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What is Mental Illness?

Mental Illness Mental illness is a disorderly functioning of the mind.

It is sometimes caused by stress, psychological factors such as early childhood
experiences, or biological factors such as a brain function, disease or genetic

Mental illness is sometimes referred to as abnormal behaviour (behaviour that

is out of the ordinary and does not conform to the society you live in).

What is “normal”?

Varies widely from person to person and from group to group

There are times when it is healthier not to conform to the society you live in.

How do we as a society decide which behaviours constitute mental illness?

How do we distinguish between illness and originality or between illness and

Characterisics of “Abnormal” Behaviour


Personal suffering
Fact - Individuals can be kept in
Interpersonal maladjustment
custody if they pose a threat to
In Canada we determine behaviour abnormal if a person exhibits:
themselves or others
Persistent personal unhappiness

Inability to function in society

Antisocial behaviour that harms other people

Changing Views of Mental Illness Changing Views of Mental Illness

Middle Ages 18th Century

Caused by evil spirits in the body Confined to asylums (literally “places of refuge”)

Exorcism was used to cast out evil spirits and/or praying, fasting and Kept in chains, and nothing was done for them.
drinking foul substances that could cause vomiting
Dr. Philippe Pinel (France) removed chains, allowed patients to move around
Accused of being witches or worlocks who made a pact with Satan. the grounds, rooms more comfortable and violent methods were abandoned.
Changing Views of Mental Illness Changing Views of Mental Illness

Late 20th Century

19th & 20th Centuries
New medical drugs available
Confined to asylums was primary treatment for serious disorders such as
schizophrenia Many are released from institutions and are able to lead productive lives

Psychoanalysis used for anxiety and mood disorders Continued stigma and some mentally ill end up homeless or living marginal

Facts about Mental Illness Anxiety Disorders

One in five Canadians suffer from mental illness

Depression alone will disable more people in the world than AIDS, Cancer and Heart disease combined
Anxiety arises from stress
40% of patient visits to family doctors are related to emotional problems

3 million Canadians have serious depression at a given time, but only a third seek treatment
When anxiety becomes severe or prolonged, it can cause a variety of disorders.

80% of suicides are carried out by people with depression The most common are generalized anxiety disorders, phobias and obsessive-
compulsive disorders.
2.4% of boys and 7% of girls suffer from depression

1% of the population are schizophrenic; another 1% are bipolar - both begin in late teens to early 20s
Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Difficulties identifying the cause of anxiety

Have trouble coping

Display unusual fear and try to escape the situation

Often fear dreadful things may happen

Fears appear for no apparent reason and become so severe that suffers feel overwhelmed

Anxiety attacks

Physical symptoms: accelerated eartbeat, faintness, numbness, chills or flushed skin.


A phobia is a form of anxiety that involves an intense, irrational fear of certain

objects or situations

The fear are out of proportion to the dangers involved

Fears are only classified as phobias when they directly interfere with our lives.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

“A phobia is the mind’s defence against

A form of anxiety
anxiety even though the particular object or
Obsession: A persistant, unwanted thought - the thought is unreasonable, but still unable
situation that causes fears bears no to get rid of it.
relationship to the source of the unconscious
Compulsions: the tendency to perform an act repeatedly in order to relieve the anxiety
- Freud

Can be serious or even life-threatening

Mood Disorders Schizophrenic Disorders

Mood disorders are long lasting and severe: major depression and bipolar affective disorder A distortion of reality, social withdrawal and disturbance of thougt, perception, motor activity and
Major depression
Several Forms:
Sufferers are deeply unhappy and have little pleasures in life
Withdraw completely: lose interest in te world, totally apathetic
Accompanied by anxiety, sleep problems, changes in appetite, suicide attempts
Catatonic: Rigid and mute, hold one position for hours without moving
Can be treated and cured or can recur several times Disordered speech and thought

Important to seek help Hallucinations and delusions, sometimes of bizarre nature

Darkness and hope: Depression, Sports and Me Causes and Cure: Still searching: may be genetic; drug therapy is effective
Personality Disorders

Affect people's ability to function in society. Making it difficult to suffers to relate to

others or to hold a job


Highly Suspicious

Mistrustful of others

May lie, break laws or feel persecuted

See their own behaviour as normal

Psychopathic Personality

Show a total disregard for the rights and well-being of others

Feel no remorse or guilt after causing someone harm or after committing

immoral or criminal acts

Find it difficult to form lasting relationships and ave little or no insight into their
own behaviour

Blame others for their failures