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How Does a Psychiatrist or Psychologist Go about Establishing Whether a Person Is Mentally Ill or Not - Coursework Example

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"How Does a Psychiatrist or Psychologist Go about Establishing Whether a Person Is Mentally Ill or Not" paper investigates some of the difficulties in precisely defining mental illness. These difficulties have led some to assert that psychiatry is remotely distant from being an exact science. …
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How Does a Psychiatrist or Psychologist Go about Establishing Whether a Person Is Mentally Ill or Not
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Download file to see previous pages The main reason that contributes to making it difficult to differentiate normal mental health and abnormal mental health is that there is no simple test to ascertain mental illness. There is no blood sample for the delusional malady, no ultrasound for schizophrenia, and no X-ray for post-traumatic stress disorder, for example. That does not mean that mental illnesses are not biologically based. On the contrary, the majority of mental health doctors maintain that some mental illnesses are connected to chemical changes within the brain, and new methods allow mapping these changes visually using imaging tools (Elster, 1999). Presently, however, there exists no physiological diagnostic test for mental illness.

The standards set by society are broadly subjective and often connected to moral rules which change over time as social attitudes alter. This approach to standards is the cause of many serious cases of abuse of human rights. An example of a cultural difference in definition is suicide.  In many nations, such as those in the West, a person who commits suicide or attempts to do so is regarded as mentally ill. Another example is the former Soviet Union who regarded those who differed from the Communist Party line as being diagnosed with schizophrenia (Hacking,1998). On the other hand, in the United States, people who objected to the Vietnam War were at times considered to be mentally ill. Furthermore, not all people who are mentally ill may be aware of their weaknesses. For instance, Schizophrenics often reject that something is wrong with them. Hence, the meaning of disorder is subjective and varies upon culture and social context (Hacking, 1998).

A further issue in diagnosis is that doctors specializing in mental health may diagnose symptoms based on their individual or cultural prejudices, thus diagnosing different results. The research studied this effect videotaping three hundred American and British psychiatrists interviewing eight patients with mental disorders (Culver, 1982).  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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