A Discussion on Mental Disorders in popular and scientific articles

(1)Researchers Doubt That Certain Mental Disorders Are Disorders At All discusses research that calls attention to the root of mental disorders and questions whether they are truly disorders or more of an adaptation for defense in response to our environment and adversity.

This Forbes article argues that science has never “proven” the heritability of mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It also highlights that areas of the world with increased conflict tend to have higher rates of mental disorders and while treatments have increased universally, no reduction in the frequency of these mental disorders has been seen. The author also argues that there are negative implications of labels and their effect on treatment; “mental disorders” must be managed with medicine, but “responses to adversity” could be overcome and relieved with social/educational reforms.

(2) The research in Mental health as biological health: Why tackling “diseases of the mind” is an imperative for biological anthropology in the 21st century discusses how, as medicine continues to decrease the stresses that infectious diseases have on our population, the need to address a rise in mental illnesses and deepen our understanding of their causes continues to rise. The best way to understand these complex mechanisms of mental illnesses is in an integration of biomedical, sociocultural, and evolutionary knowledge. Understanding the biomarkers, neurotransmitters, physiological symptoms, and genetics of mental disorders can only do so much if the cause of some of these disorders actually lies in a “response to adversity” caused by social circumstances. Furthermore, some illnesses may be rooted in the adaptations of humanity, or a “mix-match” in traits and the shift from ancestral to modern environments.

An incredibly wide array of mental illnesses are grouped into these categories for possible causes and analyzed intensively. The array of mental disorders includes but is not limited to OCD, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, depressions, anxiety, PTSD, dementia, Alzheimer’s, other neurological disorders, ADHD, substance abuse, eating disorders, etc.

(3) The scientific researchers offer an extensive analysis with a clear attempt to discuss the wide array of several known mental disorders. Meanwhile, the Forbes article focuses on a few disorders and exaggerates the idea of “doubt” in the biological side of mental disorders.

The author of the Forbes article does address the importance of biology but appears to have selectively chosen aspects of the research to ‘frame’ their argument in a certain light. The scientific research continues to respect, address and discuss the deeply biological side of many of these disorders but analyzes the complex relationships of these disorders and calls for a more multi-disciplinary approach to understand the causes of and effective treatments for mental illnesses (that incorporates a sociocultural and evolutionary understanding in addition to, not in spite of, the biological research).


Hannah Dillenbeck

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *