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Psychopathology involves the study of mental distress, illness, disorders, abnormal behavior and maladaptive behaviors. Various professionals deal with mental health issues such as psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. Nevid (2008) has identified the following factors for distinguishing normal from abnormal behavior; unusualness (behavior that is displayed by a few people in a given society), social deviance (behavior that deviates from the established standards of a given society), emotional distress such as depression or anxiety, maladaptive behavior (behavior that is self-defeating causing personal distress), dangerousness (actions that are viewed as dangerous to oneself or others such as suicidal tendencies) and faulty perceptions or interpretations such hearing voices or seeing some objects or people that are non-existent which are symptoms of hallucinations may also be considered as abnormal. From the course work I discovered that a number of factors have been advanced to explain the root of psychopathology such as socio economic; financial hardships or extreme poverty, retirement, unemployment as well as job dissatisfaction and cultural factors; spirituality, social isolation, abuse, discrimination, marital disruption as well as child neglect.
Sigmund Freud was a scholar whose theory of psychoanalysis has been significant in the field of psychopathology. He usually associated most of mental disorders such as suicide, delusions and hallucinations with traumatic childhood experiences. Thus he suggested the root of psychopathology could be traced back to childhood years of any individual. Mitchell & Black (1995) claim that the Freudian theory consisted of the topographical model of the mind namely; unconscious containing the unacceptable ideas and feelings, preconscious containing acceptable ideas and feelings that are capable of becoming conscious and the conscious containing those ideas and feelings in awareness at any particular time. Free association which is the backbone technique in Freudian theory involves a patient sitting comfortably on a couch and then speaks of anything that comes to his or her mind. This enables the therapist to discern as well as uncover the hidden motives and secrets that may give a deeper insight into the client’s problem. I think that Freud’s theory is important in the understanding of the development of psychopathology since the techniques of free association and dream analysis enables a Freudian therapist to gain access to the unconscious.
Fraad (2010) laments that unnatural economic and psychological disaster has struck America which can be attributed to five factors; transformation of American morality, economic depression, transformation of the family, increasing solitude among Americans and the drugging of America. According to Freud the economic depression which in turn contributes to financial hardships in the American society is a threat to mental health of individuals. People get stressed and depressed while looking for job opportunities due to unemployment while those who are employed usually have stressful workloads as well as experiencing job dissatisfaction. Inadequate health services especially among the minority groups may lead to mental retardation among the children since they are not accorded the necessary health facilities such as adequate nutrition and proper immunization.
Fraad (2010) argues that increasing solitude can be attributed to extensive television viewing which in turn contributes to lack of effective communication thus disrupting family life that is a strong source of emotional satisfaction for any individual. This social isolation is detrimental to the development of a child and which unfortunately is a culture that has been adopted by the American society. Parents are busy working in the capitalist system which leaves them with less time to spend with their children. This has contributed to child neglect not financially but emotionally and psychologically. Sometimes children experience trauma due to abuse either sexually, emotionally or physically which Freud suggested that individuals utilize the psychological defense mechanisms to be able to keep such experiences from their unconscious. Psychological defense mechanisms are strategies of reducing anxiety caused by anxiety provoking events such as repression and suppression. However Freud discovered that such experiences and wishes can be uncovered through dream analysis, free association as well as slips of tongues.
Another cultural factor that plays a role on the development of psychopathology is spirituality. Spirituality plays the role of sanctioning members of a society as well as establishing moral standards. The American culture currently is dominated by secular spirituality that stresses on individual happiness. The cultural emphasis on happiness in America may threaten the mental health of individuals due to the high pressure on them to seek for happiness (Revenge of Introvert, 2010). Life in America has become so competitive and aggressive; one needs to be equally competitive to survive in such an environment which may give rise to mental disorders such as suicidal tendencies, stress and depression. Marital disruption also plays a role in development of psychopathology. The increasing divorce rates in America which are mostly initiated by women have adverse effects on the parties involved mainly the children who may display symptoms associated with anxiety disorders and learning difficulties. Thus Freud argued that such humiliating childhood episodes may contributed to mental distress.
Thus in conclusion, the course has assisted me to understand the roles that the socio economic and cultural factors play in the development of psychopathology. In addition, I have gained insights into the Freudian theory that has made immense contributions to the field of psychopathology. I think psychopathology stems from sociocultural issues since these issues dictate the emotional, social, psychological and economic environments under which we are brought up. Thus in the management of the mental disorders and illness, it is important to identify these sociocultural issues and work at the eradicating the distress caused by them.
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