Differing Theoretical Approaches Used by Mental Health Practitioners

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The aim of this essay is to explore and explain how differing theoretical approaches used by mental health practitioners can affect the way care is provided. This will be achieved through examining the influences of each model and their effects upon the practice of mental health care. Some historical information will be provided to give explanation of the background into the evolution of social and moral perspectives that have shaped mental health care practice throughout the ages. There are 3 principle theoretical approaches used in practice today those being the biological, psychological and social models. People who exhibited behaviour that deviated from what society considered the norm would be considered to have an evil mind. Treatment during these times would be conducted in the forms of spiritualistic ceremonies and crude forms of brain surgery, (trepanning) done by the shaman. The motive for this practice would be to allow evil spirits to be released. It has been suggested that stone-age cave dwellers may have treated behaviour disorders with this treatment of trepanation. (Sue et al, 1990). It appears inevitable that they explained mental illness through a non-scientific cause, because they had not developed scientific techniques to provide a materialistic cause. The supernatural concept of mental illness still existed throughout ancient times with many civilisations such as the Egyptians, Greeks and the Roman Empire believing the cause to be one of a supernatural reason. It was with the ancient Egyptians came the first signs of changes to the treatment of the mentally ill. Egyptians like the early Stone Age societies mainly regarded mental illness as magical or religious in nature; however their society which was obsessed with life after death meant that the health of the mind or soul played an essential part in ones overall health. There is evidence to suggest that an ancient temple near Saqqara was being used as a rudimentary hospital for the treatment of the mentally ill which could mean that Egyptian society with its fixation on the health of the soul has the first recorded evidence of a mental healthcare system for their society.(Flanigan, 2003)

According to Davison & Neale, the Greek philosophy of mental illness was a doctrine of demonology that an evil being, such as the devil dwells within an individual and controls their mind and body. However in contrast to this Hippocrates (460-355bc) believed in a biological cause of mental illness. His belief about the treatment of mental illness extended to a kind of brain pathology that was to be treated with proper diet, drink and abstinence from sexual activity (Davison & Neale, 1997). The Greek concept of mental illness was well spread through to the Roman Empire. Plato's (428-348 B.C.) regarded mind as a cause of madness. He believed that the cause of mental illness is a person's ignorance of a psyche; the force that kept the human being alive; which leads to the self-deception (Mora, 1985). It was at that point that a psychological viewpoint of mental illness was also presented. During this era many thought that both mind and body was a cause of mental illness but, unfortunately both approaches could not be synchronised, so the mind and body position went separately through this period.

During the middle ages the Hippocratic viewpoint of mental illness was gaining prominence with many doctors believing the causes of mental illness to have a biological basis. Constantinus Africanus (1020-1087) founder of the first medical school founded in Salerno, claimed melancholia was a result of an excess of bile causing an imbalance to the system of the body. (Mora, 1985) Later during the renaissance period (15th-16th century) there had been a period of witch-mania, which led to Pope Innocent the 8th sending monks to be the inquisitors of witches. From this the Malleus Maleficarun (1486) “the witch's hammer" was published serving as the...
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