Weekly summary: October 13 – 17

Needless to say, we did a lot this week by wrapping up our IA’s.  Definitely a lot to celebrate.  However, we did examine the cognitive and sociocultural arguments for the aetiology of depression.  Here is what you should know

  • Discuss Beck’s theory on the role of schema in depression.
  • What are the limitations of Beck’s theory?
  • Discuss and evaluate Ellis’s theory of depression.
  • Discuss and evaluate Nolen-Hoeksema’s theory of depression.
  • Discuss Brown & Harris’s study.  What are the strengths and limitations of their Vulnerability Model?
  • What is meant by the Diathesis Stress model of depression?

I hope you all enjoy your much deserved break.  When we come back, it will be all about abnormal behaviour right up to the end of the calendar year.  Looking forward to your PSA’s….

Weekly summary: October 6 – 10

This week we began wrapping up our IA’s.  A very good feeling indeed.  Remember that all final IA’s are due in class on October 16th.

This week we also began our study of the etiology of Major Depressive Disorder.  At the end of this week you should be able to discuss the following ideas:

  • There appears to be a genetic link to both depression and suicide.  You should be able to talk about how genetic research is done and the problems with using twin studies and/or adoption studies to draw conclusions about the role of genetics.
  • You should also be able to discuss the concept of genetic vulnerability and the “diathesis stress model“.
  • There do seem to be some biological correlates to depression including low levels of norepinephrine and serotonin, and high levels of cortisol.  How might these three biochemicals interact to lead to depression?
  • What are the limitations of biological etiologies of depression?

Watch this video on the Serotonin hypothesis.  How does Dr. Drevets explain what we know and how we know it?

Weekly summary: September 28 – October 3

This week we introduced our first psychological disorder.  We have been looking at the symptoms and biological aetiologies of Major Depressive Disorder. At the end of this week you should know the following:

  • There are different types of depression.  You should know the difference between dysthymia, MDD, SAD, post-partum depression and bipolar disorder. You should be note that each of these forms of depression appears to have a different cause.
  • There are difficulties with the construct validity of some of the symptoms.  It is also important to distinguish between exogenous depression (also known as reactive depression) and endogenous depression.  It is also important to remember that the two key factors in diagnosis are the extent and duration of the symptoms.  Lastly, you should understand the ways in which information regarding the symptoms are gathered, including physiological testing, self-reported data and observations.

It was actually a rough week – watching the stories of people with severe depression. I do hope, however, that it gave you a better sense of the seriousness nature of the disorder.  Below is a lecture on the biological nature of depression done by our favorite Robert Sapolsky.  A very good preview of  where we are going.

Weekly summary: September 22 – 26

A very good week learning how to diagnose – and finishing up the rough drafts of our IAs.  Bravo.

Here are the key concepts that we have examined so far:

  • There are problems with simply using symptoms to define mental health.  You should be able to discuss these problems.
  • Culture and cultural bias play a key role in complicating diagnosis.  You should be able to discuss this.  Be sure to know the study by Li Repac.
  • Over and underpathologization is a problem which affects minority groups, including women.
  • Prestige effect and confirmation bias make corrections of misdiagnosis difficult.
  • There are problems with both the reliability and validity of diagnosis.  You should be able to discuss research that demonstrates this.
  • Finally, you should be able to talk about how triangulation of data could help to improve the validity of diagnosis.


Weekly summary: September 15 – 19

This week we continued our discussions of problems with diagnosis – as well as continued with our IAs.  At the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Explain the problem of using symptoms to make a diagnosis. These include the issues of self-reported data and cultural differences.
  • Explain the role of confirmation bias, sick-role effect and prestige effect on the objectivity of diagnosis
  • Describe overpathologization and underpathologization of different cultures or one gender.
  • Evaluate Rosenhan’s study on diagnosis.
  • Discuss how validity can be increased through triangulation.

Weekly summary: August 25 – 29

This week we began our study of abnormal psychology.  At the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Discuss both conceptual and practical definitions of abnormality.
  • Explain the problems with using a statistical or social deviation approach to defining normalcy.
  • Explain why symptoms are problematic in determining whether a behaviour is normal.
  • Explain the limitations of Jahoda’s Optimal Health Model.

The following video is a good summary of what we did this week.

Enjoy your Week without Walls.  When we get back, we will be discussing diagnosis….