If this newsletter does not display correctly, read it online.
Equipped to...Define Disorders: Understanding Mental Illness
This newsletter introduces Understanding Mental Disorders, a comprehensive article found on my website.
There are probably as many misconceptions, myths and stereotypes about mental disorders as there are mental disorders themselves. Popular fiction and film often perpetuate these misconceptions, reinforcing the belief that those suffering from a mental disorder are “crazy” and should be institutionalised.
Very often, this mindset is born from a lack of knowledge and understanding about mental illness, which in turn creates a sense of fear . We often fear what we don’t understand – it’s our mind’s way of helping us avoid people or situations which we believe may threaten our safety.
The reality of the situation, however, is that the overwhelming majority of people suffering from a mental illness pose no threat to us at all. Gaining a deeper understanding of mental disorders and their causes can help dispel our fears, letting us deal more effectively with affected loved ones or colleagues, or gain the courage to get the help we ourselves may need.
What is a Mental Disorder/Mental Illness?
When people talk about “mental illnesses”, they are generally talking about illnesses that are psychological in nature, rather than physical.
Today, health-care professionals do not often use the term mental illness, because the term illness implies that mental illness is caused by physical factors. This is not necessarily true. Many mental disorders may have a physical cause, but many also have a psychological cause.
Sadly, popular mindset holds that only “crazy people” or “sinners” need to see psychologists and counsellors. As such, many, many people do not get the help they need.
Myth: "Mentally disturbed people can always be recognised by their consistently deviant, abnormal behaviour."
Reality: Mentally disturbed people are not always distinguishable from others on the basis of consistently unusual behaviour.
Myth: "The mentally disturbed have inherited their disorders. If one member of a family has an emotional breakdown, other members will probably suffer a similar fate."
Reality: Although the data are far from conclusive, heredity does not seem to play a major role in most mental disorders. Evidence suggests that, even though heredity may predispose an individual to certain disorders, environmental factors are extremely important.
Myth: "The mentally disturbed person can never be cured and will never be able to function normally or hold a job in the community."
Reality: Nearly three-quarters of clients who are hospitalised with severe disorders will improve and go on to lead productive lives. Most people, in fact, don’t need to be hospitalised at all, and find that having outpatient therapy is sufficient to get their lives back on track.
What causes a Mental Disorder?
Mental disorders are complex phenomena and trying to find a cause is not easy. Generally the thinking today is that it is not just one factor that causes a mental disorder, but a number of factors working together.
How Do We Treat Mental Disorders?
Doctors and therapists face the difficult challenge of trying to treat different individuals with the same particular problem.
The difficulty lies in the fact that different individuals are just that…different! No one individual develops a mental disorder for exactly the same reasons as another individual, so treatment cannot be exactly the same.
Image by: Maxwell Hamilton
Watch out for my next newsletter where you will be E-Quipped to...Learn About Life Change
Tip! Save these newsletters and accumulate the series on Putting the Logical Back Into Psychological.
More About Me
The email was sent to: