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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CAUSES OF MENTAL ILLNESS

People have tried to understand the causes of mental illness for thousands of years. The modern era of psychiatry, which began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has witnessed a sharp debate between biological and psychological perspectives of mental illness. The biological perspective views mental illness in terms of bodily processes, whereas psychological perspectives emphasize the roles of a personís upbringing and environment. (CAUSES OF MENTAL ILLNESS)

These two perspectives are exemplified in the work of German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin and Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Kraepelin, influenced by the work in the mid-1800s of German psychiatrist Wilhelm Griesinger, believed that psychiatric disorders were disease entities that could be classified like physical illnesses. That is, Kraepelin believed that the fundamental causes of mental illness lay in the physiology and biochemistry of the human brain. His classification system of mental disorders, first published in 1883, formed the basis for later diagnostic systems. Freud, on the other hand, argued that the source of mental illness lay in unconscious conflicts originating in early childhood experiences. Freud found evidence for this idea through the analysis of dreams, free association, and slips of speech. (CAUSES OF MENTAL ILLNESS)

This debate has continued into the late 20th century. Beginning in the 1960s, the biological perspective became dominant, supported by numerous breakthroughs in psychopharmacology, genetics, neurophysiology, and brain research. For example, scientists discovered many medications that helped to relieve symptoms of certain mental illnesses and demonstrated that people can inherit a vulnerability to some mental illnesses. Psychological perspectives also remain influential, including the psychodynamic perspective, the humanistic and existential perspectives, the behavioral perspective, the cognitive perspective, and the sociocultural perspective. (CAUSES OF MENTAL ILLNESS)

Many mental health professionals today favor a combination of perspectives, acknowledging that both biology and a personís environment play important roles in mental illness. This approach recognizes that people are not only products of the genes inherited from their parents, but products of the families and social worlds into which they are born. In this view, environments shape how biological factors will be manifested. For example, an infant may inherit genes that could enable her to become a tall adult, but if she is malnourished as a child, she will never achieve that potential. Likewise, an individual who does not possess a biological vulnerability for depression may nevertheless become severely depressed following the death of a loved one or after experiencing an act of torture. (CAUSES OF MENTAL ILLNESS)

CAUSES OF MENTAL ILLNESS