The first step in understanding the behaviors that are associated with mental disorders is to be able to differentiate the potential symptoms of a mental disorder from the everyday fluctuations or behaviors that we observe. Read the following brief case histories.
Case Study 1:
Bob is a very intelligent, 25-year-old member of a religious organization based on Buddhism. Bob’s working for this organization has caused considerable conflict between him and his parents, who are devout Baptists. Recently, Bob has experienced acute spells of nausea and fatigue that have prevented him from working and have forced him to return home to live with his parents. Various medical tests are being conducted, but as yet, no physical causes for his problems have been found.
Case Study 2:
Mary is a 30-year-old musician who is very dedicated and successful in her work as a teacher in a local high school and as a part-time member of local musical groups. Since her marriage five years ago, which ended in divorce after six months, she has dated very few men. She often worries about her time running out for establishing a good relationship with a man, getting married, and raising a family. Her friends tell her she gets way too anxious around men, and, in general, she needs to relax a little.
Case Study 3:
Jim was vice-president of the freshmen class at a local college and played on the school’s football team. Later that year, he dropped out of these activities and gradually became more and more withdrawn from friends and family. Neglecting to shave and shower, he began to look dirty and unhealthy. He spent most of his time alone in his room and sometimes complained to his parents that he heard voices in the curtains and in the closet. In his sophomore year, he dropped out of school entirely. With increasing anxiety and agitation, he began to worry that the Nazis were plotting to kill his family and kidnap him.
Case Study 4:
Larry, a 37-year-old gay man, has lived for three years with his partner, whom he met in graduate school. Larry works as a psychologist in a large hospital. Although competent in his work, he often feels strained by the pressures of his demanding position. An added source of tension on the job is his not being out with his co-workers, and, thus, he is not able to confide in anyone or talk about his private life. Most of his leisure activities are with good friends who are also part of the local gay community.
- For each case, identify the individual’s behaviors that seem to be problematic for the patient.
- For each case study, explain from the biological, psychological, or socio-cultural perspective your decision-making process for identifying the behaviors that may or may not have been associated with the symptoms of a mental disorder.
- Based on your course and text readings, provide an explanation why you would consider some of these cases to exhibit behaviors that may be associated with problems that occur in everyday life, while others could be associated with symptoms of a mental disorder.
Do not attempt to label or diagnose the mental disorder; there is not enough information in the case study. Just look at the behaviors presented.