Models of Psychopathology: 3 Ways to Understand Mental Disorders

Although there is no unanimous definition to explain the concept of so-called psychopathology, within the clinic it refers to the field of psychology and medicine which deals with the study of symptoms and / or disorders. psychological which may be a series of unusual or inappropriate behaviors and / or thoughts in order to carry out a nosography or a classification and description of mental disorders.

In order for there to be a correct assessment, diagnosis and proper treatment of different psychopathologies, there are several models of psychopathology with this task.

The different models of psychopathology, although they have different theoretical perspectives on what abnormal behavior is, follow the same criteria for detecting possible psychopathologies, although the different criteria have different degrees of relevance in each of the models. existing.

In this article the main models of psychopathology will be briefly explained and the common criteria that these models have will also be seen.

    General criteria for psychopathology models

    The main criteria used in the different models of psychopathology are more or less relevant depending on their conception of what psychopathology is.

    The following criteria serve to demarcate psychopathology from normality and at the same time to understand them. For all models of psychopathology, it is important to take into account all these criteria in order to be able to explain when a person suffers from any type of psychological pathology.

    1. The statistical criterion

    This criterion of psychopathology models is based on the quantification of facts at the psychological level by the use of statistical techniques and their normal distribution in the population, like the Gaussian bell.

    This criterion takes into account that a psychopathology would be one that deviates from normality; in other words, which is rare among the population, so few similar cases are seen.

    At the same time, he considers that a psychological alteration is produced by default or by excess of a normal characteristic, so that the differences between psychopathology and normality are quantitative and, therefore, what is psychopathological is what is rare but has the same elements as what is considered to be normal.

      2. The interpersonal or social criterion

      According to this criterion of models of psychopathology, normal and healthy behaviors would be those which allow a person to adapt to the environment by following the usual and expected patterns within his society and his culture concerning the correct behavior that it must adopt for the different members that belong to it, which could be seen as an adaptive normality.

      So, a behavior would be considered abnormal if it does not conform to socio-cultural patterns of behavior, which makes it difficult for the individual to integrate into society.

      However, this criterion is not without limits, as society is constantly changing and the rules could change at the same time, being clear that there are behaviors that 50 years ago were considered normal and now not and vice versa. It should also be noted that this is not a single criterion, but is usually considered in conjunction with others, so behavior that does not conform to social norms alone is not sufficient to diagnose psychopathology.

      Following this model, the American psychiatrist Harry Sullivan proposed a consensual criterion in which psychopathology depended on societal norms, that is, the consensus that existed within a given society at a given time.

        3. The subjective criterion

        From this criterion models of psychopathology would be the person responsible for making the assessment of his own state of health as normal or if he detects a problem, in which case he must speak behaviorally and verbally to the mental health professional in charge of his care and treatment.

        In the event that the person suffers from some type of dementia or schizophrenia spectrum disorder, it is common for them to have little or no awareness of having it, so it will be quite difficult for them to express it.

        Within this criterion, it is interesting to highlight a criterion which serves as a variant of it and which was proposed by Kurt Schneider, according to which psychopathology would be detected through the personal suffering of the patient.

          4. The biological criterion

          Finally, according to this criterion, models of psychopathology psychopathology is designed according to whether or not there is a dysfunction or alterations in the proper functioning of the organism, taking into account both hereditary, biochemical, immune factors, etc.

          In this case, the nomenclature of the different psychopathologies begins with the following prefixes depending on the causes:

          • With the prefix “a”, it is those psychopathologies in which there is a lack.
          • With the prefix “dis” there are psychopathologies in which there are external pathogens.
          • With the prefix “hyper” or “hypo”, when the balance of related processes or structures is upset.

            Main models of psychopathology

            Let’s look at a brief summary of the models of psychopathology used in the field of mental health.

            1. Biomedical model

            The first of the great models of psychopathology has been in use since Hippocrates, being the one who developed them in relation to his concept of “pathology of moods” and it was not until the 19th century that he managed to settle in the scientific community, thanks to Kraepelin’s development on the classification of diseases in which there mental illness related to organic problems.

            In the twentieth century, with the discovery and manufacture of drugs to treat mental illness, this model has become more relevant and it is already in the 19th century that it has just proliferated due to the considerable increase in the prescriptions of psychotropic drugs to relieve mental illnesses, even beyond the reference to mental health professionals who provide therapy psychological, although showing better long-term results and no side effects.

            According to the biomedical model, a psychopathology or mental disorder is exactly the same as any other physical illness, thus he considers that mental disorders have an organic etiology, whether at the cerebral, endocrine, functional level, etc.

            The biomedical model has developed the following concepts with the aim of grouping psychological disorders into diagnostic categories:

            • Sign: it is the objective indicator which makes it possible to detect an abnormal process at the organic level.
            • Symptom: It is a subjective indicator of abnormal sensation on a functional, organic or both level.
            • Syndrome: it is the set of symptoms and signs that makes it possible to establish a clinical picture for the diagnosis.

            From the biomedical model, considering psychopathologies or mental disorders as a disease, the criteria are categorical (whether or not there is a disease), there is therefore no continuum between normality and psychopathology.

              2. Cognitive model

              Another model of psychopathology is the behavioral model which was first developed by Wilhelm Wundt and William James in the early 20th century, with their research on consciousness and mental activity, and which has grown in popularity over the years. 1950..

              The cognitive model is a model of psychopathology in which cognitive or mental phenomena take precedence over abnormal behaviors when diagnosing a mental disorder, which is why subjective phenomena are so relevant. way that the psychologist is attentive to both the content and the form of the information given by the patient in consultation.

              This model focuses on the study of the functioning of knowledge processes that are abnormal.

              Also, considers the patient to be an active, responsible and self-aware person, so it is not to the detriment of what is happening in the environment, but has its own will to act on its own.

              According to the cognitive model, for a person to enjoy good mental health, they must meet the following criteria: ability to adapt to the demands that arise, have self-determination and autonomy, while having the ability to renew the change function.

                3. Behavioral model

                The third model of psychopathology is the behavioral model, which emerged in the 1960s, being a new paradigm in psychology thanks to the successful learning of psychology at the time, while critics of the biological model used by diagnose psychological disorders.

                Among the characteristics of the behavioral model is its objectivity, because it is a model that emphasizes quantifiable and objective phenomena, along with the relationship between behavior and the environment.

                On the other hand, this model rejects the concept of disease and uses the principles of learning to develop the theoretical basis. year.

                For this model, abnormal behavior differs from normality quantitatively, so they move in a continuum, so we don’t have this qualitative conception of psychopathologies, in which we only conceived that a psychopathology could be or not.

                Compared to the traditional medical diagnosis, from the behavior model was proposed the functional analysis, which began to be used to make an analysis of the patient’s behavior taking into account the background and context, being a tool widely used today, in particular in the context of cognitive behavioral therapy. , which is probably the most widely used psychological therapy by mental health professionals due to its therapeutic success and effectiveness in treating various mental disorders.

                The behavioral model too was interested in experimentation, for this reason, within this model, many scientific works and theories have been carried out to explain the causes and, consequently, the treatment of behaviors not conforming to normality, through the analysis of different variables. , development of hypotheses and empirical contrast.

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