Issues in Behavioral Abnormality

A bugged-out exterminator, Jerry Sanchez, 37 years old went berserk on the D train early Saturday, Nov 28, 2009, fatally plunging a knife into a fellow traveler’s neck, 36-year-old Dwight Johnson after they argued over a seat. The train conductor locked the doors and informed the police, who arrested the accused killer immediately the train pulled up at the station”.

Given this excerpt from the DAILY NEWS, the author wishes to point out that the reported situation of a subway stabbing is characteristic of both pathological and psychological problems (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2006). Numerous accounts from people close to the suspected killer indicate that he was highly stressed and mentally disturbed. An account from the suspect’s brother demonstrated that “his sibling was taking some kind of medication after hurting himself on the job two weeks ago”. The same version of drug abuse was reported by friends and neighbors to the suspect. This claim was further strengthened by Police revelations that the suspect was arrested in 2004 for selling drugs. Moreover, it was reported that the suspected killer had lost his employment the previous Friday morning because of lateness. It is from these accounts that the author believes that the suspect’s behavior was a culmination of most disturbing events (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2006).

According to Butcher, Mineka & Hooley (2006), psychopathology disorders are caused by both precipitating and predisposing causes. Precipitating causes refers to any occurrence that may activate an individual into behaving in a particular manner while predisposing causes are any factors within an individual that may make him or her susceptible to behaving in a disordered manner particularly after getting exposed to a precipitating cause (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2006). Both causes are said to be induced by stress. In this regard, it is evident that the suspect’s abuse of painkillers and probably his dismissal from work had predisposed him to the point of only requiring slight provocation to behave the way he did (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2006).

In respect to the foregoing, it is noticeable that deviant behavior was evident in the reported incidence. To ascertain the presence of this deviant behavior, it was necessary to institute an assessment of the abnormal behavior. From Butcher, Mineka & Hooley’s (2006) point of view, a psychosocial assessment of the situation will entail conducting assessment interviews followed by clinical observation of behavior depicted by the patient. To confirm the outcome of the assessment interviews, Butcher, Mineka & Hooley (2006) recommend that psychological tests be performed on the patient. Finally, a projective personality test on the patient’s problems can be done in an attempt to explain his observed behavior (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2006).

There are two commonly used classifications of abnormal behaviors diagnosis namely the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV TR) of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10) mostly used by World Health Organization (WHO) the Member States as explained by Butcher, Mineka & Hooley (2006). The DSM-IV TR diagnostic process uses five dimensions while the ICD-10 model has ten categories. In diagnosing the case at hand, it is more appropriate to use category F10-F19 which deals with mental and behavioral disorders due to psychoactive substance use (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2006). This category is more suitable than any other in both models.

Lastly, after having correctly diagnosed the abnormal behaviors presented in the reported situation, it is only natural to apply recommended treatments for a patient with psychopathological disorders (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2006). Various studies have demonstrated that problems of psychological nature are best treated by adopting a mix of behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and humanistic therapy all aimed at helping the patient to self-actualize (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2006). In connection to this explanation, the patient will be subjected to vigorous therapies to help alleviate his psychological problems.


Butcher, J. N., Mineka, S & Hooley, J. M. (2006). Abnormal Psychology, 13th Edition, Allyn & Bacon.

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