Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness

Definitions and Classifications

How do we define mental illness?

Some concept of mental illness exists in perhaps every culture on earth and descriptions of it are found in ancient texts dating back to the Greeks and Romans. Those who have confronted mental illness in themselves or someone close to them can appreciate the extreme pain and dysfunction it can cause. Nonetheless, it is difficult to come up with a precise definition of mental illness. In the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM), a mental disorder is defined as a psychological pattern that causes distress or dysfunction and that is beyond the norms of the individual’s culture.


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