PSY 202 - Chapter 15: Psychological Disorders: When Adaptation Breaks Down
March 30 2012
Discuss conceptions of mental illness and identify criteria for defining mental
Describe and explain how people experience anxiety
Identify the characteristics of different mood disorders
Explore dissociative disorders and schizophrenia
Examine the link between personality disorders and substance abuse
What Defines a Mental Disorder? You cant classify mental disorders on only these
things! It is very difficult to classify mental disorders.
Statistical rarity? What about an exceptionally high IQ? Some mental disorders are
uncommon in the population. We cant rely on statistical rarity to define mental
Subjective/personal distress? Not all psych disorders generate distress (eg manic
phase of bipolar disorder a person can shift between manic extreme excitement
this switches to depression; they go through highs and lows).
Impairment? keep in mind that completely normal people go through a phase that
they undergo impairment but they do not have a disorder Exam time for students?
Most interfere with everyday life but this doesnt mean a mental illness is present.
Societal disapproval? You cant rely on society Homosexuality? Example racism
is justifiably deplored by society but isnt considered a mental disorder.
Biological dysfunction? What about: Learned behaviour? Little children may learn
to be afraid of dogs if they see their parents act anxious around dogs. Not all mental
disorders are due to breakdown of physiological systems.
Family resemblance view mental disorders dont all have one thing in common, rather
they share a loose set of features. Within a category, between categories the features
are shared. Mental disorders dont all have one thing in common just as brothers and
sisters look similar but dont all have exactly the same features.
Historical Conceptions of Mental Illness
(Describe conceptions of diagnoses across history and cultures)
Demonic model for a long period of time the view of mental illness was that
evil spirits possessed these people and we have to come up with a way to remove
these evil spirits. Egyptians used to drill holes in the skull to release them. View
of mental illness in which odd behaviour, hearing voices, or talking to oneself.
Medical model western model; it wasnt any better than the demonic model.
The reason why this was good because it started to look at mental related issues
from a physical view. Perception that regarded mental illness as due to a physical
disorder requiring medical treatment.
o Governments began to house troubled individuals in asylums
they moved the people outside of society. These buildings housed troubled
people and they were treated inhumanely.
o Bloodletting and snake pits were often used as treatments
they drained their blood; or lets shock the disorder out of the individual
by throwing them into snake pits. Snake pit is a synonym for an insane
More Modern Approaches
Moral treatment - the approach to mental illness calling for dignity, kindness and
respect for the mentally ill.
Deinstitutionalization taking the individuals out of hospitals or asylums. 1960s-
1970s government policy that focused on releasing hospitalized psychiatric
patients into the community and closing mental hospitals. Releasing hospitalized
psychiatric patients into the community and closing mental hospitals.
What do you think are some of the benefits and costs of the policy of
deinstitutionalization? Puts more of a responsibility on the society and their family.
Benefits some patients returned to normal lives and continued outpatient programs. It
has saved the government a large amount of money
Costs many patients ended up homeless. This can still be seen today as a recent study
indicated that 15% of all patients treated for mental disorders are homeless.
Psychiatric Diagnoses Over Time
Diagnostic labels devoid of scientific support:
Codependency when you are excessively dependent on another individual. A
condition in which spouses and significant others become excessively dependent
on and overly caring of loved ones with alcoholism and other substance abuse
Sexual addiction a condition that characterizes people who cant control their
Road rage disorder a condition marked by explosive anger outbursts while
Compulsive shopping disorder an inability to restrain oneself from purchasing
** we want diagnoses to explain these labels. Labels only describe behaviours; a
diagnosis helps to explain them.
Psychiatric Diagnosis Across Cultures
Many mental illnesses are specific to certain cultures (culture-bound)
Amok episodes of intense sadness followed by uncontrollable attacks on people
Koro in a number of Asian countries, men with this condition falsely believe
their penis and testicles are disappearing and receding into their abdomen. This is
funny for us, but examples like this do exist.
Bulimia nervosa - unique to Western cultures. This is very specific.
They still can diet and work out, but they purge (throw up) after eating
Likely genetic, but triggered by sociocultural expectations it exists in
families where there is no incidence.
Anorexia nervosa - more culturally universal. When a person completely
stops eating, or diets or works out excessively. Complete control of what goes
into the body.
Many mental disorders are culturally universal (schizophrenia, alcoholism,
Graph: The Media and Unrealistic Ideals: Weights of Playboy Centerfolds Over Time
Late 70s were lower. The weight has gone up, it isnt realistic.
Popular Misconceptions about Psychiatric Diagnosis
Psychiatric diagnosis is nothing more than pigeonholing, like sorting people into
different boxes psychiatrists actually realize that people differ. When we
diagnose people with a mental disorder, we deprive them of their uniqueness:
Psychiatric diagnoses are unreliable for major mental disorders, interrater
reliability is high the extent to which different raters agree on patients
Psychiatric diagnoses are invalid dia