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Identifying Psychological Disorders and Substance Abuse

Updated on September 21, 2016
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Rodric completed his bachelor of psychology through the University of Phoenix. His perspective provides guidance and education.

The More You Know

Caution: This article is not intended to diagnose or confirm a self-diagnosis of any mental illness. Always consult a trained specialist.

The body of research and the debate that research creates provide ample ammunition to review and diagnose behavioral schemes for prognosis and perspective. There is a wide range of treatment for mental illness.

Eating, gender, sexual, personality disorders and substance abuse occur commonly enough in American society to cause concern as the number of cases of the varied disorders rise.

As the disorders become more recognized, a proper understanding of the different disorders provide a more aware approach to those who exhibit the symptoms of each.


Eating Disorders

Disproportionately distributed, eating disorders occur in the female population more frequently than in males.

In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Millions more are struggling with binge eating disorder.1

The millions of suffers from these disorders, less than half of a percent of the US population, share a distorted view of what constitutes nutrition—a mal-adaption to normal eating patterns.

Anorexia affects sufferers who refuse to maintain a normal body weight and who insist to dieting when he or she has no medical reason to diet. Usually, this disorder is in conjunction with some other psychological factor that aids the suffer in continuing the self-destructive behavior.

Bulimia, another eating disorder, occurs when individuals eat an excess amount of food followed by forced regurgitation. This disorder is accompanied also by other emotional and/or psychological challenges. The sufferer eats with the knowledge that after the need to consume food is satisfied, he or she must purge his or her system or risk gaining unwanted weight.

Binge Eating Disorder occurs when a sufferer eats massive amounts of food at a time without any counters for the binge. These sufferers are generally overweight to some degree and do maintain a proper diet for a season, but cannot resist the urge to eat mass quantities of food trying to fulfill some emotional or psychological need that may or may not be known,


Substance Abuse

Substance abuse disorders occur when people misuse substances whether legal or illegal for an extended period—up to a year.

“At least one-quarter of the U. S. population will meet the criteria for a substance use disorder over the course of their lifetimes, making substance misuse the most common of all mental disorders.”2

This fourth of the population that exhibits the substance abuse disorder suffer from levels of addiction from mild to severe.

Depressants, one of several types of substances in the DSM-IV, slow the process of the central nervous system. Alcohol, sedative-hypnotic and opioids commonly surface as major depressants.

Stimulants work opposite of depressants in that these substances, commonly cocaine, amphetamines, nicotine, and caffeine, increases the activity in the central nervous center.

Hallucinogens, or drugs like lysergic acid diethylam (LSD), psilocybin, (mushrooms) and peyote, produce hallucinations, or visions created in the mind that interfere with sensory organs distorting perception.

Other Drugs that fail to fit the major categories include Marijuana, Ecstasy, phencyclidine (PCP), Inhalants and Anabolic Steroids.

Though the above is not an exhaustive list of the differing substances legal and illegal that can harm the body and mind if used improperly, it is important to know the effects that these types of drugs can have on the mental health. Any substance the provide artificial changes to the body to influence psychological processes for recreational purposes poses dangerous consequences over time.

Gender Confusion
Gender Confusion | Source

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Gender Disorders

Gender disorder characterizes behaviors and thoughts that place a person outside of the normal parameters of gender identity.

“Gender identity disorder (GID) or transsexualism is defined by strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one's own assigned sex.”3

Gender identity disorder causes controversy today. Law Makers in Phoenix, AZ passed legislation allowing transgendered males access to women's restrooms, which caused mixed reaction in the community for women and girls safety from sexual predators posing as transgendered men. Society is more tolerant of gender differences than in the past and gender confusion may lose its place as a disorder.

Homosexuality has lost its negative stigma at least in the media. It lost a listing in the DSM series in the 1970’s. Just as it was once considered a gender disorder before the American Psychological Association changed it to fit in normal sexual behavior, gender confusion is more acceptable now. Gender reassignment is considered a correction for gender confusion after invasive and proper psychological evaluation.

Sexual Disorders

Sexual disorders characterize behaviors and thoughts that place a person outside of the normal parameters of sexual function. Difficulty at any period during a sexual act defines sexual disorders, which have four major divided categories: sexual desire dysfunctions , sexual arousal dysfunctions, orgasmic disorders and sexual pain disorders.

With all of the above listed disorders, there are extremes on both ends of the spectrum except for sexual pain disorders. Too much or too little sexual desire, arousal or orgasms can cause problems in the relationship of a sufferer or even lead to criminal behavior such as rape if left untreated.



These pathological behaviors create an extensive list of disorders consisting of exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism, transvestic fetishism, frotteurism and a list of other eccentric disorders not specified. Paraphilias occur less frequently than sexual dysfunction and differs from sexual disorders because of the nature of the sex act.

Paraphilias include sexual desire stimulated by young children, inanimate objects, inflicting pain, experiencing pain, etc. The list can include just about anything that stimulates sexual urges. Listed are examples of a number of paraphilias.

Exhibitionism involves exposing genital or sexual organs to a stranger, it is generally called "flashing." The exhibitionist is typically male, and the victim is usually a female (adult or child), and usually an unsuspecting stranger.5

Voyeurism is a psychosexual disorder describing a person who derives sexual gratification from viewing the naked bodies and genital organs or observing the sexual acts of others.6 (pornography)

Fetishism can be any ritualistic preoccupation with any object or idea that may and often does lead to sexual arousal and gratification. Fetishes are commonly mistaken by the general populations as some refer to hobbies or interests as examples of fetishism. Doing so is a misnomer. Fetishism can lead to serious cognitive arrest and social disruption.

Transvestic fetishism generally occurs with men, but not exclusively. Among women, it is not generally regarded as a disorder since it is socially acceptable for women to wear traditionally male-oriented clothing.

Though it may change in the near future from being a disorder, transvestic fetishism occurs when the subject has a neurotic desire to wear clothing of the opposite sex and is aroused by doing so. Gender preference does not determine who engage in "cross-dressing" as it is popularly known.

It is more prolific in society than many may imagine and has received attention in modern entertainment media. It is suggested that J. Edgar Hoover engaged in this fetish.

Frotteurism describes the neurotic desire to rub or make contact with others, generally with the genitalia. This neurosis occurs mostly with males and usually, the victim is nonconsensual. The subject derives gratification from the adrenal rush of sexually assaulting unsuspecting people and, if possible avoiding capture. It can be a form of rape depending on the application of the word.

Frotteurism does not need to occur with genitalia per se as mentioned. Subjects can achieve arousal using other body parts, though it is uncommon.

Ashley Lanquist

Interesting Fact

Did you know that schizoid and schizotypal can be considered two parts of schizophrenia? Well they can. Watch this video, which is the final part of a series of videos uploaded in Youtube by Ashley Lanquist

Personality Disorders

“Personality disorder is a general term for a type of mental illness in which your ways of thinking, perceiving situations and relating to others are dysfunctional.”4 It is a disorder where suffers have difficulty relating to themselves and others.

The list of personality disorders includes paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal as a part of the cluster A group of the A, B, C grouping of personality disorder.

Cluster B includes, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality, histrionic Personality Disorder and narcissistic personality disorder—a list of Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic personality disorders.

The Cluster C includes disorders of personality with anxious or Fearful behavior: avoidant personality Disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Personality Disorders
Personality Disorders | Source

As Eating, substance abuse, gender/sexual, and personality disorders become more prevalent, a proper understanding of the different disorders provides a more aware approach to those who suffer from the maladaptive behavioral patterns.

The American Psychological Association and other organizations provide many sources of information and aid to assist those who lack proper understanding access. The body of research provides ample ammunition to review and seek proper treatment and appropriate perspective to treatment.

If you feel that you suffer from any of the disorders listed, pleased consult a trained specialist. Never self-diagnose.

Borderline Personality Disorder Explanation, Does this Describe You?


Hansell, J., & Damour, L. (2005). Abnormal Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley

  • (Hansell & Damour, 2005, Pg. 256)2

National Eating Disorder Associations (2009). Statistics: Eating Disorders and Their Precursors.

Psychology Today (n.d.). Gender Identity Disorder (2009). Personality Disorders.

Psychology Today5

Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders6

© 2013 Rodric Johnson

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    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Johnson 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks for clearing it up Deborah and reading through my hub.

      I am busy on one of yours right now.

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      You are correct, and I am wrong.

      The reason is that I misread, therefore, misunderstood something in your hub.

      My apologies

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Johnson 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I just read through my hub and can find no bigotry. In fact, I am very unbiased in this hub because I do not agree with the way society has changed. I admit that I love the tolerance but not the governance of the leaders.

      Point out what is bigoted and I will explain it better or change it to read otherwise.

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      There's a lot of bigotry in your hub. Gender dysphoria, may not be just in the mind. They have found physical problems that may be involved. You need to update your outlook and read the latest medical news. I just wrote a hub on Chimerism. Please read it---"Choice-or Genetics-The Human Condition"

      People need to be tolerant of everyone, even those who are different. It's called love