From the earliest history, humans have sought explanations for seemingly abnormal thoughts and actions. Some behaviors were attributed to possession by gods or demons, others to an imbalance of theoretical “humors” in the body. It was not until modern times, with the advent of the science of psychology, that the influence of physical disease, genetic makeup, and emotional or psychological trauma on mental health has been identified. Psychology and Mental Health examines this field as it continues to unravel the origins of mental illness and psychological disorders and the means to prevent or alleviate their symptoms.
Of the 107 essays in this work, 83 first appeared in Magill’s Survey of Social Science: Psychology (1993); 16 of them were updated and reprinted in Psychology Basics (1998). The other 24 essays were published in Magill’s Medical Guide, Revised Edition 1998. All bibliographies have been updated with the latest editions and most recent scholarship in the field.
Many of the entries in Psychology and Mental Health consider psychopathologies. Some of these conditions can pose a serious threat to the safety and functionality of the patient, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia nervosa, or autism. Other psychic-emotional and learning disorders have a lesser but still significant impact on a patient’s mental health and emotional condition, such as depression, dyslexia, sibling rivalry, or sexual dysfunction. A number of entries discuss various treatment options, from electroconvulsive therapy and lobotomy to play therapy and psychoanalysis.
All entries begin with the standard information “Type of psychology” and “Fields of study.”
A brief definition of the topic follows. Next comes a list of “Principal terms” with concise definitions. Entries on mental illness or lesser psychological impairments have a section “Causes and Symptoms,” which defines the condition and describes its origins and possible manifestations in patients, and a section “Treatment and Therapy,” which explores the various treatments available to alleviate symptoms or effect a cure. More general entries feature the sections “Overview” and “Applications.” The last section of all entries is “Perspective and Prospects,” which places the topic in a larger context within psychology. For example, an entry on a psychopathology may cover the earliest known investigation into that condition, the evolution of its treatment over time, and promising areas of research for a greater understanding of its causes and cure. Every entry ends with a “Bibliography” of sources to consult for further study and a list of cross-references to related articles within Psychology and Mental Health. All essays are signed by the author.
At the end of volume 2 is a list of entries by category: abnormality, anxiety disorders, childhood and adolescent disorders, depression, developmental issues, diagnosis, emotional disorders, learning disorders, organic disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenias, sexual disorders, sleep disorders, stress, substance abuse, and treatment. A comprehensive subject Index of people and concepts concludes the volume.
The contributors to this work are academicians from psychology, medicine, and other disciplines in the life sciences; their names and affiliations are listed in the front matter to volume 1. We thank them for sharing their expertise with general readers. The charts of possible symptoms and signs that appear in some entries were taken from National Mental Health Association factsheet from 1996 and 1997.
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