Mental illness, atypical behaviour, psychopathology and dysfunctional behaviour are just some of the terms used to describe one of the most difficult areas to define both in Psychology as part of the human experience. Issues that surround the study of ‘dysfunctional behaviour’ are probably the most important as they can be the difference to some in terms of quality of life or even a threat to life itself. All the debates that academically are discussed within the context of Clinical Psychology are well trod however still as fiercely debated. Read this chapter for an overview of studies and issues relating to classification, explanation and treatment. Want to test yourself on your knowledge of Dysfunctional behaviour – click me?
Some examples of debates are;
Nature Vs Nurture – To what extent is dysfunctional behaviour caused by our experiences or dominated by a genetic predisposition. Consider depression, as one of the most diagnosed disorders is it due to traumatic life experience or are some people carrying a genetic predisposition which will arise irrespective of circumstance. This question feeds directly in peoples often poor judgements ‘She has everything anyone could want..what has she got to be depressed about…….?‘
Reductionism Vs Holism – Can the explanation of human experience be over simplified and reduced down to basic processes. Consider the study of Little Albert.
Issues such as ethics, validity and reliability of diagnosis, effectiveness of psychological treatments Vs drug therapy, before we even get to an agreement of what dysfunctional behaviour actually is.
What is a Clinical Psychologist?