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Psychopathology is the scientific study of mental illness or disorders. Psychological diagnostic testing is a technique that psychologists use to help diagnose mental illnesses. It consists of a battery of assessments known as psychological tests. Psychological diagnostic tests assess subjects’ intelligence, cognition, mental abilities, and behavior. Early diagnosis of psychopathology in children allows the child to grow up in a safe environment. Some of these diagnoses can also occur in adults, and the earlier they are treated, the better.

Understanding approaches to identifying conditions or symptoms speeds up treatment and reduces the risk of abuse or endangering the patient and those around them. The four main models used to explain psychological abnormality are the biological, behavioral, cognitive, and psychodynamic models. Psychopathology diagnoses are made using biological approaches, psychological approaches, and behaviorism. Biological approaches include genetics and biological treatments. Psychological approaches are distinguished by the fact that they are centered on psychoanalysis therapy.

Below, we’ll look at two approaches to diagnosing 4-5-year-olds, also known as preschoolers.

Biological Approach: Disorders have an organic or physical cause, according to the biological factors of psychopathology. This method focuses on genetics, neurotransmitters, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy, among other things. Mental disorders, according to this viewpoint, are linked to the physical structure and functioning of the brain. According to Galton (1892), mental illnesses can be inherited. 

Genetics has an impact on a person’s cognitive ability, social attitudes, preferences, and personality. Some psychopathologies are passed down from generation to generation, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia. Based on the diagnosis, the psychiatrist will prescribe drugs in the fields of neuroscience, psychopharmacology, biochemistry, genetics, and physiology, as well as a psychologist to assist with cognitive behavior therapy.

A caregiver is responsible for identifying any abnormalities in the 4-5 year old child, such as speech delay, behavior, anger outbursts, and so on. Biological approaches are best assessed by the specialists listed below. A Psychologist is a doctor who identifies and treats emotional and behavioral issues, a pediatric neurologist is a doctor who specializes in brain disorders, and a developmental pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in speech and language disorders as well as other developmental issues. A Psychiatrist is a medical professional who specializes in mental health issues and can prescribe medication to treat them.

The behavioral approach to psychopathology emphasizes the importance of experience and learning in the development of psychological disorders. Observing a 4-5-year-old child’s behaviors can help determine whether the child requires further evaluation or if an undiagnosed mental condition exists. Behaviorism’s primary focus is on observable and measurable aspects of human behavior. As a result, when certain behaviors become unacceptable, they can be unlearned. If a child is unable to unlearn the bad behavior, it is time to investigate whether an underlying condition exists. The following themes, according to DSM V, help us identify abnormal behaviors.

1. Deviance is psychologically defined as behavior that violates social norms. It is the fact or state of deviating from usual or accepted standards, particularly in social or sexual behavior, in general usage. This includes erroneous thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. They are either socially unacceptable or extremely rare. They defy social conventions. When a person’s behavior is compared to the frequency of occurrence of the same behavior in the general population, abnormal behavior is defined as occurring infrequently or rarely. Traditions and cultural practices of the environment are taken into account.

2. Distress is a psychological state of emotional suffering associated with daily stressors and demands that are difficult to manage. In general, it is a state of suffering or pain, or being in difficulty, or deep sadness and despair. It refers to the individual’s negative feelings when they present with the disorder. The individual’s physiological illness may cause them to feel deeply troubled and affected. Behaviors and emotions that distress the child or significant others around them are considered abnormal if the condition upsets the person experiencing it. Most people dealing with children aged 4-5 would describe this as an indiscipline that deviates from established norms.

3. Dysfunction impairs a person’s ability to perform normal daily functions such as getting ready for school, performing assigned duties or daily chores, maintaining personal hygiene, and grooming. The aforementioned maladaptive behaviors make it impossible for the individual to live a normal and healthy life. It is important to note that disorders do not cause all dysfunctions. Some are intentional, such as fighting in school.

4: A danger is defined as dangerous or violent behavior directed at the individual or others in the environment. A typical behaviors and feelings are those that are potentially harmful to an individual or those around them.

The importance of cognition stems from the influence of one’s thoughts on one’s feelings and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to help people control their thoughts while also cognitively changing their thoughts, actions, feelings, and behaviors. The impact of an individual’s thoughts on their feelings and behaviors, according to Gillihan J. (2018), is the key.

 The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help people control their thoughts while also changing their actions and feelings cognitively. Goal setting, activating behavior, identifying and breaking negative thought patterns, maintaining mindfulness, and a variety of other useful ways to reprogram our thoughts using cognitive behavioral therapy are common strategies for managing thoughts and behaviors, according to Gillihan J. (2018).


DSM V guiding manual

Galton, F. G. (1892). Hereditary Genius (Second edition).

Gillihan, Seth. J. (2018). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

P. (2021, September 21). Biological, Psychological, and Behaviorism Approaches to Psychopathology: What are they? ABM Health Services. https://www.abmhealthservices.com/biological-psychological-and-behaviorism-approaches-to-psychopathology-what-are-they/