Theories of causation of Mental illness

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Dr Joanna Bennett


Psychodynamic theoriesExplain the development of mental or emotional processes and their effects on behaviour and relationships. Helped form the basis for interpersonal intervention including therapeutic relationships, transference and empathy.


Psychodynamic modelsPsychoanalytic (Freud) individual psychoanalysis Concept of ego, unconscious mental processes Neo-Freudian Development of other forms of psychoanalysis


Humanistic theoriesFocus is on the individual ability to learn about and accept themselves Therapy involves exploration of personal capabilities and self-worth Rogers client-centred therapy Gestalt Maslow hierarchy of needs


Cognitive-Behavioural theoriesFocus is how people think and act, not on explaining mental disorders Some theorists: Pavlov, Watson, Skinner, Beck, Bandura Intervention based on behavioural theories is widespread in psychiatry Patient education Coping skills training In-patient – privilege system/token economy


Developmental theoriesExplain normal human growth and development Theories are presented in terms of stages Used to understand childhood and adolescent experiences and their manifestation in adult problems Most of these theories assume development is linear Not tested, nor consider gender or culture, so limited applicability Erickson – adolescence and identity Jean Piaget


Social TheoriesSocial and socio-cultural theories important in assessment of individuals and families. Intervention maybe based on family and cultural norms Informs group interventions Some theories: Familiy dynamics Social support Role theories Sociocultural perspectives – transcultural care


Biological theories (Medical Model) Genectics Family studies – relatives of an individual with a mental disorder are more likely to develop the disorder Twin studies – monozygotic (identical) – more likely that if one twin develops a mental disorder the other twin is more likely to also develop the disorder


Brain Neurochemistry Abnormality of the neurotransmitter system Too much or too little of a specific neurotransmitter Problems related to inadequate synthesis or reuptake Psychiatric drugs alter synaptic levels of neurotransmitters


Structural and functional brain abnormalitiesAdvances in brain imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), have enabled scientists to study the role of brain structure in mental illness. Some studies have revealed structural brain abnormalities in certain mental illnesses. For example, some people with schizophrenia have enlarged brain ventricles However, this may be a result of schizophrenia rather than a cause, and not all people with schizophrenia show this abnormality


Stress-vulnerability model“Vulnerability” refers to our basic susceptibility to mental health problems. This is determined by our genetic makeup and our early life experiences. It is affected by our use of medications, and our likelihood of using alcohol or drugs. “Stress” refers to the challenges faced in our lives. Stress is affected by our coping skills, social support, and involvement in meaningful activities


Some Nursing TheoriesInterpersonal relations models Peplau – First systematic theory in mental health nursing –1952 Orlando – nurse-patient relationship Existential and humanistic theories Jean Watson – transpersonal caring – caring is the foundation of nursing Systems models King, Neuman, Orem

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Last Updated: 8th March 2018

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