Mental Illness

  • Stuart Palmer
  • John A. Humphrey

Abstract

Individuals who manifest certain forms of deviant behavior are designated as mentally ill. These behaviors usually vary considerably within a given culture, and they certainly vary widely among cultures. Hearing voices when others do not, acting out compulsive rituals, refusal to communicate, upredictable bursts of anger—these are examples of deviant behaviors that qualify persons as mentally ill in many cultural settings. Certain forms of deviance are designated as criminal in a given society. These are not usually viewed as indicative of mental illness unless they are accompanied by other behaviors, for example, compulsions, which are taken to be symptoms of mental illness. Still other forms of deviant behavior are seen as eccentric but not necessarily as mental illness. Eccentricities are behavioral peculiarities which often are not viewed as especially disruptive. The well-dressed man who wears an old piece of rope for a belt displays an eccentricity. So does the person who barks like a dog on the beach but desists from doing so in crowded urban places. Deviant behavior that is not defined as criminal in a given society but which others do find disruptive constitutes one basis for defining individuals as mentally ill.

Keywords

Mental Disorder Mental Illness Social Class Stressful Life Event Deviant Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart Palmer
    • 1
  • John A. Humphrey
    • 2
  1. 1.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.University of North CarolinaGreensboroUSA

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