THE EXPERIENCE OF MENTAL ILLNESS

ATTITUDES TOWARD MENTAL ILLNESS

SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COSTS

DEFINING MENTAL ILLNESS

PREVALENCE - United States and Worldwide

Among Children and Adolescents
Among the Elderly
Among the Poor and Among Men and Women
Changing Rates of Mental Illness

KINDS OF MENTAL ILLNESSES

Anxiety Disorders and Mood Disorders
Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders
Personality and Cognitive Disorders
Dissociative, Somatoform and Factitious Disorders
Substance-Related, Eating and Impulse-Control Disorders

CAUSES OF MENTAL ILLNESS

Biological Perspective
Psychodynamic, Humanistic and Existential Perspectives
Behavioral, Cognitive and Sociocultural Perspective

DIAGNOSIS

TREATMENT

Drug Therapy
Individual Psychotherapy
Group and Family Therapies
Electroconvulsive Therapy and Psychosurgery
Treatment Settings
Treatment in Non-Western Countries


HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES OF MENTAL ILLNESS



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Behavioral Perspective

The pioneers of behaviorism, American psychologists John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner, maintained that psychology should confine itself to the study of observable behavior, rather than explore a person’s unconscious feelings. The behavioral perspective explains mental illness, as well as all of human behavior, as a learned response to stimuli. In this view, rewards and punishments in a person’s environment shape that person’s behavior. For example, a person involved in a serious car accident may develop a phobia of cars or generalize the fear to all forms of transportation. (Behavioral Perspective, Cognitive Perspective, Sociocultural Perspective, Mental Illness)

Cognitive Perspective

The cognitive perspective holds that mental illness results from problems in cognition—-that is, problems in how a person reasons, perceives events, and solves problems. American psychiatrist Aaron Beck proposed that some mental illnesses—such as depression, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders—result from a way of thinking learned in childhood that is not consistent with reality. For example, people with depression tend to see themselves in a negative light, exaggerate the importance of minor flaws or failures, and misinterpret the behavior of others in negative ways. It remains unclear, however, whether these kinds of cognitive problems actually cause mental illness or merely represent symptoms of the illnesses themselves. (Behavioral Perspective, Cognitive Perspective, Sociocultural Perspective, Mental Illness)

Sociocultural Perspective

The sociocultural perspective regards mental illness as the result of social, economic, and cultural factors. Evidence for this view comes from research that has demonstrated an increased risk of mental illness among people living in poverty. In addition, the incidence of mental illness rises in times of high unemployment. The shift in the world population from rural areas to cities—with their crowding, noise, pollution, decay, and social isolation—has also been implicated in causing relatively high rates of mental illness. Furthermore, rapid social change, which has particularly affected indigenous peoples throughout the world, brings about high rates of suicide and alcoholism. Refugees and victims of social disasters—warfare, displacement, genocide, violence—have a higher risk of mental illness, especially depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. (Behavioral Perspective, Cognitive Perspective, Sociocultural Perspective, Mental Illness)

Social scientists emphasize that the link between social ills and mental illness is correlational rather than causal. For example, although societies undergoing rapid social change often have high rates of suicide the specific causes have not been identified. Social and cultural factors may create relative risks for a population or class of people, but it is unclear how such factors raise the risk of mental illness for an individual. (Behavioral Perspective, Cognitive Perspective, Sociocultural Perspective, Mental Illness)

Behavioral Perspective | Cognitive Perspective | Sociocultural Perspective | Mental Illness