writing assignment mental disorders and their treatments 1 – exclusivewritings.com

  • The assignment has three parts. Put each part on separate pages, titled as follows:
    • Part 1: The External Example
    • Part 2: The Links to Text and Diagnostic Criteria (see below)
    • Part 3: Personal and Social Import
  • Provide at least two well-constructed paragraphs for each of these three parts.

Here are some hints and guidelines for each of the three sections.

Part 1: The External Example

  • Start by identifying and briefly describing your source and the diagnosis at issue. Keep in mind that this “source” is in almost all cases simply a person. “External” means not an example derived from our text. This should not be too hard. Who among us has not seen or experienced some case of mental illness? Below I offer further tips about finding an example if you need that help.
  • Just as in prior assignments, your global task in this one is to use this source, this example, this person, to apply, illustrate and evaluate the relevant material from chapters 15 and 16 – and in the DSM itself. So: Choose an example that allows you to do that richly. Present this case as clearly and completely as possible. In this section you present a portrait. Feel free to include information that does not necessarily match our text material. In the next section, you’ll do a point-by-point evaluation of the linkage between your “case” and both our text and the DSM.

What source, you may ask?

  • Most students use a personal example – a mental illness they’ve experienced or have seen up close – perhaps in a friend, family member or acquaintance. I believe students choose this option because it is vivid, compelling, memorable, and relevant to experience. As always: there is no requirement you take this approach. There are many alternatives.
  • How about a movie? “As Good as it Gets,” (for OCD), “A Beautiful Mind,” (for schizophrenia – though the movie makers took a good deal of creative license, making some things up), “Fatal Attraction” (for borderline personality disorder – outstanding portrayal), “Rain Man” (for Autism Spectrum Disorder- another outstanding portrayal). Careful: Sometimes Hollywood dramatizations distort the reality of the disorders. If you see that, note and critique. Also: the personal and social import part may be more challenging to demonstrate compared to other options I suggest. Most go with an example from personal experience, but that is not required.

  • How about a PBS (Public Broadcasting System) presentation, or one from National Public Radio? There are several outstanding ones available via Google search. These offer rich material for documenting social (or personal) import. The challenge is that the presentation may not allow broad application of text and diagnostic criteria. The ones that do offer a detailed portrait of the person – their symptoms, the context in which their disorder arose (this can give hints about causal factors), the course of illness, treatments, etc.
  • In general: Examples of mental disorders and their treatments are everywhere – in the media (writ large), in experience. Go with what engages you and offers enough substance for this assignment, the drawing of a full relation between text/diagnostic criteria and example.
  • Be sure to use an example that calls upon you to make the linkages to text and diagnostic principles, not one that provides them already. Thus, a case study won’t do.

Part 2: The Links to Text and Diagnostic Criteria

  • You’ll need to have a good grasp of the chapters and the diagnostic criteria to show these links. You’ll need the same to choose the example as detailed in part 1 above.
  • Pay close attention to this new twist: I am directing you to a new source, one I expect you to use in this assignment: the actual DSM diagnostic criteria. You can find the DSM 5 criteria on the web. This is simply the list of signs and symptoms for the disorder, with associated requirements.
  • So use this, and use text. Compare, contrast. How is your example similar? Different? What of the mismatch?
  • Draw widely from our readings – consider the disorder symptoms (this is the essential first and most straightforward course to take), theories of cause, gender and racial/ethnic differences, associated features, etc, Consider too treatments – drug, psychotherapy or both.
  • In making this linkage present the text content in your own words, making the connection to your example plain. Be specific. Describe symptoms fully. For example, in describing sleep disturbance: “Though prior to this episode his sleep was normal and unproblematic, on most nights it takes him at least three hours to fall asleep, and subsequent sleep is restless and marked by multiple awakenings.” You may not have such detail, but if you have it use it. Point: your description should be as concrete and detailed as possible.
  • Work the relation between text/diagnostic criteria and example thoroughly.

Part 3: Personal and Social Import

  • Explain why the issues you have presented matter, why others should care. Among the ways to do this: describe the costs of the condition; describe helping or coping attempts that worked – and those that didn’t – and say why that matters. Use the individual account you’ve presented, and discuss implications for the broader social/political world. (Note: this process meets a common definition of “compassion” – awareness of the plight of another coupled with a desire to do something about it.)
  • The social implications of mental disorders and their treatments loom large. They involve the health and welfare of all age groups, from the very young to the aged. They call to mind issues of insurance, public policy, and more generally social welfare. We have responsibilities to one another.
  • The personal import and meaning tend to be more riveted on an individual, be that oneself or another. The stakes, both emotional and financial, can be profound, and extend beyond the individual. The personal informs thinking about the broader social (and political) context. Reach for these implications.

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