Abnormal psychology is a subdivision of psychology and it is basically the study the abnormal behavior and experience, and partly understood states like hypnosis and dreams. The study is done to understand this abnormal functioning and then taking appropriate measures to change it.
What is abnormal behavior and states change from culture to culture and from individual to individual. Today, when we talk about abnormal functioning, it is usually associated with some kind of mental disorder. In other words, abnormal psychology involves the study of people who cannot adapt and function normally under circumstances that are considered normal. This can usually occur due to genetics, social interactions, physical conditioning, learning and reasoning.
If you examine the origins of abnormal psychology, you will see that for thousands of years people have been making an effort to understand and change what is perceived as abnormal behavior. People thought that abnormal behavior was due to three main reasons -- supernatural, biological and psychological.
When a person exhibited abnormal behavior, it was initially considered to be caused by demons, spirits, planetary influences and astral influences. During the Stone Age, when someone showed abnormal behavior, a hole was drilled into the head to allow an escape route for the evil spirit. In ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Hebrew cultures, it was considered to be punishment from God, who sent evil demons, and the person who invariably have to undergo an exorcism to get rid of the evil demons. During the period of the Roman and Grecian Empires, it was thought that abnormal behavior was because of imbalance of the four humors and was treated by draining fluids from the brain. In the Dark Ages, the Europeans thought that mental disorders were because of evil spirits that possessed the person and the only solution was religious exorcism. If this step failed, the person was confined, beaten or tortured so that the evil spirit would leave the body. This belief continued right up till the 15th century.
In the 16th century, Paracelsus, a Swiss astrologer, alchemist and physician, believed that mental disorders were because of movements of the moon and stars and due to demons and evil spirits.
Belief in biological cause of abnormal behavior should be attributed to Hippocrates, the Greek physician. He believed that abnormal behaviors could be treated like any other disease and the brain, which was responsible for consciousness, intelligence, emotions and wisdom, was the root cause of these behaviors.
The social cause of abnormal behavior was attributed later to a problem in psychological development and social reasons.
This is considered to be origins of abnormal psychology.
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