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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 2 Overview/Summary Progress in understanding abnormal behavior over the centuries has not been smooth or uniform. The steps have been uneven, with great gaps in between. Unusual, even bizarre, views or beliefs have often sidetracked researchers and theorists. The dominant social, economic, and religious views of the times have had a profound influence over how people view abnormal behavior. In the ancient world, superstitions were followed by the emergence of medical concepts in many places, such as Egypt and Greece; many of these concepts were developed and refined by Roman physicians. With the fall of Rome near the end of the fifth century A.D, superstitious views dominated popular thinking about mental disorders in Europe for more than a thousand years. The more scientific aspects of Greek medicine survived only in the Islamic counties of the Middle East. As late as the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it was still widely believed, even by scholars, that some mentally disturbed people were possessed by a devil. Great strides have been made in our understanding of abnormal behavior. For example, during the latter stages of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, a spirit of scientific questioning reappeared in Europe, and several noted physicians spoke out against inhumane treatments. There was a general movement away from superstitions and magic toward reasoned, scientific studies. With the recognition of a need for the special treatment of disturbed people came the founding of various asylums toward the end of the sixteenth century. However, with institutionalization came the isolation and maltreatment of mental patients. Slowly this situation was recognized, and in the eighteenth century, further efforts were made to help afflicted individuals by providing them with better living conditions and humane treatments, though these were likely the exception rather than the rule. The development of the mental hospital movement continued into the twentieth century. However, over the last four decades of the century there was a strong movement to close mental hospitals and release people into the community. This movement remains controversial. The nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed a number of scientific and humanitarian advances. The work of Philippe Pinel in France, William Tuke in England, and Benjamin Rush and Dorothea Dix in the United States prepared the way for several important developments in contemporary Abnormal Psychology. Among these were the gradual acceptance of mental patients as afflicted individuals who needed and deserved professional attention; the success of biomedical methods as applied to disorders; and the growth of scientific research into the biological, psychological, and sociocultural roots of abnormal behavior. In the nineteenth century, great technological discoveries and scientific advancements were made in the biological sciences that aided in the understanding and treatment of disturbed individuals. A major biomedical the understanding and treatment of disturbed individuals....
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- Spring '08