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50+ Topics of Psychology Research
How to Find Psychology Research Topics for Your Student Paper
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Are you searching for a great topic for your psychology paper ? Sometimes it seems like coming up with topics of psychology research is more challenging than the actual research and writing. Fortunately, there are plenty of great places to find inspiration and the following list contains just a few ideas to help get you started.
Finding a solid topic is one of the most important steps when writing any type of paper. It can be particularly important when you are writing a psychology research paper or essay. Psychology is such a broad topic, so you want to find a topic that allows you to adequately cover the subject without becoming overwhelmed with information.
In some cases, such as in a general psychology class, you might have the option to select any topic from within psychology's broad reach. Other instances, such as in an abnormal psychology course, might require you to write your paper on a specific subject such as a psychological disorder.
As you begin your search for a topic for your psychology paper, it is first important to consider the guidelines established by your instructor.
Topics of Psychology Research Within Specific Branches
The key to selecting a good topic for your psychology paper is to select something that is narrow enough to allow you to really focus on the subject, but not so narrow that it is difficult to find sources or information to write about.
One approach is to narrow your focus down to a subject within a specific branch of psychology. For example, you might start by deciding that you want to write a paper on some sort of social psychology topic. Next, you might narrow your focus down to how persuasion can be used to influence behavior.
Other social psychology topics you might consider include:
- Prejudice and discrimination (i.e., homophobia, sexism, racism)
- Social cognition
- Person perception
- Social control and cults
- Persuasion , propaganda, and marketing
- Attraction, romance, and love
- Nonverbal communication
- Prosocial behavior
Psychology Research Topics Involving a Disorder or Type of Therapy
Exploring a psychological disorder or a specific treatment modality can also be a good topic for a psychology paper. Some potential abnormal psychology topics include specific psychological disorders or particular treatment modalities, including:
- Eating disorders
- Borderline personality disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Profile a type of therapy (i.e., cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, psychoanalytic therapy)
Topics of Psychology Research Related to Human Cognition
Some of the possible topics you might explore in this area include thinking, language, intelligence, and decision-making. Other ideas might include:
- False memories
- Speech disorders
Topics of Psychology Research Related to Human Development
In this area, you might opt to focus on issues pertinent to early childhood such as language development, social learning, or childhood attachment or you might instead opt to concentrate on issues that affect older adults such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Some other topics you might consider include:
- Language acquisition
- Media violence and children
- Learning disabilities
- Gender roles
- Child abuse
- Prenatal development
- Parenting styles
- Aspects of the aging process
Do a Critique of Publications Involving Psychology Research Topics
One option is to consider writing a critique paper of a published psychology book or academic journal article. For example, you might write a critical analysis of Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of Dreams or you might evaluate a more recent book such as Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil .
Professional and academic journals are also great places to find materials for a critique paper. Browse through the collection at your university library to find titles devoted to the subject that you are most interested in, then look through recent articles until you find one that grabs your attention.
Topics of Psychology Research Related to Famous Experiments
There have been many fascinating and groundbreaking experiments throughout the history of psychology, providing ample material for students looking for an interesting term paper topic. In your paper, you might choose to summarize the experiment, analyze the ethics of the research, or evaluate the implications of the study. Possible experiments that you might consider include:
- The Milgram Obedience Experiment
- The Stanford Prison Experiment
- The Little Albert Experiment
- Pavlov's Conditioning Experiments
- The Asch Conformity Experiment
- Harlow's Rhesus Monkey Experiments
Topics of Psychology Research About Historical Figures
One of the simplest ways to find a great topic is to choose an interesting person in the history of psychology and write a paper about them. Your paper might focus on many different elements of the individual's life, such as their biography, professional history, theories, or influence on psychology.
While this type of paper may be historical in nature, there is no need for this assignment to be dry or boring. Psychology is full of fascinating figures rife with intriguing stories and anecdotes. Consider such famous individuals as Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner, Harry Harlow, or one of the many other eminent psychologists .
Psychology Research Topics About a Specific Career
Another possible topic, depending on the course in which you are enrolled, is to write about specific career paths within the field of psychology . This type of paper is especially appropriate if you are exploring different subtopics or considering which area interests you the most.
In your paper, you might opt to explore the typical duties of a psychologist, how much people working in these fields typically earn, and the different employment options that are available.
Topics of Psychology Research Involving Case Studies
One potentially interesting idea is to write a psychology case study of a particular individual or group of people. In this type of paper, you will provide an in-depth analysis of your subject, including a thorough biography.
Generally, you will also assess the person, often using a major psychological theory such as Piaget's stages of cognitive development or Erikson's eight-stage theory of human development . It is also important to note that your paper doesn't necessarily have to be about someone you know personally.
In fact, many professors encourage students to write case studies on historical figures or fictional characters from books, television programs, or films.
Psychology Research Topics Involving Literature Reviews
Another possibility that would work well for a number of psychology courses is to do a literature review of a specific topic within psychology. A literature review involves finding a variety of sources on a particular subject, then summarizing and reporting on what these sources have to say about the topic.
Literature reviews are generally found in the introduction of journal articles and other psychology papers , but this type of analysis also works well for a full-scale psychology term paper.
Topics of Psychology Research Based on Your Own Study or Experiment
Many psychology courses require students to design an actual psychological study or perform some type of experiment. In some cases, students simply devise the study and then imagine the possible results that might occur. In other situations, you may actually have the opportunity to collect data, analyze your findings, and write up your results.
Finding a topic for your study can be difficult, but there are plenty of great ways to come up with intriguing ideas. Start by considering your own interests as well as subjects you have studied in the past.
Online sources, newspaper articles, books , journal articles, and even your own class textbook are all great places to start searching for topics for your experiments and psychology term papers. Before you begin, learn more about how to conduct a psychology experiment .
A Word From Verywell
After looking at this brief list of possible topics for psychology papers, it is easy to see that psychology is a very broad and diverse subject. While this variety makes it possible to find a topic that really catches your interest, it can sometimes make it very difficult for some students to select a good topic.
If you are still stumped by your assignment, ask your instructor for suggestions and consider a few from this list for inspiration.
- Hockenbury, SE & Nolan, SA. Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers; 2014.
- Santrock, JW. A Topical Approach to Lifespan Development. New York: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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Abnormal Psychology Final Research Paper
Academic level: College
Paper type: Essay (Any Type)
Abnormal psychology is the scientific prediction, explanation, diagnosis, and identification of the specific maladaptive behaviors and the best strategies to treat them. Currently, abnormal psychology, which is sometimes referred to as psychopathology, is a pathological issue that involves a psychological dysfunction that leads to both physical and psychological distress and impairs normal functioning, contrary to the norms and expected behavioral, societal, and cultural standards (Curtis & Kelley, 2019). Suicide is a major problem in contemporary society, involving killing oneself due to depression and other mental illnesses. Currently, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States across all age groups. At least 121 suicide cases occur in the country per day, and this implies that more than 44,193 cases are recorded every year (Esang & Ahmed, 2018). Specifically, suicide is the death resulting from self-inflicted injuries performed with the intention to die from the same actions. Most suicide cases involve alcohol intoxication, which is responsible for at least 22% of suicide cases. Again, opioids, marijuana, and cocaine-related suicide cases cause 20%, 10.2%, and 4.6% of all suicide cases in the United States. Amphetamines contribute to 3.4% of suicide cases, although opioids remain the greatest risks of suicidal behavior in the country (Esang & Ahmed, 2018). Several factors cause suicide, although the issue is preventable and even though access to firearms is the most contributing factor to suicide in the US, the issue contributes to a range of mental health issues and substance abuse. Specifically, firearms contribute to at least 23,941 deaths annually, and this implies that it causes at least 7.3 deaths per 100,000 people (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021). Suffocation suicides are also common, leading to a minimum of 13,563 deaths annually. Suicides resulting from suffocation cause a death rate of 4.1 per 100,000 people per year. Additionally, poisoning suicide is the least cause of suicide, claiming more than 6,125 deaths at the rate of 1.9 fatalities per 100,000 population worldwide (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021).
Societal and/or cultural implications of suicide
Isolation is a socio-cultural issue that increases suicide rates. Most people who have limited access to social support groups become more hostile and aggressive. Isolation increases depression, sleep disorders, and hopelessness that deteriorate social relationships and increase suicide risk. However, some people believe that suicide is a cult, and homicide-related suicides are linked to stress and depression, especially among the military. Some youths engage in suicide due to access to dangerous items, such as firearms. However, it is possible to reduce suicide and its related thoughts by increasing watch when possessed with suicidal thoughts, diagnosing and treating psychiatric conditions, and keenly observing young males, more so those that are belligerent and intoxicated. Culture plays a big role in increasing suicide rates in the US. Most citizens from African American and American Indian cultures are more susceptible to suicide due to humiliation, shame, and limited support from family members. In this regard, they feel isolated in all aspects of social and economic life; hence, they are unable to meet their expectations. Such environmental factors increase ideation, and the lack of crisis hotlines, therapists, and support groups can influence the victims’ cultural backgrounds and increase the risk of suicide. Racial groups are at a higher likelihood of suicidal behavior. Most of this population lives in impoverished urban centers, leading to an increased rate of suicide because life is hard in the suburban areas, and this exacerbates existing depression and contributes to the onset of new depressive episodes.
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Social intricacies among African American and Indian American cultures increase the risk of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In this regard, impoverished social situations exacerbate the adverse experiences of trauma, including those linked to accidents. People who grapple with financial constraints, and cannot escape anxiety and depression by trucking their lives and living their lives despite individual feelings cannot overcome suicidal thoughts. Therefore, they are at a higher risk of suicide and mental illnesses. When they have no one to reach out to in times of difficulties, they develop feelings of hopelessness that increase their suicidal thoughts; hence, losing the sense of direction due to the lack of reason to live. However, suicidal thoughts are something to take seriously regardless of people’s ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
From the foregoing, acculturative stress is a major problem associated with higher levels of suicidal thoughts. However, the rate of suicide varies from one cultural context to the next because they understand emotional stressors differently. Unfortunately, certain cultural groups lack access to mental health services. Some Indian Americans hold certain cultural values that increase stigma and mental health concerns, more so those associated with embarrassment among adolescents. Therefore, suicidal thoughts and ideation are linked to racism because they involve patterns of behavior, including beliefs, attitudes, and institutional arrangements that increase depression, substance use, and hopelessness.
The social setup has a significant influence on individuals’ susceptibility to ideation. Suicide is more prevalent among the poor than the rich because the former is subjected to adverse social and economic disadvantages. Notably, poverty limits people’s access to social opportunities, such as education, employment, and social mobility. Consequently, the victims develop stress, hopelessness, and alienation. They may become exposed to greater violence and victimization with fewer family and community social support systems that cannot protect them against suicidality. Additionally, the social context is a key determinant of suicide rates among low-income populations. For example, people who live in impoverished urban areas are highly exposed to violence and toxic wastes that increase their exposure to adverse environmental conditions coupled with limited opportunities and ethnic discrimination. The lack of social support is a major factor that reduces self-esteem and deteriorates close relationships; hence, exacerbating stress and psychological and physical health. The lack of social networks implies that people are less suited to addressing their psychological and physical health, and they eventually feel alienated and depressed. The lack of group membership implies that individuals lack access to safety nets; hence, they experience stress and trauma linked to emotional, financial, and practical challenges, including those associated with transportation and childcare.
How suicide is related to the models of abnormality
Suicide is related to diverse biological, psychological, and sociocultural issues. Suicide can alter the brain’s chemical balance and interfere with the functioning of the nervous system. Again, it can affect an individual’s psychological well-being by tampering with their personality through stressful occurrences that adversely impact cognition, self-efficacy, and early life experiences. In this regard, suicide can affect the person’s psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and humanistic-existential. Additionally, it conflicts with gender orientation, religious orientation, race, ethnicity, and culture. For example, depression has significant adverse impacts on suicide. Generally, mental illness increases the development of suicidal behaviors, and it is the leading cause of suicide-related deaths. A greater percentage of people who commit suicide have a history of mental illness and must have developed symptoms of isolating behaviors.
Curtis, D. A., & Kelley, L. J. (2019). Myth-checking: Evaluating Teaching Activities in Abnormal Psychology. North American Journal of Psychology , 21(2), 245-251. Angelo State University Press. https://www-proquest-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/abicomplete/docview/2236690709/fulltextPDF/76B94D99EF8E4BC3PQ/5?accountid=7374
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021). Suicide and self-harm injury. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm
Esang, M., & Ahmed, S. (2018). A closer look at substance use and suicide. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 13 (6), 6-8. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp-rj.2018.130603
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113 Abnormal Psychology Topics & Essay Examples
Welcome to our list of abnormal psychology topics to research! In addition to abnormal psychology essay topics, you will also find here interesting ideas to talk about, titles for a presentation, and abnormal psychology topics for research paper.
🔝 Top 10 Abnormal Psychology Topics for 2023
🏆 best abnormal psychology topic ideas & essay examples, 📌 simple & easy abnormal psychology essay topics, 👍 good essay topics on abnormal psychology, ❓ abnormal psychology research questions, 🔍 abnormal psychology research topics.
- Coping Mechanisms for People with PTSD
- Types and Triggers of Anxiety Disorders
- Cultural Influences and Eating Disorders
- Suicide Risk Factors and Preventive Strategies
- Schizophrenia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
- The Swings between Mania and Depression in BPD
- The Impact of Personality Disorders on Interpersonal Relationships
- Unraveling Intrusive Thoughts and Compulsions in OCD Patients
- The Interaction of Biology and Environment Substance Use Disorders
- Childhood Disorders: Autism Spectrum and Developmental Challenges
- Abnormal Psychology: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder In addition, some of this research indicates that the differences in the degree of the disorder are due to the varying nature of the trauma experienced by that individual.
- Abnormal Psychology: Mental Disorders Other common types of disorders are the eating disorders, which are related to weight and food. The basis of behavior and patterns of thoughts, are also related to certain disorders.
- Abnormal Psychology: Legal Issues and Licensing The report focuses on the legal issues related to the licensed and unlicensed professionals in the field of abnormal psychology. Those who are in the field of abnormal psychology are mainly interested in investigating behavior […]
- Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology: Anxiety Disorders This paper has gone on to reiterate the fact that anxiety disorders are indeed a reality in life and as such, we should brace ourselves for their occurrences.
- Historical Perspective of Abnormal Psychology The field of abnormal psychology is therefore concerened with the study of abnormal behavior. The challenge that lies in the definition and classification of abnormal psychology is the issue of culture given that our cultural […]
- Comparison of Normal and Abnormal Psychology In behavioral psychology, the word ‘normal’ basically means not to deviate from the standard norms, hence normal psychology entails the study of normal patterns of behavior, emotions, and mind. Also, both normal and abnormal psychology […]
- Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology The concept of the connection between mind and body appreciates the fact that the two components are inseparable in the understanding of abnormal psychology.
- Abnormal Psychology: Fetishism, Transvestic Fetishism, Sadomasochism, Voyeurism, Exhibitionism, and Pedophilia The desires of individuals with this disorder are to gain sexual arousal through dressing in clothes of the opposite sex or cross-dressing.
- Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology: Personality Disorder If a person had a history of ridicule and humiliation as a child, he or she may develop an excessive fear of the same in adulthood and will go through great lengths to avoid ridicule.
- Abnormal Psychology Essentials Therefore, the basis of this essay will be to explore the field of abnormal psychology with emphasis on the origins of abnormal psychology, how abnormal psychology has evolved into a scientific discipline, and the theoretical […]
- Abnormal Psychology’s Historical Perspectives Biological psychology is a branch of psychology that tries to expose the biological aspect of behavior, i.e, the study of the brain I,n relation to the behavior.
- Abnormal Psychology and Therapy This is the basic role of abnormal psychology. One of the distinct features of normal psychology is the capacity to avoid generalizations.
- An Invariant Dimensional Liability Model of Gender Differences in Mental Disorders The validity and reliability of research depend on the methodology that a study uses in the study of a given phenomenon.
- Abnormal Psychology and Humanism The supporters of humanism stress that cognitive and behavioral patterns confine human behavior and emotions to a set of stimuli and responses.
- Abnormal Psychology as a Scientific Discipline That is why, the purpose of this paper is to discuss the origins of abnormal psychology, to focus on challenges in classifying and defining abnormal and normal behaviors, to concentrate on the evolution of abnormal […]
- Abnormal Psychology: NationalEatingDisorders Website Being a psychotherapist veteran of 31 years in the realm of eating disorders among teens, she has managed to produce the proper questions to be asked when contemplating if a child has a disordered eating […]
- Abnormal Psychology and Behavioral Interventions Illnesses of the mind have been considered the battle between the good and the evil in the early 12th-14th centuries. The unfortunate insanity of people was seen as the downfall of the town.
- Abnormal Psychology: Nature of Fear There is a group of disorders which share obvious symptoms and features of fear and anxiety and these are known as anxiety disorders.
- Careers in Abnormal Psychology They research the kind of problems these people have and look for the best ways to help them. They treat people by teaching those with these disorders the acceptable behavior and its importance.
- Abnormal Psychology and Abnormal Behavior Anxiety has been linked to the id which operates on “pleasure principle or the maximization of pleasure and minimization of competing tension” and “thought to be a source for sexual and aggressive thoughts and behaviors […]
- The Relationship Between Religion and Abnormal Psychology But whose judgment will we use to separate the two contrasting elements of the psychology of normal and abnormal behaviors? Some religious beliefs permit the use of alcohol and it’s considered normal, yet others find […]
- Abnormal Psychology Case Study: General Anxiety Disorder Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the anxiety disorders caused by abnormalities in the functioning of brain chemicals such as neurotransmitters.
- Researching of Abnormal Psychology The process of picking or pinching the skin allowed Shaylynn to become distracted from the source of anxiety and brought her relief.
- Individual Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology
- Differences Between Normal Psychology and Abnormal Psychology
- Background and Perspective of the Abnormal Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology and Major Depressive Disorder
- Abnormal Psychology and Sociology of the Family Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology and Three Clusters of Personality Disorders
- Physical Illnesses and Disorders: Abnormal Psychology and Therapy
- Psychopathology: Abnormal Psychology and Cognitive Behavioral Approach
- Abnormal Psychology in Pop Culture
- Classification and Assessment of Abnormal Psychology
- Mood Disorders and Abnormal Psychology
- The Origin and History of Abnormal Psychology
- Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Abnormal Psychology
- Subnormal, Supernormal and Paranormal in Abnormal Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology: Abuse, Addiction, and Disorders
- Abnormal Psychology Conditions and Treatments
- Dissociative Identity Disorder and Abnormal Psychology
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Abnormal Psychology
- Legal and Ethical Issues Pertaining to Licensed and Unlicensed Professionals in Abnormal Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology: Typical Signs and Symptoms
- Adaptive and Maladaptive Behaviors in Abnormal Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology Bipolar Disorder
- Intellectual Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Abnormal Psychology
- Classification and Assessment of Abnormal Behavior in Abnormal Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology and Two Types of Behaviors
- Abnormal Psychology Problem: Excessive Use of Marijuana and Alcohol
- Mental Disorders: Abnormal Psychology and Therapy
- Clinical Psychology vs Abnormal Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology: Rumination and Depression
- Unipolar and Bipolar Depression and Abnormal Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology and Life: A Dimensional Approach
- Mental Health and Abnormal Psychology: Unusual Patterns of Behavior, Emotion and Thought
- The Link Between Abnormal Psychology, Mental Disease, and Addictions
- Anxiety Disorders: Social Anxiety, Panic, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Abnormal Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology and Culture-Bound Syndromes
- Abnormal Psychology and Multistage Analysis of Abnormal Human Behavior in Complex Scenes
- Abnormal Psychology Study and Law Enforcement
- Basic Theories and Techniques of Abnormal Psychology
- What Are the Four D’s of Abnormal Psychology?
- How Do Psychologists Diagnose a Disorder?
- What Are the Three Defining Elements of Abnormal Behavior?
- How Do Psychologists Define Abnormality?
- What Is Danger in Abnormal Psychology?
- How Do Cognitive Theories Explain Abnormal Behavior?
- Is Abnormal Psychology the Same as Psychopathology?
- What Are the Main Causes of Abnormal Behavior?
- How Do Psychologists Decide What Behavior Is Considered Abnormal and May Be a Psychological Disorder?
- What Are the Indicators of Abnormality?
- Is Schizophrenia an Abnormal Psychology?
- What Are the Six Models of Abnormality?
- How Does Abnormal Behavior Relate to Criminality?
- Which Approach Is Best for Studying Abnormality?
- What Causes Abnormality in Psychology?
- How Does the Humanistic Approach Explain Abnormal Behaviour?
- What Are the Theories of Abnormal Psychology?
- How Can Psychological Tests Help Individuals With Abnormal Behavior?
- What Do Psychologists Use to Assist in Diagnosing Abnormal Behavior?
- Is ADHD a Mental Illness or Disorder?
- What Is the Difference Between Mental Illness and Mental Disorder?
- Is Anxiety a Mental Illness or Disorder?
- What Are the Different Approaches to Explaining Abnormal Behavior?
- Is PTSD a Mental Illness or Disorder?
- What Is the Behavioural Model of Abnormality?
- Who Is the Father of Abnormal Psychology?
- What Is the Difference Between Normal and Abnormal Behavior?
- Which Personality Disorder Is the Most Controversial?
- What Is Psychodynamic Theory of Abnormality?
- Advancements in Early Diagnosis of ASD
- The Relationship between Drugs and Psychosis.
- Comorbidity and Treatment of Anxiety and Depression
- The Role of Genetics in the Etiology of Bipolar Disorder
- Sociocultural Influences on Eating Disorders and Body Image
- Neurobiological Basis of Borderline Personality Disorder
- The Impact of Childhood Trauma on the Development of Psychiatric Disorders
- Dopamine Dysregulation as a Neurobiological Mechanism Underlying Schizophrenia
- Implications of Cognitive Biases for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in OCD Patients
- PTSD in Military Veterans: Therapeutic Approaches and Interventions
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Abnormal Psychology: Case Studies
These abnormal psychology case study examples cover four different psychological disorders. Check out this sample essay if you’re interested in mental illness and therapy.
Case Study One: Margaret
Case study two: lillian, case study three: jim, case study four: janet, works cited.
In most cases, psychologists draw their diagnostics by conducting an interview with their clients like the one conducted by Louise on Margaret. This is based on the fact that understanding one’s problem from the horse’s mouth is easier. There are various factors that may be deduced from such an assessment. For example, Louise was able to identify many changes that her client has undergone and the difficulty she faces in dealing with them.
There are also social factors that cannot be understood otherwise that impact greatly on many people with psychological disturbances. It was also as a result of this assessment that the client reported her recent memory loss, which shows her awareness of her abnormal conditions. Therefore, this assessment was meant to determine what ails Margaret and thereafter draw some useful therapies to help her go back to normalcy.
In her conclusion, Louise drew some conclusions concerning Margaret’s condition. Margaret reported some changes in her menstrual periods. She noticed a change in her moods which has partly contributed to her moodiness, although this could be a result of hormonal imbalance due to menopause, considering Margaret’s age.
Further, Louise underlined Margaret’s dealing with her son being away and her inaccessible daughter as she is too preoccupied with her child. Margaret is diagnosed to be struggling with this change of life hence her condition.
Louise also drew from Margaret that she has become frequently forgetful, and she is aware of it. She is also aware of her change of mood and reaction towards her daughter, which she does not want her to discover. This could be attributed to her general feeling of anger and loss; thus, she has lost interest in life.
This show of self-awareness is depicted when Louise asks her about her anger towards her daughter. She burst into tears because Louise had discovered her true feelings towards her daughter, which she was concealing. The reactions portrayed by Margaret during the assessment are the best example of another dimension of Margaret’s psychological assessment.
Margaret portrays anger and sadness following her relationship with her daughter. She believes that her daughter rushed into marriage, and she is now less concerned about her. It was also concluded that due to pervasive anxiety, she loses sleep, overeats, overdrinks, and has spasmodic moods and memory distractions. As a result of this, she has gained extra weight that she sees as part of her problem.
In Margaret’s assessment, psychological testing is vital because it would test her take on her condition. For example, whether she appreciates change or to whom does she hold responsible for her condition. Self-proclamation is important as it is out of such discussions that a professional draws conclusions on how to handle the situation.
This is called mental status evaluation in which the coherence in thought is assessed. Due to her history with her family, she could be judged as having depression. Margaret’s father is reported to have died when she was three, and this led to her mother being away from home most of the time. That could be the reason for her unconscious suppressed desire not to separate from her children.
Physical screening for Margaret is necessary in order to diagnose various possible complications that may be evident as a result of the signs and symptoms she narrated. There are several problems that could be confirmed in the course of medical examination. Medical testing could rule out her biological hormonal imbalance following the previous hormonal test done on the patient (Halgin and Whitbourne 21).
Considering her age and the frequent premenstrual moodiness, it is logical to rule out hormonal imbalances related to menopause. Possible complications for Margaret’s case include memory lapse due to memory losses witnessed and neurological malfunction. Physical examination may also be useful in confirming the reason for her being overweight and the increased appetite that has devastated her sex life.
Case two illustrates Lillian’s defense in life, where she draws confidence in herself through her personality disorder. Her defense of splitting is her major preoccupation in dealing with her situation. Right from the onset, she complains and enquires as to why her life is being made difficult by what she refers to as some idiot.
What follows is a description of how other people have blocked her way always. Her description of the event that unfolded in the coffee line proves that she is the problem, but her weaknesses are evident in her mistreatment and blame on others. This way, according to her, she is not the problem; the problem is from without.
Lillian is also very sensitive on matters of gender discrimination as she cites that her former boss treated her badly because she was a woman. She resorts to finding a solution in the workers union. This is a commonsensical issue, but she doesn’t care anyway because she is not the problem. Her problem is proved further by the fact that she currently does a housekeeping job even after her college education.
Before this, she had gone down the stairs and lost six jobs in ten years. Her social life is limited to her drinking friends and unstable lasting sexual relationships with men she meets at the bar. She uses her drugs to soothe her nerves. This is helpful because it would be worse if she reduced herself to depression due to self-blame. This is necessary from her point of view because she feels better about herself when she does so.
Lillian’s constant anger in borderline personality disorder may be natural or inborn. History proves that Lillian, even before her father died, would conflict with her mother when her father sided with her. This proves that she could have a natural tendency to have bouts of anger. Her father could have been that kind, as demonstrated by his support and siding with her in her row with her mother. If her father did not see any cause of hunger in her daughter, both could have something shared.
There is also a possibility that Lillian’s condition could be a result of disappointment and many failures in life. Lillian has had a string of disappointments in her employment. She lost her job and has plummeted to the position of housekeeper. This could turn her to anger.
In her social life, we are also told that she feels guilty often, but her defense is her unconscious transfer of that blame to a second person’s act. This way, she is elated and soothed that she is clean. Therefore, there is a possibility that Lillian’s anger could be both a result of some existential factors and inborn.
Lillian’s borderline personality disorder is dependent on taking very many other factors constant. “It was only drawn from her blame on others and dominance of anger fluctuations from hope to disappointments in relationships, workplace conflicts, drug use and lack of self-appraisal” (Halgin and Whitbourne 21).
It was never considered that this could be an inborn condition. There could also be a possibility that her condition is worsened by her drug use, however mild. The differential analysis could therefore ignore some important parameters influencing some situations.
Her antisocial personality disorder was ruled regardless of her self-blame sometimes. She has failed to relate well with people at work, friends, and even her mother because of this condition. This leads her to blame everyone for some cause. For instance, she feels her mother favors her siblings; she thinks her boss at work hates her because she is a woman and generally feels victimized by other people’s acts. Lillian justified her misbehavior as drug use as a response to the stress caused by other people whom she finds as a problem.
Lillian’s anxiety disorder is born of her desire to expect too much from others. She expected too much laxity from her boss that she had to be sacked. She expects too much from her mum and also from society, especially from the union representative, and thus it is hard to avoid disappointments and disillusionments.
In Case three, we are introduced to Jim and his situation that requires psychotherapy. A very good example of a vegetative sign of depression is his inability to sleep which is consistent. This is accompanied by his extreme feeling of despair and anxiety. Sigmund Freud, an expert in the field of psychoanalysis, would analyze depression as anger turned against the self. This can apply to Jim because he blames himself for ruining his girlfriend’s life when he abandoned her.
There is also the issue of body and mind struggle. Normally the two entities coordinate harmoniously to produce normalcy in life. However, his case is different from all the depression. His mind contemplates suicide in order to punish himself, and as a result, he has shed off much of his weight. Jim’s body and mind, as a result of this struggle and depression, are now enemies.
Another struggle between his mind and body is seen whenever he comes up with a painting. He literally ends up destroying it. There is a contest and infighting of his mind and body, and thus he poses the biggest danger to himself more than to anyone else. It is for this chief reason that the clinical findings prescribe that protective hospitalization is required until medication and psychotherapy work on him.
A mood-congruent delusion is a state where someone is inconsistent in their usual mood that affects the reinterpretation of things in another way. For example, Jim is not consistent in his former behavior when he starts looking at himself as a destroyer. His way of perception changed as a result of his depression and self-blame. He has conceptualized a world of depressed thoughts and patterns confirming his melancholy.
Actually, all that Jim ails from is anger. He is for sure angered at himself for ruining his girlfriend’s life. That is why he has had relentless attacks on himself, resulting in depressed behavior, thought processes, and mood fluctuation. There is some evidence of concealed anger in Jim. One reason he can conceal this is that he may have loved his girlfriend so much that hurting her would devastate him too.
Secondly, he sees himself as selfish when he turns down her request. He might have deep-seated regrets as to why life let him meet a girl who did not understand him when he presented his case.
He may conceal this because, first, he has himself to blame and has made out his decision, though unconsciously, to punish himself. This leads him to spend most time fantasizing about his physical health and contemplating suicide. His dreams at night would reveal his concealed fears and desires, as it is theorized by Sigmund Freud in his interpretation of dreams.
From the onset, Jim was judged for himself, and he declared his guilt and assigned himself punishments. He no longer finds need or pleasure in company. He spends time smoking cigarettes and thinking about his death. As a result of this self-guilt, he has declined to eat and thus lost a good deal of weight. He has also undertaken unconscious self-punishment by neglecting his hygiene and general normal life. He has imprisoned himself in bed, where he buys a lot of time to think about his worthlessness and pain.
Another punishment he has subjected himself to is to destroy his creative products. Whenever he does work, he destroys it at the end of the day. There is also psychological punishment where his consciousness is always tormented by nightmares of some gruesome women attacking him, which reduces him to crying like a child. This can be associated with his suppressed desire to punish himself, and whenever this happens, Jim feels that his selflessness deserves punishment.
In the fourth case, the precipitating stressor event that might have kicked off Janet’s schizophrenic episode can be noted from the history his parent gave. There was a time when she was reported to have scratched her wrist with a razor in an act that is termed self-destructing. Then there was her being separated from her family members who used to care for and support her. There are other factors that are noted in her history to have been repressed causes.
She reported that from the time she was young, the girl had been shy, socially awkward, and sensitive. This historical evidence shows that she has had that condition, but under the cause and understanding of her family members, it had been contained. Moreover, when she was seven years, she had gone slow school. The family undertook a therapy that was corrective to the situation.
In her adolescence, she frequently argued with her mother. Although this can be attributed to hormonal changes that are experienced by many adolescents, the argument reportedly resulted in self-harm. She was more provocative and worrisome, although this behavior just popped in and disappeared later. Another behavior was that Jane would behave eccentrically, engaging in complex rituals to trigger her sleep. Sometimes she would not want to be seen eating, a clear indication of her psychosocial malfunctioning
Another factor that may have triggered her condition may be her roommates and new environment. She was, on joining college, introduced to an environment that she was probably not used to. She was then left to be controlled by her long-encased schizophrenia. Janet’s primary delusion is her attempt to rescue herself from some inner dangers and fears.
Her delusion interprets her parents and nurses as threats geared towards sabotaging her idealized salvation, which is to be actualized through Dr. M. It started earlier when she would quarrel with her mother. At this age, it did not come out clearly, as at those formative stages, her condition would retreat.
Her confidence and overexcitement in justifying her condition are rife with evidence that she is no longer self-sensitive. She fantasizes about Dr. M, whom she has assumed as a sole hope in bringing about salvation in the world. Her delusion has reduced the world to herself. To her, the world is under attack by the same threatening unknown and can be saved only when her desire to unite with Dr. M comes to reality. This is her ultimate optimism and desire to be saved or reserved.
Her delusion and hallucination fit together so that she misinterprets real life as an attack. This can be traced back to when she was young. She could not understand her mother, and they would pick quarrels that sometimes resorted to self-destruction. Therefore, the world she has been living in is not the real world. Her hallucinations are evident in the way she interprets Dr. M. She has conceived a Dr. M who is being blocked from reaching her, even after she was instructed by a voice to merge with him and save the world.
The mistaken sensory perceptions and how she interprets reality as a threat make the two fit together to produce the kind of Janet we see.
Her hospitalization saves her and others because she is a danger to others and herself. She has terrifying intrinsic experiences described as command hallucinations. These hallucinations instruct her to do anything to herself and others. When she perceives everyone as a danger, there is a possibility that she can attack anyone under the influence of her delusions. This can also be because her reality is faulty, and her judging reality is misleading.
Halgin, Richard, and Susan Whitbourne. Abnormal Psychology: Clinical Perspectives on Psychological Disorders . 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
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Abnormal Psychology Case Study
On evaluation of Isabella’s symptoms, it was ruled out that she did not suffer from a panic disorder, but rather she suffered from panic attacks associated with an anxiety disorder. A joint diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia Disorder was given which accounted for the symptoms that Isabella was presenting with in accordance to the DSM-IV and proposed DSM-V.To further analyse the cause and treatment of such disorders, meta-cognition theory and uncertainty theory were evaluated to determine the role that worry plays in the negative feedback system of a GAD sufferer.
Both theories provide interesting insight into Isabella’s case however, as every case is unique, more research and insight is needed. Isabella, a 29-year-old woman, first presented to her GP complaining of breathing difficulties, heart problems, sweating and faintness.Her GP found no evidence to suggest a physical problem and hence suspected that she may have a panic disorder. Upon further analysis of Isabella’s symptoms however, we find that although Isabella does seem to suffer from panic attacks, her symptoms are not entirely consistent with Panic Disorder (PD) as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
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Although some of Isabella’s self-reported symptoms are consistent with the DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) diagnostic criteria for PD, not all the criteria is appropriately satisfied.From the information we have obtained from Isabella so far, it does seem that her reports of feeling like she was suffering a heart attack is consistent with the DSM-IV PD criteria of persistent concern of the implications of the attack. Similarly, the attacks do not seem to be the result of any substance abuse, since there is no evidence that Isabella is suffering from a substance abuse problem. Furthermore, for an accurate diagnosis of PD, DSM-IV states the symptoms must not be better explained by another anxiety disorder.
A panic attack is a likely explanation of the symptoms that Isabella presented with to her GP.Her four symptoms of breathing difficulty, heart palpitations, sweating and faintness fall within the required symptoms of a panic attack. Panic attacks can occur in the context of any Anxiety Disorder. A deeper look reveals a more accurate diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is more relevant to Isabella’s symptoms.
According to the DSM-IV, GAD is characterized by “excessive anxiety and worry, occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities”, Isabella’s symptoms are consistent with this criteria.Furthermore, the worry that she is feeling over everyday situations is consistent with this diagnosis. The DSM-IV for GAD requires at least three of six criteria be met for a successful diagnosis of GAD. Isabella’s reports of chronic fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbance and restlessness satisfy four of these criteria.
It is also important to note that Isabella’s cultural variation may be a factor in regards to her expression of anxiety, however due to the severity of her described symptoms, it would seem that this shouldn’t impact on the diagnosis of GAD (Goldenberg, 1996).Similarly, a diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder seems accurate under the DSM-IV due to Isabella reporting a clear avoidance of social situations at work in which she is terrified of making a fool of herself in front of others. Although Isabella only reports these feelings when at work, Specific Phobia has been ruled out due to Isabella not avoiding the stimulus (the workplace), but rather the people in the workplace. Thus, we cannot rule out an Axis 1 disorder, although it seems that a diagnosis of GAD is much encompassing of Isabella’s daily routine.
As well as General Anxiety Disorder, it may also be that Isabella suffers from Dysthymic Disorder according to the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV. Isabella reports going through periods in her life where she feels intense sadness and questions the meaningfulness of her life, this suggests a depressed mood with early onset yet no atypical features. She also experiences at least two of the necessary criteria for a diagnosis of Dysthymic Disorder including low energy, fatigue and low self-esteem. The symptoms also cause significant distress or impairment in social and occupational areas of functioning.
Similarly, she doesn’t seem to have a major depressive episode which rules out Major Depressive Disorder. Our only issue with a diagnosis of Dysthymic Disorder is that we can’t say with certainty that Isabella hasn’t had a major depressive episode in the first two years of her dysthymic symptoms, which is apart of criterion D of DSM-IV, furthermore, it may not be possible to gain such information since Isabella reports having had these symptoms for a long period of time and may not remember whether she suffered a depressive episode.Proposed changes to the DSM-IV may see the way that mental disorders are diagnosed changed forever under the new DSM-V model (Coutinho et al, 2010). In relation to Generalised Anxiety Disorders, one such proposed change has been to criterion C.
Andrews G et al (2010), suggest that there is limited evidence for the DSM-IV threshold of 3 or more symptoms but rather one of two symptoms: restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge; and muscle tension. With particular reference to Isabella, this may see her diagnosis of GAD completely changed.Isabella never specifically states that she is restless or on edge, however she does report that she finds it difficult to relax. The problem with the new criteria is that it may not be specific enough to diagnose Isabella’s disorder; alternatively we may just need to obtain additional information from Isabella or her treating physician.
The admission of criterion D in the proposed DSM-V would however, make the diagnosis of GAD much more suitable to patients such as Isabella as it identifies certain behaviours where at least one must be observed (in this case, avoidance).In regards to Dysthymic Disorder, with the modification of criterion D under the proposed DSM-V, a diagnosis of Dysthymic Disorder would be much more easily applied. The new criterion states, “over the last 2 years, there is a period of two months or longer during which the full criteria for a major depressive episode are not met” (American Psychological Association, 2012). Thus, although we were previously hesitant to diagnose a Dysthymic Disorder, under the DSM-V model, a diagnosis is much more easily applied.
With the proposed DSM-V getting closer to completion, the definition and features of GAD and other disorders are being updated and changed. Thus, as an extension, theories attempting to explain Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are also being changed with the emergence of many different theories to try and explain the disorder. With particular reference to GAD, one of the most closely studied criteria is the worry that GAD sufferers feel, with approximately only 50% of patients showing “high end state functioning” after treatment (Wells, 1990).Two prominent theories attempting to explain worry in GAD is the Uncertainty Model (Ladouceur, Talbot & Dugas, 2000; Krohne, 1989) and the Metacognition Model (Flavell, 1979; Wells, 1999).
Krohne (1989) was the first to theorise that the main variables underlying anxiety disorders were the constructs of intolerance and uncertainty. He suggested “an elevated level of intolerance of uncertainty provokes reactions of hyper vigilance when individuals are faced with uncertain or ambiguous problems, while an elevated level of intolerance to emotional arousal stimulates cognitive avoidance reactions” (Ladouceur et al, 2000).From this theory, Ladouceur et al (2000) theorised that there was a positive correlation between intolerance of uncertainty and worry whereby the more uncertain individuals were of a situation, the more worried they became. In their experiment Ladouceur et al (2000) found evidence supporting their claim however noted that the exact nature of the link was unclear.
In another study carried out in 2001, Dugas, Gosselin & Ladouceur found that in order to decrease their anxiety, sufferers will try to increase their level of certainty when facing a situation that is uncertain.Those that were highly intolerant of uncertainty, tended to try and avoid situations in which they were uncertain of the outcome yet found difficulty functioning, when unable to avoid such events (Buhr & Dugas, 2006). This theory is particular relevant in relation to Isabella. She continuously is faced with uncertain events, which cause her to become stressed and anxious.
Her avoidance of social situations at work is clearly a mechanism used to avoid the stimuli that she believes is out of her control.Thus, Isabella’s difficulties dealing with uncertainty causes her to gain unnecessary worry and anxiety over the most basic things in day-to-day life. This would explain her increased anxiety and bouts of depression. Metacognition refers to knowledge or cognitive process that is involved in “appraisals about thinking and the processes of monitoring and controlling thoughts” (Wells, 1999).
Under this model, GAD is emphasised in relation to the role of metacognitive beliefs and appraisals rather than the misinformed beliefs that can lead to anxiety and intense worry in GAD sufferers (Wells, 2007).Like the Uncertainty model, emphasis is placed on the role of worry in GAD and how it is not just simply a symptom of anxiety. Wells (1999) identifies two different types of worries with respect to metacognition. Type 1 worry refers to when individual’s worries tend to “focus on external events and non-cognitive internal events, e.
g. physical symptoms or social concerns” (Wells, 1999). Wells and Carter (2001) stress the importance of worry, which is present in all individuals as a positive motivator.Wells and King (2006) say that such worry is helpful with the ability to help cope with future problems, which acts like a mechanism, whereby internal signals stop the worry.
Type 2 worry (or meta-worry) occurs when the individual feels that the worry they feel is uncontrollable, harmful or dangerous (Wells, 2005). Wells (1999), warns that this is one of the worst forms of worry. He says that individuals with GAD have positive beliefs about worrying and negative ‘metacognitive’ beliefs about the worry process.Hence, they worry about their worrying intensifying their anxiety causing panic.
The cycle ends up becoming a negative feedback system in which the mechanism to cease the worry becomes unavailable to the sufferer taking it’s toll on the individuals emotions. This type of worry is particularly relevant to Isabella’s case. As was seen in her presentation, her worrying about worrying caused her to go into a panic attack because she was so concerned about worrying strengthening the internal worrying negative beliefs.More recent research has show that this metacognitive model can be helpful in actually diminishing anxiety by experiencing the effects of worrying (Ellis & Hudson, 2010).
This can cause problems for GAD patients however, who instead of experiencing the worry and learn the controllable associations involved, they actually avoid and suppress the triggers embracing certain suppression and distraction mechanisms. Although the link between uncertainty and worry remains unclear, further research may be able to attempt to shed light on its current relationship (Buhr and Dugas et al, 2001).One of the hardest obstacles for abnormal Psychologists is the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. It becomes necessary to rule out what a patient is not suffering from as a wrong diagnosis can have detrimental effects on the wellbeing of a patient.
Furthermore, once a correct diagnosis is reached, there is no guarantee that the patient will be able to get better. The ongoing research into GAD and the links it has with worry are just one of the many promising areas of research that will increase our understanding and diagnosis of anxiety disorders such as that suffered by Isabella.
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