ego theory, self-theory, and object relations theory, but nonetheless they all hold the same belief that human functioning is shaped by dynamic forces. There are several types of treatment that the biological model uses. Drug therapy is a very common form of treatment where the patient is given psychotropic medications which affect a person’s thought processes and emotions. The four main psychotropic drugs that are used are antianxiety drugs, antidepressant drugs, antibipolar drugs, and antipsychotic drugs. Another form of biological treatment is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which might be used on patients who suffer from depression. The third biological treatment type is psychosurgery, which is still considered experimental and is used very rarely on patients who suffer from severe disorders and have tried all other alternative treatment methods. Using the biological model may be beneficial because the approach is based on medicine, which is well-established and credible science.

On the other hand, this model has its weaknesses such as the negative effects that are brought on due to the treatments. The biological model views abnormal behavior from a medical perspective, and it claims that abnormal behavior is a sickness which is caused by a malfunction in certain parts of the brain function or brain chemistry. There are different components that biological theorists examine to explain the cause of abnormal behavior. The first area that biological theorists examine is the brain’s anatomy. Clinical researchers have found connections between certain psychological disorders and problems in specific areas of the brain. An example of abnormal behavior that is caused bya dysfunction of the brain anatomy is Huntington’s Disease, which is caused by a loss of cells in the cortex and basal ganglia. The second area of examination is within the brain’s chemistry, which is caused by an imbalance of certain hormones or neurotransmitters can cause parts of the brain to malfunction. Abnormal brain chemistry can cause behaviors such as depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. Other factors that can cause abnormal behavior are genetics, evolution, and viral infections. Won total acceptance, but almost all definitions have similar characteristics of “the four D’s”. These shared characteristics are that of distress, dysfunction, danger, and deviance. Even with the common characteristics, how can one’s behavior be determined as abnormal and what can be done to help treat a person who demonstrates abnormal behavior? In science, there are six models that are used to explain events in a person’s life.

Through the biological, psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic (existential), and socio-cultural models, scientists can narrow down a person’s problems based on the information that they seek and receive, which aids in understanding and treating abnormal functioning. Each model has its own theories, strengths, weaknesses, and treatments.

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