Theoretical Perspectives of Certain Disorders

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Anxiety Disorder Psychoanalysts believe that anxiety disorders are caused by internal mental conflicts often involving sexual impulses. These impulses cause an overuse of the ego’s defense system that fails over time. This shows that the unacceptable impulses the ego has blocked are the generalized anxiety disorders. These blocked impulses cause an unconscious state of apprehension for which the person does not know the cause of. Phobias, however, occur if the person sets the cause of the anxiety to a certain object, or situation, which they can more easily avoid than the actual source of anxiety. Panic disorders and agoraphobia are caused by separation anxiety, mainly separation from parents, early in life. This happens in children who were taught to intervene in separation from a parenting figure by throwing tantrums. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is seen as a fixation in the mind at the primary stage of psychosexual development. The fact that compulsive behavior rituals often involve cleanliness shows that there is mental fixation during a period of mastering unclean bowel movements. Behaviorists believe that in anxiety disorders the individual is not “fixated” but they have a conditioned fear that does not involve oedipal complexes or displacement. The theory of classical conditioning says that phobias are the result of learned associations of neutral stimuli and frightening events. This also demonstrates why an individual might have a phobia of guns after being shot by one. Biological theorists believe that people with anxiety disorders have unusually responsive autonomic systems that are more easily aroused by environmental stimuli. This condition is known as autonomic lability that contributes to a tendency to be jumpy or anxious. They feel that the basal ganglia has loops in the sensory input and behavioral output centers. Somatoform Disorders Psychoanalysts feel that somatoform disorders are caused by unresolved sexual impulses that produce intense anxiety that is converted into physical symptoms. Because of this conversion the original anxiety produced is now reduced, this process is termed primary gain, but if the person is allowed to escape or avoid stressful life situations. Similar to the psychoanalysts’ perspective of secondary gain, behaviorists feel that if a person is allowed to escape or avoid the physical symptoms are reinforced. Biological theorists, have very little to say since there seems to be no physical cause of the symptoms, except that there may be some genetic predisposition to Somatoform disorders. Dissociative Disorders Psychoanalysts believe that dissociative symptoms are caused by massive reliance on repression to ward off unacceptable impulses, particularly those of a sexual nature.
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