Saturday, February 16, 2013

Psychiatric Disorders

Sigmund Freud's ideas of personality structure play an important role in the understanding of many types of psychiatric disorders. Freud believed that that personality is made up of 3 major parts: the id, the ego,and the  superego. 


The id represents the unconscious instincts and psychic energy present from birth. The id contains basic drives that, operating according to the pleasure principle, seek immediate gratification regardless of the reality of the situation. 


The ego is the central coordinating branch of the personality. It is the mediator between the id and the outside world. It is the part of the personality that evaluates and assesses the reality of a situation (reality testing) and, if necessary, postpones the gratification of a need or drive (id) until a satisfactory object or situation arises. The ego is perceived as being "self" by the individual. 


The superego is the internalized conscience and moral part of the personality. It encompasses the sense of discipline derived from the parental authority and society. Guilt feelings, for example, arises from behavior and thoughts that do not conform to the standards of the superego. 

Freud believed that certain psychological disorders occur when conflicts arise between two or more of these aspects of the personality. Defense mechanisms, such as denial, are techniques people employ to ward off the anxiety produced by these conflicts. For example, a person afflicted with a serious illness may avoid confrontation his or her present or future problems in denial. He or she may refuse to believe the diagnosis, may miss appointments, may neglect medication, or may ignore symptoms, All individuals utilize defense mechanisms to cope with difficult problems. The use of these mechanisms may be regarded as abnormal or normal according to whether that use makes a constructive or destructive contribution to the individual's personality. 


The term psychosis is frequently used to describe mental illness. A psychosis involves significant impairment of reality testing, with symptoms such as delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (false sensory perceptions), and bizarre behavior. schizophrenic disorders are examples of psychoses. Patients exhibit a disturbed sense of self, inappropriate affect (emotional reactions), and withdrawal from the external world. 

Some psychiatric disorders that i will be discussing in future blogs are anxiety disorders, delirium, and dementia, dissociative disorders (i spoke about one dissociative disorder previously on my blog), eating disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, pervasive developmental disorders, schizophrenia, sexual and gender identity disorders, somatoform disorders, and substance-related disorders.