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Psychological Disorders

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Essay title: Psychological Disorders


Psychological disorders have been prevalent throughout time and have been recorded since the time of the ancient Greeks. Once thought to be the expression of the devil on earth, psychologists have discovered that there are many causes to why people may develop psychological disorders. While there are biological, psychoanalytic, cognitive, and behavioral methods to explain these disorders, it is more likely that a combination of many leads to psychological disorders.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are often characterized by disturbances in one’s actual mood (or prolonged emotional state), and are sometimes referred to as “affect” disorders. Mood disorders incorporate such disorders as depression, (both major depressive disorder and dysthemia), psychoticism, mania, and bipolar disorders.

One method that attempts to address the causes of mood disorders is the biological approach. First, there is overwhelming evidence that genetic factors play an important role in the development of depression, particularly bipolar disorder. This has been discovered primarily through the use of twin studies, as there is evidence that if one twin is depressed, there is a strong predisposition for the other twin to be so as well. In addition, mood disorders have also been linked to certain chemical imbalances in the brain, primarily to both high and low levels of neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine). However, there is really no firm evidence linking high or low levels of neurotransmitters to an increased risk for mood disorders: this imbalance could actually be caused by stressful life events. Nevertheless, the biological research for mood disorders is promising and has been helpful in leading to a discovery for medications to treat these disorders.

Another approach to the cause of mood disorders is the cognitive approach. Research has focused on the contribution of maladaptive “cognitive distortion” in recent years. According to Aaron Beck, some people, in the early stages of life, undergo horribly wrenching experiences (such as the death of a parent, humiliating criticism, etc.). One’s response to such an experience is a development of a “negative self-concept,“ in which one develops feelings of incompetence or unworthiness that has little to do with actual reality. When a new situation comes about that is similar to the situation under which the self-concept was learned, the same feelings of worthlessness are activated, and may result in depression. In Beck’s theory, there are several kinds on irrational thinking that can contribute to these feelings of depression. One of these methods of illogical thinking is arbitrary interference. “Arbitrary interference” maintains that the individual arrives at a degrading conclusion of him/herself that is completely devoid of evidence. Another one of Beck’s methods of thinking is selective abstraction. The underlying principle behind this method of thinking is that the individual arrives at such a debasing conclusion based simply upon one (of numerous) factors involved in a situation. Third, Beck maintains that overgeneralization plays a role in the development of mood disorders. “Overgeneralization” provides that an individual arrives at a negative conclusion about oneself based on a single, often inconsequential, event. The method of magnification and minimization concludes Beck’s cognitive explanation. This maintains that the individual tends to magnify the difficulties and failures of oneself, while minimizing important accomplishments and successes. Overall, there is considerable research to support Beck’s view of depression, as it has been found that the thoughts of depressed persons are generally more illogical than the thoughts of those who are not depressed.

The psychoanalytic approach to mood disorders, while available, is given little credence. Freud viewed depression, for example, as a result of excessive and irrational grief over a real or “symbolic” loss. Basically, one is depressed because they have either repressed their anger or have unresolved a monumental moment of grief at one point or another. However, Freud’s view of how unresolved grief is changed into depression is intricate and lacks evidence. Nevertheless, his analogy between grief and depression has been noted by other theorists, and there is considerable research that links depression to troubled (and close) relationships.

The behaviorist approach, on the other hand, is given a little more credibility. One illustration of the behaviorist approach is the “viscous cycle.” Often a time, people with certain predispositions toward depression may be more likely to encounter stressful life events by (quite simply) their very own personality and behavior. For instance, studies

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