Undergrad/Postbacc Module 3

Last module, you learned about psychology as a science, and why some people (mistakenly) do not think of psychology as trustworthy or valid. Additionally, you learned about what common mistakes psychological researchers make when conducting science that may hurt the overall quality of their work, and should be avoided in your own practice. Additionally, you learned a lot of big concepts about the structure of psychopathological outcomes. Specifically, you learned about the ‘internalizing’ and ‘externalizing’ spectra; this module, you will learn more about each of the individual disorders, while keeping in mind what you read last module still applies – each disorder has substantial overlap both etiologically and symptomatically with other disorders.

First, you will watch a crash course on personality. What I want you to take away from this is that we don’t really measure personality in “types” despite the popularity of tests like the Myers-Briggs, etc. Rather, we measure personality along dimensions – people possess the same personality traits; some of us are just higher or lower than others. Then, you will watch various videos that cover many of the major disorder groups. The first video covers psychopathology in general, and subsequent ones cover more specific forms of psychopathology, such as OCD and anxiety disorders, Depression and Bipolar disorder, trauma and addiction, and personality disorders. While you’re watching these, try to look for the similarities in dysfunctional processes implicated across certain groups of disorders. For example, ‘fear’ disorders all involve some manner of dysfunctional reactivity to a feared stimulus of some sort or another, whether that be other people/negative social evaluation (social anxiety/social phobia disorder), internal bodily sensations (panic disorder), crowded places (agoraphobia), or spiders, etc. (specific phobia). This clues us in to maybe why they cohere together.

Next, you will read a paper by Blonigen and colleagues (2005). The intention of this article is to help you connect the relation between psychopathic traits and psychopathology. So while psychopathic personality is vastly interesting to study, the processes implicated in it are related to a host of other clinical problems. For example, the fearlessness associated with psychopathy is protective against the development of fear disorders. Think about why this is, connect those dots. Additionally, the reason psychopathic traits relate to these spectra of disorders is due to shared genetic bases. Thus, the dispositional nature of these overlap. This is why even though I’m not a psychopathy researcher per se, I find it to be infinitely important for understanding so much more than psychopathic personality - it’s about psychopathology more broadly.

The last article (Nelson, Strickland, Krueger, Arbisi, & Patrick, 2016) demonstrates how two of the triarchic model traits are transdiagnostic predictors of psychopathology. The word ‘transdiagnostic’ means ‘across diagnoses’, thus, what this article is about is how the triarchic model relates to clinical problems across diagnoses. Specifically, the triarchic traits relate to a group of disorders rather than individual disorders. Higher Disinhibition -> more externalizing problems, higher Boldness -> lower fear problems. Meanness is a little more “in the works” in how it relates to problems other than the PDs (personality disorders), but it definitely does have implications for other psychological disorders too. There are also more complex mappings, but those two are important to remember as “home base.” Additionally, Disinhibition and Boldness interact in prediction of clinical problems. So if an individual is simultaneously high in disinhibition AND low in boldness, they are likely to show a lot of internalizing problems. Think about why this is too – disinhibition is about lack of control (broadly). So if someone is dispositionally fearful, and they lack adequate control (of their emotions, planning skills, etc.), then they are likely to be much more distressed.