Friday, September 23, 2011

Top 5 ‘Craziest’ Mental Disorders

5. Trichotillomania

Possibly one of the most physically disruptive disorders, Trichotillomania is an obsession with pulling out hair.  Individuals with this disorder will constantly pull out body hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.   Patients get overwhelming urges to pull at their hair, only reaching relief when they’ve done it.  Individuals will go to great lengths to hide their bald spots, but for some the disorder becomes too bad to cover up.
How It Fits
Trichotillomania is also very rare.  No one knows what causes it, but it is possible to overcome through psychotherapy.  Some cases benefit from medication.  People who have the disorder may be feared because of their appearance, and it’s not uncommon for them to be featured on daytime talk shows.
4. Specific Phobia

It seems strange that Phobias rank so high up on the list, but they are where they are because they can be so interfering with lives.  Most people think a phobia is just an unease or mild fear of an object; actually, a phobia is an unmanageable terror of everyday things.  There are many subcategories and specific names for different Phobias, but they all fall under the same disorder.  Phobic individuals will go to extreme lengths to avoid their unreasonable fears.  They can experience physical symptoms such as racing pulses and strained breathing if exposed to their fear.
How It Fits
Phobias are incredibly common, effecting 8.7% of people.  They are caused by traumatic childhood events- most of the time patients can’t remember the event.  The most common techniques for treating phobias are exposure therapy (in which the patient must confront their fear slowly and with the guidance of a psychiatric professional) and hypnotherapy (which helps patients to remember the cause of the fear).  Patients are able to recover, and even untreated patients may blend in to normal society.
3. Antisocial Personality Disorder

Amongst the most basic, common, but dangerous disorders, antisocial disorder is also known as sociopathy and psychopathy.  Individuals with this disorder either have no empathy, leading to no morals, or no emotion at all.  The ones who have emotion, but no empathy, are extremely dangerous.  They make excellent liars, are often charismatic, and feel no remorse for any harm they cause anyone.  Their brains simply can’t make the connections to evoke empathy.  Because of this, they can do terrible things without a care.  As you might imagine, most Antisocial patients become involved in crime.  A majority of serial killers have been diagnosed with this disorder.   Some individuals, especially the emotionless ones, are able to fit in to society without causing any harm, but can never relate to people on the same level normal individuals can.
How It Fits
1% of Americans have Antisocial Personality Disorder, but only 50% are treated.  A majority of people with the disorder end up involved in crime.  There is no cure for the disorder, and the only treatment for it is to teach the patients to act normal, although they’ll still never be able to grasp ethics or even emotion.
2. Dissociative Identity Disorder

DID, formerly Multiple Personality Disorder, is a very severe disorder caused by severe trauma.  An individual with this disorder will split his/her personality into two or three different identities and cycle between them.  A 50 year old man may think he’s a 6 year old girl, and spend his time playing with dolls and wearing dresses.  This disorder has also had a lot of media coverage but is very misunderstood.  Individuals with this disorder rarely take on more than three identities, and it’s almost impossible to make them aware that they have it.  They cannot live normal lives because they may switch identities at any point, sometimes staying an identity for years, sometimes for hours.
How It Fits
This disorder is also very rare.  It can only be found in about .1% of Americans.  There are no medications to fix the disorder, but hypnotherapy can be useful in merging the identities.  Patients cannot live in normal society unless they have gone through extensive therapy and their identities have been merged.  Otherwise, they live in psychiatric institutions or they are constantly cared for by family and friends.
1. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, in short, is a loss of reality.  Symptoms include inappropriate (or few) emotions, paranoia, obsession with media, false beliefs about the body, beliefs of being famous or powerful, auditory and visual hallucinations, and catatonia (a completely unaware and unresponsive state).  Unmedicated schizophrenics can’t tell what is in their head and what is real, leading them to act strangely.  There are different levels in the loss of reality, some are able to function normally for short periods of time.
How It Fits
For such a severe disorder, a giant 1% of Americans have it.  This means that for every 100 people, one is schizophrenic.  Schizophrenia is very genetic, and is often treatable with medication.  Most medicated Schizophrenics are able to function completely normally, as long as they take medication every day.  The disorder will never go away and skipping just one day of medication can jeopardize the patient’s sanity.  The crime rates of schizophrenics are actually not as high as other disorders, but the individuals are much more troubled and much farther from reality.
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Barbie Dolly

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