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Views About What Constitutes Mental Illness 

Mental Illness

The determination of whether a person is mentally ill or not is based on the observance of the symptoms displayed by the person in comparison to the definition of what mental illness entails/constitutes in relation to his behavior. According to psychological studies a mentally ill person is one that displays behavioral or psychological patterns that cause disability or distress that is not expected of a normal culture or development. The interference of fear and anxiety on normal functions can be termed as a form of mental illness (commonly termed as anxiety disorder).

There are several recognized anxiety disorders and Jennie seems to have one of these, the social anxiety disorder alternatively known as social phobia (Thompson, 2006). Jennie has intense fear under social conditions because she feels that she is abnormal, and thus cannot associate with other students. This is indeed a sign that she has a social phobia which causes her inability to function well in her group work engagements as part of her daily life. This causes her embarrassment and humiliation. Conclusively, it can be stated that indeed Jennie is mentally ill (Thompson, 2006).

 The decision as to whether a person’s behavior is usual or unusual is determined by the variance or extent of difference that is portrayed between her behavior and the normal or usual human behavior expected within society and its members. Jennie’s behavior is quite different and that is why she is able to note that she is quite different from most people that she encounters. She can be said to be anti-social or rather not sociable. Indeed this is a behavior that develops under conditions of upbringing that are not normal. These are usually characterized with seclusion from socialization or great oppression towards expression and association. Therefore, Jennie’s behavior is indeed unusual (Proctor et al, 2003).

 The extent to which a person’s behavior influences her normal functioning, behavior and thinking can be used as an assessment tool to determine whether that person is indeed distressed as a result of her behavior (Proctor et al, 2003). Jennie could not bear taking the counseling session because of her behavior that does not allow her to ensure her intimate details, in turn; this creates anxiety in her to the extent that she even throws up. This is an indication that her behavior of seclusion, keeping to oneself and feeling short of something actually affects her by making her distressed, and thus; her behavior can be blamed for the distress experienced in her life.

 Jennie’s behavior can be said to be functional to a greater extent because it hampers very little about her functions (Proctor et al, 2003). She is able to carry out her academic, sports and  home with ease with her only problems arising when she is in new social set ups with new people, especially; in large gatherings. These are the only instances when the normal expected function does not work for her. Therefore, to a great an extent her behavior is functional.

 Jennie’s behavior has not violated any societal norms whatsoever, however; it is observed as a slight variance from what is culturally expected. Cultural violations may involve societal offenses committed by breaking societal norms and rules. However, Jennie’s behavior offends no one, but only causes her not to function optimally and well.

 Jennie’s behavior is not caused by any illness, but rather caused by the kind of environment and social set up that she grew in-secluded, with least interaction, exposure and association with many people so as to build her social skills. The environment she grew up in can be termed as the main cause of Jennie’s condition and not any other disease.


Proctor, W.R., Freedheim, K.D., Healy, F.A, and Weiner, B.I. (2003).Handbook of Psychology: Experimental psychology. John Wiley and Sons.
Thompson, L.M. (2006). Mental Illness. Greenwood Publishing Group
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