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Analyzing Psychological Disorders 1

Analyzing Psychological Disorders

By: Tammy Poe
PSY 240
Axia University of Phoenix
May 31, 2010

Analyzing Psychological Disorders 2

Psychological Disorders are illnesses that can be caused by emotional suffering, ones
environment, or an uncharacteristic behavior. These disorders of behavioral, cognitive, emotional
functions are all considered Psychological disorders which could range from schizophrenia to
certain phobias (Pinel, 2007). Psychology is the scientific study of behavior; the scientific study
of all overt activities of an organism, and the internal processes such as learning, memory,
motivation, perception, and emotion. The three factors that are connected to behavior are: (1)
genetics; (2) experience; (3) ones perception of a current situation (Pinel, 2007).
Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder, and some people believe it is a split personality
disorder, they are two different disorders, and people with schizophrenia do not have separate
personalities (Pinel, 2007). There are many symptoms accompanied with schizophrenia such as
hallucinations, which are disorder thoughts, attention difficulties, delusions, and catatonia. Let us
take a closer look at the symptoms of schizophrenia. Hallucinations are imaginary voices that
tell a person what to do, or comment on the persons actions in a negative way. Disorder
thoughts are the illogical, irrational, and disorganized thinking patterns (Pinel, 2007). Attention
difficulties arise when a person is easily distracted. Or, have a short attention span or has a hard
time focusing for long periods of time (Pawlik-Kienlen, 2007).
Let us look at the symptoms associated with delusions. Delusions occur when a person has
false beliefs of the evidence provided, and the two types of delusions are; the delusions of
persecution, the illogical belief by a person thinking others or something is out to get them. The
second type is delusions of grandeur. Delusions of grandeur involve the person believing they
are someone of superior status (Pawlik-Kienlen, 2007). Catatonia describes a person that does
not move for long periods of time, or lacking personal hygiene, or talks in rhymes, avoids social
interaction, and echolalia are the automatic involuntary repetition of heard phrases and sentences.
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Some experts are not sure what causes schizophrenia, but some doctors think the brain may
not be able to process information correctly. Genetic factors are; family members with
schizophrenia are more likely to pass the disorder on to other family members (children). Some
researchers believe that an event in a persons environment may trigger schizophrenia. For
example, brain development disruption such as during a pregnancy when a mother takes high
doses of painkillers, experiences high stress levels during pregnancy, or becomes vitamin D
deficiency during pregnancy can lead schizophrenia to occur in children or adults later in life.
Other factors that contribute to schizophrenia are dealing with parental loss, or physical, or
sexual abuse during childhood. No single characteristic is associated with schizophrenia, and
many families are affected by schizophrenia because of family history. Schizophrenia also
affects 1% of the population worldwide. Schizophrenia is most generally diagnosed in people
ages 17-35. I want to address the neural basis of Schizophrenia. During the 1950s, the
antischizophrenic effects of both chlorpromazine and reserpine were related to their Parkinsonian
The brain of a deceased Parkinsons patient was found to be depleted of dopamine. Agitated
schizophrenics were calmed by chlorpromazine, and emotionally blunted schizophrenics were
activated by it (Pinel, 2007). Chlorpromazine does not cure schizophrenia. In many cases it
reduces the severity of schizophrenic symptoms. Reserpine is an active ingredient of the
snakeroot and is no longer used because it produces a dangerous decline in blood pressure. The
antischizophrenic effects of both drugs are clearly visible only after a patient has been medicated
fortwo or three weeks. The onset of the antischizophrenic effect of the medication is most
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generally associated with motor effects such as the Parkinsons disease; uncontrolled tremors,
muscular rigidity, and decrease in voluntary movement (Pinel, 2007).
The dopamine theory of schizophrenia is believed to be caused by too much dopamine and,
the opposite that antischizophrenic drugs exert their effects by decreasing dopamine levels. The
two well-established facts supporting the dopamine theory of schizophrenia are; first, reserpine
was known to deplete the brain of dopamine and other monoamines by breaking down the
synaptic vesicles that are stored and protected from degrading enzymes. Second, amphetamine
and cocaine trigger schizophrenic episodes, and increase the extracellular levels of dopamine and
other monoamines in the brain. However, studies indicate that neurotransmitter serotonin plays
a role in causing symptoms. This indicated that patients had better results with medications that
affect the serotonin and the dopamine transmissions in the brain (E-Mental Health).
New tests and machines were developed to help researchers study the schizophrenic brain by
using Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI) and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS).
Different lobes of the brain were examined and compared to those of normal brains, which
showed several structural differences. One of the most general findings was the enlargement of
the lateral ventricles, which are the fluid-filled sacs that surround the brain. Other significant
differences are; the volume of the brain is reduced and the cortex is smaller. Test showed that
blood flow was lower in the frontal regions of those compared to non-afflicted. This is known as
Other studies showed that people with schizophrenia sometimes show reduced activation in
the frontal region of the brain during tasks that normally activate them. There is evidence of
reduced volume of some frontal lobe regions, but no consistent pattern of structural biological
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decomposition has been found. Haloperidol a potent antischizophrenic drug had a low affinity
for dopamine receptors. Dopamine binds to more than one receptor; in fact five have been
noticed. Chlorpromazine and other antischizophrenic drugs are in the same chemical class (the
phenothiazines) all bind to D, and D2 receptors, and other antischizophrenic drugs in its
chemical class (the butyrophenones) all bind to D2 receptors but not to D1 receptors. Binding
butyrophenones to D2 receptors had also led to another examination in the dopamine theory of
Schizophrenia was said to be triggered by hyperactivity specifically at D2 receptors and not at
dopamine receptors (Snyder, 1978). Snyder and other colleagues had confirmed that the degree
to which neuroleptics (antischizophrenic drugs) bind to D2 receptors are related to the
effectiveness in suppressing schizophrenic symptoms. Schizophrenia is also associated with
brain damage, and abnormally small cerebral cortex and abnormally large cerebral ventricles
(Frith & Dolan, 1998). Even though brain damage is known to be widespread, it is not evenly
distributed. The cortical damage is seen more in the prefrontal, cingulate, and medial temporal
areas of the cortex.

Beth is a normal child raised in a well-balanced home by caring parents. As a teenager, she
began to experience an overwhelming fear of gaining weight and becoming fat. Her fear was
unfounded because Beths weight was normal for her height and age. Beth began to diet and
loses weight, but regardless of how much she weighed, she had a very poor self-image. Beth has
become dangerously thin, but she denies the seriousness of her condition. Regardless of how
much weight she loses, she feels like she needs to lose more. Beth has missed several menstrual
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cycles and continues to severely restrict her food intake. Her weight continues to drop. Beth's
mother and father are deeply concerned, but they do not know how to help their daughter
(PsychCentral, 2006).
From what I have heard from Beths story, I would diagnose her with anorexia nervosa. With
such a rapid weight loss Beth could face many health issues such as kidney damage, liver
damage, damage to the digestive tract, bone loss, infertility, malnutrition, cardiovascular
problems, and even death. Although Beth is underweight, she sees herself as fat. Beth has lost
her positive-incentive to eat because she thinks every time she eats, she will gain weight. Beth
needs to learn how to eat healthier meals, and exercise regularly. Beths parents can support her
by cooking healthier meals, and getting Beth psychiatric help. As a family, Beth and her parents
can sign up for nutrition classes. By getting educated about different foods, Beth can learn to
enjoy her preferred foods again.
Beth may be dealing with criticism from her peers. Today young girls are under a lot of
pressure to look a certain way in order to fit in at school, or other social events. T.V.s,
billboards, and magazines all portray a certain image that young girls believe they need to follow
in order to be popular, to fit in, or have boyfriends. Beth not admitting she has a problem, only
delays her getting psychiatric treatment. The physician must recognize Beths illness, and
diagnose treatment and help find the right treatment for Beth. A multidisciplinary team will
monitor and supervise Beths weight restoration and provide a judicious re-feeding treatment
plans (Mehler Philip S., 2001). Beths parents must be educated about her condition to
understand how she feels, and be able to support her. With the help of a psychotherapist, Beth
can overcome her disease in time.

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Drug Abuse

Ron is a 33-year-old man who has been in and out of the court/jail system for the last several
years. He started drinking as a teenager but his alcohol abuse began to be a serious problem in
his late 20s. Ron has several DUIs (driving under the influence) and has been arrested several
times, but he seems unable to control his drinking. To his credit, he admits that he is an
alcoholic. Ron has been through a variety of inpatient treatment facilities for his alcoholism, but
after a brief time of sobriety, he has always relapsed back into his daily abuse of alcohol. His
wife is concerned about him, but she does not know what to do for her husband.
Ron should join a support group such as AA and continue to go to the meetings. Sponsors are
available to call anytime. Ron should go get psychiatric help for his alcoholism, which can help
him better understand his addiction to alcohol. Ron can learn how to fight his urges to drink. He
must understand that his addiction could be hereditary, and avoid any contact with alcohol. Ron
may be advised to sign into a rehab facility, which can help detox his body, and monitor his
condition as well. Ron is facing liver damage such as cirrohosis of the liver, kidney damage, and
cardiovascular disease.
With Ron admitting his alcoholism, he has taken the first step, but he has no self-control.
Rons wife could use a camcorder and video tape Ron while he is drunk, then show Ron the
video when he is sober, this method may help Ron realize how he looks and acts while under the
influence of alcohol. Ron needs his wife to be supportive, and help him stay sober, in order for
her to do so, and be educated on alcoholism, join him in his meetings, and join Ron during his
psychiatric sessions. Ron may believe he has overcome his addiction, but he must understand he
is considered a recovering alcoholic, and he should continue his AA meetings. Ron may also be
prescribed Antabuse, a drug that causes severe physical reaction when alcohol is consumed.
Analyzing Psychological Disorders 8

The longer the patient takes Antabuse, the more effective it becomes and more severe the
reaction (Buddy, 2009). Antabuse has many hangover symptoms, palpitation, dispnea, and
hyperventilation, and milder symptoms that occur such as respiratory depression, cardiovascular
collapse, arrhrythmias, convulsions, and death. Antabuse does not cure or stop an alcoholic from
drinking, although if taken as prescribed, Antabuse is effective because the patient will form a
habit of not drinking alcohol. However, if the patient does not continue to take Antabuse, he /or
she are more likely to begin drinking alcohol again.
Psychotherapy can help both Beth and Ron learn how to overcome their disorders, and live
healthier lives with their families. Although Beth and Ron could relapse any time during their
lives, Beth and Ron must learn how to say no. Both disorders can result in damaging vital
organs which could leave Beth or Ron with disabilities, which could lead to more complex
disorders such as depression or anxieties. As a psychologist, I think Beth should sign herself into
a facility specially designed for anorexics, and continue visiting her psychologist. Ron should
sign into rehab, and have antabuse prescribed to him for as long as it takes in order to keep him
from drinking.

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Antabuse Treatment for Alcoholism
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Epstein, R., & Rogers, J. (2001). THE LAST LAUGH. Psychology Today, 34(6), 70.
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Pinel, J.P. (2007). Basics of biopsychology. Boston: Pearson Education.

Pinel, J., Assanand, S., & Lehman, D. (2000). Hunger, eating, and ill health. American
Psychologist, 55(10), 1105-1116. Retrieved June 16, 2010, from ESBCOhost

Russell, J. (1995). Treating anorexia nervosa. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 311(7005), 584.
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