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Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that studies unusual patterns of behavior, emotion and thought, which may

or may not be understood as precipitating amental disorder. There is a long history of attempts to understand and control behavior deemed to be aberrant or deviant (statistically, morally or in some other sense), and there is often cultural variation in the approach taken. The field of abnormal psychology identifies multiple causes for different conditions, employing diverse theories from the general field of psychology and elsewhere, and much still hinges on what exactly is meant by "abnormal". There has traditionally been a divide between psychological and biological explanations, reflecting a philosophical dualism in regard to the mind body problem, as well as different approaches to the classification of mental disorders. The science of abnormal psychology studies two types of behaviours: Adaptive and Maladaptive behaviours. Behaviours that are maladaptive suggest that some problem(s) exists, and can also imply that the individual is vulnerable and cannot cope with environmental stress, which is leading them to have problems functioning on a daily basis. Clinical psychology is the applied field of psychology that seeks to assess, understand and treat psychological conditions in clinical practice. The theoretical field known as 'abnormal psychology' may form a backdrop to such work, but clinical psychologists in the current field are unlikely to use the term 'abnormal' in reference to their practice.Psychopathology is a similar term to abnormal psychology but has more of an implication of an underlying pathology (disease process), and as such is a term more commonly used in the medical specialty known as psychiatry.

Adjustment Disorders This classification of mental disorders is related to an identifiable source of stress that causes significant emotional and behavioral symptoms. The DSM-IV diagnostic criteria include: Anxiety Disorders Anxiety disorders are those that are characterized by excessive and abnormal fear, worry and anxiety. In one recent survey published in the Archives of General Psychology1, it was estimated that as many as 18% of American adults suffer from at least one anxiety disorder.

Cognitive Disorders These psychological disorders are those that involve cognitive abilities such as memory, problem solving and perception. Some anxiety disorder, mood disorders and psychotic disorders are classified as cognitive disorders. Types of cognitive disorders include: Developmental Disorders Developmental disorders, also referred to as childhood disorders, are those that are typically diagnosed during infancy, childhood or adolescence. These psychological disorders include Dissociative Disorders Dissociative disorders are psychological disorders that involve a dissociation or interruption in aspects of consciousness, including identity and memory. Dissociative disorders include:

The causes of abnormal behavior are complex, and it is not always possible to isolate and evaluate the multiple factors involved. Some of the difficulties are listed below. 1. There are many varieties of mental deficiencies, psychoneuroses, psychoses, and antisocial personalities, and each variety tends to have an independent etiology. It is not a question of what is the cause of mental deficiency, psychoneurosis, psychosis, and antisocial behavior, but rather what is the cause of each specific clinical type included under these general headings. 2. Psychological disorders are usually due to the interaction of two or more agents. It is frequently difficult to ascertain the relative importance of each contributory factor. In almost all forms of hereditary diseases, some account must be taken of environmental influences; and the inherent resistance level of the organism is a complicating factor in all diseases of physiochemical or environmental origin. 3. The same symptom patterns may arise from a variety of different causes. Even when it is known that certain factors are responsible for a specific type of psychological disorder, it does not follow that these factors are always present in the same degree in all patients exhibiting similar symptoms. 4. The symptoms of the abnormal are not always tailored to fit standard disease entities. Often it is difficult to arrive at a definite diagnosis, and errors are quite common. These errors naturally complicate the task of evaluating the causes of specific diseases. The contributions of heredity, constitution, the endocrine glands, the nervous system, and psychological, social and cultural factors to psychopathology are described. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)