When we think of the mentally handicapped or those with mental disorders, we instantly feel pity. We usually do not stop to wonder why or how a person came to be stricken with the disability or disorder that afflicts them. I find myself curious about why these disorders still exist generation after generation even after all the scientific effort at uncovering the causes and possible cures. A great deal of time and attention has been spent on how these disorders came to exist and what might make them worse and how to make them better, but there is still so much we still need to learn. Thankfully, scientists have given us a great deal of information that can be very beneficial in understanding, treating and hopefully someday curing or preventing mental and emotional issues.
Recently, studies have shown that a genetic predisposition may be hidden in people that makes them prone to certain characteristics that when provoked, can create emotional or mental conditions. This predisposition, in conjunction with a triggering event or simply by the quality in that person’s environment and upbringing can cause these characteristics to become problematic and spark a mental or emotional abnormality. This peculiar phenomenon is called the diathesis-stress model.
According to this theory, when provoked, a characteristic may go into overdrive, causing a person to have a legitimately diagnosable illness. Environmental stimuli that may cause such a thing to happen are social issues or trauma that may have occurred at a young age.
One of the most common problems that can cause such a change in people would have to do with their parents. If a young person does not receive the right kind of attention as they are maturing, it can cause emotional and social problems for them later in life. An overbearing or judgmental parental figure can cause a person to have low self-esteem, which could then inflict disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder, social anxiety disorder or even depression. Parents who get divorced have also been shown to cause obsessive-compulsive disorder in as children of divorced parents tend to feel they have a loss of control in their lives and obsessive-compulsive disorder is a disorder driven by a person’s overwhelming need and drive for control.
These disorders reveal themselves when people who are predisposed for the characteristics are triggered by an emotional or social stress. This ignites an inner need to balance themselves out, mentally. Sadly, they often emotionally overcompensate; leaving them worse off then they were in the beginning.
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Initials. (2005, May 20). Narcissistic personality disorder. Retrieved from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/personality_disorders/hic_narcissistic_personality_disorder.aspx
Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD, Initials. (2008, November). What causes ocd?. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/ocd.html#
Amal Chakraburtty, MD, Initials. (2010, March 01). Causes of depression. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/causes-depression
Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D., Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., Initials. (2007, September 19). Current understandings of major depression - diathesis-stress model. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=12998&cn=5
Cadena, Christine. (2007, November 16). How anxiety develops in children: the "diathesis-stress" model. Retrieved from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/446920/how_anxiety_develops_in_children_the.html
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