Who's Crazy Here Anyway?

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Who's Crazy Here Anyway?

By | April 2012
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Forty Studies That Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research Who's Crazy Here, Anyway?

Something important in psychology is to differentiate between what is considered normal and abnormal. Psychologists need to do this to decide what to diagnose as a mental illness, and the treatment for this mental illness. Unfortunately, for everyone involved, it is not always easy to discern between what is normal behavior, sometimes called effective psychological functioning, and abnormal behavior, which could possibly be the result of a psychological disorder. To help determine between, psychologists use a few decisive factors. This includes the context in which someone observes the behavior. In relation to context, it means that the situation matters because in one situation a behavior may be normal, but not necessarily in all situations. Another factor is the persistence of the behavior or how often, over time, the behavior continues or occurs. How far, from the accepted social norm, the behavior deviates is also an important factor. Whether or not someone is aware of his or her own psychological difficulties is subjective distress. This subjective distress is often a great help to mental health professionals in making a psychological diagnosis. When a person finds it impossible to be satisfied with life due to psychological problems, this is considered a psychological handicap. Effect on functioning could be considered the bottom line in psychological diagnosis: the extent to which the behaviors in question interfere with a person's ability to live the life that he or she desires and that society will accept.

These "symptoms" and characteristics of mental illness all involve judgments on the part of psychologists, psychiatrists, and others. So these mental health professionals still need to answer to important questions. Are mental health professionals truly able to distinguish between the mentally ill and the mentally healthy? In...