The Journey of Mental Illnesses


While reading Chapter 15 on Psychological Disorders, I thought it was interesting to learn the history of mental illnesses and how they were cured, and how mental illnesses are present in many different societies all around the world.


In high school, we were required to read books like The Crucible, books that center around the witch hunts of the Middle Ages. From reading these books, I have gained general knowledge on the topic about witch hunts. Those who exhibited strange and odd qualities were very suspicious in society then. In The Crucible, though, the characters would claim others who they disliked to be witches so they would be executed. One can only imagine the disorder that was caused back then due to the witch hunts. The textbook notes the demonic model where mental disorders were attributed to evil spirits in the body. Because of this model, it led to a series of executions, exorcisms and other tests, like the "dunking test."

I also found it interesting to learn about the different kinds of "mental disorders" that are supposedly present in different cultures and societies. There was a table present in the textbook with the names of different syndromes in different societies and their descriptions. For example, there is a syndrome called "Windigo" present in Native Americans in Central and Northeastern Canada in which one feels a "morbid state of anxiety with fears of becoming a cannibal." This raises a question I have about mental disorders. How do they come about and how are they formed? I agree with the textbook that there is a strong factor of social contagion, where if one begins to experience symptoms of a condition, others will begin to follow suit. But that can't be said for those who are diagnosed with serious and harmful conditions.


Even though it was a required read, I loved The Crucible because it dove into the depths of what severe suspicion and hate can do. I like the connection, in that the witch hunting could be considered a sort of cultural insanity, much like the Windigo syndrome. This also makes me wonder if the era in which these mental disorders are formed plays a major factor, and if the frequency of outbreak decreases as time goes on.

I think you bring up a very interesting point about the fact that people would accuse people they disliked. It's amazing to me the power we sometimes have over other people. In "The Crucible" and in the true Salem Witch Trials, even raising suspicion was a serious deal. Nowadays, we feel that we can observe a person and somehow diagnose them ourselves. It's crazy how many weird "disorders" there are, and I question how many of them are legitimate.

I feel like a lot of more serious mental illnesses happen because of what happened to you as a child. And if you were raised securely with loving parents, you are able to tackle problems and situation that life throws at you. For example, your household was rocky as a child, if you were abused,or if your parents were never around. We are social beings and if are parents aren't around to support us and love us, I don't think we would be able to survive in the world. There are some that have to do with chemical imbalances, and there are some that are set off by severely traumatic experiences. How they develop I think is very dependent on that person and their experiences.

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This page contains a single entry by luong051 published on April 25, 2012 2:24 PM.

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