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Abnormal Psychology Notes

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Abnormal Psychology

Definitions Baseline - Initial measure of behavior and functioning before therapy begins. Concordance Rate - Rate at which twins will inherit and display the same disorder. Iatrogenic - Medical treatment that does more harm than good. Repressors - Individuals who tend to deny and block out stressors that provoke anxiety. Associated with somatoform and dissociative disorders. Sensitizers - Individuals who tend to be hyperaware of stressors and unable to release anxiety. Anxiety Disorders Panic Disorder Characterized by repeated panic attacks and anxiety over experiencing further attacks. Etiology - Biological causes include anything that results in excess CO2 in blood (e.g., overactive respiratory control center, mitral valve prolapse, hyperventilation, sodium lactate). Treatment - Patients taught to reinterpret symptoms. Must stop catastrophizing and realize the attack is transient and not life-threatening. Must relax and stop hyperventilating. Physical symptoms of panic may be induced through heavy exercise, a swivel chair, etc. to acclimate the patient to the sensations. Phobias Agoraphobia - Fear of going out in public due to anxious anticipation of a panic attack and resulting embarrassment or inability to escape. Often occurs with Panic Disorder. Treatment may involve walks of progressively longer duration with patient returning home when anxiety develops. Specific Phobias - Fear in reaction to a specific stimulus. These include:


Animal Type - Fear of an animal.

Environment Type - Fear of environmental stimulus (e.g., lightning, water). Blood-Injection-Injury Type - Fear of blood or injections. Fainting may be caused by vasovagal reflex. Situational Type - Fear of a specific situation (e.g., riding an elevator, flying).

Social Phobia - Fear of embarrassment and humiliation in social situations. May be limited to one situation (e.g., public speaking) or extend to other social interactions. May be comorbid with Avoidant Personality Disorder, a deep-seated pattern of social avoidance due to fear of rejection. Etiology - Three main theories include:


Psychoanalytic - Phobias are physical manifestations of repressed conflicts. Symptom substitution results if phobia is resolved but original conflict isn't.


Learning - Something unpleasant is paired with a neutral stimulus, so the stimulus becomes feared.


Cognitive - Individual has inaccurate beliefs about a stimulus (e.g. all dogs are vicious, airplanes are dangerous).


Biological - Martin Seligman's preparedness theory that evolution predisposes us to fear legitimate threats (e.g., heights, snakes, darkness). Also, low GABA levels or overactive locus coeruleus. Treatment - Methods include psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and alternative treatments. Psychoanalysis - Lengthy treatment required to resolve phobias. CBT - Assumes phobia results from inadequate understanding of the feared stimulus. Attempts to educate patient about the stimulus, correct misconceptions of danger, and counteract the patient's belief that he/she cannot manage the anxiety.


Exposure/Flooding/In Vivo Desensitization - Exposure to feared stimulus to cause extinction of phobic response.


Systematic Desensitization - Gradual exposure to feared stimulus to cause eventual extinction of phobic response. Patient often creates list of feared objects or situations and attempts to relax while imagining and then encountering each item listed, beginning with least threatening and advancing to most.


Modeling - Exposure to an individual who deals competently with the feared stimulus.

• Mastery Model - Individual previously suffered from but overcame the phobia.

• Coping Model - Individual who still suffers from the phobia but manages it effectively. May be more encouraging than mastery model.


Paradoxical Intention - Patient is instructed to intentionally exaggerate the problematic behavior. May enhance insight and free patient to relax and improve performance.

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