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The Concept of Mental Disorder, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 608

Essay

The author’s claim that one of the most problematic issues in the field of biology is that there is no consensus that allows medical professionals to define what a mental disorder really is. When individuals refer to mental disorders, it can therefore be very likely that different symptoms or mental states are being described. Since there is no agreement on this front, it is challenging to describe these disorders and consequently, to treat them. While this article was published in 1992, the information contained within it is still mostly relevant today. There is still no consensus regarding what constitutes a mental disorder, although there have been many efforts in the previous two decades to provide the world with more information so that these psychological illnesses could become better understood.

Of particular interest, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) mentioned in this article was published in 1987. While this was considered recent for this particular publication, the DSM has been revised significantly since then and may not reflect many of the diagnostic requirements that is set forth by the version discussed in this article. The very evolution of the DSM indicates that there has been significant efforts towards gaining an understanding of mental disorders. As a result, the way we diagnose many illnesses is different than common practices that were introduced in the 1990s.

The main conclusion of this article is that the term “disorder” has been inappropriately applied to describe many abnormal mental states. Science is now aware that these states result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors and that in some instances, people who were previously believed to have mental disorders have been shown to have normal brain chemistry. Unfortunately, it is challenging to define an illness in which symptoms are broad and could be exhibited occasionally by many different individuals. Therefore, the field has evolved in a manner in which symptoms must be repeated over a long period of time in order for a diagnosis to be reasonably applied. In addition, patients must meet a majority of the symptoms that are utilized to define a disorder for this to be the case.

According to the author, a disorder is considered to be a “harmful dysfunction”. He then defines dysfunction as “the failure of a mental mechanism to perform a natural function for which it was designed by evolution”. Since broadly, the human brain allows an individual to feel emotions, communicate, and to think before acting, individuals who have traditionally been considered to have a disorder can be considered normal. Even if a way of thinking is altered compared to the majority of the population, we cannot say that their brains are unable to perform the activities for which they were intended. It is therefore erroneous to assume that the different functionality of the brains of some individuals indicates that they are disabled.

This report is relevant to science, education, and the general public because it demonstrates that it is unfair of society to label differently abled individuals as having mental disorders. Instead of determining how medicine can be used to correct these behaviors, there is an need to determine whether this is necessary for the health of the individual who is displaying these symptoms or whether it is considered necessary due to the general beliefs of society. It is therefore necessary to reassess how the world reacts to individuals who are perceived as having mental disorders. By doing so, we are creating a culture in which these diagnoses will continue to increase as our standards of what is considered normal becomes narrower. It is important to reverse this process now before it does irreparable damage.

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