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Family Psychopathology, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1150

Essay

Introduction

This paper examines the concepts of Family Psychopathology. In particular the work of Luciano L’Abate in his works entitled ‘Family Psychopathology: the relational roots of dysfunctional behaviour.[1]

Book Summary

This book is divided into five main sections.  These sections include:Section 1 relates to the foundation of the subject matter. It specifically addresses such themes as: the theoretic role of the family, family unity and how personalities interact; a focus upon the concept of ‘family’ as it relates to family psychopathology; the interaction of families and the risk and resiliency factors. Section 2 examines the dimension of the family structure. This examines market dyads and the parenting styles within family psychopathology. It concludes with examination of the intergenerational relationships between families.

Most Family Psychopathology books tend to focus on the mental health aspect of thepsychic or neurobiological aspects of the individual.  This book rectifies that by taking a different perspective i.e. looking at the subject matter from the family perspective. The book probes and takes an analytical examination of relational roots of dysfunctional behavior. Genetics, physiology. Additional chapters in the book include that of:family therapy, preventive approaches, and parent training programs.

Useful Concepts and Themes

The book contains a number of useful concepts and themes. Amongst the most interesting of these are that related to the following:

Family Dysfunction– The analysis related to how the dysfunctional functions of families can affect the mental state of the child. One of the big problems seems to be the way kids in foster care are shuffled around between different families and schools. This constant state of disruption leaves them in a state of confusion and a feeling of non-belonging to any specific family.  This can lead to the feeling of becoming an outcast and subsequent alienation of the foster parents. This is a slippery slope where solace often resides in creating friends in gangs and involvement with drugs.

In the early days, the behavioural therapist saw only those individuals who were involved in problematic marriages. The others are children within problem families. The concept of strategic behavioural therapy developed the need to build on individual cognitive frameworks. Two of the major contributors were Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis. Both of these were influenced by Freud (instinct), Jung (mysticism) and Adler (common sense). Hence, from the perspective of the behavioural counsellor – thoughts resulted in feelings and these in turn led to behavioural responses.

Cognitive behavioural approaches have been particularly successful in treating adolescents and youths with behavioural problems. The theoretical approach has the capability of adapting to different behavioural circumstances and environments. It deals with both emotional and social domains and as such is extremely persuasive in its applied application. The theory deals directly with those cognitive forces that stimulate emotional reactions and behavioural responses. As such it provides a problem solving orientation in order to determine the best or most suitable forms of psychological treatment.  In order to deal successfully with cognitive problems it is important to gain a precise understanding of the emotions being displayed and understand the causation factors behind these.  Mental health professionals have outlined the importance of family and social relationships as an important contributory part of the therapeutic process in treating problems. As such favourable outcomes in treatment are highly influenced by a positive approach and supportive stance being adopted from the parents.

The Marital Dyad

Modern society poses numerous challenges upon a successful marriage.  One of the most demanding is that of financial hardship.  That might be brought on by a job loss or physical illness, leaving one’s spouse to cope with the problem.  This is often the situation where marital communications breakdown, when in fact it is the most important time for working as a team and communicating with one another.  Another important issue is the loss of self-image, where either weight gain or loss occurs.  (The concept of obesity or anorexic) this can lead to bouts of depression and subsequent illness.  Another factor is dealing with family relationships, and this is particularly trying in new marriages.  The concept of dealing with intervention and demands by in-laws, and having to deal with expectations that posed a strain on the marriage.  The concept of long-term illness, disability or major illness can impose a tremendous strain on the spouse who is working and equally having to look after their partner.

A break down in family communications is often attributed to many of the marital problems that require intervention and counselling. There are numerous challenges in the integration of Christian principles into family therapy and counselling services. It was Berger and Luckman (1967) that managed to distinguish between two core competencies in family counselling i.e. primary socialisation where the process involves the identification as a member of a social group i.e. where a child still has abstract views of the social world and that of secondary socialisation where a child has already internalized a specific view of the world.  In a marital break-down, the children are often the most vulnerable in terms of conceptualising what is taking place in terms of a communications breakdown. The loving and caring background often turns to anger, rage, open hostility and deception

Least Useful Concepts

There is some danger in the analytical concepts that the illnesses of children, in the context of the family model, can be blamed upon the influence of the parents.  This has received considerable criticism.  Therapists working within the psychopathological method have a tendency to ignore the biological components.  It is not the family dynamics that can be solely responsible for a child’s illness; considering cases like diabetes or asthma.

Interaction of Ideas

During the 19th Century, it was considered that there was a strong link between serious mental disorder and violent behaviour. The violence is considered to be in the minority grouping of those patients with mental disorders and there has been strong links associated with behavioural dysfunctions through substance abuse or noncompliance with medical applications. Research conducted by Dr.E.F. Torrey in the United States looked at a cross-section of mental illness patients with violent or aggressive tendencies. In 1990, the National Association for the Mentally Ill in the USA studied some 1400 Families with Mental illness and violence. From this research, they discovered a link that the majority of cases resulted from three distinct types of psychological conditioning i.e. Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Acute Depression.

Thomas Szasz, an American Psychologist, main arguments were associated with that of mental illness.  He dismissed many of the scientific categories applicable to mental illness  and considered them mainly judgements of disdain. Psychopathology does allow the freedom of expression and ability  to investigate the personal values between items like mood swings. Considered useful in the study of items like Schizophrenia. In this sense Psychopathology does allow and cater for people with opposing viewpoints. Throughout recent history scholars and academics have held different views on the treatment or therapy applicable to mental illness.

[1] Family Psychology: The relational roots of dysfunctional behaviour by Luciano L’Abate (1998), Guildford Press

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