AP Psych Unit 12

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Ongoing patterns of behaviour that are different from those of most other people in your culture.


Socially unusual behaviour that is personally distressful.


Ongoing patterns of behaviour that interfere with normal day-to-day life. Example: Alexis Is socially withdrawn and has few close friends. This behaviour would be diagnosed as a symptom of a psychological disorder because it prevents her from functioning effectively.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

A disorder characterized by inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that is a consequence of genetic influences. Individuals diagnosed with ADHD experience a normal but delayed thinning of the frontal cerebral cortex. Although the brain maturation of children diagnosed with ADHD is normal, it lags behind their peers by about 3 years. Example: Larry has difficulty organizing his daily schedule of work responsibilities. He often makes careless mistakes or fails to complete his work because he is easily distracted.

Psychological Disorder

The greatest shortcoming associated with explanations of psychological disorders in terms of demonic possession is that these explanations led to some harsh and ineffective remedial treatments. Example: Trepanation involved drilling holes in the skull to release demonic spirits.

Medical model

The conception that psychological disorders as biologically based sicknesses that need to be diagnosed and cured. The discovery that psychologically disordered behaviour could result from syphilis infections facilitated the credibility and acceptance of the medical model. The medical model is criticized for neglecting the importance of social circumstances and psychological factors. Example: It is helpful using a biopsychosocial approach for explaining why certain disorders occur in particular cultures. The medical model has difficulty explaining why anorexia nervosa occurs mostly in Western cultures.


The DSM-IV-TR was developed in coordination with the tenth edition of the ICD. THE DSM-IV-TR is used in order to identify various psychological disorders. Many clinicians diagnose disorders by answering questions from five levels of the DSM-IV-TR. To facilitate diagnostic reliability, the DSM-IV-TR typically bases diagnoses on observable patterns of behaviour. The DSM-IV-TR does not explain the causes of the various psychological disorders. Example: The DSM-IV-TR is criticized for classifying an excessively broad range of human behaviours as psychologically disordered.

Positive Psychology Movement

One facet of the positive psychology movement has been the introduction of a classification system designed to aid in the process of assessing human strengths. The Values in Action Classification of Strengths written by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman aimed to catalog human strengths rather than describe dysfunctions.

Diagnostic Labels

Facilitates the ability of mental health professionals to quickly communicate the characteristics of their patients’ complex symptoms. A fundamental problem with the diagnostic labeling of psychologically disordered behaviours is that the labels often bias our perceptions of the labeled person. Example: Diagnostic labels can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. If individuals expect someone as mentally ill to be hostile, they may act in unfriendly ways that provoke that person to respond with hostility.

David Rosenhan

In a study by David Rosenhan (1973), researchers were admitted as patients into various mental hospitals after they falsely claimed to be "hearing voices".

Anxiety Disorders

Maladaptive behaviours that reduce worry and fear. Anxiety is considered disordered if it is persistent and distressing.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

A disorder characterized by a continuous state of tension, apprehension, and autonomic nervous system arousal. GAD is often accompanied by depression. Freud suggested that for those suffering a generalized anxiety disorder, the anxiety is cyclical. Example: You feel apprehensive and fearful most of the time, but you don’t know why. Without warning, your heart begins to pound, your hands get icy, and you break into a cold sweat.

Panic Disorder

Episodes of intense dread that last for several minutes and are accompanied by shortness of breath, trembling, dizziness, or heart palpitations. Panic attacks are most closely associated with anxiety disorders. Example: While studying, you are suddenly overwhelmed by feelings of intense apprehension. For several minutes, you feel so agitated that you cannot catch your breath.


A persistent, irrational fear of a specific object or situation. Incapacitating efforts to avoid specific anxiety-producing situation is indicative of certain phobias. Example: An immediate and irrational anxiety response to the mere sight of blood is indicative of a specific phobia.

Social Phobia

An incapacitating and highly distressing fear about being embarrassed in the presence of others.


Anxiety about being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult. A person who has agoraphobia is most likely to stay close to home. Example: After Charles Darwin began suffering from panic disorder, he lived in relative seclusion and traveled only in his wife’s company.

Obessive-Compulsive Disorder

An anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted repetitive thoughts and actions. Example: The billionaire aviator Howard Hughes insisted that his assistants carry out elaborate hand-washing rituals and wear white gloves when handling any document he would later touch.


Repetitive behaviours. Example: You brush your teeth 18 times a day. Each time, you use exactly 83 strokes up and 83 strokes down. After you eat, you must brush twice with two different brands of toothpaste.


Offensive and unwanted thoughts that persistently preoccupy a person. Example: You are alarmed by your own intrusive and irrational thoughts that your house is contaminated by germs.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Repeated distressing dreams and intrusive memories of an intensely fearful and life-threatening experience. PTSD is considered to be an anxiety disorder. Some people are more vulnerable to PTSD because they have a sensitive limbic system, which floods the body with stress hormones. Some psychologists believe that due partly to a broader definition of trauma, mental health professionals have been over-diagnosing PTSD. Example: The social withdrawal and haunting nightmares of battle-scarred war veterans best illustrate symptoms of PTSD.

Post- Traumatic Disorder

Positive psychological changes that result from struggling with extremely challenging life crises. Although experiencing severely traumatic events may lead to PTSD, it is also likely to lead to increased personal strength and resiliency. Example: Cancer survivors who develop a fresh delight in their children and savor the joy of each new day illustrate post-traumatic growth.

Psychoanalytic Perspective

According to the psychoanalytic perspective, anxiety is sometimes produced by the submerged mental energy associated with repressed impulses.

Learning Perspective

The learning perspective argues that anxiety disorders are the result of classical conditioning and observational learning. • Individuals may make present day associations with past traumatic experiences. • Individuals may engage in stimulus generalization and come to fear things related to the past traumatic event. • Individuals may develop fears by observing others’ fearful responses. Learning theorists have suggested that compulsive behaviours are reinforced by anxiety reduction. Example: A therapist suggests that you continue to bite your fingernails because this behaviour reduces feelings of anxiety in the past.

Biological Perspective

The biological perspective argues it is easy to condition but hard to extinguish fears of the types of stimuli that threaten our ancestors. It also suggests that compulsive acts typically exaggerate behaviours that contributed to the survival of the human species. Research on anxiety disorders indicates that some people are more genetically predisposed than others to develop anxiety disorders.

Anxiety Gene

Some studies suggest that an anxiety gene affects the brain’s level of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Anterior Cingulate

The anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region that monitors our actions, seems hyperactive in those with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Fear Learning

Fear-learning experiences can traumatize the brain by creating fear circuits within the amygdala.

Somatoform Disorder

A psychological disorder in which the symptoms take a bodily form without apparent physical cause. Example: You frequently feel like you have a lump in your throat which makes it difficult to speak or swallow. Medical examinations indicate that there is no apparent physical cause for these symptoms.

Conversion Disorder

A disorder characterized by very specific physical symptoms that have no apparent physiological basis. Conversion disorder was more common in Freud’s day. Example: Experiencing physical symptoms, such as blindness or paralysis, that make no physiological sense.


A disorder characterized by the misinterpretation of normal physical sensations as symptoms of a dreaded disease. Example: You are convinced that your occasional headaches are caused by a malignant brain tumor. Although several physicians have assured you that you have no serious physical problem, you continue to seek medical attention for a brain tumor.

Dissociative Disorder

Disorders that are characterized by disruptions in conscious awareness and sense of identity. The major characteristic of dissociative disorders is a disturbance of memory. Example: A sense of being separated from your body and watching yourself with a sense of detachment is a symptom of dissociation.

Dissociative Identity Disorder

A disorder characterized by a massive dissociation of self from ordinary consciousness. Exhibiting two or more distinct and alternating personalities is a symptom of dissociative identity disorder.


The psychologist who questioned whether DID is a genuine disorder is Nicholas Spanos. Evidence against the existence of DID rules out the contribution of dissociation to symptoms. Evidence includes: • Information learned by the secondary personality influences the moods and behaviours of the primary personality. • The same life memories are consciously experienced by all alternate personalities.

Dissociative Identity Disorder

The dramatic increase in reported cases of dissociative identity disorder during the past 40 years strongly suggests that symptoms of this disorder involve role-playing. Evidence that symptoms of dissociative identity disorder are triggered by the suggestions and leading questions of therapists points to the importance of role-playing in the onset of this disorder. Example: College students were asked to pretend that they were accused murderers. Under hypnosis, they typically expressed a second personality when prompted to do so by the examining psychiatrist.

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Evidence that dissociative identity disorder is not simply a product of conscious role-playing is provided by the distinct brain and body states associated with differing personalities. The biological perspective does not explain the dramatic increase in reported cases of dissociative identity disorder during the past 40 years.

Psychoanalytic Perspective

The psychoanalytic perspective suggests that the desperate efforts of traumatized victims to detach themselves from the experience of severe and prolonged abuse may contribute to DID. Evidence that many DID patients have suffered abuse as children leads some psychologists to include dissociative disorders under the umbrella of post-traumatic stress disorder. Example: Your therapist suggests that you developed DID in order to misbehave without feeling a strong sense of personal shame.

Mood Disorders

Disorders that are characterized by emotional extremes.

Major Depressive Disorder

A disorder characterized by feelings of personal worthlessness. Major depressive disorder is said to occur when signs of depression last at least two weeks. The experience of depression inhibits risk-taking and aggression. The evolutionary perspective emphasizes that normal depression serves an adaptive function by slowing people down and preventing them from engaging in life-threatening behaviours.

Mental Health

The number one reason people seek mental health services is depression. Because it is so pervasive, depression is often considered "the common cold" of psychological disorders.

Bipolar Disorder

A disorder in which people alternate between states of lethargic hopelessness and unrealistic optimism. Between 1994-2003, adolescents with strong mood swings were increasingly likely to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.


A disorder in which an individual is overexcited, hyperactive, and wildly optimistic. Example: George Frideric Handel composed his Messiah during three weeks of intense, creative energy. He suffered a mild form of bipolar disorder.

Risk Of Suicide

The risk of suicide is greatest when people begin to rebound from depression.

Alcohol Abuse

Compared with those who suffer no disorder, those who abuse alcohol have a higher risk of committing suicide. Compared with the general population, those who have been depressed have a higher risk of committing suicide.

Attempting Suicide

Of those who talk of suicide, most actually attempt suicide. Of those who attempt suicide, only a few succeed in completing the act.

Suffering Depression

Compared with men, women are much more likely to be diagnosed as suffering from depression.

Gender Differences

Gender differences in depression are LEAST noticeable among preschool children.

Stressful Events

Stressful life events like the loss of a job are most likely to increase one’s risk of depression.

Research on Depression

Research regarding depression indicates that with each new generation, depression is increasing in its prevalence.

Psychoanalytic Perspective

The psychoanalytic perspective suggests that depression is a reaction to loss and the internalization of anger. Example: Laura’s husband died three years ago, but she is still depressed. Her therapist suggests that she is really angry at her husband for abandoning her.

Identifying Genes

To identify genes that put people at risk for depression, researchers have used linkage analysis; a study that aims to study linkage between genes.

Depressed Individuals

Severely depressed individuals show reduced brain activity in the left frontal lobe.

Neurotransmitter Levels

In terms of neurotransmitter levels, depression is associated with low norepinephrine and serotonin levels.

Alleviating Mania

Drugs that alleviate mania tend to reduce levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.

Social-Cognitive Perspective

The social-cognitive perspective has emphasized that depression is perpetuated by self-blaming attributions and increased expectations of negative outcomes. Internal, stable, and global explanations of one’s own failures are indicative of pessimism. Learned helplessness is closely associated with depression. A difficulty with attributional explanations of depression is that negative attributions may be a consequence rather than a cause of depression. Example: A therapist believes that you are chronically depressed because you take too little credit for your many achievements and assume too much responsibility for your few failures.

Vulnerable to Depression

Women are more vulnerable to depression than men because they are more likely to sense a lack of personal control over their lives.

Greater Risk of Depression

Women are at greater risk of depression than men partially because they are more likely to overthink in response to stressful circumstances.

Negative Life Events

Women are more likely to respond to negative life events with self-focused rumination.

Chronic Depression

People who suffer chronic depression are at high risk for experiencing social rejection.

Vicious Cycle of Depression

The vicious cycle of depression is often initiated by stressful life experiences.

Western Individualism

The rise of Western individualism appears most responsible for an increase in depression.

Breaking Vicious Cycle of Depression

To break the vicious cycle of depression, people should be encouraged to explain their failures in terms that are both external and temporary. On way for people to break the vicious cycle of depression is to participate more often in activities they consider pleasant and rewarding.


A group of severe disorders characterized by disorganized thinking, disturbed perceptions, and inappropriate emotions and actions. A breakdown in selective attention is most likely to be experienced by those who suffer from schizophrenia. Flat affect and catatonia are symptoms closely associated with schizophrenia. Example: A schizophrenic’s speech is a "word salad"; it is full of unrelated words and phrases. Schizophrenia is associated with an excess of receptors for dopamine. Example: Cocaine may increase symptoms of schizophrenia by increasing dopamine levels.

Positive Symptoms

Positive symptoms of schizophrenia are the presence of inappropriate behaviours. Positive symptoms include: • Hallucinations • Loud and meaningless talking • Inappropriate laughter • Uncontrollable outbursts of rage • Feelings of supreme importance and paranoia.

Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are the absence of appropriate behaviours. Negative symptoms include: • An expressionless face • A lack of guilt feelings • Flat affect


Hearing or seeing things that are not there. The hallucinations experienced by those who suffer from schizophrenia are most likely to involve hearing things that are not there. Example: Seeing a one-eyed monster.


False beliefs of persecution. Example: Believing you are Christopher Columbus.

Actue Schizophrenia

Also known as reactive schizophrenia. Schizophrenia that develops rapidly, seemingly as a reaction to stress. People with reactive schizophrenia more often have the positive symptoms that respond to drug therapy. People are more likely to recover from reactive schizophrenia.

Chronic Schizophrenia

Also known as process schizophrenia. Schizophrenia that develops gradually over a long period of time. People are less likely to recover from process schizophrenia.

Dopamine to Hallucinations

Dopamine over-activity is related to hallucinations.

Glutamate Receptors

Drugs that interfere with glutamate receptors produce the flat affect.

Vigorous Activity

Vigorous activity in the thalamus of schizophrenia patients has been found to be associated with hearing voices.

Schizophrenia Patients

Among schizophrenia patients, the fluid-filled areas of the brain are abnormally large and the thalamus is abnormally small.

Shrinkage of Cerebral Tissue

An abnormal shrinkage of cerebral tissue is associated with schizophrenia.

PET Scan Study

A PET scan study of people with paranoia found increased activity in the amygdala.

Schizophrenia Victims

Schizophrenia victims have difficulty focusing attention. This is related to a smaller-than-normal thalamus.

Prenatal Viral Infections

Evidence suggests that prenatal viral infections contribute to schizophrenia.

Low Birth Weight

Low birth weight is a known risk factor for schizophrenia.

North Americans

North Americans born during the winter and spring months are at a slightly increased risk for schizophrenia.

Genetic Predisposition

Research on the causes of schizophrenia strongly suggests that there is a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia. Of all twins who share identical genes with a schizophrenic victim, about one-half develop schizophrenia. If identical twins share a single placenta rather than having separate placentas, their chances of being similarly affected by schizophrenia are dramatically increased. If an identical twin has schizophrenia, the co-twin’s chances of being similarly affected are only 1 in 10 if they had different placentas.

Short Attention Span

A short attention span and/or poor muscle coordination is an early warning sign of schizophrenia. One study monitored teens and young adults who had two relatives with schizophrenia. Those who subsequently developed schizophrenia displayed a tendency to be socially withdrawn prior to the onset of the disorder.

Personality Disorder

Inflexible and enduring socially maladaptive behaviour patterns that impair social functioning. The distinctive features used to identify the three clusters of personality disorders are: • Anxiety • Eccentricity • Impulsivity

Cluster of Personality Disorder 1

One cluster of personality disorders marked by dramatic or impulsive behaviours is exemplified by histrionic personality disorder.

Cluster of Personality Disorder 2

One cluster of personality disorders marked by anxiety is exemplified by the avoidant personality disorder.

Cluster of Personality Disorder 3

One cluster of personality disorders marked by noticeably odd or eccentric behaviour is exemplified by the schizoid personality disorder.

Avoidant Personality

Those with an avoidant personality disorder are most likely to display a fear of social rejection.

Histrionic Personality

Those with a histrionic personality disorder are most likely to display dramatic, attention-getting behaviours.

Narcissistic Personality

Those with a narcissistic personality disorder are likely to be preoccupied with their own self-importance.

Schizoid Personality

A schizoid personality disorder is most likely to be characterized by a detachment from social relationships.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

A disorder characterized by a lack of guilt feelings and a lack of conscience. Antisocial personality disorder is more common among men than among women. The distinctive older term psychopath refers to an individual with antisocial personality disorder. Example: Anthony is well above average in intelligence and quite charming. He has swindled several older people out of their life savings, has little feeling for his victims, and does not fear the consequences of getting caught.


Researchers have found low levels of adrenaline in 13-year-old boys who were later convicted of a crime as 18-26 year-olds.

Autonomic Nervous System

There is some evidence that a relatively low level of autonomic nervous system arousal may contribute to antisocial personality disorder.

Reduced Self-Control and Cognitive Functions

The reduced self-control and cognitive functions like planning and organization of murderers is most closely related to reduced brain activity in their frontal lobes.

Surging Rates

The surging rates of violent crime in Western nations are best understood in terms of a biopsychosocial approach.

Significant Psychological Disorder

Researchers recently estimated that approximately 26% of adult Americans had suffered a clinically significant psychological disorder in the last year.

Prevalence of Mental Disorders

A World Health Organization study of 20 countries estimated that the United States had the highest prevalence of mental disorders during the prior year.

Demoralization of Poverty

Among women, the stresses and demoralization of poverty are especially likely to precipitate depression.

Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder

The symptoms of antisocial personality disorder are likely to appear at an earlier age than the symptoms of schizophrenia.

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