This essay argues that social class is highly effective in determining the quality of lives of people with mental illnes

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Social Class and Mental Dysfunction

When the Titanic sank in 1912, social class emerged as a key determinant of survival. Among the passengers who perished were 40 percent of class I travelers, 58 percent of class II travelers and 75 percent of class III travelers. The difference in classes was even more evident for children and women who were granted a preference in accessing life boats. More than a half of the third-class travelers sank with the Titanic whereas only seven percent of the first-class passengers died in the incident. The antithetical nemesis of the Titanic passengers exhibit an exact illustration of the link between social class and life chances. Ideally, Max Weber designed the term life chances to explain the level at which our chances to access good things presented by life are shaped by our class position. Class entails a group of people with a similar position (Keller 220). Therefore, the influence of class in our lives is unescapable. This essay argues that social class is highly effective in determining the quality of lives of people with mental illnesses.

Faris and Dunham are among the first scholars to determine the inverse relationship between social status and mental illness in the poor areas of Chicago. After the Second World War, the landmark research by Redlich and Hollingshead evaluated rates of psychiatric dysfunction in Connecticut, New haven (Tittenbrun 212). Their finding was that 36.8 parent of psychotic patients came from the lowest class, one percent came from the upper class while the lowest class entailed 17.8 percent of the total population. They attributed the inverse correlation to the disproportionate number of psychotic patients in the two lower class positions.

The ability of people to receive treatments for their disturbed behavior is linked to their social statuses. There is a high tendency to induce people with mental dysfunctions in first class (the highly educated, most affluent consisting of professional and business leaders) and second class ( generally educated and acting in managerial positions) to consult a psychologist in more insightful and gentle ways as compared to  their counterparts in class IV (the working group offering skilled and semi-skilled labor) and class V (semiskilled and unskilled factory workers living in slums and other poor areas in town) where compulsory, direct authoritative and coercively brutal techniques are used(Tittenbrun214). Such differences are more prevalent in forensic cases of mental disorder patients who receive treatment often depending on their class status.

There is an inverse relationship between class and mental illness. The distribution of mental illness cases among different populations adopts a specific pattern with Class V contributing more patients than its population warrants. Among the higher social classes, there exists a more balanced correlation between the psychiatric patients and the total population of individuals. Examination of each form of psychotic dysfunction demonstrates a true relationship between class position and treated cases. However, the relationship is indirect with lower class positions contributing higher rates as compared to higher positions. A resent research conducted byTittenbrun, uncovered that the increase in rates are small from class I-II to class four for alcoholic, senile and organic disorders (216). Between the fourth and fifth class, each of these types of disorders exhibit a sharp increase. Such trends clearly depict how social class determines the prevalence of psychotic disorders.

The place where patients with psychotic disorders are treated is strongly linked to class status. There is a higher tendency of higher classes to receive treatment from private practitioners, whereas treatment in public healthcare institutions is more associated with the lower class (Lepiece et al. 93). This means that the upper class are able to receive specialized treatments, because they can afford the high costs. However, the lower class majorly depend on government subsidies granted through public insurance policies to foot their treatments, thus forcing them to seek treatment in public institutions. Because of overcrowding of patients in public hospitals, there is a high tendency of lower class patients to be given poor attention by psychiatrists. This increases the chances that they could re-experience the same psychological challenges even after receiving treatment.

How patients are treated also depends on class status. Individual psychotherapy is a primary treatment in all social classes but the lower the class position the higher the tendency to administer, shock treatments, organic therapies, treatments with drugs and lobotomy.  When the treatment agency is kept constant, the status consideration continues to be significant (Lepiece et al. 93). Private health practitioners extend analytic psychotherapy to patients from higher classes and directive therapies to patients from lower classes. The same class-related difference is manifested in most clinics in the U.S. Moreover, the length of visits and the number of times patients consult therapists per month significantly differs from one class level to another. Specifically, the lower classes visit therapists less frequently that higher classes.  Such a disparity is most common between class IV and V.

It is also worth noting that the expenditures on treatment are significantly correlated with the class status in different types of psychiatric facilities. In private facilities, the higher the social class, the greater the mean expenditure per patient (Lepiece et al. 94). In private hospitals, higher classes incur greater expenditures as compared to lower classes because they are hospitalized for a longer duration. However, the mean expenses per day is smaller for the higher classes. This can be attributed to partial discounts offered to high status patients. The clinics incur as much as eight times in expenditures treating class II patient as compared to class V patients. This difference is consequent to the varying amounts of interventions given to patients in these social classes.

Upper and lower classes exhibit different views concerning psychotic patients. Ordinarily, people with mental dysfunctions are not accepted by their families in lower classes. As such, they are viewed as obnoxious, useless and dangerous both to themselves and to the society (Lepiece et al. 95). The result of rejection and isolation from the community is a continued custodial care. This has made public institutions to act dumping sites for psychotic patients from the two lower classes. Therefore, although public hospitals are minimum-cost institutions, they turn to be maximum cost institutions in the long run. In sum, expenditures on treatment in each psychiatric institution is influenced by the class status in many significant ways.

In a nutshell, class status dictates the quality of life of psychotic patients and their ability to receive proper treatment. There is a higher distribution of people with mental dysfunctions in lower classes than in upper classes. The type of treatment offered to patients also depends on their classes, with upper class patients receiving a quality treatment. Although upper class patients often pay more in private facilities, they usually receive some discounts which are not available to the lower classes. When people from the lower class suffer from psychological illness, they will most likely receive treatment in public health institutions. Psychotic patients in lower classes also suffer from rejection by their families and the community who view them as useless and dangerous. On the other hand, in upper classes, psychotic patients are handled appropriately.

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