Conceptualization of Psychological Distress Psychology Essay

Pages: 7 (2788 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Psychology

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] They suppose that other people are talking and are afraid of madness (Hayes, 2008).

Cross-cultural and historical evidence shows how the mainstream society feared and excluded the psychologically distressed persons. In the mid-eighteenth century, it is evident that fear emerged in medical terms but moral myths animated them. At the same time, the fear of madness developed as the dread of unreason (Lebow, 2012b). As a result, the two forms of obsession, dependent on each other, advanced to reinforce each other. Longitudinal studies in remote areas of France demonstrate the persistence of exclusionary and alienating practices towards psychologically distressed despite their official and deinstitutionalization integration into the society. The rhetorical acknowledgement of such individuals in the society has not been aligned with the reality of their status within the society (Tarragona, 2008).

Similar evidence continues to emerge from surveys digging into the social networks of psychologically distressed individuals in the society. Recent evidence demonstrates that public attitudes may be worsening. In 2010, the Department of Health conducted a survey on attitudes towards psychological illness and discovered an increase in prejudice across various indicators (The Australian Psychological Association, 2010). They include a tendency to avoid living next to a person diagnosed with psychological distress without believing that the distressed have equal rights as other people. This indicates the presence of powerful ideological forces in tension with the political and progressive social developments geared towards enhancing the lives of psychologically distressed in the society (Cooper, 2008).

Therefore, individual reluctance to accept psychological health problems in contemporary society is not related to the presence of fear, but with the material impacts of exposure in the form of discrimination, inequality, and oppression. Increasing social discrimination affects individuals with psychological health problems because social exclusion and inequality creates distress and the psychological patients are entangled in excluding, punitive public moods, and policies (Gold & Stricker, 2009).

Theorizing Psychological Health -- Social and Medical Models

Psychological distress is understood universally as a belief of the existence of a disturbance in at least one or more sections of human functioning like behavior, thoughts, and feelings. However, explanations for psychological distress are fiercely a debated and contended arena. Theories about the causes of psychological distress vary to some degree within and between the various disciplines relating to psychological health. Besides, most of them are consistent with what is referred to as disease or medical model. The medical model arose in the mid-18th century onwards. This led to a shift of the earlier religious or moral frameworks of explanations of psychological distress towards an illness framework (Huss & Baer, 2008).

Over time, psychiatry has been consolidating itself throughout the 20th century by assimilation with medicine and the concept of psychological illness evolved as a generic idea that embraced different phenomena and behavior. The modern day practice and language of modern health reflects the medical sciences as it is evolving. The identification of pathological symptoms, the observation of human behavior and emotions, the diagnosis of disorders and the prescription of proper intervention are the main aspects. The medical model strategy is supported by the advantage that psychological health diagnosis entails the accurate identification of an objective disease process (Sparks, Duncan & Miller, 2009).

The statistical and diagnostic manual of psychological disorder availed by the American Psychiatric Association is the common system that psychiatrists use to diagnose the disorders. The international statistical disease classification is a minimally utilized system availed by the World Health Organization. Both approaches assume medical terminology, concepts and outline categorical disorders that could be diagnosed through a series of criteria. The diagnosis and statistical manual of psychological disorder (DSM) has been revised repeatedly since its introduction (Huss & Baer, 2008). Initially, it was developed to form a standardized taxonomy, which could improve effective correspondence between psychiatrists to facilitate psychological health diagnosis, research, and treatment. This indicates that although psychological distress is statistically part of the daily human existence and a common experience for human beings, people tend to avoid and consider it as something removed from them (Groth-Marnat, 2009).

Through the advancement of the formal classification and diagnostic systems, the psychological model seems to offer practitioners with certainties and answers, but this could be a misleading presumption. While they have been modeled on the scientific realm, research shows that diagnostic and classification systems in the psychological health field do necessary not generate objective professional judgments (Kellogg & Young, 2008). As such, the process is heavily reliant on the interpretation of human behavior and emotions, with diagnosis capable of being shaped by subjective beliefs and attitudes. Studies remind us that psychiatrists have declined to admit the uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis. An individual is primarily required to attend a psychiatric lesson to acknowledge that diagnosis is not an exact science. Various diverse opinions are likely to be expressed. Experiences of learning to diagnose psychological illness is likely to be influenced by the political, social and cultural contexts in which psychiatric training occurs, with a western world and distinctly patriarchal view dominating contemporary practice and theory (Groth-Marnat, 2009).

Conclusion

This study has unraveled the diverse terminologies, concepts, and theories as used in relation to psychological health. This will help in the relevant conceptualization of psychological distress or disorders. A critical analysis of the association between professional and lay ways of assessing, describing, and explaining psychological health distress has unearthed how stigmatizing process dominates both professional practice and discourse and popular culture (Huss & Baer, 2008). Clearly, these can significantly affect the lives of the psychologically distressed people. The over dependence on the medical model of psychological health in contemporary psychological practice has been revealed as heavily problematic. This has led to the wide utility of the social model of psychological health. This model is tightly aligned to the core principles and values of psychology and social work (Zinbarg & Griffith, 2008).

References

Brown, L.S. (2008). Feminist Therapy. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

Burlingame, G. & McClendon, D. (2008). Group therapy. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

Cooper, M. (2008). Existential Therapy. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

Gold, J. & Stricker, G. (2008). Integrative therapy. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

Groth-Marnat, G. (2009). Handbook of Psychological Assessment. Hoboken: Wiley

Hayes, S. (2008). Climbing Our Hills: A Beginning Conversation on the Comparison of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. American Psychological Association. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Huss, D. & Baer, R. (2008). Mindfulness and acceptance-based therapy. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

Kellogg, S. & Young, J. (2008). Cognitive Therapy. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

Lebow, J. (2008a). Couple and Family therapy. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

Lebow, J.L. (2008b). Introduction. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

Sparks, J., Duncan, B. & Miller, S. (2008). Common factors in psychotherapy. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

Tarragona, M. (2008). Postmodern/Poststructuralist Therapies. In Lebow, Jay L., Mar 28, 2008, Twenty-First Century Psychotherapies: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken, ISBN: 9780470187906

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