The utmost aim of the paper is to study mental problems & diseases from different perspective is to find methods

Home, - Critically analysis and discussion of three theories of the etiology of mental illness.


The paper presents an extensive critical analysis on mental illness through exploring its three theories that will help us to understand and classify mental disorder. The paper answers the question that why mental health illnesses are demanding more attention and research over time. The classification of mental disorders has its roots in antiquity and was attribute to be supernatural in origin related to demonic possession. In today’s world, everything works with scientifically proven logics which have removed supernatural causes from professional nosology. The purpose behind understanding different accepted beliefs on mental illness is to create effective treatments. All data is critically analyzed and different viewpoints of related researchers are taken into consideration to base firm arguments that how mental illness is constructed and how they can be reduced.

Discussion-Critical analysis

The present day growing research on mental health illness is because in the past the diagnosis of mental disorders was relatively a straightforward process with patients presenting their visible signs and symptoms of illness while health professional make diagnosis and prescribe medication accordingly. With the increase in complications in mental health area there has been a dramatic expansion in this field of knowledge during the past half century. The reason to this surge is because world is increasingly becoming globalized, people are engaging in tough markets and environments are becoming more competitive. With the increasing pressure to excel, to survive, to grow and sustain in present day world many mental health issues have rose to a dangerous level. In order to view the biological, psychological and socio-cultural factors of mental illness, three theories are taken into consideration including Biological, Psychodynamic and cognitive.

The goal of the paper is to provide an extensive understanding on etiology of mental illness in the light of these three approaches. Being allured by the urge to find the etiology of various mental disorders the first and foremost debate goes to nature versus nurture theory which refers to the biological factors as the predominant cause of mental illness.  Under this theory, the mental illness is expected to be originated from the defects in person’s own biological setup such as genetic disposition, neuroanatomical defects, along with biochemical imbalances and may be at some cases due to infections that in some way damaged the mental health of a patient. These biological factors are said to be present either naturally within the patient or acquired from ancestors. Biological approaches to mental illness support and help the researchers perpetuate the hidden emotional or relational world within the individual suffering from mental illness. Based on the study by (Wakefield, 1992), the author argues that a disorder is a harmful dysfunction which simply refers to the failure of a mental mechanism designed by evolution to perform in a natural way due to deviance in biological default functioning such as disability or unexpected trauma. Under scientific domain of biological perspective, mental disorders are taken as illnesses and this illness is associated with having a biological base that can lead to behavioral abnormalities. For example, a person has the obsession of washing hands repeatedly whenever the bodily symptom (coughing) emerges. From this it can be understood that some actions lead to others as there is an overlap of mental and physical illnesses.

In another examplepresented by (Notaro & Zimmerman , 2001), that psychological events can also cause physical health problems such as feeling nervous at times lead to tummy ache. Our bodies are internally connected whether it’s physical, biological or social the outcome are going to be dangerous if remain unchecked. The segregation of all these three departments makes it easier for the health professionals to deal with the exact problem through defined set of treatment instead of wasting time on diagnosis what can be the possible reasons behind current deteriorating mental health of his or her patient. Deduced from the work of Miresco and kirmayer, 2006, practitioners usually blame patients for their biological based systems on psychological problems. The theory emphasizes that for a mental illness, health controllers must first look into the biological insights of individuals before going into unnecessary investigation. In American Psychiatry, this is referred to as biomedical model in which it is believed that all mental disorders stems from biological problems and need to be treated accordingly. But as there can be many reasons to mental illness, the professionals should care about the correct analysis of all pathological variations. 

Next point of discussion is the psychodynamic theory of mental illness which is related to studying the emotional personality defects of individuals with emphasis on the psychological factors for playing greater role in creating mental health problems. The proponents of this theory including Freud, Charcot and Breuer, Jung perceived mental illness with high level of distress and dysfunction at the psychological level of individuals which is related to their behaviors and experiences they gained over the time. The studies in this respect propagates that individuals develops along a trajectory and all the experiences they have been facing from their early childhood they adapt to the environment according to them. Change becomes a crucial decision of individuals shaping their personalities on the basis of past experiences and hence fails to learn right responses to new situations which lead them to suffer from dysfunctional personalities (Henriques , 2012).  In this model, the emphasis is on the change in behaviors which according to the viewpoint of (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), can be influenced by reinforcement techniques involving both positive (such as rewards, praise, and appreciation) and negative stimuli must be provided that will allow them to realize that changing their behavior is essential. We can understand this concept from the example of children from paper that they learn by watching their prime interacting people that is their parents. Initially, they form a blur image of that target behavior but keep learning through constant observation that ultimately results in their modeled behavior. Different positive behavioral stimuli can be provided to the patients facing problems such as eating disorders and dementia enabling them to take control of their own psychology and not let it overwhelm them.

Within resolving the psychiatric issues, psychiatrists play a dominant role in which the professionals are experienced to study the behaviors of the individuals in order to know the probable cause of their illness which comes with time and experience. Aside from the biological factors which are relatively easy to identify with certain test, psychiatric issues are not easy to identify as for that psychiatrist have to go the patient through series of personal sessions to get to know their stories. The more time is consumed on to knowing patients the more it starts becoming evident to the professionals what are the evident reasons that have resulted in the present mental condition of the person. The illnesses may include anxiety, reactive depression and functional psychoses such as schizophrenia which are treated biologically through tranquillizers but with psychiatry through engaging personal sessions to help individuals learn to overcome their mental hindrances themselves instead of relying on long lasting medications to resolve psychological problems. In physical illnesses the diagnosis is often confirmed through physical signs that appear in the forum of changes in the body. It is important to note that whether physical or mental, there are always evident signs of dysfunctional performance of individuals.According to the argument built by an anti-psychiatric sociologists Thomas Szasz (1961), that mental illness is a myth it is only bodies that can be ill while minds can only be sick (Lowery & Unzueta, 2006) The postulate of Thomas Szasz can be defended by the researcher(Nathan, 2007), that both are interrelated as it is the biological problems that can cause psychological problems for example, gastric ulcers and uncontrolled sugar level can also psychosomatic illness like dementia. So it is the interplay of both mind and body that works in mysterious ways to cause mental illnesses. A well-known example of this case which explains that illnesses are caused by mix of all biological, psychological and environmental factors can be seen in “Asthma” a condition that has all the contribution from biological factor (such as Genetic disposition), Environment factor (such as Dust and pollution) and Psychological factor (such as stress). 

On the practical side, Linda Richards in 1873 has been referred to as the first lady for improving nursing care in psychiatric hospitals through organized educational programs(Ajzen, 1980).  It is one of the steps through which improvements can be brought in this section. The standard procedure referred from the research by (MARTINEZ & HINSHAW, 2016)adopted by most of the Psychiatric mental health care centers is to start from Assessment in which at first data regarding the patient is collected. Next step is the diagnosis in which different outcomes are identified to what can be the actual problem that is causing the person to face mental illness. Then comes the planning phase in which a plan of care is made by the psychiatrists to see which treatments must be suitable to attain expected health results. Step 4 is Implementation of plans in which patients have to go through all the prescribed interventions. The treatment does not end with the medicinal application as for mental illness there is a constant need for counseling to assists clients in improving their health, letting them to cope up with their illness by fostering their ability to understand how to work in ways that allow them to prevent from complete damage. Lastly, in the on-going therapeutic sessions customers are encouraged to foster self-care installing in them desire to live a healthy life. Recent data have documented that most of the people facing the mental problems have to go through menace like discrimination, shunning and stigmatization as social injustices exponentially compound their problems. They thwarts the efforts of clients to seek for treatment and limit their life opportunities by stop seeing their mental illness such as depression, anxiety etc. as problems. Apart from construction of stigma at the end of society, the affected people of mental problems show ignorance towards treating such problems as mental issues, sense of inferiority is another factor that stops them from exposing their true issue and lastly lack of resources force them to stay in their difficult situations with which the problem keeps eroding (Hinshaw, 2007) with time. As noted from the literature of (Luthar & Cicchetti, 2000), that sometime resilience within the individuals (such as humor, intelligence, and other temperamental traits) along with support from family and community also works as a mechanism with which individual gets enabled to undergo good life adjustments in spite of having mental issues. It his social circle that helps him to sustain himself so it can be understood from this part that mental problem does not inevitability result in desperation. It has been suggested that even the individuals with serious level of mental problems when socialize and maintain a good public relation can bring realistic changes in their personality.

Third theory that has been brought to focus is cognitive theory. This theory was devised by Buss and emancipated when behaviorism was becoming a dominant theoryin psychology. It is with the advent of 1970’s the emphasis on behaviorism declined and the focus of researchers of Mental illness came on “Social Constructivism”. It is said to be the brand of psychology that studies how society influences the way people think, perceive, learn and retain. A centralized implication offered by this method is that reality is not self-explanatory or constant. In fact it is constructed as it is the product of human activities and how they react against all odds. Brown (1995) suggested 3 mainstream concepts of social constructivism; 1st is that reality is defined by social forces. “What society says is what we do”. 2ndconcept is related more keenly to post-structuralism by Foucault which involves critical assessment of language and symbols used to create knowledge on basis of which human undergo their activities and build a though process(Wakefield, 2002). 3rd concept focuses on production of scientific knowledge that assists the individuals in their pursuit professional interests. Social constructivism is found to place a dominant pressure on the cognitive abilities of a person. 

Examination of the social constructivism approach on mental health and illness there has been seen that societies have coercive control on building the personalities. It has been deduced that such social dominance of society’s in deciding what is right and wrong is greatly causing social deviance so much that individuals are getting restricted within their thoughts, opinions and decision making. This dominance has been depriving the people of their freedom of choice to control their own fate and decide for their social constructs themselves. This is what forcing the individuals to run far from their socially defined structures and build their own models of justice versus injustice thus leading to create imbalance society as it is the social environmental that shapes mental disorders. It can be said that culture has an impact on psychiatry. For instance in the words of Surgeon David Satcher, The cultures from which people hails affects their mental health and illness as it exposes them to different set of stresses that are concerning to social structure as they require clinical attention (Clausen, 1955)Globalization is on its way. Time is not far when the world will be a unified element but still it will take time for people to learn and get adjusted in different cultures thus causing them to face post-traumatic stress disorder. In social constructivism, it is made sure that what is constructive must be accepted by individuals for example the scale of measuring the economy is money and the people have collectively accepted it that money holds institutions. With the viewpoint of feminist philosophers, gender is also socially constructed. It is not biology just that labels us male or female, it is in fact the society that has set these standards for individuals and confined them to only two terms; male and female. The story doesn’t end here as many other shared expectations are then attached with the genders such as females are expected to be caregiving while men are expected to work for living. The clash with the mental health happens when individuals start negating these social set norms and start defining their own rules of living. Such individuals start suffering from anxiety disorders and are being brutally stigmatized as strangers when they dare to violate the specific social norms. Seeing the husband carrying out the duties of women and a women carrying out the role of husband is still seen as a taboo. This act of breaking a norm then creates a feeling of shame, disgust and ambiguity leading the individuals to become more uncertain about their lives which in some extreme case let them to take their own lives. To avoid such emerging dilemma within societies it is important for the governments to make sure necessary freedom is given to individuals who intend to change their social construct. Secondly, it is the time to give diverse social meanings to different subjects performing within the society allowing the individuals who feel they separate stop feeling out casted. In literature related to mental illness discussed three styles of social construction, one is pure constructionism in which mental illnesses are assumed to be culturally constructed that reflect society’s dominant social values and other kind of norms, second comes interactive social construction which supports those who want to give their own meanings and shape the behaviors accordingly and last is harmful dysfunction as presented by (Jerome Wakefield, 2007) is that Mental illness in social construction is when people start negating the dominant norms and shape their own conceptions of the world.


The utmost aim of the paper i sto study mental problems and diseases from different perspective is to find mitigation methods that can help the medical consultants to bring improvements in their treatment mechanism. There is no doubt that as the environments are becoming more and more complex they are deteriorating the mental conditions of people. Now people have less time to socialize which is affecting them to even greater extent and more time is spent on job which is continuously adding to their stress level. Apart from that for those mental illness for which there are still a gap in terms of treatment the literature provides a feasible platform to aware the public that they should stop stigmatizing mental illness in fact concentrated efforts must be initiated to bring more comprehensive models that benefits the society as a whole. At the clinical end, the role of therapist is gaining significance so it is important for them to aware themselves of all the possible reasons that are leading the individuals to carry mental illness. In this regards, a set of expressive activities must be designed and clients should be encouraged to participate as on one hand it will let the consultants to learn more about the real condition of his patient and his underlying conflicts will be revealed making it easy to be treated. Another thing that is greater in need at the societal level is the installation of tolerance by promoting behavioral styles that allow the individuals to take less stress towards anything and remain calm in solving problems that come in his or her way. For the severe forms of mental illness doors must remain open for further research to be poured in that would forge a kind of society that we all cherish.

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