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BIOL 3020 (30)


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BIOL 3020
Scott Brandon

CHAPTER 17 The Nature and Causes of Mental Disorders CLASSIFICATION AND DIAGNOSIS OF MENTAL DISORDERS To understand, diagnose, and treat psychological disorders, some sort of classification system is needed. The need for a comprehensive classification system of psychological disorders was first recognized by Emil Kraepelin. What is Abnormal? The term abnormal literally refers to any departure from the norm (e.g. a really tall or really short people, or really smart people like me are considered abnormal). However, the distinction between normal and abnormal behaviour can be very subjective. Psychologists stress that the most important feature of mental disorder is not whether behaviour is abnormal but rather if its maladaptive. Mental disorders cause distress or discomfort and interfere with peoples ability to lead satisfying, productive lives. Although the diagnosis of mental disorders should be as objective as possible, it may never be completely free from social and political judgments (i.e. what is thought of as retarded in one culture may be sacred in another). It is important to note that mental disorders bring pain and discomfort to these people and to their friends and families. Perspectives on the Causes of Mental Disorders There isnt a single cause of mental disorders but in general, they are cause by the interaction of hereditary, cognitive and environmental factors. Sometimes, genetics can play a strong role and the person carrying those genes is likely to develop a mental disorder. To understand mental disorders, a complete study must be taken deriving all possible factors. There are many psychology related profession who try to understand mental disorders and each vary their emphasis on the three given factors. The perspectives differ primarily in their explanation of the etiology (origin) of mental disorders. o The Psychodynamic Perspective This is based on Freuds early work: mental disorders originate in the intrapsychic conflict produced by the three components of the mindid, ego and superego. For some people the conflicts become so sever the minds defence mechanisms fail and begin to distort reality or the individual may revert to an earlier stage of life (e.g. begin acting like a kid). Mental disorders may involve extreme anxiety, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour, depression, and etc. o The Medical Perspective The origins of the medical perspective like in the work of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. The medical model is based on the ideas that mental disorders are caused by specific abnormalities of the brain and nervous system and that they should be approached for treatment in the same way as physical illnesses. However, not all mental disorders can be traced so directly. o The Cognitive-Behavioural Perspective The cognitive-behavioural perspective holds that mental disorders are learned maladaptive behaviour patterns that can be best understood by focusing on environmental factors and a persons perception of those factors. A mental disorder is not something that arises spontaneously within a person but caused by the persons interaction with his or her environment.o The Humanistic Perspective Mental disorders arise when people perceive that they must earn the positive regard of others. They become overly sensitive to the demands and criticisms of others and come to define their personal value primarily in terms of others reaction to them. They lack confidence in their abilities and fell as though they have no stable, internal value as persons. They may come to feel that they have no control over the control over the outcomes of the important events in their lives. The goal of humanistic therapy is to persuade people that they do have intrinsic value to help them achieve their own unique, positive potential as human beings. o The Sociocultural Perspective Psychologists are paying more attention to the role of sociocultural factors in their attempts to understand how people thinking and behave and the development of disorders is the same. Proper treatment requires an understanding of cultural issues which influence the nature and extent to which people interpret their own behaviours as normal or abnormal. o The Diathesis-Stress Model of Mental Disorders Elements of the previous perspective are often combined to form a different, more comprehensive, perspective on mental disorders. The diathesis-stress model says a casual account of mental disorders based on the idea that mental disorders develop when a person possesses a predisposition for a disorder and faces stressors that exceed his or her abilities to cope with them. The DSM-IV Classification Scheme A system most commonly used in N. America for classifying mental disorders today is the Diagnostic a
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