There are quite a number of views in which psychopathology can be understood and it has been clearly depicted to have improved over the years.This is because of emergence of skilled personnel who have engaged themselves in trying to explain what mental illness really entails.There are five approaches on how mental illness was perceived and i will briefly discuss them in a clearly transformed texts with respective to the events as deployed by the time they occurred.
- Psychopathology as a Demonic Possession:
What leads to mental disorder? one of the earliest theories stated that the afflicted person was possessed by evil spirits.It followed that the cure for such a malady was to drive the devils out and so one of the earliest approaches was merely to provide them with a physical escape route.According to some anthropologists,this may explain why Stone Age people sometimes cut large holes into their fellows’ skulls; many such trephined skulls have been found,often with a sign that tried to survive the operation.
An example of a trephined skull
Later treatment regimens attempted to calm the unruly demons by music,to chase them with prayers/excorcisms, or even to purge them with ematics(potions that induce vomiting) or laxatives.
Accordingly, patients were variously chained,starved,flogged, immersed in ice or boiling water.It came to surprise a lot of people that none of the treatments was particularly effective and patients were often driven into worse and worse derangement.
2.Psychopathology as a disease:
This demonological theory of mental abnormality is largely a thing of the past.Even in the old era,during the plague-ridden middle Ages,there was an alternative view that such condition were actually kinds of diseases (Allderidge,1979;Neugebauer ,1979). Regrettably ,this belief usually did not lead to more humane treatment of the afflicted.The diseased “mad men” were treated with little sympathy.There was no common bond with humanity hence considered nuisances at best and menaces at worst.After that,a number of hospitals were established throughout Europe.These hospitals,most were for purpose of public figure only (Name Sake).Their real function basically was to confine all kinds of social undesirable and isolate them from the rest of human kind.
Criminal beggers and the epileptics,incurables of all sorts were institutionalized and treated the same way as mentally disturbed(Rosen,1966).The treatments were barbaric and in-human and very few patients could survive.
One author described conditions in the major mental hospital for Parisian women at the end of 18th century.
Mad women seized by fits of violence are chained like dogs at their cell doors,and separated from keepers and visitors alike by a long corridor protected by an Iron grille,through this grille is passed their food and the straw on which they sleep;by means of rakes,part of the filth that surrounds them is cleaned out”.(Foucalt,1965 pg.72)
*The life of philippe pinel (1745-1826) favoured people from a higher social class more preferentially than those who were then referred to as “peasants”.
3.Mental Disorder As an Organic Illness:
Pinel and other reformers had a similar mind autonomy or theme of “madness” to be a disease.This strongly implied that inmates were patients needing treatment rather than animals deserving confinement.But if these patients had a disease or rather diseases,since people were already aware of the varieties of mental illness,the question being debated is “what is the cause?”.At first,the notion of mental disorder as an illness suggested an organic or bodily cause,most likely from within the brain.Proponents of this somatogenic hypothesis could point the obvious effects of stroke in impairing speech,clear evidence that a disorder in the brain can affect the psychological functioning of the whole body.But the somatogenic position gamed it’s greatest impetus at the end of the 19th century ,thanks to the discovery of a debilitating disorder known as General Parensis.This disorder is characterised by a general decline in physical and psychological functions culminating in an abnormal behaviour marked by personality aberrations that may include childish delusions i.e “I am the President of the United States” or profound hypochondriacal depressions such as “My heart has stopped beating” or “My head is falling”.Without a proper medication,this disorder/illness can build up and paralysis ensues as a result,death may occur within a few years.
4.Mental disorder as a Psychological illness.
The achievements of the somatogenic approach were impressive,but at the end of 19th century,it became clear that this approach could not explain the full spectrum of mental disorders.An example of such illness is hysteria which refers to a group of presumably psychogenic disorders including conversion disorders and dissociative disorders.Since ‘DSM-III’ ,it is no longer used as a diagnostic category in part because of an erroneous implication that the condition is more prevalent in women.
DSM-III:The diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association adopted in 1980.A major distinction between it and it’s predecessor is that it categorizes mental disorders by their descriptive characteristics rather than by theories about their underlying cause.
The study of hysteria currently known as conversion disorder,was crucial in leading Freud to develop his theories on psychopathology.Patients with hysteria had odd complaints that seemed organic but did not conform to the clinical picture of organic disorders.For example,hysterics would appear with limbs that were “Paralyzed”.Under hypnosis,however,the patients would move their limbs perfectly well at the hypnotist’s suggestion ,indicating that the nerves and muscles were fully functional.From this clear statement,it seemed so logical that hysteria was a psychological disorder,that is a disorder whose origin were psychological rather than organic.A number of cases studied by French hypnotists of the 19th century appeared to originate in traumatic incidents.For example ,one patient trapped underneath a derailed railroad car developed hysterical paralysis of his legs.His legs were in a perfect physical condition,but his belief that his leg has been completely crushed ultimately produced his symptoms.We will turn to the modern conception of conversion disorder later.For now,the important point is that by 1900,most theorists had become convinced that hysteria was psychogenic.In other words,these were illnesses that did not conform to a strictly somatogenic account.
5.Modern conception of Psychopathology:
The perception of mental illness has changed over the years and people look at it now from a broader perspective that it is a reality and it is also accompanied by a logical explanation as to why it is in existence.We also have to accept these people who suffer from these mental ailments as normal beings just like us who need to be treated in a more compassionate and affectionate manner.Currently,over 50,000 institutions across the globe has been established to offer medical assistance to these afflicted persons.Non-governmental organisations too has been formed to insight positively and to create awareness regarding these Psychopathological disorders.It is with no doubt that when we converge in harmony and understand one another and accept that being different is something we should appreciate then the world would be a better place to live.