PSYCH101: Introduction to Psychology
Unit 7: Psychopathology
Today, we commonly think of psychology as a means of treating mental disorders. However, the branch of psychology that addresses these disorders is known as psychopathology, a field of study made famous by Sigmund Freud. Clinical psychologists have since refined the field, developing more sophisticated methods for diagnosis and treatment so that clients can maintain a normal lifestyle. Millions of people live with various types of mental illness and mental health problems, such as social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, drug addiction, and personality disorders. Treatment options include medication and psychotherapy. In this unit, we will aim at understanding different perspectives on psychological disorders, learning to identify characteristic symptoms of each. As you review this final unit, think about all the factors that may contribute and alleviate the major mental disorders discussed. What is the interplay between biology, social support systems, and other environmental factors in how human beings cope?
Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- define the subfield of psychopathology;
- define psychological disorders and identify perspectives on psychological disorders;
- understand how psychological disorders are classified and describe commonly diagnosed psychological disorders and their symptoms, including anxiety disorders, OCD, PTSD, mood disorders, schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, and personality disorders; and
- understand and differentiate among types of current psychological therapies, including psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, humanistic therapy, and biomedical therapy.
Read the Introduction and sections 1 through 3 of Chapter 15, which provides an overview on the nature of psychological disorders. Much current research is framed by the model of psychopathology portrayed in current versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Although the modern DSMs have been fundamental in advancing psychopathology research, recent research also challenges some assumptions made in the DSM, such as the assumption that all forms of psychopathology can be categorized discretely.
Watch this video, which provides an introduction to the variety of categories of mental disorders.
Watch this two-part lecture on mental illnesses.
Read the Introduction and 5 sections of Chapter 16, which discusses therapy and treatment. You should appreciate the historical context of mental health treatment and be able to describe common forms of therapy today. What do you like about each treatment method? What are possible drawbacks? Do you think people are more open about mental health problems today than they were 100 years ago? 50 years ago? 10 years ago? 5 years ago? Why?
Read this section on mood disorders. Mood disorders fall into the basic groups of elevated mood such as mania or hypomania, depressed mood of which the best-known and most researched is major depressive disorder (MDD) (commonly called clinical depression, unipolar depression, or major depression), and moods which cycle between mania and depression known as bipolar disorder (BD) (formerly known as manic depression). When reading this section think about the effects of mood disorders on people's lives. Major questions to consider include what are the major mood disorders? What are the diagnostic criteria? Who is affected by mood disorders?
Read this section on anxiety disorders. Many people in our everyday life suggest they are "anxious" - what are the specific criteria for a psychologist to diagnose a patient with an anxiety disorder? How might what you already know about learning theories and behaviorism help explain and treat patients with anxiety disorders?
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness characterized by incoherent or illogical thoughts, bizarre behavior and speech, and delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices. Schizophrenia typically begins in early adulthood. Antipsychotic drugs aren’t the only treatment people with schizophrenia need. As you read this unit, think about how medication, psychotherapy, and support can help a person diagnosed with schizophrenia regain their life.
Throughout this course we have emphasized the alignment of the mind and body. As you review this video regarding the biological basis of schizophrenia, think about how this mind-body interaction affects a person living with this illness. What are the implications of this interaction to help a person with this diagnosis live a quality life?
Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The study of personality focuses on two broad areas: One is understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics, such as sociability or irritability. The other is understanding how the various parts of a person come together as a whole. As you read this section, think about how the convergence of nature and nurture may contribute to a person developing a personality disorder.
Take this assessment to check your understanding of the materials presented in this unit.
- There is no minimum required score to pass this assessment, and your score on this assessment will not factor into your overall course grade.
- This assessment is designed to prepare you for the Final Exam that will determine your course grade. Upon submission of your assessment you will be provided with the correct answers and/or other feedback meant to help in your understanding of the topics being assessed.
- You may attempt this assessment as many times as needed, whenever you would like.