For many millennia psychological disorders, also called mental disorders have been misunderstood. Used to, people suffering from such disorders were thought to be demonically possessed or they were accused of being a witch. Many of these unfortunate people were burned, tortured, or locked up away from society, which was torturous in itself due to the deprivation of life sustaining necessities such as food and air that patients were forced to endure (Morris and Maisto, 2002). Since the Middle Ages much has been done in efforts to humanize the treatment of those suffering from mental disorders.
Along with new and better facilities, there have been extensive studies into the causes and possible treatments of these disorders. During the late 1800s and early 1900s three theories or models were brought forth attempting to explain the nature, causes, and treatment of mental illnesses. These theories include the Biological Model, the Cognitive-Behavioral Model, and the Psychoanalytic Model (Morris and Maisto, 2002). Though it has been revised several times there is a book issued by an organization known as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) that lists and describes various types of mental disorders.
Included in the book are childhood, sexual, anxiety, and schizophrenic disorders. Dissociative, personality, mood, and psychosomatic and somatoform disorders as well. The following paragraphs contain a description of the various disorders, and along with an example of each is an explanation of the symptoms, the causes, and the treatment used (Morris and Maisto, 2002). Beginning with childhood disorders, also referred to as developmental disorders, these are generally diagnosed during infancy, childhood, or adolescence because it is during these years that the disorders are usually evident and first diagnosed (Morris and Maisto, 2002).
An example of a childhood disorder is attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). Symptoms of AD/HD include the child’s inability to concentrate and be still; they are fidgety and always feel the need to be moving. The causes of AD/HD are not completely known, however, it is believed by many to be associated with abnormalities in the central nervous system or in the child’s developmental heredity. The most commonly used treatment for such disorders is done by way of psycho-stimulant drugs. These kinds of drugs work by increasing the child’s ability to concentrate.
They do not create a sluggish or slow child, but it does decrease the level of hyperactivity by allowing the child to better focus on what they are doing (Morris and Maist0, 2002). Schizophrenic disorders are often misconceived as being multiple personality disorders, but they are not. These types of disorders can be very severe—producing psychotic behavior, hallucinations, and delusions. A person suffering from schizophrenia generally has a hard time deciphering between what is real and what is not, which can lead to the person hurting him or herself or someone else (Morris and Maisto, 2002).
An example of this disorder is paranoid schizophrenia. People suffering from this have very involved or complicated delusions and they are overly suspicious of everyone and everything. According to Morris and Maisto (2002), “People with paranoid schizophrenia may believe themselves to be Napoleon or the Virgin Mary, or they may insist that Russian spies with laser guns are constantly on their trail because they have learned some great secret” (p. 515). Causes of schizophrenic disorders are thought to be biological, and could be, in part, the result of the release of large amounts of dopamine in the central nervous system.
Other suggested causes include brain pathology and the formation of abnormalities between cortical cells that most likely occurred during pregnancy. Treatment of schizophrenic disorders involves taking drugs that are meant to decrease dopamine amounts in the brain and to block dopamine receptors (Morris and Maisto, 2002). Personality disorders are characteristic of a person’s inability to adapt or be flexible to their environment through their way of thinking and behavior.
People with personality disorders include unconventional people, as well as people who kill in cold blood–serial killers for example (Morris and Maisto, 2002). A type of personality disorder is paranoid personality disorder for which the person suffering from this cannot trust anyone and is highly suspicious all the time. Most people with this disorder believe themselves to be sensible and objective, but in reality they are argumentative, devious, secretive, and unable to take the blame for their wrong doing (Morris and Maisto, 2002).
Personality disorders are thought to be aided by family, as well as community influences. For example, a child who feels rejected or unwanted by a family member(s) will act out, taking his or her aggressions out in an unacceptable manner such as defying rules and regulations at school or within the community (Morris and Maisto, 2002). Sexual disorders are classified into three main groups—paraphilias, sexual dysfunction, and gender identity disorders. Paraphilias disorder is the need to use unconventional objects to achieve sexual arousal.
Gender identity disorders occur when person of one sex wishes to become a person of the opposite sex, for example, a female wishing to become a male. Sexual dysfunction is when a person is impaired or can no longer function sexually. An example of sexual dysfunction is erectile disorders. Erectile disorders occur when a man is unable to get and maintain an erection. Causes of this disorder can either be organic or psychological, and treatment is with a medication called sildenafil citrate, which is the ingredient in a popular medication called Viagra.
Dissociative disorders involve the dissociation in the aspects of consciousness, including a person’s memory and identity. An example of this disorder known as dissociative amnesia is the loss of memory that can be the mind’s reaction due to trauma or an intolerable experience. Some people who experience amnesia never fully recover, meaning they never get back their memories up to a certain date or for certain events—they are lost to them forever (Morris and Maisto, 2002). Psychosomatic disorders are physical illnesses due mainly to anxiety and stress.
Somatoform disorders are physical illnesses occurring for no apparent reason. A tension headache brought on by stress is an example of a psychosomatic disorder. Treatment includes methods of relaxation to relax taught muscles and relieve stress. An example of a somatoform disorder is somatization disorder for which a person’s reoccurring symptoms of dizziness, back pain, and even paralysis are real to them but frequent visits to the doctor yield no cause for the symptoms (Morris and Maisto, 2002).
Causes of somatoform disorders have somewhat baffled theorists throughout the years, but, according to Morris and Maisto (2002), “Research has shown that at least some diagnosed somatoform disorders actually were real physical illnesses that were overlooked or misdiagnosed. For example, one set of follow-up studies indicated that some cases of “conversion disorder” eventually proved to be undiagnosed neurological problems such as epilepsy or multiple sclerosis” (p. 503). Mood disorders are mental disorders that are characterized by changes in mood.
An example is depression. Depression is defined as the loss of interest, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and heavy sadness. Cases of depression can be range from mild to severe. Severe cases can find people not being able to eat or sleep, and can also lead to attempts of suicide. Causes of mood disorders include psychological Factors, which focus on maladaptive cognitive distortions; biological factors, which are linked to genetics, and social factors, which include trouble with intrapersonal relationships.
Treatment for mood disorders may include counseling and/or the use of anti-depressant drugs (Morris and Maisto, 2002). Anxiety disorders are characterized by abnormal and excessive worry, fear, and anxiety. Social phobia is an example of an anxiety disorder. People who suffer from this are fearful and even sometimes mortified by social situations, such as giving a speech in front of a crowd or eating out among others. Causes of many phobias can be learned as a result of a past experience that caused fear or anxiety to build within the person, and other causes may be genetic (Morris and Maisto, 2002).