Though at one point in time clinical scientists believed in only one model of abnormality, we now have six very different models. The original model of abnormality was, unfortunately, the product of cultural beliefs. But because no one model can be deemed complete on its own, competing models have since developed to strive for the comprehensive means for treatment. For example, the biological model and the psychodynamic model take very different approaches on understanding thoughts and emotions. All models are unique and similar to each other, but the biological model and psychodynamic model seem to be the most extreme when compared to each other.

The biological model takes on more of a medical perspective, which is somewhat self-explanatory in its title. It takes its roots in human biological or genetic makeup. The main focus of the biological approach is the brain and how psychological abnormality stems from malfunctioning parts of the organism. This is because biological theorists have found links between problems in cerebral anatomy and actual psychological disorders.

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When there is difficulty in transmitting messages between neurons, psychological disorders can occur. Also, researchers believe that these disorders can come from abnormal chemical activity in the endocrine system and from genetics. Inheritance can play an important role in the predisposition to certain mood disorders, like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The psychodynamic model, the oldest and most popular of the six, has a completely different approach than that of the biological model. The psychodynamic model states that a person’s behavior is the result of underlying dynamic psychological forces, whether they are independent or interactive.

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A conflict between these dynamic forces is what causes abnormal behavior. Freud, the father of the psychodynamic model, proposed that it was an unconscious conflict between three forces: the id, ego, and superego. If one’s developmental stages were unsuccessful at some point, this could also possibly lead to abnormality.

Biological treatments are more drastic than those of the psychodynamic model. Biological treatments consist of drug therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and psychosurgery. Drug therapy entails issuing psychotropic medication in the form of four groups of medication: antianxiety, antidepressant, antibipolar, and antipsychotic drugs. Electroconvulsive therapy is used for depression when medication does not work; however, there is still no concrete explanation for why this treatment works. Psychosurgery is performed only in extreme cases only and is still considered to be experimental.

While biological treatments rely on the issuance of psychotropic drugs, electrical shocks, or surgery, psychodynamic treatments rely more on communication between the patient and therapist. The therapist’s role is to be a “gentle guide” to the patient in order to uncover past traumas and inner conflicts. The techniques used are free association, therapist interpretation (dream analysis, resistance, and transference), and catharsis among few.

After examining both models, it seems as though these two models are exact opposites of one another. The biological perspective believes psychological abnormalities are the product of chemical and anatomical malfunctions of the brain and seek treatment through medication, while the psychodynamic perspective argues that psychological abnormalities are merely developmental problems in conflict that can be resolved through Freudian therapy. In other words, the biological model calls for artificial correction but the psychodynamic model believes that the human mind has the capacity to heal itself through therapy. Though both models are different, they both seem to produce respectably outcomes, so in my opinion, psychological treatment is at the discretion of the patient. In actuality, I would pair the both treatments since they seem to complement one another, in the sense that they fill in each other’s gaps in the treatment.

Cite this page

The Biological and Psychodynamic Models of Abnormality. (2016, Jul 15). Retrieved from

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