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Words are alive and take on different meanings depending on the prevailing context. A large majority of these can go unnoticed, until the moment we give space to the concept, that we listen, read and investigate about it, it is as if a veil were stripping it of its invisibility to give it meaning and coherence and in our understanding.
“Mental health”, two words whose isolated concept encompasses a broad meaning; but that, when united in a single phrase, is the most sought-after dream by those who present some ailment, of the many that are known today, that affect the person who suffers from it and all the others who are close to their immediate environment .
The study of the mind encompasses different disciplines: neurosciences, biomedical sciences, psychiatry and psychotherapies; These sciences that deal with “the treatises of the mind” are relatively new, dating from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, being the doctor Sigmund Schlomo Freud, one of their precursors, who was accused by his colleagues of being a fraud. He created the theory of psychodynamics as the basis for the study of personality and psychological disorders.
A specialist in this branch can prevent, diagnose and treat mental disorders, approached from an interdisciplinary approach between the biological, psychological and social.
Looking back through a time line, the efforts of first philosophers to find the use and meaning of the mind are visualized; it was understood that both the brain and the heart are connected to the rest of the body; more than enough reasons to understand its importance, granting, each of them, an explanatory concept about the subject.
The Greek philosopher and naturalist Alcmeon of Crotona (sVaC) is credited with locating the seat of the intellect in the brain and not in the heart. Hippocrates is known as the father of medicine and for the oath that bears his name; ethical and distinctive commitment of the medical professional. Among his many scientific contributions, he states: “…the function of the brain was to condense the excess phlegm of the other organs, transforming it into liquid that falls like rain through the body through the ventricular system and the nerves…” To attend to these manifestations in people who they presented some behavior anomaly considered normal: “he encouraged the use of bloodletting, laxatives, emetics and washing with hot water for these pernicious mucus.”
Following a time line are the investigations that show the effort to understand what happens inside the brain, the reason for behavioral abnormalities, which diagnoses and treatment are the most appropriate, and endless results resulting from observation and constant study that allowed each of these manifestations to acquire a name that would identify it, in addition to offering some alternatives to improve the quality and prolongation of life for those who suffer from it.
Some of these disorders are only known to us through movies, documentaries or extraordinary stories that we receive by hearsay, thereby increasing our confusion, due to the large number existing and the havoc they cause to the body over time. Understanding how mental illnesses are classified entails reading and research, so this article is only a glimpse into this area, relating to posterity, some of the experiences and the impact generated.
The Doctor of psychiatry Santiago Peidro, (2021) states:
The human being is an unfinished entity, which includes a pathic and an ethical dimension. The first term derives from the Greek pathos, and we understand by it, in this context, what is given by nature regardless of the autonomy of each individual. This dimension involves the biological, genetic and physiological aspect. The second term, ethics, also derives from a Greek word, êthos, and in this context refers to the field of freedom, to what is not given from birth. These are customs and habits that constitute a particular and unique way of life that is built throughout existence.
Within this historicity progress can be recognized, a latent example is homosexuality, which was considered a mental health problem, “a disease of the sexual instinct”, for not responding to the expected cultural stereotypes; the medical response was hospitalization and submission to various treatments with cruelty and ignorance. “It was until 1990 that the World Health Organization (WHO) excluded homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases” (Idem).
In addition to this segregation, a person with different sexual manifestations was and is repudiated and pointed out by society, even punished with jail and in extreme cases, with death. There are five countries that continue to penalize this demonstration today: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania.
Undoubtedly, one learns from various sources; The Netflix series, “Someone has to die” portrays the persecution of homosexuality during the Franco regime. The movie “El baile de los 41”, “La cruz inside the closet” among many others, which show the wrong diagnoses and treatments in this regard.
According to the (WHO), today, a mental disorder is presented worldwide, considered as the great epidemic of the world, product of modernity, of the imbalance of the physical and emotional state, which appear under different names: anxiety, stress, depression, etc., identified by loss of calm, tiredness, bad mood, discouragement, frustration, sadness, loneliness and isolation, which, if not treated in time, can lead to self-harm behaviors.
There are also eating disorders, considered psychological illnesses, generating an obsession with food and body shape, which, if not treated by psychologists or psychiatrists, can lead to death: “anorexia”, “bulimia”, “food disorders”. binge” “they do not purge or vomit”, the “Pica” disorder “they eat things like ice, dust, earth, soap, paper, wool, among others”. And the most recently manifested: “mericism”, which consists of regurgitating recently ingested food, chewing it again or spitting it out.
Mental disorders include phobias, bipolarity, obsessive compulsive, attention deficit, which can be added with hyperactivity, sleep disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotics, due to the use of substances and drugs, disorders of neurodevelopment include intellectual development, autism spectrum, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, among many others. Each and every one of these present symptoms that should be alert windows for their immediate environment and seek professional help.
As well as other neurodegenerative diseases, where brain cells stop working or simply die; dementia presents loss of functions such as memory, speech, perception, reasoning, and loss of focus or paying attention. Among the most common is Alzheimer’s, which presents a loss of connection between nerve cells. Dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal disorders, etc.
With this brief introduction to some of the mental disorders and illnesses, it is intended that readers recognize the fine line that separates health from illness; reflect on what really matters in life, cultivate areas and spaces for recreation, culture and learning around us and catch fleeting moments; increase self-esteem and respect for oneself and everything around us, as well as develop empathy for those who have been hit by these adversities.
Peter, Santiago. (2021). The pathologization of homosexuality in diagnostic manuals and psychiatric classifications. Journal of Bioethics and Law, (52), 221-235. Epub Oct 25, 2021.https://dx.doi.org/10.1344/rbd2021.52.31202
Pineda Suan (Translator) 2021. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/en/common-eating-disorders#conclusion. Retrieved August 27, 2022.