The Concept of Disorder

Today, a psychological disorder is a pattern of behavior or experience that is distressing and painful to the person, that leads to disability or impairment in important life domains (e.g., problems with work, marriage or relationship dif ficulties), and tha is associated with increased risk for further suf fering, loss of function, death, or confinement (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). The idea that something can go wrong with a person's personality has a long history . Some of the earliest writings in medical psychiatry included classifications and descriptions of personality and men tal disorders (e.g., Kraeplin, 1913; Kretschmer , 1925). A very early concept derived by French psychiatrist Philippe Pinel was manie sans delire, or madness without loss of reason. This was applied to individuals who demonstrated disordered behavior and emotions but who did not lose contact with reality (Morey , 1997). A related concept, popular in the early 1900s, was called moral insanity , to emphasize that the person did not suf fer any impairment of intellect but, rather , was impaired in terms of feelings, temperament, or habits. An influential psychiatrist named Kurt Schneider (1958 proposed the term psychopathic personality to refer to behavior patterns that caused the person and the community to suf fer. Schneider also emphasized statistical rarity along with behaviors that have an adverse impact on the person and the community in which that person lives. This definition highlights the notion that all forms of per sonality disorder involve impaired social relationships; other people suf fer as much as or more than the person with the disorder .

A disorder is a conceptual entity that, although abstract, is nevertheless useful. It helps guide thinking about the distinction between what is normal and what is abnormal, or pathological. The field of abnormal psychology is the study of the various mental disorders, including thought disorders, emotional disorders, and personality disorders. In this chapter, we will focus on disorders of personality and the ways in which they af fect functioning.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Do Not Panic

Do Not Panic

This guide Don't Panic has tips and additional information on what you should do when you are experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. With so much going on in the world today with taking care of your family, working full time, dealing with office politics and other things, you could experience a serious meltdown. All of these things could at one point cause you to stress out and snap.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment