Theories of Psychopathology These are etiological theories (theories of causation), for major adult psychopathology mostly Placed into 4 categories, roughly by amount of empirical support/scientific interest Theories of Psychopathology Theories that nobody is interested in any more? ?dead? theories Theories that have nothing much empirical going for them??junk? theories Theories that say little or nothing??vague? theories Theories that might conceivably amount to something?everything else Dead Theories These are theories that, regardless of merit, are not being researched much any more Examples: Freud?s theory that neurasthenia results from coitus interruptus Freud?s theory of active vs. passive ?seduction? (molestation) in differentiation causation of obsessional vs. hysterical neurosis Dead Theories: More Examples ?Heredodegenerative processes? in psychoses Schizophrenia as an autoimmune process ?Schizophrenogenic? mother ?Refrigerator mother? as the cause of infantile autism Junk Theories (Little/No Support) Repressed memories of sexual abuse as the cause of practically all that ails the mind Viral theory of all schizophrenia Very simple genetic theories (e.g., com-pletely recessive or dominant gene for schizophrenia) Vague Theories Often called ?models? or ?approaches,? not theories? because a theory is testable, and these theories aren?t (very) testable The most common today is the ?biopsycho-social? model?texts call this ?multi-dimensional integrative approach? Kring et al. list biological, social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral ?influences? Vague Theories: ?Biopsychosocial? Model Attractive-sounding because it includes everything Biological Psychological Social Book?s version includes cognitive, emotional, behavioral influences ?Biopsychosocial? Model, cont?d But some of these psychological factors are presumably effects, not ultimate causes (e.g., psychological processes result from biological and social factors, or genes and environment) Confusion of levels of explanation: Ultimate causes vs. Proximate causes Biopsychosocial Model, cont?d (Largely) untestable theory, because it doesn?t say: What quantitative role each ?influence? contributes Mechanism not offered for how ultimate causes lead to proximate causes, which lead to illness Few/no observations exist which would kill (falsify) this ?theory? Vague Theories: Diathesis-Stress Model ?Diathesis? is vague: Roughly, this means ?internal? factors present when stressor happens: Genes Hormones Personality variables Diathesis-Stress, cont?d ?Stress? likewise vague: Objective (things we?d agree are stressful) Subjective (idiosyncratic stressors) (Largely) untestable because: Diathesis, stress (or both) typically inferred from fact that person fell ill Diathesis + stress combination then used to explain why person fell ill Potentially Promising Theories Specific gene-environment interaction theories Examples: Alcoholism in adoptees (high vs. low risk genetic background, high vs. low risk environment) Antisocial personality and ?discontinuous mothering? adoption study Promising Theories, cont?d Specific theories about single (or a few) identifiable genes as causes of many (not all) cases of certain type of mental illness (e.g., gene for bad eye tracking and schizo-phrenia) Specific theories about identifiable types of trauma as cause of certain type of mental illness (e.g., sexual abuse and MPD/DID) Promising Theories, cont?d Theories offering specific mechanisms for how ultimate causes lead to proximate causes, which in turn lead to illness Example: depressed mothers? have poor eye contact/low interaction with infant ? child comes to expect lack of nurturing ? in-creased vulnerability to depression [PLUS STRESS] ? depression
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