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Analyzing Psychological Disorders 9

By smwalker Jan 31, 2010 1660 Words
Analyzing Psychological Disorders

By Stephanie Marsh-Walker

University of Phoenix

Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder. Like many other illnesses, schizophrenia is believed to result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. All the tools of modern science are being used to search for the causes of this disorder.

The term schizophrenia is Greek in origin, and in the Greek meant "split mind." This is not an accurate medical term. In Western culture, some people have come to believe that schizophrenia refers to a split-personality disorder. These are two very different disorders, and people with schizophrenia do not have separate personalities. (Pinel, 2007).

Schizophrenia is a complex and puzzling illness. Even the experts in the field are not exactly sure what causes it. Some doctors think that the brain may not be able to process information correctly; and it is believed that genetic factors appear to play a role, as people who have family members with schizophrenia may be more likely to get the disease themselves. Some researchers believe that events in a person's environment may trigger schizophrenia. For example, problems during intrauterine development (infection) and birth may increase the risk for developing schizophrenia later in life; and psychological and social factors may also play some role in its development. However, the level of social and familial support appears to influence the course of illness and may be protective against relapse. (Schizophrenia, 1996-2006).

No single characteristic is present in all types of schizophrenia. The risk factors include a family history of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is thought to affect about 1% of the population worldwide. Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed in people aged 17-35 years.

The diagnosis of schizophrenia is made based on a thorough psychiatric interview of the person and family members. As yet, there are no defining medical tests for schizophrenia. The following factors may suggest a schizophrenia diagnosis, but do not confirm it: Developmental background; Genetic and family history; Changes from level of functioning prior to illness; Course of illness and duration of symptoms; and Response to pharmacological therapy. (Web MD, 2005-2008). The areas of the brain implicated in schizophrenia are the forebrain, hindbrain, and limbic system; and it is thought that schizophrenia may be caused by a disruption in some of the functional circuits in the brain, rather than a single abnormality in one part of the brain. Although the brain areas involved in this circuit have not been defined, the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, limbic system, and the thalamus are thought to be involved. The cerebellum also appears to be affected in people with schizophrenia. (Pinel, 2007).

Neurotransmitter functionality is also believed to have influence in the development of schizophrenia. The dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia postulates that schizophrenia is caused by an overactive dopamine system in the brain; excessive dopamine and reduced activity can disrupt all aspects of motor, cognitive and emotional functioning and can result in an acute schizophrenic psychosis. An excessive dopamine concentration in the brain of people with a schizophrenic disorder was originally thought to be associated with increased activity of dopamine receptors in the prefrontal cortex. Recent studies indicate that reduced numbers of dopamine receptors may contribute to the rise in dopamine concentration. Other neurotransmitters, including serotonin, glutamate, gamma aminobutyric acid, and acetylcholine may also be involved in schizophrenia. (Reichenberg & Harvey, 2008). Several structural changes are found in the brains of people with schizophrenia, most of which occur in the forebrain. Reductions in the volume of gray matter in the frontal lobe, and decreased brain volume and activity, have been repeatedly noted among people with a schizophrenic disorder. The ventricles are commonly found to be larger than normal, as are the basal nuclei, while the hippocampus and amygdala are often smaller. The disease is also associated with alterations in blood flow to certain areas of the brain. (Nestor, 2008).

Anorexia

According to an Clinical Publications article published by Sage Publications, anorexia nervosa has been associated with numerous complications. One of them is peripheral edema. Edema in these patients can occur in the absence of low plasma protein or cardiac failure. I believe that a person suffering from anorexia is someone that possibly suffered some emotional trauma as a young child. I do not believe that individuals are just born suffering from anorexia. I do believe that with intense therapy that this is something that can be overcome. I believe that if you see your loved one suffering from any type of eating disorders, if it is caught early enough, it will be easier to possibly get a handle on it. find it interesting that as a species, we have a long history of trying to alter our consciousness through various means. For centuries, people explored different types of mind-altering activities, such as meditation, sensation-seeking, exercise, bin-feedback, etc. and continue to do so. Others have altered their consciousness using intoxicants. Being intoxicated fulfills a psychological need for many people whereas for others, it may fulfill a physiological need. Unfortunately, this drug-induced and desired state (e.g., the high) sets in motion a cycle of repeated drug use. With repeated use of most drugs, tolerance develops, which requires the person to consume increasingly larger amounts of the drug to get the desired effect. Eventually, the cycle of abuse or addiction has undesirable psychological as well as medical or physiological consequences. This process shortens the lifespan and decreases the quality of life.

This vicious cycle starts with the simple desire to get high, progresses to increased drug use, impaired thinking, craving for and preoccupation with the drug, continued abuse and often full-scale physiological dependence. Psychologically, the desire to simply get high is replaced by the loss of control and inability to stop abusing a drug. This cycle is psychologically devastating and often physically harmful to the individual, yet the pattern often continues. Unfortunately, even short-term use of some drugs can have serious medical consequences. The Handbook of the Medical Consequences of Alcohol and Drug Abuse examines both the acute and chronic effects of drugs on neuropsychological functions and organ systems and explains current thinking about how we define abuse and dependence.

Examiner: How has the nature of research in drug and alcohol abuse changed?

Research in this field has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. In recent years, there has been a far greater focus on genetic, brain chemistry and pharmacotherapy research than in the past. This "neuroscience" approach is not welcomed by everyone though, because it is viewed as too reductionist, usually by people who are not trained in neuroscience. However, I have always believed that the combination of good clinical therapy coupled with advances in neuroscience holds the key to unlocking this pervasive problem of alcohol and drug abuse. For example, the human genome project will eventually provide markers or identify genetic defects that make some individuals more resilient to, or place them at greater risk for alcohol and drug abuse.

Drug Abuse

I believe Ron is suffering from some unresolved deep emotional issues that more than likely stemmed from his childhood. Until he is able to come to terms with whatever hurt him in his childhood, it is going to be extremely difficult to overcome the drug abuse. Ron is a walking time bomb that a part of him probably wants to die and then another part feels so torn with abandoning his family. I believe it would be helpful for the entire family to undergo family therapy.

According to John Brick from an article published by Forensic Examiner, found it interesting that as a species, we have a long history of trying to alter our consciousness through various means. For centuries, people explored different types of mind-altering activities, such as meditation, sensation-seeking, exercise, bin-feedback, etc. and continue to do so. Others have altered their consciousness using intoxicants. Being intoxicated fulfills a psychological need for many people whereas for others, it may fulfill a physiological need. Unfortunately, this drug-induced and desired state (e.g., the high) sets in motion a cycle of repeated drug use. With repeated use of most drugs, tolerance develops, which requires the person to consume increasingly larger amounts of the drug to get the desired effect. Eventually, the cycle of abuse or addiction has undesirable psychological as well as medical or physiological consequences. This process shortens the lifespan and decreases the quality of life.

This vicious cycle starts with the simple desire to get high, progresses to increased drug use, impaired thinking, craving for and preoccupation with the drug, continued abuse and often full-scale physiological dependence. Psychologically, the desire to simply get high is replaced by the loss of control and inability to stop abusing a drug. This cycle is psychologically devastating and often physically harmful to the individual, yet the pattern often continues. Unfortunately, even short-term use of some drugs can have serious medical consequences. The Handbook of the Medical Consequences of Alcohol and Drug Abuse examines both the acute and chronic effects of drugs on neuropsychological functions and organ systems and explains current thinking about how we define abuse and dependence.

Examiner: How has the nature of research in drug and alcohol abuse changed?

Research in this field has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. In recent years, there has been a far greater focus on genetic, brain chemistry and pharmacotherapy research than in the past. This "neuroscience" approach is not welcomed by everyone though, because it is viewed as too reductionist, usually by people who are not trained in neuroscience. However, I have always believed that the combination of good clinical therapy coupled with advances in neuroscience holds the key to unlocking this pervasive problem of alcohol and drug abuse. For example, the human genome project will eventually provide markers or identify genetic defects that make some individuals more resilient to, or place them at greater risk for alcohol and drug abuse. (The Forensic Examiner, 2004).

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