Custom «Mental Illness: Nature vs. Nurture» Essay Paper Sample

Mental Illness: Nature vs. Nurture

In the majority of cases, mental illness is a biological disorder, which is characterized by brain deviations affecting people’s behavior and perception. Mental disorders are hard to detect because of multiple factors influencing it. On the one hand, there are certain genetic codes, which might be handed down by parents, such as Alzheimer’s disease or bipolar disorder, but there are no specific research studies proving it. On the other hand, there are multiple cases when mental disorders develop after deep psychological or physical traumas. This specifically concerns men who were involved in military service and who witnessed the horrible picture of war. While deliberating about the prevalence of either genes or environment in mental disorder development, it is impossible to consider sides of the debate separately. Instead, active interaction of the genetic inheritance with the environment creates a unique situation in which a mental disorder can take place. The ratio could be different, depending on the human disposition and character traits, as well as the surrounding people, which can either worsen the situation or make everything possible to minimize the development of the illness.

There is no unanimous opinion regarding the origins and underpinnings of mental disorders. However, there are still interesting assumptions regarding how genetic predisposition and environment interact and affect the mental state of a human. To support the ideas, Herbert assumes, “the view of mental illness as a brain disease has been crucial to the effort to destigmatize illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression” (404). In other words, the author wants to emphasize that depression is a slight form of disorder, which is determined by social factors, but human disposition to mental problems can deepen the depression and turn it into a more serious illness, such as schizophrenia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Once again, a combination of factors, both genetic and environmental, creates a specific situation in which an illness occurs. It is impossible to accept black and white deliberation because the genetics cannot exist separately from the environment, particularly when it relates to psychological state of an individual.

Many other research studies support the idea of mutual interaction of nature and nurture in terms of mental disorder analysis. In this respect, Schnittker introduces interesting statistical data regarding social perceptions and attitudes to mental disorders. Specifically, the author discovers,

support for biomedical causes (e.g chemical imbalances, genetics) is high overall and particularly high for severe disorders, with 67 % endorsing biomedical causes for major depression and 86 % for schizophrenia…at the same time…67 % attribute major depression to the normal “ups and downs” of life and 41 % attribute it to family upbringing (Schnittker 76).

Therefore, the numerical data presented above proves that both social and biological factors matter in shaping mental diseases and understanding their nature. Hence, one should not omit the combination of both in recognizing the mental state of an individual.

In order to understand the evident connection between genetic and environmental factors, attention should be paid to the analysis of human development in the context of nature an nurture. To enlarge on this issue, Singh presents the study on human development and how it is affected both by nature and nurture. Specifically, the scholar deliberates on the nature vs. nurture debate to discover that “post-genomic programs…challenge social scientists to move beyond critic and to contribute to new developmental model that deconstructs the old divide between nature and nurture” (Singh 308). As a result, more research studies prove that it is impossible to consider nature in isolation to nurture in terms of psychological and mental development of individuals because it can distort the findings.

It is logical to believe that there are exclusive cases when mental disorder is caused by purely genetic or environmental factors. For instance, there are types of disorders, such as autism, which are determined by the genetic code, but not by the environment. The biological and psychiatric perspective plays an important role here because the disorder could be determined by genetic code peculiarities, or brain damage. In support of the claim, Rogers and Pilgrim assume “it may be argued that biological treatments that bring about symptom relief themselves point to biological aetiology” (p. 2). The fact that biological factors could dominate the environmental ones is undeniable, particularly when it concerns such deep psychological disorders as schizophrenia, or autism. Genetic code, therefore, could play a decisive role, but under certain consequences.

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In response to the above, Dar-Mirod and Heine explore the most common genetic biases that prevent the scholars from understanding the evident origins of mental disorders. In particular, the researchers focus on cognitive biases related to essentialist thinking school according to which people encounter the assumptions that genes justify condition, behavior, and social group thinking. Deliberating on the genetic attributions of various psychological conditions implies the development of specific thoughts related to those conditions, which could be perceived differently. Particularly, the researchers focus on etiologic, discrete, and natural conditions. The latter, however, often leads to misconceptions. Interestingly, the studies also rely on the analysis of such social phenomena as cognitive and behavioral changes, which originate from genetic attributions, shaping the foundation of these categories. However, the medical and scientific portrayals of genetic findings should not be discussed separately from genetic essentialism because it can limit the scientists in determining the major findings regarding the environmental identification of mental disorder.

With regard to the above-presented evidence and counter arguments, several important discoveries should be made. To begin with, it is highly essential to define the most important factors contributing to the mental disorder or development. Certainly, genetic makeup of an individual plays an important role because humans inherit particular psychological and physiological traits from their parents, such as predisposition to certain physical ailments, as well as to mental disorders. This side of debate is justified when we are talking about Alzheimer’s disease, classical conditions, schizophrenia, or autism. These mental disorders could not be acquired from the environment. However, mental conditions could be worsened in case specific treatment is not provided, which is the environmental factor. In this respect, better definiition and analysis of environmental issues will be essential in the future. The framework based on the gene-environmental scheme proves the most essential aspects in neuropsychiatric syndromes, as well as less genetic impact of human susceptibility to environmental pressure among the main mental disorders.

Despite the evident dominance of biologic factors affecting mental disorder, the majority of researchers pay specific attention both to the genetics and to the environment, which play a crucial role in shaping individuals. Specifically, some of the mental disorders are predetermined by social conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, or posttraumatic stress, which is caused by violent attitude or sexual assault, or social background. The latter might involve military service, or inappropriate family upbringing. Under these circumstances, environmental and social dimensions are even more important than biology because they introduce a powerful setting in which individuals either develop or encounter significant psychological pressure. Further, ratio of influence of the genetic and environmental factors can differ with regard to the type of disease and condition under which this disorder has developed. The evidence shows that, although one dimension – either biological or environmental – can prevail over the other, but one cannot isolate these two issues from each other, even when it concerns innate mental disorder. For instance, in case an individual suffers from schizophrenia, the appropriate treatment and medical interventions should be introduced to prevent the development of acute forms and help a person to adjust to a social environment. Since a human is a social creature, its biological code could be modified under the influence of the surrounding setting. Hence, the two aspects – genetic makeup and environment – should not be separated.

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Certainly, the existence of different theories based on biological information about a human shows that some forms of mental illness are not treated and, therefore, no social issues could help people overcome it. However, the social environment is prioritized when it comes to the assessment of human’s deviations. Specifically, physicians estimate the brain damage with regard to the analysis of normal behavioral patterns practiced in society. Hence, the social environment could help individuals to recognize their medical problems and agree to confront the problem. In fact, social environment could be regarded as an integral component of treatment of people suffering from diverse medical disorders.

In conclusion, the above-presented analysis proves that the genetic and environmental aspects should not be regarded in isolation. In fact, the researchers who study mental illness from one perspective only are limited in tools for describing the major symptoms and signs of the disease, which are of social nature. Specifically, some of the disorders could be revealed in the person’s difficulty in communicating and socializing with others. Brain damage also leads to deviations in behavior. Therefore, attention to such issue is essential to define to what extent social dimension contributes to biological shifts. At the same time, the supporters of the environmental factors should not underestimate the influence of genetic makeup on a person because some of the character traits and psychological features are inherited from the individual’s biological parents.

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