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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 3 Overview/Summary Usually the occurrence of abnormal or maladaptive behavior is considered to be the joint product of a persons vulnerability (diathesis) to disorder and of certain stressors that challenge his or her coping resources. In considering the causes of abnormal behavior, it is important to distinguish between necessary, sufficient and contributory causal factors, as well as between relatively distal causal factors and those that are more proximal. The concept of protective factors is important for understanding why some people with both a diathesis and a stressor may not develop a disorder, but may remain resilient. Both the distal and proximal (immediate) causes of mental disorder may involve biological, psychosocial and sociocultural factors. These three classes of factors can interact with each other in complicated ways. This chapter discussed biological, psychosocial and sociocultural viewpoints, each of which tends to emphasize the importance of causal factors of the same type. In examining biologically based vulnerabilities, we must also consider genetic endowment, biochemical and hormonal imbalances, temperament, and brain dysfunction and neural plasticity. Investigations in this area show much promise for advancing our knowledge of how the mind and the body interact to produce maladaptive behavior. The oldest psychosocial viewpoint on abnormal behavior is Freudian psychoanalytic theory. For many years this view was preoccupied with questions about libidinal energies and their containment. More recently psychodynamic theories have shown a distinctly social or interpersonal thrust under the influence, in part, of object-relations theory which emphasizes the importance of the quality of very early (pre-Oedipal) mother-infant relationships for normal development. The originators of the interpersonal perspective were also defectors from the psychoanalytic ranks who took exception to the Freudian emphasis on the internal determinants of motivation and behavior and instead emphasized that important aspects of human personality have social or interpersonal origins, especially unsatisfactory relationships in the past or present. Psychoanalysis and closely related therapeutic approaches are termed psychodynamic in recognition of their attention to inner, often unconscious, forces. The behavioral perspective on abnormal behavior, which was rooted in the desire to make psychology an objective science, was slow in overcoming the dominant psychodynamic bias of the time, but in the last thirty years, it has established itself as a major force. Behaviorism focuses on the role of learning in human behavior and it views maladaptive behavior either as a failure of learning appropriate behaviors, or learning maladaptive behaviors. Adherents of the behavioral viewpoint attempt to alter maladaptive behavior either by extinguishing it and/or by training new, more adaptive, behaviors. behaviors....
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- Spring '08