PSY 699 Assignment Prepare a Lecture Addressing the Origins of Psychopathology 

PSY 699 Assignment Prepare a Lecture Addressing the Origins of Psychopathology 

PSY 699 Assignment Prepare a Lecture Addressing the Origins of Psychopathology 

Week 1: Origins of Psychopathology

Hello everyone; welcome to today’s lecture on the origins of psychopathology. In this lecture, we will seek to explore psychopathology, its origin, and other aspects to enhance an understanding of the same. In recent years, counseling psychology and psychotherapy have been the main gateway to understanding mental distress and helping individuals cope with various adverse symptoms of mental illnesses (Exline et al.,2021). Therefore having a deeper understanding of psychopathology is essential for a better understanding of mental illnesses. As such, by the end of this lecture, the student will:

  • Be able to define and describe psychopathology.
  • Explain the origins of psychopathology.
  • Describe the contrasting different historical views of psychopathology
  • Be able to explain and compare the perspectives on the etiology of psychopathology

Psychopathology: What Does it Mean?

            The term psychopathology has been derived from two different words of Greece origin. One of the words is “psyche,” which means soul, and “pathos,” which means suffering. In the mental health cycle, psychopathology means a comprehensive study of mental health-related problems. Therefore, through psychopathology, individuals can appropriately understand the origin of various mental disorders, how these disorders develop, and various symptoms (Krueger  & Blaney, 2023). In addition, psychopathology may include several other elements covering the treatment and management strategies, categorization, development, course, and causes such as psychological, social, biological, and genetic, as well as behaviors. In other words, psychopathology entails the exploration of problems connected to mental health, how to understand such problems, their classification, and how to approach them. The implication is that psychopathology extends from research to treatment and deals with every step that connects all the stages. The importance of psychopathology emanates from the fact that a comprehensive understanding of the development of mental disorders leads to easier understanding and development of effective treatment approaches or strategies.

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            The signs of psychopathology may vary based on the type and nature of a particular condition. People may experience various signs when experiencing various mental health conditions. Some of them may include withdrawal from friends and activities, complications coping with daily and normal life, thoughts of suicide or self-harm, sleep disruptions, feelings of fatigue or low energy, anger, irritability, and inability to concentrate (Stanghellini et al.,2019). The others may include feelings of distress, excessive fear, anxiety, worry, changes in mood, and changes in eating habits.

Contrasting Different Historical Views of Psychopathology

            Throughout history, human beings have had different views regarding psychopathology. From ancient times, human beings have sought explanations regarding various abnormal human behaviors. Ancient beliefs connect abnormal behavior behaviors to the mischief of demons or disfavor of supernatural power (Stoyanov et al.,2019). Such ancient beliefs were then followed by another aspect that connected psychopathology to bodily biochemical imbalances and physiological dysfunctions.

The Ancient Supernatural Beliefs

            There have been various views on pathophysiology, with the belief of supernatural aspects taking the central stage in ancient times. In ancient supernatural beliefs, abnormal mental behaviors come as a result of various supernatural demons, evil spirits, and magic. As part of this belief system, human behaviors, thoughts, and effects are impacted by agents which are outside our normal environment and bodies. Any person experiencing mental disorders was considered to be possessed and controlled by demons, evil spirits, and magic (Stoyanov et al.,2019). The kind of behavior shown by an individual shows the nature of the spirit. For example, destructive behaviors were considered to be due to evil spirits, and treatment would include caging, chaining, or beatings. This historical view also considered the movement of staff and the full moon affecting the behavior of people. As such, those who follow astrology believe that an individual’s mental status can be influenced and predicted by the positions of stars, moons, and planets.

The Biological Perspectives

            Apart from the ancient perspectives, which regarded psychopathology from the supernatural perspective, there are other current perspectives, such as biological perspectives. According to this perspective, mental disorders result from biochemical imbalances and physical diseases in the human body. The early Greek physicians contributed considerably to this perspective. Hippocrates mocked the early or ancient views of psychopathology. This physician argued that abnormal behavior, just like other kinds of diseases, must have some natural cause (Olthof et al.,2023). In addition, normal behavior depends on the natural body balance; as such, psychopathology results from a deficiency or excess of bodily fluids, also known as the four humors. In the nineteenth century, Kraeplin and Grey argued that mental illness or disorder results from some physical causes; hence, ventilation, proper room temperature, diet, and rest should be emphasized as part of the management process.

The Psychological Perspectives.

            Apart from the biological perspectives, there are also the psychological perspectives of psychopathology. This perspective focuses on the cultural, social, interpersonal, and psychological factors when explaining psychopathology. The early psychological perspectives started with the mental and moral hygiene movement, which focused on advocating responsible and human care for institutionalized individuals and emphasized social interaction with them (Eronen, 2021). Sigmund Freud pioneered the psychoanalytic perspective and made discoveries regarding how the unconscious mind impacts psychopathology. As such, this approach focused on psychoanalytic therapy, anxiety, and defense mechanisms, levels of consciousness, and the analysis of mental structures.

The Humanistic Perspective

            This is another perspective that exists and explains psychopathology. This perspective focuses more on the positive life aspects, personal growth experiences, and free choices. Based on this perspective, mental illness or abnormality comes from an individual refusing to accept personal responsibility for their thoughts and actions (Eronen, 2021). The implication is that human behavior is majorly as a result of the choices which people voluntarily make. This approach also considers human nature to be inherently good, and therefore, abnormal behaviors result from society but not from the person. The proponents of this perspective, such as Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, opposed the behaviorism and psychoanalysis deterministic nature that individuals behave the way they do because of the way they perceive the situation.

The Behavioral Perspective

            This is a perspective that was propagated by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian psychologist, and John Watson, an American psychologist also known as the father of behavior. This perspective focuses on the role of learning in abnormal and normal behavior. As such, in this perspective, abnormal behavior results from learning or acquiring maladaptive and inappropriate behaviors. The implication is that abnormal behavior is also learned like the normal behavior.

A Comparison of Various Perspective On the Etiology of Psychopathology

            As part of this lecture, it is important to also explore various perspectives on the etiology of psychopathology. Learning about the causal factors of psychopathology for effective prevention and treatment of mental disorders. Recent research has shown that abnormal behaviors are usually complex and can only be appropriately understood by focusing on various perspectives instead of emphasizing a single causal factor (Contreras et al.,2019). It is also important to note that when striving to develop a deeper understanding of the etiology of psychopathology, there are no definite and clear-cut answers as in the cases of physical diseases. This factor explains why several models or viewpoints have since emerged which try to explain and make people understand the etiology of psychopathology. Factors that explain the etiology of psychopathology can be classified as either biological, sociocultural, or psychological.

PSY 699 Assignment Prepare a Lecture Addressing the Origins of Psychopathology 
PSY 699 Assignment Prepare a Lecture Addressing the Origins of Psychopathology 

The biological factor explains that mental disorders are conditions that have cognitive and behavioral systems, even though their causes are physiological or biological. Therefore, according to this view, mental illnesses are considered diseases of the central nervous system; hence, they may be caused by various medical factors such as physical diseases, injuries, or inherited. There are five major biological factors, including physical disruption or deprivation, brain structure, constitutional liabilities, genetics, and hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain. An imbalance of neurotransmitters can cause various mental illnesses. When the normal balance of hormones is disturbed, then there is a possibility of mental illnesses resulting (Contreras et al.,2019). Genes also play a critical role; for instance, the lifetime risk of schizophrenia is known to be 1%. However, a child to the affected individual becomes as high as 10%. The brain structure has also been implicated in psychopathology as a physical factor. For example, the MRI images of the brain of patients with schizophrenia show reduced frontal lobe density and dilated cerebral ventricles. Physical deprivation, such as sleep, oxygen, water, and food inadequacies, has been associated with mental disorders.

Psychological factors are also known to impact psychopathology. They are factors defined as aspects of how one relates to another, evaluates themselves, and reacts to interpersonal stimuli. The psychological factors connected to the etiology of psychopathology include factors such as childhood neglect, the loss of a close family member, and various types of abuse such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and traumas (Kendler, 2020). Such psychological factors may lead to a host of mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The discussed factors may also lead to a range of physiological symptoms, such as changes in eating habits, mood swings, unwanted worries, fear, and distress. The distorted cognitive processes like choosing to attend to particular information while ignoring some other information, making inaccurate attribution regarding events, always expecting the worst, and exaggerating negative feelings have all been proven to contribute to the etiology of psychopathology.

As opposed to the biological and psychological aspects or perspectives, which have mainly been propagated by psychiatrists and psychologists, sociologists propagated the sociocultural perspective and have since stood by it. One of the factors under this category is socio-economic status. Social class has been shown to be an important causal factor of mental disorders. Individuals from lower economic classes are more likely to be mentally ill in comparison with those in higher economic classes. Gender has also been shown to be connected to the etiology of psychopathology (Kendler, 2020). While studies have been conflicting, women have been shown to have a higher rate of mental disorders in some studies. Again, other studies have shown that males are more likely to be exposed to mental illnesses.

The Directions That the Study of Psychopathology May Be Taking

It is evident that psychopathology is important to an appropriate understanding of mental illness, its diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. Therefore, it is important that psychopathology forms an integral part of current and future studies. As such, as part of the directions that the study of psychopathology should take, there is a need to advance on the atheoretical DSMs such as III, IV, and V. While these tools have tried to foster the scientific progress in the psychopathology theoretical conceptualization, they have failed to offer the clinicians with the precise diagnostic instruments which can guide treatment. As part of the new direction, the focus should be on various factors, such as prenatal factors, while bringing in other aspects, such as the influence of substance abuse. It is also important to bring other professionals on board, apart from those who deal with mental health and illness issues.


As we bring this lecture to a close,  it is important to highlight some major points. Psychopathology plays a central role in helping mental health professionals understand mental illness and how to treat them. From the historical perspective, the understanding of pathophysiology has greatly evolved, and the term is currently being used to mean a study dealing with the causes of mental illnesses. It is also important to explore potential new areas of the psychopathology study. It was good having you in this lecture as we journeyed together to acquire more knowledge on psychopathology. Please, feel free to ask any questions regarding today’s topic.


Contreras, A., Nieto, I., Valiente, C., Espinosa, R., & Vazquez, C. (2019). The study of psychopathology from the network analysis perspective: A systematic review. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics88(2), 71-83.

Eronen, M. I. (2021). The levels problem in psychopathology. Psychological Medicine51(6), 927-933.

Exline, J. J., Pargament, K. I., Wilt, J. A., & Harriott, V. A. (2021). Mental illness, normal psychological processes, or attacks by the devil? Three lenses to frame demonic struggles in therapy. Spirituality in Clinical Practice8(3), 215.

Kendler, K. S., Parnas, J., & Zachar, P. (Eds.). (2020). Levels of analysis in psychopathology: cross-disciplinary perspectives. Cambridge University Press.

Krueger, R. F., & Blaney, P. H. (Eds.). (2023). Oxford textbook of psychopathology. Oxford University Press.

Olthof, M., Hasselman, F., Oude Maatman, F., Bosman, A. M., & Lichtwarck-Aschoff, A. (2023). Complexity theory of psychopathology. Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science132(3), 314.

Stanghellini, G., Broome, M., Raballo, A., Fernandez, A. V., Fusar-Poli, P., & Rosfort, R. (Eds.). (2019). The Oxford handbook of phenomenological psychopathology. Oxford University Press, USA.

Stoyanov, D., Telles-Correia, D., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2019). The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) and the historical roots of psychopathology: A viewpoint. European Psychiatry57, 58-60.