The definition of the concept of a “mental disorder,” is fundamental to the mental health field and has been an important yet controversial issue in psychology. To properly assess, treat, and even prevent mental disorders, psychologists must initially develop a clear understanding of the term. Labeling a person’s behavior as a mental disorder can affect the way they are viewed by others and the way in which they view themselves. Thus, it is important to achieve a good measure of what constitutes a mental disorder so that they are accurately diagnosed and treated. What is a mental disorder? Currently, there are four criteria that are used to determine whether a person has a mental disorder.
First, mal adaptiveness of behavior refers to behavior of the individual that does not promote the well being of another individual or social group. Next, deviation from social norms is concerned with behavior straying from the standards that have been set by a particular society. Third, deviation from statistical norms refers to any type of behavior that is statistically rare and therefore unusual (Smith).
However, according to this definition, a person who is extremely intelligent would be classified as abnormal. Thus we must consider yet another possibility. The fourth criterion considers mental disorder in terms of the individual’s personal distress rather than his or her behavior.
Mental disorder depiction in movie Rain Man There are movies, the ultimate purpose of which is to help society come to grips with its own fears of AIDS, cancer, mental infirmity and even more arcane illnesses that people would not have known they should worried about if some ambitious script writer had not brought out to their attention. Rain Man, concocted with a calculated mix of information and ...
This explanation is based on bizarreness, discomfort, and inefficiency. While none of these definitions provides a complete description of a mental disorder, they collectively facilitate the understanding of these behaviors. While attempting to define mental disorders has proven to be a complicated task, the process of diagnosing them has turned out to be equally complex. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) is currently in its fourth edition. This manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is used diagnose a patient with respect to five axes: clinical syndromes, personality syndromes, general medical conditions, psychosocial and environmental problems, and global assessment of functioning.
Axes I, II, and III evaluate the diagnostic categories and subcategories while axes IV and V provide additional information about the individual’s life situation and ability to function adaptively (Smith).
Although this diagnostic system has been used since 1952, it nevertheless has its pitfalls. Even though the system has been revised numerous times to ensure high reliability it is inconsistent when diagnosing conditions such as panic disorders, generalized anxiety, and personality disorders. Furthermore, the system at times lacks validity. For instance, a patient who is diagnosed with schizophrenia usually might be suffering from another problem. The final flaw of psychiatric diagnosis is the labeling problem.
This occurs when professional diagnosticians label a patient with having a particular disorder and are unable to see beyond it (Smith).
Self-labeling is also a problem associated with psychiatric diagnosis. Medical students’ disease refers to students in the field of medicine who have a tendency to speculate that they have a particular disorder that they have recently learned about (Smith).
Diagnosis comes with its share of inherent dangers. A patient who is diagnosed with a particular disorder might be looked at and treated differently by others. An individual diagnosed with a mental disorder may not be considered for certain job positions solely due to his diagnosis.
1.1describe the main types of mental ill health according to the psychiatric (dsm/icd) classification system: mood disorders, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, substance-related disorders, eating disorders, cognitive disorders The ICD is produced by a global health agency with a constitutional public health mission, while the DSM is produced by a single national ...
This may leave the individual feeling as if he is an oddball, which might impair his social and psychological functioning. However, despite the pitfalls related to psychiatric diagnosis, it is still essential to the functioning of clinical psychology and psychiatry. The only way to develop an effective treatment for certain disorders is to first identify individuals who display it using the diagnostic system which provides a solid foundation for further research. Diagnostic categories are necessary for communication among professionals and psychiatric labels are critical in determining legal insanity and in compiling statistics about the occurrence of psychiatric disorders (Smith).
Thus, it is obvious that diagnosing mental disorders is an intricate process. While it has its downfalls, it is still an important factor to the classification and treatment of mental disorders.
In conclusion, while there is still no rigid definition for a mental disorder, the approaches which have helped psychologists to develop a more logical understanding of the concept are crucial to assessing, treating, and perhaps preventing mental disorders. While the current diagnostic system may have its flaws, research and technology will inevitably lead to future improvements providing for higher reliability and validity while minimizing the affects of labeling. Works Cited Smith, Barry D. Psychology: Science and Understanding.
Boston: McGraw-Hill Companies, 1998.