Archive for August, 2012


IT crowd, awesome show! If you have not seen it before then you have not lived! We have been talking alot about stress in Psych at school and this is all i can think about 😛

Hey everyone,

This last week in psych we have been looking more closely at categorical and dimensional approaches to classifying mental conditions and disorders.

The Categorical Approach is the approach to classifying mental disorders involving assessment of whether an individual has a disorder on the basis of symptoms and characteristics that is described as typical of the disorder. This approach also uses 2 classification strategies DSM and ICD. The DSM names the disorders and describes them in specific terms. The ICD identifies symptoms that indicate the presence of a disorder. Categorical approaches are based on a number of underlying principles and assumptions including:

  • A mental disorder can be diagnosed from specific symptoms that are shown during a mental health assessment.
  • Thoughts, feelings and behaviour can be organised into categories representing disorders
  • All or nothing principle (so the individual either has a diagnosable metal disorder or does not have a diagnosable disorder.)
  • the system used to classify and diagnose metal disorders is both valid and reliable( this classification system actually organises metal disorders into discrete and distinct disorders and that the classification system produces the same diagnosis each time it is used In the same situation)

Strengths for using this approach include:

  • Helps communication
  • Allows diagnosis

Weaknesses for using this approach include:

  • Low inter reliability
  • Lots of overlap between symptoms which can make diagnosis tricky
  • Stigma and labelling

The Dimensional approach is the approach to classifying mental disorders that quantifies a person’s symptoms or other characteristics of interest and represents them with numerical values on one or more scales or continuums, rather than assigning them to a mental disorder category. Diagnosis then becomes not a process of deciding the presence of a symptom or disorder but rather the degree to which a particular characteristic is present. Instead of making judgements, the dimensional approach asks the question “how much?” Lower scores equate to lower impairment and higher scores equate to higher impairment.

Strengths for using this approach include:

  • More detailed information on each symptom
  • It takes into account a wider range of factors. (More than categorical approaches) 
  • A profile is created instead of labelling.

Weaknesses for using this approach include:

  • Time consuming
  • There is no standard inventory to compare scores to making diagnosis difficult.

Ok i think thats everything 😀 And in the famous words of Forrest Gump…. ” That’s all i have to say about that”

( Please feel free to correct any mistakes 😛 )


For about the last week in psych, as an introduction to Mental health (our last Area of Study EVER..), we have been studying ideas of normality and abnormality.

We know that normaility is considered  to be what is acceptable and what we may expect to occur in most circumstances or a condition that does not need adjustment. There are many of what are called ‘model’s of normality. These models are the individual aspects by which normality can be and is often measured, of which some include:

  • Socio-cultural
  • Historical
  • Situational
  • Medical
  • Functional

For example the Functional model focuses of how effectively an individual is able to do what is expected(/normal) in everyday life, taking into account the adaptation of the behaviour and how it affects the wellbeing of the person or group. Examples of this model include: addiction, anxiety disorders, stress and other mood disorders.

Another model of normality is the statistical model, which measures normality by what shows to be common from the perpective of data i.e. the statistical average is what is considered ‘normal’ in this model, that is the majority support of a behaviour. The statistical model often involves the use of the bell curve, as it shows the statistical distribution.

But we also know that abnormailty exists even though the idea is that it is the minority. Abnormality is considered to be any kind of behaviour, including thoughts and feelings, that are deviant, distressing and dysfunctional.

As there are so many different ways and aspects of measuring normailty, it is shown that they interelate with each other. The BIOPSYCHOSOCIAL Framework is an example of this.

The BIOPSYCHOSOCIAL Framework is based on the idea that mental health and wellbeing is dependant on a blend of biological, social and psychological factors.

And so even more lately we have been looking at the different ways mental disorders are classified. The best known ways are categorical and dimensional approaches. Both are important and it is unusual for just one to be used; they are often used together because the categorical takes into account the symptoms and the dimensional measures the severity of the symtoms.

I Hope that covers everything i am supposed to, and I appologise for the delay!



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