A One-Day Tutorial In Mental Health for A-Level Students
Since the earliest recorded times, individuals in societies across the globe have behaved in ways that other members of their society have considered to be abnormal. People with mental illness have been ostracised by society and subjected to 'treatments' which have bordered on methods of torture. They have been beaten, trephined, shackled, shaken, confined and immobilised in baths of ice-cold water. Whilst Ancient Greek and early Islamic societies were characterised by progressive approaches to treatment of the mentally ill, arcane psychiatric institutions existed until the 1960s in the United Kingdom and the United States.
There are four main paradigms in the study of mental illness - the biological, the psychodynamic, the behavioural and the psychosocial. It is the biological paradigm, aided by advances in molecular biology, neuroscience and behaviour genetics, which is providing the greatest developments in our understanding of mental illness. Some psychiatric illnesses are thought to be the consequence of a predisposition or diathesis to a disorder and the action of stressors with which the individual is unable to cope. Some factors may be protective against mental illness, which may explain why an individual with a diathesis and a stressor does not develop a particular disorder. However, it is likely that more complex mental illnesses such as schizophrenia result from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, psychological and cultural predispositions and insults, which together shape the disorder. This may explain why blanket pharmacological therapies do not always succeed, particularly when treating complex psychiatric disorders. New strategies include integrating pharmacological therapy with techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy and studies of therapeutic efficacy are yielding promising results.
This tutorial will address the history and nature of psychiatry and the varied forms of abnormal behaviour and mental illness. Also considered are the latest neurobiological, genetic and psychological explanations of conditions such as autism and schizophrenia and up-to-date evidence-based considerations of treatment options.
Which Students Will Benefit From Psychopathology?
This tutorial is designed primarily for able A2-level and IB psychology students but will also be useful to:
A-level biology students with an interest in mental illness and abnormal behaviour
any students considering a university degree and/or career in the following subjects:
Psychology Medicine Law
The material presented during this tutorial will complement and develop upon topics and issues encountered in A-level Psychology syllabi, however it is also intended to be a university taster, introducing students to degree-level material.
Aims of Psychopathology
There are three main aims to this tutorial:
to review historical conceptions of mental illness and its treatment.
to consider issues in the epidemiology, assessment and classification of abnormal behaviour.
to focus on personality disorders, addiction, autism and schizophrenia, reviewing current conceptions of these disorders, their respective aetiologies and proposed treatments.