Mental illness: a fictional medical condition?

Mental illness pertains to a condition that involves changes in an individual’s thoughts, sentiments and behavior, resulting in distress, as well as difficulty in performing regular tasks. Similar to other medical disorders, mental illnesses may vary in terms of degree of severity among different individuals. It may thus be possible that a specific mental illness is mild in one person, while in another individual, the same mental illness would be observed as severe.

Moreover, the symptoms associated with a certain mental illness may be different among individuals, wherein it could be observed as confusion in one, while it may be seen as a withdrawal in another. There are currently a number of mental illnesses that have been comprehensively studied and diagnosed in society. These disorders include depression, autism, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Each of these mental illnesses changes an individual’s way of processing ideas, as well as feelings, thus resulting in a behavior that is generally considered to be not of the norm.

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This essay will examine the nature of mental illnesses and present salient points that would support the notion that mental illness is not an actual mental illness, but a normal biological condition that is often observed in the simplest conditions of everyday life. This essay would therefore argue that mental illnesses do not exist and that these so-called “disorders” are transition stages of the brain as it assimilates changes in its immediate surroundings. Mental illnesses are difficult to diagnose in children and adolescents

One of the vital arguments that support the idea that mental illnesses do not exist is the difficulty of diagnosing this condition in children and adolescents. Unlike other medical conditions that present straightforward symptoms for a rapid diagnosis of a disorder, mental illnesses are usually difficult to ascertain among younger patients. According to Emiroglu and Diler (2009), there is yet a need to challenge their view that bipolar disorder, as well as other mental disorders, does not exist because most of these behavioral conditions are frequently observed among normal, healthy children and adolescents.

The common tantrums and outbursts of younger individuals are simply a part of the affective personality of a developing individual and there are certain people who progress to the next stage of maturity at a faster rate than others. Despite the differences in the duration of each individual in a particular stage of growth and development, it should still be understood that all individuals eventually and ultimately reach the expected stage of maturity.

It can therefore be argued that the diagnosis of mental illness follows a double standard approach because peculiar emotional outburst of an adult is easily classified as a bipolar disorder, while the same temperament in children and adolescents is categorized as a tantrum. It is thus possible that bipolar disorder does not exist and simply reflects a transient setback in the emotions of an individual, largely similar to that of a child or adolescent. Once this emotional episode subsides, the individual then reverts back to his adult stance.

Such processes of intermittent outbursts may be regarded as a homeostatic mechanism that has been adapted by the body to release any contained emotions within its system. Work stressors also generate behavioral problems in other mammalian species A recent research led by Hausberger et al. (2009) described their findings regarding the presence of stressors at the workplace. The investigation was fueled by the notion that the presence of multiple stressful factors at work generally results in the impairment of an individual’s mental functioning.

The harmful effects of stressors would thus lead to mental health conditions such as depression, as well as anxiety. In addition, mental health illnesses are strongly associated with other physical disorders and morbidities, such as problems with the gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems. Although the etiology of mental illness has been established to be multi-factorial, it has yet been claimed that majority of these conditions are influenced by the mood of the individual. Using horses as their animal model, the study Hausberger et al.

(2009) showed that mental illnesses could also be developed in horses when stressors are introduced during work. Horses undergo similar conditions as that of humans, especially in terms of work settings, as these animals are subjected to work each day. In addition, horses experience similar physical issues during work, as these animals work for almost 8 hours each day. Horses are also under the supervision of their superiors, namely the riders, and thus this setting is comparable to employees constantly monitored by immediate supervisors.

Both humans and horses are suppressed of their emotions at work, thus leading to emotional conflicts. Horses are also subjected to repetitive activities, yet each of these horses may have different personalities. Unfortunately, riders treat horses as stereotypes of labor animals and thus the exertion that these animals work regardless of their mood thus results in mental illnesses. The mental wellbeing of the horses also deteriorated when these animals were maintained in poor living conditions.

Once these animal models were brought in to work for the subsequent days, the animals showed resistance to work by showing abnormal behaviors such as jumping on the riders, as well as avoidance of the “workplace. ” The research article thus concluded that the presence of stressors at the workplace, in combination with poor living conditions, could result in the development of mental illnesses. One argument on the non-existence of mental illnesses is thus associated with the position of human beings in the taxonomic hierarchy of biological species.

The human species has been recognized as the superior taxon in the biological world because it has developed the capacity to communicate and process ideas. Human beings are thus highly capable of improving their surroundings and of making their choices in life. If mental illness in horses has been observed in the study of Hausberger et al. (2009), then this observation could destroy the hierarchical position of human beings as the most sentient species. It is thus possible that the so-called mental illness in the medical field could simply be a biological response to stressful factors in the environment.

The fight-or-flight response has been presented as a physiological response of most animals, wherein a species may attempt to deal with stressful factors in its immediate environment (“fight”) or it may instead leave the site and find another niche that does not feature that stressor (“flight”). It may thus be highly probable that the abnormal psychological responses of human beings, which are thus classified as mental illnesses, comprise another category of the fight response to external stimuli. Confusion in establishing relationships between a mental illness and a particular behavior

Most mental illnesses are described through specific behaviors that are presented by an individual. A number of generalized symptoms could easily described, such as that of schizophrenia, which is associated with extreme levels of fear, which in turn affects an individual’s interactions at work and at home. However, it should also be understood that the rest of the so-called mental illnesses are not easily classified based on the observed behavioral patterns. The difficulty in establishing the relationship between a specific mental illness and a behavioral activity may thus strengthen the argument that mental illnesses do not exist.

One strong example of such dilemma is that of the mental health condition known as addiction. This mental health condition is regarded as a compulsive behavior towards a specific action or substance, which in turn generates a specific euphoria or relief in an individual. Classical examples of addiction thus refer to that of alcohol and illegal drugs, resulting in millions of individuals around the world who have destroyed their lives due to the negative effects of these substances.

A few decades ago, smoking has also been classified as an addiction, specifically to the nicotine that is present in cigarettes and tobacco products. It should be understood that alcohol, drugs and nicotine are all harmful substances and thus it is understandable to categorize these specific behaviors as addictions. Recent improvement in technologies has resulted in the use and the application of the Internet and the attachment and seeking of certain individuals to this technology has resulted in a new form of addiction, namely Internet addiction.

According to Pies (2009), the concept of Internet addiction is yet confusing because this could not be straightforwardly classified as a disease or a disorder. Several models explaining the etiology of Internet addiction have been proposed, resulting in a list of symptoms associated with the condition, including distortion of function, confusion and obsession. However, it should be understood that a great majority of society now have access to the Internet and thus following this concept of addiction will automatically refer the entire human population to be at risk to addiction.

In addition, the use of the Internet is a necessity in most workplaces and thus the concept of Internet addiction may then convey that most establishments are run by employees who are “under the influence” of the Internet. The dilemma in the establishment of the concept of Internet addiction therefore strengthens the argument that mental illnesses do not exist, as Internet resources are available in almost every place around the world. Should the concept of mental illness be upheld, then it is highly likely that all of society would be considered addicts, based on the ill-established concept of Internet addiction.

Conclusions Mental illness pertains to a condition that involves changes in an individual’s thoughts, sentiments and behavior, resulting in distress, as well as difficulty in performing regular tasks. Despite this definition, a number of arguments have been raised, showing that mental illnesses do not exist. Mental illnesses are usually diagnosed among adults and are more difficult to assess in children and adolescents. This is possibly due to the high similarity of childhood behavior to the symptoms of mental illnesses.

The congruence of the behavior of horses as animal models of mental conditions shows that certain behavioral patterns are simply reactions of an organism to stressful conditions. The establishment of addiction is also confusing, especially when applying this concept to Internet usage. These three arguments thus support the hypothesis that mental illnesses do not exist and the specific behavioral patterns observed among certain individuals are common physiological responses to stress and discomfort.

Works cited Emiroglu, FNI and Diler, RS, “Pediatric Bipolar Disorders: From the Perspective of Turkey. ” Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 18 (2009): 206-214. Hausberger, M, Gautier, E, Biquand, V, Lunel, C and Jego, P, “Could Work Be a Source of Behavioural Disorders? A Study in Horses. ” PLoS ONE 4 (2009): 7625-7632. Pies, R “Should DSM-V Designate “Internet Addiction” A Mental Disorder? ” Psychiatry 6 (2009): 31-37.


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