Mental disorders

Mental disorders characteristics and differences

To understand what mental disorders or illness are about, we must be aware of their origin and what their characteristics are, since it has led to confusion and some share certain characteristics (psychosis) that generates confusion and often a bad treatment.

The need then arises for the exchange of information about what mental illnesses are, therefore the lack of this creates a great labyrinth and disinterest, coupled with total ignorance that brings stigma, isolation, and marginalization of the person as consequences. who suffers from them, that is why the term Mental Illness has fallen into disuse and some authors prefer to call this type of illness “Mental Disorders or Disorders”.

In this Psychologyorg article, we are going to discover the characteristics and differences of mental or psychological disorders.

Causes of mental or psychological disorders

We must consider that mental disorders or psychological disorders are the mental condition in which the cognitive and affective processes of development are altered, this is considered abnormal in relation to the social group where the individual develops, these are related to changes in character and emotions, but they can also be Congenital, they have a specific pathology with signs and symptoms, Genetic and hereditary.

  • Congenital: They are those produced by disorders in embryonic development during pregnancy due to various causes (rubella, syphilis, herpes, toxoplasmosis, alcohol, tobacco), environmental factors (radiation), or during childbirth.
  • Genetics: They are produced by damage at the level of genes or chromosomes. The nervous (Down syndrome), respiratory (asthma), digestive (type 1 diabetes, cancer), visual (color blindness), and blood (hemophilia, lymphoid leukemia) systems are affected. On the other hand, they can lead to the appearance of cancer in various organs. Genetic diseases may or may not be heritable. When they are inherited they are called hereditary diseases.
  • Hereditary: It is a set of genetic diseases that are transmitted to offspring, although they are not necessarily observed at birth. In addition, these diseases may or may not manifest throughout the individual’s life (diabetes, breast cancer).

There are several ways of referring to mental illnesses, among which are the so-called Mental Disorders, which are psychological, psychiatric, mental problems, etc.

Mental disorders

Classification of mental disorders

There are numerous ways to classify mental illnesses, which can be more or less serious both individually and socially; a classic classification is that of Neurotic Disorders and Psychotic Disorders.

  • Neurotic disorders: depressive, anxiety, dissociative (multiple personalities), sexual (fetish, masochistic), and sleep (insomnia) disorders, without demonstrable organic disorder (according to WHO)
  • Psychotic disorders: include states of schizophrenia, delusions, and hallucinations, as well as states produced by certain diseases or substances that enter the body.

As previously stated, some diseases such as the ones that produce psychotic states have some similarities, but meet different criteria, likewise and in no way should terms such as psychopathy be mistaken for psychotic states.

Neurotic disorders

It is all that mental disorder that arises from anxiety and whose symptoms interfere with normal activity but do not block it (Freud)

In clinical psychology it is used to refer to mental disorders or illnesses which distort rational thinking and the proper functioning of people at a family, social and work level, without evidence of organic injury and an adequate level of connection with reality, this type of Diseases do not require hospitalization, and their treatment is done in an outpatient setting, with the exception of personality disorders that sometimes require hospitalization.


The term was proposed by the Scottish doctor Willian Cullen in 1769 and refers to diseases or disorders of the nervous system, which did not show organic damage which could be demonstrated, but capable of altering the emotional and physical state of the individual.

Between 1892 and 1899 S. Freud called it Psychoneurosis which is applied to nervous diseases whose symptoms represent a repressed conflict; Psychoanalysis used it to refer to almost any mental disorder, and exemplified it with cases of hysteria in women, which allowed Freud to develop psychoanalytic theory.

In 1909 Pierre Janet published Neurosis. He works in which he establishes the concept of “functional disease”, which does not have a physical alteration of the organ but of its function, which causes a state of neurasthenia (nervousness).

The term Neurosis has been abandoned by scientific psychology and psychiatry, the WHO (ICD 10) and the APA (DSM-IV TR) have changed the nomenclature to refer to these clinical pictures and call them Disorders.

psychotic disorders

Psychosis is a term widely used in psychology to refer to a mental illness where its main characteristic is the loss of contact with reality, people who suffer from this condition are called psychotic, and present hallucinations, delusions, personality changes, and thinking disorganized, have an inability to adapt to daily life and difficulty interacting socially; with or without organic damage.

Stedman’s Medical Dictionary describes psychosis as “a painful mental disorder, with or without organic injury, characterized by a personality disorder, loss of touch with reality, and causing impairment of everyday social functioning.”

Currently, only the nosological classification of DSM IV is accepted, as descriptive of the German school of Bleuler, Kraepelin, and Kleist, and in terms of the description of delusions the French school influences Gaetán de Clerembault as an exponent.

The hallucinations of this type of disease are mostly auditory, although they are also usually present visually, as well as false beliefs about what one is or what is happening.

Some people mistakenly call psychopaths, which is why their characteristics and symptoms are confused.

Mental disorders

Differences between neurosis and psychosis

The confusion that occurs when the terms are used incorrectly has been mentioned before as some people use the term psychopathic to refer to a psychotic person.

When we refer to psychopathic, we are dealing with an individual with an antisocial personality, who treats people as if they were objects and uses them for their own benefit, they lack empathy and if they have it, they only use it to capture the needs and weaknesses of the person. another and use them to be able to manipulate it, it never provides anything and when it does, it hopes to get it back later.

However, a psychopath is not always a serial killer as society knows him today, he is a person who is capable of being nice and adapting to society but does not hesitate to commit a crime, without feeling remorse or guilt. some. These individuals follow their own code and rules and may feel bad when they are broken, they lack a Superego which represents the ethical and moral thoughts received from the culture. And they are not amenable to psychotherapy.

On the other hand, the psychotic person is unable to relate socially and has no will regarding feelings, they have strange behaviors, addition to the fact that this disorder can be functional or organic, and if it can be controlled with psychotherapy and antipsychotic or neuroleptic drugs, reaching the individual to function socially. It should be noted that the treatment of this type of disorder will depend on the cause of it.

Read Also: Multiple Personality Disorder Symptoms (Dissociative Identity Disorder) psychologyorg


What are mental disorders?

Mental disorders, also known as mental illnesses, are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, emotions, mood, behavior, or perception. These diseases can cause considerable distress and impairment in day-to-day functioning.

What are the common characteristics of mental disorders?

While mental disorders vary widely, some common characteristics include changes in mood, anxiety, irrational thoughts or beliefs, difficulty in coping with daily challenges, and impaired social interactions.

How are mental disorders diagnosed?

Mental disorders are diagnosed through a comprehensive evaluation by mental health professionals. This assessment may involve interviews, psychological tests, medical history review, and observation of behavior and symptoms.

What is the difference between anxiety disorders and mood disorders?

Anxiety disorders primarily involve excessive worry, fear, and apprehension, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Mood disorders, on the other hand, affect a person’s emotional state and include conditions like major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

Are all mental disorders chronic conditions?

No, not all mental disorders are chronic. Some conditions may be acute and short-term, while others can be chronic and long-lasting. The duration and severity of mental disorders can vary significantly from person to person.

What distinguishes schizophrenia from other mental disorders?

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder characterized by a disconnection from reality, hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. It is distinct from mood disorders and anxiety disorders, as it primarily affects perception and thought processes.

Can children and adolescents experience mental disorders?

Yes, mental disorders can affect people of all ages, including children and adolescents. Conditions such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, and anxiety disorders can manifest in younger populations.

What is the relationship between substance abuse and mental disorders?

Substance abuse and mental disorders can be closely linked, with some individuals using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their mental health issues. Substance abuse can worsen existing mental disorders or even trigger new ones.

Can mental disorders be prevented?

While it may not be possible to prevent all mental disorders, certain lifestyle factors, such as maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, managing stress, and seeking social support, can contribute to better mental health and potentially reduce the risk of developing some conditions.

What treatments are available for mental disorders?

Treatments for mental disorders vary based on the specific condition and its severity. They may include psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, support groups, and in some cases, hospitalization for acute crises.

Are people with mental disorders violent?

The majority of individuals with mental disorders are not violent. Mental illness does not inherently predispose someone to violence. In fact, people with mental health conditions are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.

Can mental disorders be cured completely?

While some individuals may experience complete recovery from their mental disorder, for many people, managing their condition is a long-term process. With appropriate treatment and support, many individuals can lead fulfilling and productive lives despite their mental health challenges.

If you want to read more articles similar to Mental disorders characteristics and differences, we recommend that you enter our Mental Disorders category.

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