School Neuropsychology: A Practitioner's Handbook

By James B. Hale; Catherine A. Fiorello | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Neuropsychological Principles
and Psychopathology

THE POLITICS OF PSYCHOPATHOLOGY

School and Mental Health Practitioners

We are all taught about personality theories and psychopathology in our training programs. We learn the different theories, study differential diagnoses, and are taught to administer objective and projective measures of behavior and personality. However, we seldom see training programs focus on the relationship between cognitive functioning and psychopathology. Just as we tend to assume that academic achievement is a teacher's responsibility, we tend to think of psychological disorders as something a psychiatrist or clinic-based mental health practitioner should handle. We feel a little uneasy about identifying psychopathological disorders, preferring to use the seemingly more benign label “behavior disorders.” If “serious emotional disturbance” makes us uncomfortable, making a formal diagnosis is even less appealing. It is easier to say that a child is “sad” or “acting out” than to say that the child has depression (DE) or conduct disorder (CD). As we will discuss in the following sections, psychopathological disorders do exist in children, and recognizing the signs of such a disorder can lead to preventative early intervention, possibly limiting the impact of the condition. At the same time, we recognize that more weight can be placed on the symptoms expressed by a child rather than the underlying etiology, at least at the present time. Unfortunately, we all have a tendency to segregate and compartmentalize the highly interrelated domains of cognition and behavior, even though categorical approaches seldom reflect the complexity of children. You may recall Bandura's (1978) model of reciprocal determinism from your training. It is important to remember the major tenet of this model: that cognition, behavior, and environment are inextricably interrelated and mutually determined, resulting in an everchanging, dynamic individual. Therefore, assessment of child psychopathology requires a transactional interpretive framework—one that considers the interaction of biological and envi

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