Description of Abnormal Psychology

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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an abnormal biological response that is a consequence of direct or indirect exposure to a severely traumatizing event, which can further induce a maladaptive psychological state. This threatening life experience generally triggers a reaction of anxiety, vulnerability, or horror in the victim (1). In the 1995 film Copycat (2), the protagonist, Dr. Hudson, suffers from this disorder, as well as agoraphobia and panic attacks due to a terrorizing experience she had in the past. Agoraphobia is defined as a paralyzing fear of being in spaces or settings where the sufferer feels there is neither escape nor available assistance in the event of a panic attack. In extreme cases, individuals with agoraphobia imprison themselves to places in which they feel “safe” and avoid facing unfamiliar places altogether, as these may yield heightened anxiety (3). The reason I chose this particular movie for this assignment is that the main character perfectly exhibits how one abnormal disorder can produce others, and how these disorders pose a significant hindrance to one’s everyday life. Almost everyone has undergone a minor form of an abnormal condition such as a panic attack or PTSD, but this movie depicts how the most severe form of the disease affects an individual. In this movie, Dr. Hudson’s acute panic attacks are characterized by an intensified feeling of distress, and at times incapacitate her to the brink of a nervous breakdown and unconsciousness. These abnormal conditions are a profound feature of the story, which revolves around Dr. Hudson (who is an expert author and lecturer on serial killers) working with other detectives to track down a serial killer after a series of peculiar homicides in t...

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4. Nolen-Hoeksema, Susan. (2013). Abnormal Psychology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw Hill.

5. Bremner J. D., Elzinga B., Schmahl C., Vermetten E. (2008). Structural and functional plasticity of the human brain in posttraumatic stress disorder. Progress Brain Research, 167:171–186.

6. Spermon, D., Darlington, Y., Gibney, P. (2010). Psychodynamic psychotherapy for complex trauma: targets, focus, applications, and outcomes. Psychol Res Behav Manag., 3:119-127.

7. Grey, N., Wild, J., Scott, R. (2013). Implementation of cognitive therapy for PTSD in routine clinical care. Behavior Research and Therapy, 51(11), 742-752.

8. Huppert, J. D., Kivity, Y., Barlow, D. H., et al. (2013) Therapist effects and the outcome–alliance correlation in cognitive behavioral therapy for panic disorder with agoraphobia. Behavior Research and Therapy, 52, 26-34.
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