Clinically Speaking is a blog that will allow anyone to learn about Social Work, case presentations in psychotherapy, and the relationship of pop culture in psychology. Come one...come all!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Misconceptions in Psychology

Often I will hear on TV and movies and even talking with your friends: "holy cow that guy is so schizo...or she has so many personalities its like she is bipolar". It gives me, and I'm sure other mental health professionals a nice laugh when we hear this. Though after my initial amusement, you can usually hear me yelling at the TV saying "stop being ignorant Hollywood you're using it wrong!!!" So I thought, maybe this would be a good time to explain the misconceptions or stereotypes of certain mental health disorders. There aren't too many people who confuse so many of the disorders (mainly because there are over 300 mental disorders listed in the DSM-IV-TR), but I think the following three are the ones many people misuse: Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). So here we go!

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a chronic, more or less debilitating illness characterized by perturbations in cognition, affect and behavior, all of which have a bizarre aspect.Two (or more) of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period (or less if successfully treated): Delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence), grossly, disorganized or catatonic behavior, negative symptoms. I think people get it confused with Dissociative Identity Disorder(DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. I have heard people use their understanding of DID, but tag it as Schizophrenia. They couldn't be more wrong. As stated, none of the symptoms above show any part of a person displaying other personalities Delusions, hallucinations, slurred speech...yes. An adult male thinking he has another personality but in a child version of himself...No.

Bipolar Disorder
: Bipolar is characterized by having significant mood changes that last from weeks to months at a time. Patients will experience at least one manic episode where the mood is an elevated one; followed by a period of normalcy or balance for at least two months before an onset of a major depressive episode. These mood changes cannot be due to schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, psychotic disorder or delusion disorder. I have also heard people refer to bipolar as "that guy is seriously delusional at times-he must be bipolar or something". Clearly, he will not have those symptoms if he is Bipolar. I always think about Bipolar being similar to a pendulum swing on speed(manic episodes) and on weed(depressive episodes). The above definition makes it very clear how it is not like any of disorder in the DSM-IV-TR.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
: is an anxiety characterized by complaints of persistent or repetitive thoughts (obsessions) or behaviors (compulsions). The person feels compelled to continue despite an awareness that the thoughts or behaviors may be excessive or inappropriate, and feels distress if they stop them. In response to their obsessions, most people with OCD resort to repetitive behaviors called compulsions. I am guilty of using OCD incorrectly at times myself. For instance, I like to make sure my apartment and my desk at work(even my lunch) is neat, not so much as in clean, but that if I have piles of papers at least they are in a neat pile on the table, so those of you who don't know me, I usually say "I am OCD about neatness". If you read the above definition, I don't really have OCD. If my apartment or desk aren't clean, but I need to take care of something, I will be able to put off making it neat until I come home or finish the task. My day can continue without me being able to make my desk or apartment neat. Those who suffer from OCD will be unable to move onto other tasks and their daily life unless they are able to complete their compulsions which will help combat their anxieties displayed by their obsessions.

I hope today's post gave you a little insight, and hopefully helped you in how you use these terminologies in your everyday vernacular...

Have a fantastic day!

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