Understanding Abnormal Behavior in a Historical Context psychology homework help

Introduction to Abnormal Behavior

Psychologists agree that mental disorders are serious debilitating illnesses that affect the brain and one’s ability to function daily. However, defining the term mental illness has its challenges. The psychology field has multiple definitions of the term mental illness, but psychologists tend to agree that mental illness affects a person’s thinking (cognition), behavior and emotional state. According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual-5 (DSM-5; 2013), mental illness is defined by the four criteria.

According to Durand and Barlow (2013), psychological disorder is a dysfunction associated with distress or impairment in functioning that is not atypical or a culturally expected response. However, defining and differentiating abnormal behavior from that of normal behavior can present some difficulties. For instance, consider that depending upon a society’s mores and norms, what is considered normal in one society may not be considered normal in another. Another example is trying to determine a person’s level of dysfunction; it can include not functioning normally in one or more areas such as cognition, emotion, and behavior. The individual who cries a lot or the teenager that binge eats may be showing emotional dysfunction. The individual must be showing personal distress for the behavior to be considered abnormal as well; yet, how should a person’s level of distress be identified?


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Durand, M. V., & Barlow, D. H. (2013). Essentials of abnormal psychology . (6th ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson Wadsworth.

To prepare for this week’s Discussion Board, review the following video in addition to this week’s assigned Reading:

Maschio, J. (2014). Understanding and defining abnormal behavior. [Video]. Unpublished.

Proceed to this week’s Discussion by selecting one of the Case Studies (accessible under the Course Home) addressing the following about defining abnormal behavior:

  1. According to the definition provided by Durand and Barlow (2013) listed above, select one of the three criteria to explain why the individual’s behavior in the case study could be considered abnormal. The three criteria are dysfunctional behavior, distress or impairment, and not typical or culturally expected behavior.
  2. Discuss why differentiating abnormal behavior from normal behavior can be a challenge based on the criterion you chose related to the individual’s behavior.

The strongest answer will refer to the textbook and concepts from the Reading material.

Here is the case study to use for this discussion

Case Study 5: Shonda: Schizophrenia

The Case Shonda has a long history of mental illness and has a caseworker from a local community mental health center that checks on her every few days. Shonda is employed at the mental health center, doing light cleaning and other chores, but she did not show up for work today. Her income at the mental health center is supplemented by social security disability checks, which allow her to maintain her own small apartment under the supervision of the clinic. Her supervisor at the center called Shonda’s caseworker this morning, explaining some of the difficulties that Shonda was having in performing her duties at work recently and that she had not shown up for work that day.

The caseworker decided it was time to pay Shonda a visit at her home to determine if she was having a psychotic episode. Upon arriving at Shonda’s apartment, the caseworker found her to be anxious and fidgety frightened of the “voices” she heard. The voices were nothing new to Shonda, as she had experienced hearing voices many times in the 12 years since she was first diagnosed with schizophrenia. She often referred to them as her “counterparts”, as they are constantly with her. Usually, the voices did not interfere with Shonda’s ability to perform her part-time job, doing clean-up work at the health center; however, in the past week, the voices seem to be taking on a more intense direction, becoming increasingly critical, harsh, and loud. Shonda has tried hiding under the bed and in closets in an attempt to get away from the audio hallucinations she hears, but nothing is working.

Shonda’s speech pattern seems disjointed and the conversation is difficult to follow; she is clearly agitated and upset. After talking with Shonda for more than an hour, the caseworker learns that Shonda believes that the FBI and CIA planted tiny video cameras in her apartment and at her workplace – she is convinced that she is under surveillance. As she talks about the voices, the cameras, and the FBI and CIA, Shonda becomes increasingly confused and agitated. The caseworker determines that Shonda’s medication might need and adjustment and makes arrangements to take check her into the clinic as an inpatient, where she will undergo a new assessment of her condition and medications to see if any changes should be made in her treatment plan.

Childhood Background Shonda grew up in a working class neighborhood in Oklahoma City, with an older brother, her parents, and her maternal grandmother. Several years ago, her older brother married and moved away and Shonda has not seen him or heard from him for several years. Although her parents live in the same place, only twenty miles away, she has not seen them in years also – although she hears from her mother on birthdays and Christmas, where she always sends Shonda a small check. Shonda’s parents have always been emotionally distant from both their children, however, this emotional distance became more pronounced after the time when Shonda was first diagnosed with schizophrenia. Shonda did not have a good childhood; there was constant bickering amongst her parents and her father had a potent temper, often beating his two children and his wife. He would often arrive home late from work, after stopping at the neighborhood bar.

Shonda’s family history in the immediate family shows no sign of diagnosed mental illness; however, while she was growing up, she heard of an aunt on her father’s side that was “locked away” in a hospital

after having a “nervous breakdown.” Her father never spoke of his sister and Shonda had never met her as a child.

Shonda has been hospitalized many times during the past twelve years. Her charts include complaints of frequent, almost continuous auditory hallucinations, as well as a number of other delusions. She has been on antipsychotic medications for years, most recently, the neuroleptic haloperidol (Haldol). Due to the increase and intensity in the auditory hallucinations and her inability to perform her hob duties, Shonda will re reassessed by the psychiatrists at the center.

This discussion must be 400-450 words and please use the course book for reference as well

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