Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that deals with abnormal behavior and describes, predicts, and determines causes, as well as comes up with the treatment. The abnormal behavior is confirmed when an individual fails to consistently perform normal functions under varied conditions. The assignable cause for abnormal function or behavior may be due to one or more of four factors including hereditary, physical, and mental or social. Any person falling beyond the lower or upper specification limits is considered abnormal from a statistical point of view. In view of this definition, both a prodigy and an insane person are abnormal and abnormal psychology deals with both of them. Of the various parameters considered to determine psychometric abnormality, one is the IQ, differing widely from the population norms. The average IQ is considered to be 100 and an individual having an IQ less than 35 is considered psychologically abnormal.. The study of the causes of mental disorder, psychopathology, and emotional stresses falls within the scope of abnormal psychology. The psychologist who specializes in this branch is the abnormal psychologist. At times the abnormal psychologist may be literally an abnormal person psychologically and it is on record that some sufferers had been great psychologists and they have made use of their first hand experience.
1. Sigmund Freud
Sigismand Schlomo Freud, commonly known as Sigmund Freud, was born on May 6, 1856 in Freiberg in MÃƒ¤hren, Czech Republic and died on September 23, 1939, at the age of 83 years, in London, England. He received his degree as Doctor of Medicine from the University of Vienna in 1881. Sigmund Freud is iconic to psychology and he is considered the father of abnormal psychology. He is the founder of psychoanalysis, which is a method of treating psychological patients through dialogue between the patient and the psychoanalyst. He devised the technique of free association, allowing the patient to express freely, without any reservations and without any sequence, certain events, desires, sexual experiences and fantasies. His theory of psychoanalysis has been practiced by renowned abnormal psychologists to treat psychopathological conditions. Freud is also known for his theories relating to the Oedipus complex, libido, the death drive, and the conscious and unconscious mind.
2. Jacques Lacan
Jacques Marie Emilie Lacan, better known as Jacques Lacan, was born to Emilie and Alfred Lacan on April13, 1901 in Paris, France and died on September 9, 1981 at the age of 80 years in Paris. He studied at the Jesuit College Stanislas. He followed Sigmund Freud and contributed to the psychoanalysis movement. Through his seminars in Paris, he influenced the intellectuals of France. They were particularly impressed by his post-structuralist theory. His other notable works include those on literary theory, film theory, feminist theory and clinical psychoanalysis. He was a staunch follower of Freud and said, ”It is up to you to be Lacanians if you wish. I am a Freudian’.
3. B. F. Skinner
Burrhus Frederic Skinner, better known as B.F. Skinner, was born on March 20, 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, U.S. and died on August 18, 1990 at the age of 86 years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. He was a famous psychologist known for his staunch belief in behaviorism. He was a professor of psychology at Harvard University from 1958 to 1974. He did not believe in human free will and opined that human actions were guided by their outcome. They would repeat the actions only if the outcome was good, otherwise they refrained from repeating that action. He invented the operant conditioning chamber, which was provided with a food tray and a lever. A hungry rat would learn the use of lever and repeat the action at a faster rate till satiation. In 2002 Skinner was ranked among the 99 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century.
4. Deirdre Barrett
Deirdre Barrett, PhD. teaches psychology at Harvard University. She is a well known psychologist and is best known for her research on dreams and hypnosis. She assigned homework to her students, asking them to complete the given assignment on the basis of their real dreams. She found that half of the students dreamed of the homework and the other half found answers to assignments in their dreams. She has written many books, including The Pregnant Man and Other Tales from a Hypnotherapist’s Couch, Waistland, Supernormal Stimuli, Trauma and Dreams, The New Science of Dreaming, Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy and The Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreams. She is the former president of the American Psychological Association’s Society for Psychological Hypnosis.
5. Kay Redfield Jamison
Kay Redfield Jamison was born on June 22, 1946. She studied at University of California, Los Angeles and received her Ph.D. in 1975. She is an American clinical psychologist, known for her work on bipolar disorder. In fact she has herself suffered from bipolar disorder since her early childhood and has utilized her first hand experience for the benefit of other sufferers. She is the professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is on the list of the Best Doctors in the United States. Time magazine selected her as a Hero of Medicine.
6. Theodore Millon
Theodore Millon was born on August 18, 1928. He is an American psychologist, best known for his work on personality disorders and abnormal psychological conditions. For fifteen years he was on the board of trustees of a large Pennsylvanian psychiatric hospital, the Allentown State Hospital. He is a professor at Harvard University. In 2008, the American Psychological association honored him with the Gold Medal Award for life achievement in the Application of Psychology. The American Psychological Foundation has named an award after him: ‘The Theodore Millon Award in Personality Psychology’. Millon has devised sixteen subtypes for each of the personality disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders.
Aaron Temkin Beck was born on July 18, 1921 in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Beck was educated at Brown University and received his M.D. from Yale Medical School in 1946. He is an American psychologist and a professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is best known for his work on cognitive therapy. His theories are practiced in the treatment of clinical depression. His notable works include the developments of Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Hopelessness Scale, Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation, Beck Youth Inventories and Beck Anxiety Inventory.
8. Carl Rogers
Carl Ransom Rogers was born to Walter A. Rogers and Julia M. Cushing on January 8, 1902 in Oak Park, Illinois, U.S. and died on February 4, 1987 at the age of 85 in San Diego, California, U.S. He was a renowned American psychologist known for co-founding the humanistic or person-centered approach. This new approach helped in different areas including psychotherapy, counseling and education. In 1972 the APA awarded him for making Distinguished Professional Contributions to Psychology. He was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for interacting with groups in conflict in South Africa and Northern Ireland.
9. Franz Anton Mesmer
Franz Anton Mesmer was born to Anton Mesmer and Maria Ursula on May 23, 1734 and died on March 5, 1815. He was a German physician and had an interest in astronomy. He opined that there was a natural transference of energy between non-living and the living beings, and he termed it as animal magnetism. By administering an oral supplement containing iron and by attaching magnets to different body parts of a patient, Mesmer produced an artificial tide. He reported streams of mysterious fluid flowing through his body. Mesmer is the root of the English word ‘Mesmerize’.
10. William James
William James was born to Henry James Sr. and Mary Robertson Walsh, on January 11, 1842 in New York City, New York and died on August 26, 1910 at the age of 68 years in Tamworth, New Hampshire. He is often referred to as a father of American psychology. His book The Principles of Psychology is a classic of psychology. He is also known for his books on pragmatism, educational psychology, and psychology. He developed the cognitive model which explains the abnormal functioning by realizing that everyone has one’s unique view of the world that is considered reality. In case of a wrong view, this reality is distorted and causes abnormal behavior.
In normal cases the patient is able to give his or her history, while in case of an abnormal patient, the very basic information relating to the condition is not obtainable, and this makes the task of the abnormal psychologist quite difficult. Abnormal psychology is comparatively a new branch of science and in the past people suffering from psychological disorders had been treated like criminals on account of their deviant behavior. Treating normal patients is a great service to humanity, but the abnormal psychologists extend a greater service to humanity through treating the abnormal patients.