Abnormal Psychology is a fascinating sub-field of psychology. While the name of the class is a bit outdated, the course really should be called Diagnosis and Treatment. Dealing mostly with the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition) diagnostic criteria for mental health disorders. The causes, symptoms, assessments, and treatments of mental health disorders are discussed at length.

Two of the most important elements when looking at diagnosis are looking at the context and the continuum of mental health behavior. This should be done before making a diagnosis as it can have an impact on the exact diagnosis that is made.

Here are some major terms and concepts in the field of Abnormal Psychology:

Etiology: The cause or causes of a mental health disorder. With mental health disorders there are often multiples causes and genetic predispositions for mental health disorders. The specific etiology of each disorder will vary from person to person.

Theories of EtiologyThere are several theories of etiology of mental health disorders including the biological theory, humanistic/existential, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, and the post-traumatic model. Again, usually multiple factors and influences usually lead to the development of mental health disorders.

Abnormal Psychology
The DSM-5 from the American Psychiatric Association

The DSM-5: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders-5th Edition. The is the Bible of Mental Health, all identified mental health disorders are in this book and used by clinicians across the US to determine if a person has a mental health disorder, the severity, and other pertinent information regarding the disorder. A new DSM is released about every 10-12 years by the American Psychiatric Association and is every clinicians most important diagnostic tool.

Diagnosis: The process of determining if a person meets the specific criteria for a mental health disorder according to the criteria identified in the DSM-5. Just like in physical health, a diagnosis is made like strep throat, cancer, or a broken ankle.

Examples: After meeting with his therapist it was determined that Johnny had Bi-Polar disorder because he met the criteria identified in the DSM for Bi-polar disorder.

Prognosis: The likely outcome for the person diagnosed with a mental health disorder. There is a wide array for the prognosis of people with mental health disorder. Two people with a similar disorder can have a different prognosis because everyone is different and severity can be drastically different. Also, the prognosis between disorders varies drastically.

Examples: The prognosis for Timmy who has severe Schizophrenia is not great as this disorder frequently ends in long-term treatment, suicide, or being homeless. However, he does have a chance of having a “normal” health life as well. Whereas, the prognosis for Jenny who has a Major Depressive Episode is very bright and she will likely live a long, healthy, and positive life, but has a chance of suicide.

There are a variety of categories of mental health disorders in the DSM including:

  • Depressive Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorders
  • Schizophrenia and Disorders of Psychosis
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Eating/Feeding Disorders
  • Substance Abuse and Addiction Disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
  • Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders
  • Somatic Symptom Disorders
  • Elimination Disorders
  • Sleep-Wake Disorders
  • Sexual Dysfunctions
  • Gender Dysphoria
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control and Conduct Disorders
  • Neurocognitive Disorders
  • Paraphilic Disorder

To reference this page:

Mikita, D. (2015). Abnormal psychology. Retrieved from Free Psychology Help: http://www.freepsychologyhelp.com/?page_id=18