Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology

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Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology
Abnormal Psychology
PSY 410 January 30, 2012

Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology
For many years, various forms of madness have been noted in every culture. Multitudes of theories, as well as some myths, have been developed to explain such conditions. Society’s opinion on what was considered abnormal was based on such phenomenon as paranormal forces, the anger of the gods, the influence of the moon, unstable personality, hereditary factors, and debauchery (Frude, 1998). History shows that theorists continue to develop a variety of theories to explain psychological disorders. These theories usually fall in one of three basic categories: mystical/supernatural (possession of
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Scientific advances in mental illness were virtually nonexistent during the Middle Ages. Spiritual causes ruled, and those with psychological disorders were classified as morally weak, or were accused of forbidden practices, such as those associated with witchery, sorcery, and the devil (Damour & Hansell, 2005). “Witch hunts” were more common at the height of the 14th and 15th centuries in Europe, accusing many of the mentally ill of practicing witchcraft. Various attempts were made over the years to encourage just treatment of the mentally ill, and various voices of reason attempted to eliminate the stigma of abnormal behavior.
Emil Kraepelin began using scientific methods to classify mental disorders by concentrating on the biological characteristics of mental disorders (Frude, 1998). Kraepelin’s approach resulted in a closer alliance between psychiatry and medicine, believing that a chemical imbalance was to blame for schizophrenia and that a metabolism abnormality caused manic depression (Frude, 1998). Numerous core concepts in psychology have influenced explanations of abnormal behavior. Models for explaining abnormal behavior throughout history (historical relativism), and the principle of stressing the assimilation of different perspectives (multiple causality) have helped differentiate between predisposing and precipitating causes of abnormal behavior. The connection between mind and body has become the most modern model, signifying that both biological
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