Abnormal psychology is a branch within the field of psychology in which unusual patterns of thought, behavior, and emotions are studied. Throughout history, there have been attempts to understand unusual behavior and abnormal psychology seeks to identify the causes of these behaviors. There are various illnesses that are studied in the branch of abnormal psychology including but not limited to schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder. Depending on the abnormal behavior, there are different treatment options available. There are a number of different career options available for those who have studied and received a degree focused in abnormal psychology.
What Causes Abnormalities?
There are two different theories as to what causes abnormal behavior. There is the psychogenetic theory, in which it is thought that the abnormality results from psychological problems. On the other hand, there is the somatogenic theory, in which it is believed that the abnormal behavior is caused by either an illness or biological disorder. For instance, someone that cannot control themselves may be suffering from brain damage. The somatogenic theory seeks to explain abnormalities in terms of their physical causes rather than psychological causes. Generally, psychologists do not believe in one theory over the other but instead believe that both theories play a role in the abnormal behavior. Treatments under the somatogenic theory include the use of surgery, drugs, or different types of psychical therapies. Treatment under the psychogenic theory includes things such as hypnosis and talk therapy.
Common Disorders Within Abnormal Psychology
While the field of abnormal psychology deals with all types of abnormal behavior, there are three common disorders that abnormal psychology covers. These three disorders include depression, antisocial personality disorder, and schizophrenia.
- Antisocial Personality Disorder – Sufferers of antisocial personality disorder have little conscience. They will often harm or manipulate other people and often have a history of run-ins with the law. Antisocial personality disorder is often incredibly difficult to diagnose and treat as sufferers can often manipulate and charm the therapists that are seeking to help them.
- Schizophrenia – Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness in which sufferers can have a very difficult time differentiating hallucinations from reality. People with schizophrenia generally suffer from vivid hallucinations and will hear voices. While schizophrenia can be treated with medication, it is often difficult to get patients to keep regularly taking their medication. For this reason, therapy tends to play a very important role along with the medication to treat schizophrenia.
- Depression – Depression is a fairly general term that can cover a range of conditions. Often, it refers to major depressive disorder, in which people suffer from a loss of interest in normal activities. They will also experience periods of sadness and a generally low mood. There are several treatments for depression, which will often be determined based on the severity of the condition. Both therapy and medication can be used in the treatment of depression, and a combination of the two has proven to be most effective.
There is ongoing research into the causes and treatments for those suffering from abnormal behaviors. While it is not necessarily known what causes all abnormalities, scientists and researchers are hopeful that further study will reveal both causes as well as treatment options for sufferers of mental illness. Anyone that believes they or a loved one may be suffering from a mental illness or abnormal behavior should seek the help of a medical professional as soon as possible. To learn more about abnormal psychology and mental illness, consult the following resources.
Abnormal Psychology Resources
- Perspectives on Abnormal Behavior
- What is Abnormal Psychology?
- The Journal of Abnormal Psychology
- Symptoms and Treatments of Mental Disorders
- Types of Schizophrenia & What You Need to Know
- Learn About Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Depression Health Center – Symptoms, Causes, Etc.
- Major Depression
- About Careers in Abnormal Psychology
- APA – Careers in Psychology