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Our environment is defined by our actions and output, physical and mental. Thus, one must question the classical differentiation between quot;internalquot; and quot;externalquot;. Natural, quot;internalquot;, causes - a heart defect, a biochemical 6. Aging and deformities also belong in this category. In contrast, problems of nurturance and environment - early childhood abuse, for instance, or malnutrition - are quot;externalquot; and so are the quot;classicalquot; pathogens germs and viruses and accidents.

But this, again, is a counter-productive approach. Exogenic and Endogenic pathogenesis is inseparable. Mental states increase or decrease the susceptibility to externally induced disease.

The conundrums of human development – implications for the study of child and adolescent disorder

Talk therapy or abuse external events alter the biochemical balance of the brain. The inside constantly interacts with the outside and is so intertwined with it that all distinctions between them are artificial and misleading. The very nature of dysfunction and sickness is highly culture-dependent. Societal parameters dictate right and wrong in health especially mental health. It is all a matter of statistics.

Certain diseases are accepted in certain parts of the world as a fact of life or even a sign of distinction e. If there is no dis-ease there is no disease. That the physical or mental state of a person CAN be different - does not imply that it MUST be different or even that it is desirable that it should be different. In an over-populated world, sterility might be the desirable thing - or even the occasional epidemic.

The body and the mind 7. They adapt themselves to their environment and if the latter changes - they change.

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Personality disorders are the best possible responses to abuse. Cancer may be the best possible response to carcinogens. Aging and death are definitely the best possible response to over-population. Perhaps the point of view of the single patient is incommensurate with the point of view of his species - but this should not serve to obscure the issues and derail rational debate. As a result, it is logical to introduce the notion of quot;positive aberrationquot;. Certain hyper- or hypo- functioning can yield positive results and prove to be adaptive.


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The difference between positive and negative aberrations can never be quot;objectivequot;. Nature is morally-neutral and embodies no quot;valuesquot; or quot;preferencesquot;. It simply exists. WE, humans, introduce our value systems, prejudices and priorities into our activities, science included. It is better to be healthy, we say, because we feel better when we are healthy. Circularity aside - this is the only criterion that we can reasonably employ.

If the patient feels good - it is not a disease, even if we all think it is. If the patient feels bad, ego-dystonic, unable to function - it is a disease, even when we all think it isn't. Needless to say that I am referring to that mythical creature, the fully informed patient. If someone is sick and knows no better has never been healthy - then his decision should be respected only after he is given the chance to experience health.

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The Conundrums of Psychology by Vaknin, Samuel, | Project Gutenberg | E Books

All the attempts to introduce quot;objectivequot; yardsticks of health are plagued and philosophically contaminated by the insertion of values, preferences and priorities into the formula - or by subjecting the formula to them altogether. One such attempt is to define health as quot;an increase in order or efficiency of processesquot; as contrasted with illness 8.

While being factually disputable, this dyad also suffers from a series of implicit value-judgements. For instance, why should we prefer life over death? Order to entropy? Efficiency to inefficiency? Health and sickness are different states of affairs. Whether one is preferable to the other is a matter of the specific culture and society in which the question is posed.

Health and its lack is determined by employing three quot;filtersquot; as it were: 1. Is the body affected? Is the person affected?

The Conundrums of Psychology

Is society affected? We must re-humanize disease. By imposing upon issues of health the pretensions of the accurate sciences, we objectified the patient and the healer alike and utterly neglected that which cannot be quantified or measured - the human mind, the human spirit. Back to Table of Contents 9. Sam Vaknin In their opus magnum quot;Personality Disorders in Modern Lifequot;, Theodore Millon and Roger Davis define personality as: quot; A complex pattern of deeply embedded psychological characteristics that are expressed automatically in almost every area of psychological functioning.

Our temperament is the biological-genetic template that interacts with our environment. Our temperament is a set of in-built dispositions we are born with.

The Conundrums of Psychology

It is mostly unalterable though recent studies In other words, our temperament is our nature. Our character is largely the outcome of the process of socialization, the acts and imprints of our environment and nurture on our psyche during the formative years years and in adolescence. Our character is the set of all acquired characteristics we posses, often judged in a cultural-social context. Sometimes the interplay of all these factors results in an abnormal personality.

Personality disorders are dysfunctions of our whole identity, tears in the fabric of who we are. They are all- pervasive because our personality is ubiquitous and permeates each and every one of our mental cells. I just published the first article in this topic titled quot;What is Personality? Read it to understand the subtle differences between quot;personalityquot;, quot;characterquot;, and quot;temperamentquot;. In the background lurks the question: what constitutes normal behavior?

Who is normal? There is the statistical response: the average and the common are normal. But it is unsatisfactory and incomplete.

Campus Conundrums: Sexual Assault Research, Prevention and Policy

Conforming to social edicts and mores does not guarantee normalcy. Think about anomic societies and periods of history such as Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Russia.


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Model citizens in these hellish environments were the criminal and the sadist. Rather than look to the outside for a clear definition, many mental health professionals ask: is the patient functioning and happy ego-syntonic? If he or she is both then all is well and normal.