Paradigms for Abnormal Behavior


Biological (Medical Model)






Behavioral; Cognitive; Cognitive-behavioral





The Biological Paradigm/Medical Model


á   Core assumption:  alterations of biological processes result in abnormal behavior


Biological processes may include:

o Heredity

o Imbalances of brain chemistry

o Disordered development of brain structures



The Biological Paradigm conŐd


Behavior Genetics


= study of how inherited genes contribute to       abnormal behavior

á   Genotype is the total genetic makeup, composed of genes

á   Phenotype is the observable behavioral profile

o The phenotype can change over time as a function of the interaction of genes and environment


4 Methods of Behavioral Genetics


1. Family method (index cases/probands)


á   Parent/child & brothers/sisters & nonidentical dizygotic twins share 50% of genes,

á   Grandparent/grandchild & uncle/aunt-nephew/niece & half siblings share 25% of genes

á   First cousins & great grandparent-great grandchild & great uncle/aunt share 12.5% of genes,

á   general population shares few genes



4 Methods of Behavioral Genetics contŐd


2. Twin method (concordance)


á   Monozygotic (MZ) twins share 100% of genes


á   Dizygotic (DZ) twins share on average 50% of genes



4 Methods of Behavioral Genetics contŐd



3. Adoptees method (controls environment)




4. Linkage analysis (future directions)


The Biological Paradigm conŐd


Imbalances of brain chemistry in nerve signaling


á   Neurons signal information by releasing chemical transmitters from the axon terminal

á   Chemical molecules bind to receptors on the membrane of adjacent nerve cells

á   Binding changes the electrical activity of the adjacent cell and can trigger an action potential

á   A reuptake process in the axon membrane takes up excess chemical for reuse



The Biological Paradigm conŐd


Imbalances of brain chemistry conŐd

á   Abnormal behavior could result from:

o Too much or too little of a specific neurotransmitter owing to changes in synthesis of the transmitter

o Too much of a specific neurotransmitter owing to changes in reuptake of the transmitter

o Too many or too few receptors on the postsynaptic neuron membrane


Disordered development of brain structures


The Biological Paradigm conŐd


Biological Approaches to Treatment


á   Argues that abnormal behavior reflects disorders biological mechanisms (usually in the brain)

á   The approach to treatment is usually to alter the physiology of the brain

á   Drugs alter synaptic levels of neurotransmitters

á   Surgery to remove brain tissue (rare)

á   Induction of seizures to alter brain function (electroconvulsive shock therapy; ECT)



Common Psychoactive Drug Treatments



1. Anti-anxiety


2. Stimulants


3. Anti-depressants


4. Anti-Manic


5. Anti-psychotic


The Psychoanalytic Paradigm


á   Core assumption =


abnormal behavior reflects unconscious conflicts within the person



á   derived from the theories of personality developed by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)





The Psychoanalytic Paradigm


FreudŐs 3-Part Model of the Mind


á    Id: raw energy that powers the mind

o  seeks gratification of basic urges for food, water, warmth, affection, sex & aggression; Pleasure principle

o  unconscious

o  Biological energy ð psychic energy = libido

o  Primary process if gratification is fantasy

á    Ego is conscious part of mind that deals w/ reality; Reality principle; Secondary process

á   Superego is final part of the mind to emerge & is similar to the conscience (morals)

The Psychoanalytic Paradigm conŐd


Psychodynamics = interactions of id, ego, & superego in effort to gratify needs


5 Stages of Psychosexual Development


Personality develops in stages: in each the id derives pleasure from a distinct part of body (erogenous zones)


Oral (Birth to 18 months): infant derives pleasure from eating and biting; bisexual

Anal (18 months to 3 years): the focus of pleasure is the anus; bisexual

Phallic (3 to 6 years): the genitals are the focus of pleasure; (Oedipus and Electra complexes); heterosexual

The Psychoanalytic Paradigm conŐd


5 Stages of Psychosexual Development conŐd


Latent (6 to 12 years): id impulses are dormant

Genital: heterosexual interests are dominant


* Fixation of libido:  Conflicts between id desires and environment insofar as id is either under-gratified or over-gratified


* Fixation results in permanent personality characteristics and NEUROTIC ANXIETY (vs. objective or realistic anxiety)


The Psychoanalytic Paradigm conŐd


Ego Defense Mechanisms


Anxiety results from blockade of id impulses or from fear of expression of an impulse


Defense mechanisms reduce anxiety


á   Repression


á   Denial


Ego Defense Mechanisms contŐd


á   Projection


á   Displacement


á   Reaction formation


á   Regression


á   Rationalization


á   Sublimation

The Psychoanalytic Paradigm conŐd


Essentials of Classic Psychoanalytic Therapy


á    The goal of psychoanalysis is insight (understanding) of the basis for anxiety


á    Techniques of psychoanalytic therapy:


o  Free association

o  Dream analysis

o  Transference

o  Interpretation of defense mechanisms



Paradigms conŐd

The Humanistic/Existential Paradigm


á    Core assumption: Unlike Freud, people are born naturally socialized

á    Like Freud, focus on insight about needs

á    Unlike Freud, places greater emphasis on the persons freedom of choice (free will) rather than on restraining human nature (id)

á    Like Freud, needs must be self-actualized or feel pain and suffering

á   Unlike Freud, does not focus on how problems develop but on treatment



The Humanistic/Existential Paradigm conŐd


Carl RogerŐs (1902 – 1987) Client-Centered Therapy

á   People can only be understood from the vantage point of their own feelings (phenomenology)

á   Empathy

á   Understanding

á   Acceptance

á   Unconditional positive regard from self and others

ˆ self-actualization



Paradigms conŐd

Behavioral, Cognitive, Cognitive-Behavioral Paradigm


á   Core assumption:  Abnormal behaviors are learned just as normal behaviors are learned either consciously or unconsciously VIA

á   Classical conditioning

á   Operant conditioning

á   Modeling

á   Generalization and Extinction


Behavioral Aspects of C-B Paradigm


á   Behaviorism focuses on the study of observable behavior so that, unlike psychoanalytic and humanistic/existential approaches, the paradigm is testable


Classical Conditioning (Pavlovian conditioning)


US ------> UR (unconditioned response)



Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd

Classical Conditioning conŐd


US ---ˆ  UR       Examples


Visual (steep cliff ---ˆ freeze or fight)


Tactile (pain from fire ---ˆ flee)


Olfactory (rotting animal ---ˆ flee)


Gustatory (spoiled food ---ˆ fight/eject)


Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd

Classical Conditioning conŐd



US ---ˆ  UR       Examples conŐd


Auditory (unexpected noise) ---ˆ freeze)


Interoceptive (pain ---ˆ cringe, cry)


Cognitive (image of a US ---ˆ various)






Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd

Classical Conditioning conŐd


temporal association/contiguity with unconditioned stimuli (US) results in learning new behaviors—esp. emotional and involuntary

á   pair US with neutral stimulus and it becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS)


á   CS will elicit a CR (conditoned response) which is similar to the UR



Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd


Operant Conditioning


á    Voluntary behaviors have consequences (law of effect or principle of reinforcement)

á    Positive reinforcement—increase pleasure

á    Negative reinforcement—decrease pain

á    Discriminative stimuli about the contingency of reinforcement

á    Behavior can be shaped using method of successive approximations


Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd

Operant Conditioning conŐd


Reinforcers can be:


-primary (unlearned)

-secondary (learned)








Reinforcer Examples


á   Air

á   Food

á   Water

á   Shelter/comfort for heat & cold

á   Sex

á   Pain/fear/anger reduction

á   Novelty

á   Safety from danger/obstructions


á   Money

á   Social acceptance

á   Power, status

Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd




á   Learning can occur in the absence of reinforcers


á   Modeling involves learning by watching and imitating the behaviors of others & objects (e.g. books, movies) = vicarious conditioning of both involuntary and voluntary behavior


á   Models impart information to the observer

Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd


Modeling  conŐd



á   More likely to imitate a model if the observer:


o Is similar to the model


o Observes the model being reinforced


o Perceives the model as coping


Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd


Behavior Therapy =

classical and operant conditioning techniques as well as modeling are used to change abnormal behavior, thoughts and feelings




á    Exposure (extinction)

á    Systematic desensitization

á    Aversive conditioning




Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd

Behavior Therapy conŐd



á   Time-out (remove reinforcement for undesirable behavior)

á   Token economy (reinforce desirable behavior)

á   Behavior rehearsal (shaping and successive approximation)

á   Self-control (self-administer reinforcement)

á   Skills training (social, problem-solving, etc.)


Behavioral Aspect of C-B Paradigm conŐd

Behavior Therapy conŐd




á   View models demonstrating desirable behavior


á   Bibliotherapy



á   Role playing with behavioral rehearsal




Cognitive Aspect of C-B  Paradigm


á   Cognition involves the mental processes of perceiving, recognizing, judging and reasoning

á   Focuses on how people structure & understand experiences & how these experiences are related to past experiences stored in memory

á   Accumulated knowledge provides an organization for adoption of new information

= schema or cognitive set acquired by classical, operant, or modeling processes


Cognitive Aspect of C-B  Paradigm conŐd


Cognitive Therapy


á   assumes that conscious or unconscious thought patterns can cause a disturbance of emotion or behavior


á   Cognitive restructuring involves changing distorted unrealistic thought patterns that lead to abnormality via the ŇSocratic methodÓ, hypothesis testing, and information sharing





Cognitive Aspect of C-B  Paradigm conŐd

Cognitive Therapy conŐd


Distorted cognitions include:

1.  Misattributions of why something happened

2.  Lack of control beliefs (e.g., helplessness, poor self-efficacy)

3.  Irrational assumptions & beliefs (e.g., catastrophizing):

ŇI should be loved by everyone for everything I doÓ

ŇOnce something affects my life, it will affect it foreverÓ ŇMost situations are dangerousÓ

Paradigms conŐd




= vulnerability to developing abnormal behavior in response to a stressor may be:


1 - inherited or acquired


2 – biological or psychological or environmental


3 – conscious or unconscious



Paradigms conŐd


Diathesis-stress conŐd



Staats (1996) Psychological Behaviorism Theory


Behavior = adaptive or maladaptive response


BBRs = basic behavioral repertoires for survival


(language-cognitive, verbal-emotional,

emotional-motivational, sensory-motor)




S1 = early learning environmental situations via classical and operant conditioning and modeling


S2 = current learning environmental situations


O1 =  early organic determinants of BBRs


O2 = organic determinants of acquired BBRs


O3 = organic determinants of current behavior


Validated Psychotherapies x Paradigm


Chambless et al. (1998);  N = 300+


á    Biological 0 (only medical treatments)


á    Psychoanalytic 0


á    Neo-Freudian 1 (interpersonal; social skills)


á    Humanistic 0 (except elements)


á    Behavioral 8


á    Cognitive-behavioral 7


á    Behavioral


á    Diathesis-stress 0