What is meant by measuring the unmeasurable? One of science's main features is the ability to measure objectively. But some areas of science have been challenged by a more subjective approach, which highlights that objectivity is not always attainable.
One such area is that of mental illness. The diagnosis, treatment and further implications of mental illness are often seen to be as accurate as other branches of medicine: doctors and psychiatrists treating mental illness use objective measuring tools to great effect.
The more subjective approach of psychoanalysis runs contrary to this. Psychoanalysts believe that mental illness is indeed measurable yet not in an objective manner, and that diagnosis, prognosis and treatment will depend upon each individual patient. In taking this approach, any form of objective and scientific measurement is removed.
If it is argued that mental illness is different for each individual patient then science and psychiatry is attempting to measure the unmeasurable.
This learning module aims to take the user through various aspects of psychiatry and the study of mental illness. It looks at the treatment, diagnosis and methods used in psychiatry as well as the investigation of mental illness from a historical and socio-cultural perspective. This is done by relating the subject matter to examples found in our day-to-day lives. Important concepts of psychology are investigated and the user is given the opportunity to test their knowledge through various activities. Some of the concepts investigated include definitions of what is normal and abnormal, concepts of the mind, the concept of mental illness in other cultures, Chemotherapy, electro-convulsive therapy and Psychosurgery.
The learning module should guide the reader towards a better understanding of mental illness and Psychiatry as well as a recognition that there is still much more to discover about mental disorders, their treatment and implications for the individual and society.
The medical profession uses a specialist form of notation to cite various authorities when referring to clinical or psychology studies, using the date and the name of the key author of a scientific study; for example, (Davis et al., 1993). These shall be used when referring to studies in the rest of the module.