Theoretical Models Used to Explain Abnormal Behavior

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Theoretical Models Used to Explain Abnormal Behavior

Abnormal behavior is that which does not fit into the usual ways in which people act. Usually, models are used when scientists cannot find a direct way to explain such behavior. Models are also used when the explanations for such behavior are influenced by more than one thing. In this essay, two models will be compared and contrasted as they relate to abnormal behavior. The two models are biological models and cognitive models.

Biological models proposes that the abnormal behavior that occurs in human is caused by differences in the brain structure and also the genetic make up of the person. The brain contains to main hemispheres, each deals with the opposite side of the body. Abnormal behavior is mainly linked to the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the reticular activating system, the limbic system and the cerebrum. Some structures in the midbrain and the hind brain are closely linked as well since they produce the chemicals that affect the functioning of a person. Genetics also play a role in explaining the development of abnormal behaviors. Usually, the genetic make up of a person alongside with the interaction with the environment determines How behaviors present themselves. This model emphasizes internal causes. It assumes that biochemical differences in the human body are the main cause of abnormal mental behavior (Raju, 2010). The therapeutic model that is mostly used with this model is medication. The main aim of the medication is to change the chemical imbalance that usually results in abnormal behavior.

The cognitive model is based on the assumption that our thoughts affect our behavior and also our emotional states. This means that different people often interpret different events differently resulting in different behaviors (Brown & Menninger, n.d.) . The cognitive models are usually dealt with by focusing on changing the irrational beliefs that most people with abnormal behavior have. Some of the therapeutic models that are used with this model include schema therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. The main aim of such  therapies is to correct the irrational thinking that is mostly associated with the abnormal behavior. Proponents of these believe that by correcting the irrational beliefs and thoughts, one can change the abnormal behavior

One similarity between the two models is their association with the brain. Both of them recognize the brain as the structure that is associated with abnormal behavior.  A key difference between the two lies solely in the methods of therapy that are usually recommended by proponents of each model. On one hand, the biological model recommends medication as the major way to deal with such (Raju, 2010). On the other, the cognitive model suggests that changing irrational thoughts and beliefs could be more beneficial. However, for most abnormal mental challenges, a combination of each is usually recommended. Usually, people who are diagnosed with any of the illnesses that present abnormal behavior have to go through both therapy and medication.

In conclusion, the biological and the cognitive models for explaining abnormal behavior have been addressed. From the discussion above, it is clear that for most abnormal behavior, a combination of the models is necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment. It is also clear that there is an overlap in the models, especially with the recognition that the brain is the organ that is responsible for most of the abnormal behavior. The knowledge on both models is necessary in dealing with the issues that are characteristic of the abnormal behavior.


Brown, J. F., & Menninger, K. A. (n.d.). Other theoretical approaches.The Psychodynamics of Abnormal Behavior., 251-268. doi:10.1037/11534-013

Raju, S. (2010). Chapter-04 Conceptual Models of Abnormal Behavior. Psychiatry and Mental Health Nursing, 122-137. doi:10.5005/jp/books/11432_4

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