Bernadette Coh

Erick Sangalang

Anthony David

Psychology 100

March 30, 2004

Panel Presentation: Abnormal Psychology

 

Cosmides, J. (1999).  Abnormal Psychology.  Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108 (3), 453- 464.).

 

            In Cosmides’ “Abnormal Psychology”, he tries to explain the study and the details surrounding abnormal psychology and how it affects our own everyday lives.  It is declared within the article that abnormal psychology has two very distinct identities, which are “(a) a medical discipline concerned with the study, diagnosis, and treatment of psychological conditions that may invite treatment, and (b) a scientific study of psychological phenomena that falls outside the range of normal mental functioning, including but not limited to those that ensue when the physiological or neutral architecture is damaged in some respect” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 453).

            One point that Cosmides discussed within the article was the question of abnormal psychology being a defense mechanism versus a dysfunction.  The article clearly points out one example of how this debate is still being discussed to this day.  It declares that fever, which was once thought of as a “disorder of temperature regulation” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 453) is now believed to be our body’s own evolved defense mechanism against infection and disease.  Through this debate, Cosmides revealed that in order to truly understand abnormal psychology, we must first realize the significance of what is a function.  He declares that a function is something that helps our bodies adapt to our environments in order for us to survive.  One of the main reasons why psychological disorders exist is because one or more psychological mechanisms are not “computing according to the criteria that constitute their evolved function and in a way that is considered harmful” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 454).  In essence, it is declared that disorders of this kind are in the world only because our bodies are not performing the specific functions that they were set about to do.  Instead of functioning as it is supposed to, it does something different, and in so doing, causes abnormal behavior and abnormal psychology.  According to Cosmides, harmful evolutionary dysfunctions is the most important category solely based on the fact that most of human action “…depends on the realized functional organization of complex adaptations” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 462) which include not only the ability to hear and see, but to also recognize faces and voices.

            In the section titled ‘Treatable Conditions, Health, Disorders, and the Medicalization of Values’, Cosmides explores the idea that although physical disorders only harm and impact only one person directly, abnormal psychology and behavior affects many people all at once.  It leaves much room for conflict between affected peoples.  In addition to this, Cosmides explains that “…psychological or behavioral conditions (create) no harmony of values among the individual generating the behavior (and everyone else involved)” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 458).  This is why abnormal psychology is such an important issue that we must all understand, for it is not only the people who are experiencing the disorders who feel the pain of what they are feeling, but it also the people around them that are affected.

            Cosmides also a talk about what the term, abnormal truly means.  According to him, “ ‘Abnormal’ is different from uncustomary: Abnormality is defined against an evolutionary rather than a cultural background, so that what is common now may be abnormal evolutionary” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 456).  He believes that sometimes evolution can be disruptive to our minds for it only looks at success in terms of the short term rather than the long term.  This therefore causes problems such as alcoholism because our bodies are not adapted to this kind of substance for our ancestors never encountered it in the EEA.  Cosmides reveals, “A very common kind of problem results from an environmental mutation interacting with a normal species- typical architecture designed to function in the ancestral world” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 462). 

            Another very important issue that Cosmides talks about within his “Abnormal Psychology” article is the importance of characterizing adaptations.  It is said that “Because mental organization is created by adaptations, the clusters of symptoms constituting a syndrome will tend to be explained by the organization and features of the adaptation or adaptations that are impaired” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 463).  One of the disorders that Cosmides explores in this context is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  This disorder is caused by a “…over activation of the precaution schema…” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 464).  This type of abnormal psychology is characterized by compulsive checking to make sure the stove is turned off and also the compulsive action of washing one’s hands.  It is believed that the precaution module should “…include functionally distinct subcomponents for dealing with physical hazards, disease and contamination, preparation for the future, social disasters, and so on” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 464).

             

 

Bernadette Coh

Erick Sangalang

Anthony David

Psychology 100

March 30, 2004

Panel Presentation: Abnormal Psychology

 

Cosmides, J. (1999). Abnormal Psychology.  Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108 (3).  453- 464).

 

I.                    Cosmides explains the study of abnormal psychology and the effects it has on everyday life.

II.                 Abnormal Psychology has two very distinct identities.

a.       A medical discipline concerned with the study, diagnosis, and treatment of psychological conditions that may invite treatment.

b.      Scientific study of psychological phenomena that falls outside the range of normal mental functioning, including but limited to those that ensue when the psychological or neutral architecture is damages in some respect. (Cosmides, 1999, PP 453).

III.               Abnormal Psychology is questioned of being whether a dysfunction or defense mechanism.

a.       An example of that being the claim that a fever was thought of being “disorder of temperature regulation”

                                                               i.      The case is that a fever is our body’s evolved defense mechanism against infection and disease.

b.      What is a function?

                                                               i.      A function is something that helps our bodies adapt to our environments in order for us to survive.

c.       Psychological disorders exist because one more mechanism are not “computing according to the criteria that constitute their evolved function and in a way that is considered harmful”. (Cosmides, 1999, PP 454).

                                                               i.      To Cosmides, harmful dysfunctions are most important to humans, because basic human actions are based on the “realized functional 0organization of complex adaptations” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 462).  Not only being capable of hearing and seeing, but recognizing faces and voices.

IV.              Abnormal psych9ology does not only affect the individual, but many people collectively.

a.       Psychological and behavioral conditions create no harmony of values among the individual generating the behavior and everyone else involved (Cosmides, 1000, PP 456).

                                                               i.      The diagnosed ones are not the only ones that feel the pain, but the others around them and those that are involved are the ones who share the pain as well, and are directly affected.

V.                 Abnormal and uncustomary are not the same thing.

a.       Abnormal is against an evolutionary rather than cultural background. (Cosmides, 1999, PP 456).

                                                               i.      Sometimes evolution can be disruptive to our minds for it only looks at the success in terms of short term, instead of long term.

1.      Alcoholism is an example, because the EEA did not have to deal with things such as alcohol.

                                                             ii.      “A very common kind of problem results from an environmental mutation interacting with a normal species- typical architecture designed to function in the ancestral world” (Cosmides, 1999, PP 462).

VI.              Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an example of an impaired adaptation.

a.       “OCD is the over activation of the precaution schema”. (Cosmides, 1999, PP 464).

                                                               i.      One might check the stove to make sure it is off countless times, or washing hands excessively and compulsively.