Fernando, Gaithri A. Department of Psychology, California State University, Los Angeles, California.
Last reviewed:September 2016
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- Significance of mental disorders
- Classifying psychological disorders
- Inherent problems
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Clusters of emotional, cognitive, and/or behavioral symptoms in an individual reflecting an underlying psychobiological disturbance of sufficient severity to cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social or occupational functioning. Mental disorders constitute a large class of disorders. Also known as psychological or psychiatric disorders, they are associated with distress, harmful dysfunction, and disability. Although the term “mental disorders” is not currently favored by many psychiatrists and psychologists because of its implied dichotomy of mind (brain; Fig. 1) and body, it continues to be used in the absence of a more descriptive and universally accepted term. To be classified as a mental disorder, the reported or observed symptoms should be significantly outside the norm of what is culturally expected, although culturally unacceptable behavior alone cannot be classified as a psychological disorder (for example, homosexuality in a homophobic society). The scientific study of psychological disorders is known as psychopathology. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a taxonomy developed by the American Psychiatric Association that classifies and describes psychiatric disorders. The taxonomy includes neurodevelopmental disorders, schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, bipolar and related disorders, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, trauma- and stressor-related disorders, dissociative disorders, somatic symptom and related disorders, feeding and eating disorders, sleep-wake disorders, sexual dysfunctions, gender dysphoria, DIC (disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct) disorders, substance-related and addictive disorders, neurocognitive disorders, paraphilic disorders, and personality disorders. See also: Brain; Psychology; Psychosis
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