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NIMH RDoC project (National Institute of Mental Health: Research Domain Criteria Project)
The RDoC is a research framework launched as part of the 2008 NIMH Strategic Plan’s for new methods and approaches to investigating and classifying mental disorders in contrast to the DSM. They aim to gain understanding of mental illnesses through varying degrees of dysfunctions in general psychological/biological systems. The RDoC is an experiment to determine if a diagnostic approach based on biology, behaviour and context will be useful for identifying and treating mental disorders, involving participation from scientists, patients and families through behavioural observations and neurobiological measures. The RDoC does not aim to replace or become similar to the DSM; in the future they hope this project will help to inform and advise diagnostic systems.

The biological/medical model:
The biological model of abnormality suggests that psychological disorders are the result of biological issues, for example: depression may be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The biological model is a more scientific way of looking into mental distress. Scientists/psychologists are able to see brain activity and measure chemicals within the brain through brain scans, meaning the biological model can be scientifically tested, however this contrasts with Freud’s psychoanalytic model, as it describes that mental issues arise from tensions in the subconscious mind, meaning that the individual may not be aware or able to understand what is causing their issue due it being beyond their conscious mind. The problem with this is that subconscious tension cannot be measured, therefore it can not be scientifically tested or measured compared to the biological model. This model views mental disorders the same way as a broken bone or a wound; there is an organic/physical cause. A person who suffers from depression may be prescribed an anti-depressant drug to help regulate the chemical imbalances within their brain. Biological treatments have shown to be more effective in treating mental disorders in those who do not respond well to talk therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) our counselling.

The behavioural model:
The behaviourist approach focuses on the observation and measurement of an individuals behaviour. This model rejects that view that mental disorders have a biological cause, and believe that behaviours indication psychological disorders are primarily the result of the individual’s environment, not their genetics. The behavioural model explains that our actions are a result of our past and current experiences in life. Abnormal behaviour is seen as a taught response, rather than a subconscious process (as described by Freud), and only through direct observations and study of the stimuli and reinforcing conditions can we understand normal and abnormal human behaviour.

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