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Studying psychology is particularly appealing. It has many benefits not only for the purposes of helping the other people but also to the learner. Personally, studying psychology is of considerable relevance since I aspire to be a psychologist counselor. This paper focuses on one of the main and broad branches of psychology: abnormal psychology. Moreover, it explores the relevance of studying abnormal psychology to the learner and for future career aspirations. First, it defines abnormal psychology and then examines the various importance of abnormal psychology.
Psychology is a wide field that has many specialties. Abnormal psychology is one of the branches of psychology. Psychology in general terms is the science of studying the mental processes and human behavior (Bennett, 2003). Therefore, abnormal psychology involves the study of unusual mental conditions, behavior, thoughts and emotions that result from mental disorders. The term abnormal behavior in this case refers to distorted, disturbing, distressing, self defeating behaviors (Bennett, 2003). Psychopathology is the other term used frequently for abnormal psychology. This branch covers a broad range of disorders that range from personality disorders, schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, cognitive disorders, sexual disorders, somatoform disorders and developmental disorders. According to a study by the World Health Organization, twenty four percent of people visiting medical doctors have mental disorders, and ten percent of them have severe mental disorders (Bennett, 2003).
Relevance of psychopathology
The relevancies of studying abnormal behavior are many. First of all, as a student of psychology, psychopathology is relevant in understanding of the definition of mental abnormality. One will understand the distinction between normal mental processes, usual behavior, on one hand, and abnormal disorders, on the other hand. A psychopathology student will know his own normal and abnormal behavior. In other words, the study assists psychology students in discovering their own mental and behavioral strengths and weakness.
When one studies psychology, he will be able to understand his own thoughts, emotions, behaviors and actions. One would also be in a position to elucidate actions of other people in their complexity. In doing so, one will discover ones inner self. At a personal level, one will understand his or her inner laws and soul behaviors. The outcome of this will be steering away from one’s abnormal actions and proper management of such conditions, extreme anger and emotions.
In addition to self discovery and personal understanding, psychopathology will help in understanding other people better. Since the study involves the study of other peoples’ mental and behavioral deviations, psychopathology lets the learner know why people think, act, feel or behave unusually in certain situations. The student gains a widened understanding of other people reactions, emotions and personalities. An improved interpersonal relationship and increased communication skills are some of the results of this (Zimbardo, 2008).
Thirdly, psychopathology will equip a psychologist counselor-to-be with a widened knowledge of abnormal disorders. One will understand the different perspectives used in abnormal psychology. For instance, instead of focusing on single perspective, the psychologist will look at multiple areas of mental disorders for understanding and treatment of psychological disorders (Barlow & Durand, 2004). The different perspectives include behavioral, medical, psychodynamic, cognitive and social-cultural perspectives. Treatment of a disorder will depend on the approach taken by the psychologist. For example, the treatments of those who espouse a behavioral perspective design reshape disordered behaviors, which resulted from ineffective learning and conditioning.
Moreover, studying abnormal psychology benefits the learner to appreciate the various documented causes of abnormal behavior. There are many causes of abnormal psychology. Some of these include biological and genetic causes, psychodynamic parental relationships, attachment and security, learned behavior, distorted thinking, or integration of these (Davison, 2008). Biological/genetic model explains that genetic defects, brain defects, and biochemical imbalances are the causes of mental disorders (Davison, 2008). The implication of this knowledge will be an increased understanding of the various approaches used to handle persons with mental disorders.
Lastly, the study of psychopathology is essential in understanding the symptoms and the course of mental disorders. This is necessary for diagnosis of various people’s disorders. Schizophrenia, for instance, is one of the disorders experienced by the majority of people. This disorder is characterized by various symptoms. These include psychosis, paranoid delusions, hallucinations, neologisms and monotone speech among others (Hansell & Damour, 2001). Observing these symptoms in patients or disturbed people will quickly identify the disorder, which will assist in the treatment.
Identification of the course of certain disorders aids the psychologist in classification of the stages of such disorders. This further helps in determining the treatment or management measures. Depression is one of the psychopathological conditions. Most people experience this disorder in a recurrent manner with multiple episodes or isolated episodes (Hansell & Damour, 2001). One can identify symptoms of mild depressions that can be an indication for severe depressive disorder. Early onset of such symptoms may predict a serious, much worse course of the disease.