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Concept: Cross-cultural psychiatry

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BACKGROUND: Most previous research that has examined mental health among Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) combatants has relied on self-report measures to assess mental health outcomes; few studies have examined predictors of actual mental health diagnoses. The objective of this longitudinal investigation was to identify predictors of psychiatric disorders among Marines who deployed to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. METHODS: The study sample consisted of 1113 Marines who had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Demographic and psychosocial predictor variables from a survey that all Marines in the sample had completed were studied in relation to subsequent psychiatric diagnoses. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to determine the influence of the predictors on the occurrence of psychiatric disorders. RESULTS: In a sample of Marines with no previous psychiatric disorder diagnoses, 18% were diagnosed with a new-onset psychiatric disorder. Adjusting for other variables, the strongest predictors of overall psychiatric disorders were female gender, mild traumatic brain injury symptoms, and satisfaction with leadership. Service members who expressed greater satisfaction with leadership were about half as likely to develop a mental disorder as those who were not satisfied. Unique predictors of specific types of mental disorders were also identified. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the study’s most relevant result was that two potentially modifiable factors, low satisfaction with leadership and low organizational commitment, predicted mental disorder diagnoses in a military sample. Additional research should aim to clarify the nature and impact of these factors on combatant mental health.

Concepts: Psychology, Traumatic brain injury, Mental health, Mental disorder, Disability, Psychiatry, Psychiatric medication, Cross-cultural psychiatry

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In face of the multiple controversies surrounding the DSM process in general and the development of DSM-5 in particular, we have organized a discussion around what we consider six essential questions in further work on the DSM. The six questions involve: 1) the nature of a mental disorder; 2) the definition of mental disorder; 3) the issue of whether, in the current state of psychiatric science, DSM-5 should assume a cautious, conservative posture or an assertive, transformative posture; 4) the role of pragmatic considerations in the construction of DSM-5; 5) the issue of utility of the DSM - whether DSM-III and IV have been designed more for clinicians or researchers, and how this conflict should be dealt with in the new manual; and 6) the possibility and advisability, given all the problems with DSM-III and IV, of designing a different diagnostic system. Part 1 of this article took up the first two questions. Part 2 took up the second two questions. Part 3 now deals with Questions 5 & 6. Question 5 confronts the issue of utility, whether the manual design of DSM-III and IV favors clinicians or researchers, and what that means for DSM-5. Our final question, Question 6, takes up a concluding issue, whether the acknowledged problems with the earlier DSMs warrants a significant overhaul of DSM-5 and future manuals. As in Parts 1 & 2 of this article, the general introduction, as well as the introductions and conclusions for the specific questions, are written by James Phillips, and the responses to commentaries are written by Allen Frances.

Concepts: Mental disorder, Abnormal psychology, Borderline personality disorder, Psychiatry, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Cross-cultural psychiatry

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Research in the field of mental health consequences of abortion is characterized by methodological limitations. We used exact matching on carefully selected confounders in a prospective cohort study of 325 women who had an abortion of an unwanted pregnancy and compared them 1-to-1 to controls who did not have this experience. Outcome measures were incidence and recurrence of common DSM-IV mental disorders (mood, anxiety, substance use disorders, and the aggregate measure ‘any mental disorder’) as measured with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) version 3.0, in the 2.5-3 years after the abortion. Although non-matched data suggested otherwise, women in the abortion group did not show significantly higher odds for incidence of ‘any mental disorder’, or mood, anxiety and substance use disorders, compared to matched controls who were similar in background variables but did not have an this experience. Having an abortion did not increase the odds for recurrence of the three disorder categories, but for any mental disorder the higher odds in the abortion group remained significant after matching. It is unlikely that termination of an unwanted pregnancy increases the risk on incidence of common mental disorders in women without a psychiatric history. However, it might increase the risk of recurrence among women with a history of mental disorders.

Concepts: Psychology, Pregnancy, Mental health, Mental disorder, Abnormal psychology, Psychiatry, Cross-cultural psychiatry, Classification of mental disorders

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Despite historical assumptions to the contrary, there is little evidence that the majority of recognized mental disorders are separated by natural boundaries. Diagnostic categories defined by their clinical syndromes should be regarded as ‘valid’ only if they have been shown to be truly discrete entities. Most diagnostic concepts in psychiatry have not been demonstrated to be valid in this sense, though many possess ‘utility’ by virtue of the information they convey about presenting symptoms, outcome, treatment response and, in some instances, aetiology. While researchers in genetics, neurobiology and population epidemiology are increasingly more likely to adopt a continuum/dimensional view of the variation in symptomatology, clinicians prefer to hold on to the categorical approach embodied in current classifications such as ICD-10 and DSM-5. Both points of view have plausible justification in their respective contexts, but the way forward may be in their conceptual reconciliation.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, The Canon of Medicine, Greek loanwords, Mental disorder, Clinical psychology, Psychiatry, Cross-cultural psychiatry

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Based on 11¬†months of ethnographic fieldwork at a residential treatment center in the United States, this article explores the varied meanings that female youth attribute to behavior and the strategic (mis)use of knowledge about psychiatric diagnosis and medication at a time when the scope of behaviors pathologized in young people continues to expand. Drawing upon psychological and critically applied medical anthropology, as well as contributions from philosophy on how classifications of people come into being and circulate, attention is paid to the multiple contradictions at work in diagnosing young people with mental disorders. A detailed examination of an exchange that occurred during one particular group therapy session is presented to demonstrate how psychiatric selves emerge in this environment when conventional labeling practices no longer suffice as an explanation of behavior. This turn to psychiatry reveals both the salience of and confusion around mental health treatment and diagnosis among adolescents, opens up the distinctions young people make between “real selves” and “medicated selves,” and invokes the possibility of psychiatric disorder as a means to both forgive and discredit.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, Mental health, Sociology, Mental disorder, Psychiatry, Psychiatric medication, Cross-cultural psychiatry

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Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a U.S. men’s prison, I investigate how this social and cultural context structures relations between correctional officers and inmates with severe mental illness. Utilizing interpretivist perspectives, I explore how these relations are structured by trust, respect, and meanings associated with mental illness. Officers' discretionary responses to mentally ill inmates included observations to ensure psychiatric stability and flexibility in rule enforcement and were embedded within their role to ensure staff and inmate safety. Officers identified housing, employment, and social support as important for inmates' psychiatric stability as medications. Inmates identified officers' observation and responsiveness to help seeking as assisting in institutional functioning. These findings demonstrate that this prison’s structures and values enable officers' discretion with mentally ill inmates, rather than solely fostering custodial responses to these inmates' behaviors. These officers' responses to inmates with mental illness concurrently support custodial control and the prison’s order.

Concepts: Psychology, Mental health, Sociology, Mental disorder, Psychiatry, Mental illness, Psychiatric medication, Cross-cultural psychiatry

1

People with psychiatric disorders and their family members have expressed interest in receiving genetic counseling (GC). In February 2012, we opened the first (to our knowledge) specialist psychiatric GC clinic of its kind, for individuals with non-syndromic psychiatric disorders and their families. Prior to GC and at a standard one-month follow-up session, clinical assessment tools are completed, specifically, the GC outcomes scale (GCOS, which measures empowerment, completed by all clients) and the Illness Management Self Efficacy scale (IMSES, completed by those with mental illness).

Concepts: Mental health, Mental disorder, Clinical psychology, Psychiatry, Mental illness, Psychiatric medication, Family therapy, Cross-cultural psychiatry

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As advances in neuroscience and genetics reveal complex associations between brain structures, functions and symptoms of mental disorders, there have been calls for psychiatric classifications to be reconfigured, to conceptualize mental disorders as disorders of the brain. In this paper, I argue that this view is mistaken, and that the level at which we identify mental disorders is, and should be, the person, not the brain. This is not to deny physicalism or argue that the mental realm is somehow distinct from the physical, but rather to suggest the things that are going ‘wrong’ in mental disorder are picked out at the person-level: they are characterized by breaches in epistemic, rational, evaluative, emotional, social and moral norms. However, as our scientific understanding of the brain becomes advanced, what makes an identified neurobiological difference in brain structure or functioning indicative of pathology is its association with these behaviours at the person-level. Instead of collapsing psychiatry into biomedicine, biomedicine may benefit from drawing closer to the expertise of psychiatry, as it is able to accommodate social, psychological and biological explanations while focusing on the person, within their environment.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Mental health, Neuroscience, Mental disorder, Psychiatry, Emotion, Cross-cultural psychiatry

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Substance use disorders have a profound impact on the course of severe mental illnesses and on the family, but little research has evaluated the impact of family intervention for this population. To address this question, a randomized controlled trial was conducted comparing a brief (2-3 mo) Family Education (ED) program with a longer-term (9-18 mo) program that combined education with teaching communication and problem-solving skills, Family Intervention for Dual Disorders (FIDD). A total of 108 clients (77% schizophrenia-spectrum) and a key relative were randomized to either ED or FIDD and assessed at baseline and every 6 months for 3 years. Rates of retention of families in both programs were moderate. Intent-to-treat analyses indicated that clients in both programs improved in psychiatric, substance abuse, and functional outcomes, as did key relatives in knowledge of co-occurring disorders, burden, and mental health functioning. Clients in FIDD had significantly less severe overall psychiatric symptoms and psychotic symptoms and tended to improve more in functioning. Relatives in FIDD improved more in mental health functioning and knowledge of co-occurring disorders. There were no consistent differences between the programs in substance abuse severity or family burden. The findings support the utility of family intervention for co-occurring disorders, and the added benefits of communication and problem-solving training, but also suggest the need to modify these programs to retain more families in treatment in order to provide them with the information and skills they need to overcome the effects of these disorders.

Concepts: Psychology, Randomized controlled trial, Mental health, Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Psychiatry, Psychiatric medication, Cross-cultural psychiatry

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Most mental illness is managed in general practice rather than specialist psychiatric settings. Management of mental illness in general practice is advocated as being less stigmatizing than psychiatric settings. Thus, other patients' discomfort with sharing the waiting room with the mentally ill may be problematic.

Concepts: Mental health, Illness, Mental disorder, Psychiatry, Mental illness, Psychiatric medication, Cross-cultural psychiatry, Rooms