Overview of Psychopathology

The early use of the term “psychopathology” dates back to 1913, when the book General Psychopathology First introduced by Karl Jaspers,German/Swiss philosopher and psychiatrist. This new framework for understanding personal psychological experience follows a long history of attempts to derive meaning from “abnormal experiences.”

What is psychopathology?

How do we currently define psychopathology? In short, this subject can be understood as an in-depth study of issues related to mental health.Just like pathology Is the study of the nature of the disease (including causes, development and results), Psychopathology It is a study of the same concept in the field of mental health (or disease).

This study of mental illness can include a long list of elements: symptoms, behavior, causes (genetics, biology, society, psychology), disease course, development, classification, treatment, strategies, etc.

In this way, psychopathology is the exploration of problems related to mental health: how to understand them, how to classify them, and how to solve them. Because of this, the subject of psychopathology extends from research to treatment and covers every step in between. The more we understand the reasons for the development of mental disorders, the easier it is to find effective treatments.

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Signs of Psychopathology

The signs of psychopathology vary according to the nature of the condition. Some signs that a person may be experiencing some form of psychopathology include:

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Mood changes
  • Excessive worry, anxiety or fear
  • Distressed feeling
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Irritability or anger
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Sleep interruption
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Hard to cope with daily life
  • Quit activities and friends

Diagnosis system

Professionals engaged in psychopathology research and treatment must use the system to draw conclusions about the best treatment plan. These systems are used to classify what is considered a mental health disorder. Currently, the most widely used classification system for mental illness in the United States is as follows.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

This Manual of Diagnosis and Statistics of Mental Disorders (DSM) was created by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as an evaluation system for mental illness. The DSM-5, released in 2013, is the current version and includes recognizable standards that mental health professionals use to make specific diagnoses.

As new research emerges, the criteria and lists of diseases sometimes change. Some examples of disorders listed in DSM-5 include major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, paranoid personality disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

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International Classification of Diseases (ICD)

ICD is a system similar to DSM. It is now the eleventh version. ICD was developed more than a century ago and was taken over by the World Health Organization (WHO) when it was established in 1948. So, how is ICD-11 different from DSM-5?

First, ICD-11 was produced by a global agency (World Health Organization), while DSM-5 was produced by a national professional association (American Psychiatric Association). ICD-11 was approved by the World Health Assembly composed of ministers of health from 193 WHO member states.

Second, the goal of ICD-11 is to reduce the global burden of disease. It includes medical and mental health diagnosis. Third, ICD-11 is freely available on the Internet. In contrast, DSM must be purchased, and the American Psychiatric Association earns income from the sale of books and related products.

Despite this, DSM-5 is still the classification standard for mental health professionals in the United States, and is commonly used for treatment planning and insurance purposes.

Research Field Standard (RDoC)

In addition to these standard systems for classifying mental disorders, there is an emerging field of research and theory that is moving away from the diagnostic checklist format. Since there may be symptoms of mental illness but do not meet the official diagnostic criteria, descriptive psychopathological research is expected to provide a better understanding system.

RDoC is a research framework project initiated by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) based on translational research in the fields of neuroscience, genomics, and experimental psychology. In this way, RDoC participates in describing the signs and symptoms of psychopathology, rather than grouping them into diseases like DSM and ICD in history.

RDoC is mainly aimed at planning and funding research.

Who works in psychopathology?

Just as the scope of psychopathology is broad from research to treatment, so is the list of types of professionals who tend to participate in the field. At the research level, you will find research psychologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and others trying to understand the different manifestations of mental disorders seen in clinical practice.

At the clinical level, you will find that many types of professionals try to apply existing diagnostic systems to provide effective treatment for individuals with mental illness. These can include the following and more:

Identify psychopathology

How do psychologists and psychiatrists decide to enter the field of “psychopathology” beyond the scope of normal behavior? Mental disorders can be conceptualized as four aspects of problems: deviation, pain, dysfunction, and danger.

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For example, if you develop symptoms of depression and go to a psychiatrist, you will be evaluated based on a series of symptoms (most likely symptoms in DSM-5):

  • Deviance: This term refers to thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that deviate from the general or are inconsistent with socially recognized. In the case of depression, you may report uncommon guilt or worthless thoughts from others.
  • Distress: This symptom refers to the negative emotions that a person feels in his heart, or the negative emotions that cause other people around the person to feel uncomfortable. In the case of depression, you may experience extreme distress from sadness or guilt.
  • Dysfunction: Due to this symptom, professionals are looking for inability to perform daily functions, such as going to work. In the case of depression, you may report that you cannot get up in the morning, or that you spend much longer at work than you should.
  • Danger: This term refers to behavior that may put you or others at some harmful risk. In the case of depression, this may include reporting that you have thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself.

In this way, you can see that the difference between normal behavior and psychopathic behavior comes down to how the problem affects you or the people around you.

Usually, when someone comes into contact with a medical or mental health professional, the diagnosis is not made until the crisis point of the matter.


There is no single cause of psychopathology. There are many factors that increase the risk of mental illness, including:

  • Biological factors, including genes and brain chemistry
  • chronic
  • Family members with mental illness
  • Feeling of isolation
  • Lack of social support
  • Use of substances or alcohol
  • Trauma or stress experience

It is also important to realize that mental health will change over time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives.


Some different types of psychopathology include but are not limited to:

  • anxiety
  • bipolar disorder
  • depression
  • Destructiveness, impulse control, and conduct disorder
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Eating disorder
  • Neurocognitive impairment
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other mental disorders
  • sleep disorder
  • Somatic disorder
  • Substance-related disorders
  • Trauma and stress related diseases

Dimensions and classification definitions

It is easy to see that there have been some differences in history as to what mental illness is. At the same time, even in the current field, there are disagreements on how best to conceptualize mental illness.

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Are all diseases in DSM different, or are there high-level overall factors that play a role in mental illness, which may better explain why some people are diagnosed with multiple diseases (called comorbidities)?

Some studies have shown that there are neuropsychological dimensions that span the current diagnostic categories, and point to problems inherent in the mental health “checklist” approach.

When there is so much overlap between people diagnosed with different diseases (and so many differences between people diagnosed with the same disease), it can be misleading to separate disease groups.

It is hoped that better diagnostic systems can be developed in the future, taking all these issues in the field of psychopathology into account.

History of Mental Illness Research

We have come a long way since we first tried to understand mental illness. Although people with mental health problems still face stigma and lack of understanding, the situation in the past has been very different.

Hippocrates, a Greek physician in the 4th century BC, rejected the concept of evil spirits, but believed that mental illness is a brain disease related to the imbalance of chemical substances in body fluids or body fluids. At about the same time, the philosopher Plato believed that spiritual pain involves issues of virtue, morality, and soul.

If you had a mental health problem when you lived in the 16th century, you probably won’t be well treated. At that time, people often viewed mental illness from the perspective of religion or superstition. Therefore, it is assumed that people who exhibit strange behavior must be occupied by evil spirits or demons. cure? You may have been tortured to restore your sanity. If that doesn’t work? implement.

Later, in the 19th century, interest in the role of childhood and trauma in the development of mental illness surged. Immediately after this era, Sigmund Freud (Sigmund Freud) introduced talk therapy to deal with these unresolved childhood problems.

Today, our understanding of mental illness has expanded, so fortunately, there are treatments available.

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Are we closer to a proper understanding of psychopathology? This is yet to be discussed. However, we have certainly moved towards a research project that promises to characterize psychopathology in an increasingly useful way.