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Some misconception regarding mental disorder


1. There is a feeling that mental illness is a disgrace and one should be ashamed of it. Because of this attitude there are many whp hesitate to take professional help, with the result it becomes too late when they finally seek professional help.

2. There is a belief among most people that mental illness is due to the possession of evil spirits. This belief is more prevalent among the rural and illiterate people than among the Urban and educated people. Those who behave in this way often seek the help of temple priests. Rare cases of a functional disorder being cured by these priests strengthen the faith of people in them.

3. Most people have this misconception that inmates of a mental hospital are uncontrollable brutes who assault visitors, talk to spirits or rave and rant. Actually, only a minority of the patients, who are severely disturbed, might be of this kind. Even in these cases, with effective drugs / counselling being

available they can be brought under control. Again those who are seriously disturbed are just as sicker as those suffering from typhoid or cancer. But the public attitude towards them continues to be prejudiced.

4. Patients discharged from mental hospitals are often viewed with suspicion. It is true that certain forms of psychoses, which are severe, cannot be cured completely. But 70-80% of the patients recover if proper treatment is given on time. Several public opinion studies show that the discharged patients are refused accommodation. Recently a popular national daily in Madras refused to insert an advertisement by discharged mental patients for a room, on the ground that this kind of advertisement w~ll be a stigma to the daily.

5. Most families have had or have at least one mentally ill individual in their histories, and their relatives often fear of becoming mentally ill because of such a family background. Such fears are, however, quite founded as it has been proved that certain forms of mental retardation and congenital malformation result from chromosomal irregularities on the part of one or both parents. New advances in genetics now make it possible to know whether a prospective patient has a normal chromosal pattemor not.

It cannot be denied that hereditary factors influence the development of schizophrenia and congenital malformations result from chromosal irregularities on the part of one or both parents. But the exact nature of the role of hereditary in mental disorder is still unknown. In cases where mental illness runs in the families, the children probably inherit it through leaming and not through germ plasma. Parent themselves, are often too disturbed to provide their children with the proper environment of affection, security and I consistent discipline with the result that the growing child does not develop I healthy patterns of adjustment. Here, therefore, the cause of mental illness is a social rather than genetic.

6. There is a belief that mental illness is caused by masturbation and over indulgence in sex. Masturbation is almost universal among boys during adolescence. Therefore a relationship between two factors definitely does not hold true. Again there is a no norm from which overindulgence and under indulgence in sex can be determined- it depends upon age, health, attitude and many other factors, hence, overindulgence by themselves have no relationship with mental illness or at least there are no research studies to support this belief. It is possible that sexual activity, which is often accompanied by guilt, worry and feelings of sin and unworthiness may place a great stress upon the individual so that he is no longer capable of adjusting to an everyday life problems. Thus, it is not sexual behavior itself, but the manner in which the individual evaluates it that is now believed to be sometimes responsible for the development of abnormal behavior. Connict and guilt centering on sex is one of the factors contributing to abnOimal behavior. There are many more complex interacting factors which contribute to abnormal behavior.

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are the only options left,
and laughing feels better right now.

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