Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

The major psychoses, symptoms and perception

Psychosis is ‘a severe mental disorder in which the person’s ability to recognize reality and his or her emotional responses, thinking processes, judgement and ability to communicate are so affected that his or her functioning is seriously impaired’ .

If you look closely at this thumbnail sketch of psychosis, we can see that we are back in the realms of the process of perception: sensing, interpreting, interacting, and that things are going badly wrong. It’s that first sentence that particularly gives the game away, where the ability to recognize reality comes in. To recap on the first section of this chapter, we recognize ‘reality’, or the world as experienced by the vast majority, through perception. So what sort of things can go wrong? The major psychoses are a mixture of disorders of perception and disorders of mood.

The main disorder of perception is schizophrenia, and the main disorder of mood is manic depression. To confuse matters, as indicated above, the actual symptoms, which are diagnostic of these conditions, have major crossovers. In other words, many of the symptoms listed below will be present in all three listed major psychoses. Having said this, schizophrenia is also the most commonly diagnosed of the major psychoses.

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