Abnormal Sychology

  • Category: Psychology
  • Words: 1061
  • Grade: 100
Psychological problems resulting from head trauma, brain tumors, nutritional disorders, endocrine disorders, and brain infections.

There are many different ways the brain can be damaged or become diseased. Because the brain is responsible for so many functions, these disorders can greatly affect their personality and psychological well being. Some of the main causes are head trauma, brain tumors, nutritional deficiencies, endocrine disorders or infections of the brain.

Brain tumors can cause damage whether they are benign or malignant. A benign (non-cancerous) brain tumor will cause the brain to press against the skull possibly resulting in brain damage. Malignant brain tumors multiply cells so fast that the neighboring healthy cells are destroyed. The person may feel confused or depressed as their personality may also be affected by the tumor. They may not take care of themselves they way used to in regard to proper dress and hygiene. Even if the tumor is removed sometimes their personality will be changed permanently, although it may be a result of the surgery. One "straight A" classmate of mine had become more capricious after having a tumor removed. She was able to do the work but was no longer top of her class, and a slight, but evident change, had occurred in her personality. Even some of the people she "hung out" with had changed.

Trauma to the head can also result in these kinds psychological changes. A person can suffer from a concussion, contusion, or a laceration. A concussion is a momentary loss of consciousness due to a violent blow to the head. Someone can have a concussion playing football or in a car accident. Mild concussions usually result in a complete recovery but repeated concussions may cause long term psychological damage. Severe concussions may cause amnesia, a disorder where the person cannot remember events prior to the injury or post traumatic stress disorder, where they plagued by recurrent and intrusive images of the event. A contusion occurs when the head is hit so hard that the brain is pounded against the skull usually resulting in a coma. Repeated contusions will result in dementia and emotional instability. "Punch Drunk Syndrome" as some may call it, is experienced by boxer after many concussions and contusions, and results in impaired speech and motor skills, shaking, dizziness, and memory problems. A laceration is the most serious type of head trauma because it is caused when something actually enters the skull and pierces the brain tissue. As always, the damage will vary depending on the injury. Different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions, so the type of psychological damage will depend on brain area that was damaged. If not death, major mental or physical impairment can result from a laceration. Sometimes parts of the brain that control rationale or decision making are damaged, so the person may seem okay, but in actuality their personality is changed permanently, usually resulting in self-destructive behavior as in the notable case of Phineas Gage.

Nutritional Deficiencies can cause psychological symptoms and are usually associated with alcoholism and poverty. Pellagra, a niacin deficiency common in impoverished countries, can result in anxiety, memory loss, and concentration problems. Severe cases can cause hallucinations, delerium, and death. Beriberi, a thiamine deficiency, is associated with alcoholism and causes memory and concentration problems, irritability, fatigue and lethargy, lack of appetite and insomnia. Since the brain is one of the most important organs of the body, and all of our organs rely on nutrients and vitamins to function properly, it comes as no surprise that nutritional deficiencies can cause a variety psychological problems.

Endocrine disorders are a result of the body releasing too many or too little hormones into the bloodstream. Since these hormones help regulate our body activity, psychological problems may result. Grave's disease, caused by the over secretion of thyroxin, can cause excitability insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, delusions, and hallucinations. Lack of thyroxin, called cretinism, may cause sluggishness and fatigue, concentration and memory problems, depression and dementia. Other endocrine disorders such as Addison's disease and Cushing's syndrome may cause psychological problems as well.

Three types of brain infections that may result in psychological disorders are encephalitis, meningitis, and neurosyphilis. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain caused by infection or other conditions. It has been known to cause long periods of sleepiness, followed by irritability and excitability. It may cause personality changes such as irritability, restlessness, depression and dementia. Meningitis, a central nervous system infection that attacks membranes covering the spinal cord and brain, can result in impaired concentration, irritability, and memory impairment. Both encephalitis and meningitis can cause mental retardation in infants. Neurosyphilis or general paresis, which is caused by the sexually transmitted disease syphilis, can cause shift in mood states, blunted emotional responsiveness, irritability, delusions, changes in personal habits, changes in grooming and hygiene, and impairments in memory, judgement and comprehension. This is followed by delusions of grandeur or extreme depression leading to the inability of the person to care for themselves, and then death.

Violent behaviors and psychological disorders.

Our society (at least in the United States) continues to stigmatize mental illness. Mental patients and former mental patients are viewed with caution. Highly publicized cases of violence have resulted in a connection between mental illness and violence in the minds of millions. However, there is no significant difference between the prevalence of violence by patients who suffer from a psychological disorder and the prevalence of violence by other people without diagnosable psychological disorders.

On the other hand, substance abuse and a history of criminal behavior are much strongly associated with violence. The best predictor of future dangerousness is past behavior and a history of substance abuse can be used as a legitimate factor in attempting to predict violence. Violent people most frequently target at family members and friends, and most often the act takes place at home.

Nevertheless, there is also a connection between violence and people who suffer from schizophrenia, especially during times of hallucination and delusions. Unfortunately, 50% of people who suffer from uncontrolled schizophrenia have either an alcohol or illicit drug dependence disorder (also called mentally ill chemical abusers). Treating people with mental and psychological disorder may decrease the risk for violent behavior, especially those who are homeless, in jail, or ordered into treatment after criminal, rather than civil, proceedings.
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