What Is Mental Illness?



Ordering Disorder

WHERE DOES PSYCHOLOGICAL health end and mental illness begin? This is the question that Richard J. McNally, a Harvard psychologist, asks in his new book. Should we worry about the sanity of the author for assigning himself this thankless task? He might as well be asking where to draw the line between twilight and dusk.
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What is Mental Illness? A Peek Through the Murk

When most of us think about psychopathology, or abnormal psychology, we think of mental illness. We think of disability. We think of something perhaps maladaptive, at least in the everyday sense of psychosocial functioning, if not in the larger evolutionary sense. We tend to think that something is fundamentally broken. This seems reasonable, but if you dive deeper, the waters get murky.
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MIND Reviews: What is Mental Illness?
By Ferris Jabr

When a breakup is one-sided, the rejected party’s behavior and mental state often change dramatically. A veil falls upon the world. Sleep becomes elusive. Food and sex are suddenly strangers to pleasure. Concentration dwindles to a rare resource. Intrusive memories and spiraling pessimism worm their way into every moment of consciousness. Read More.

Caitlin Rivers and Justin Snyder
Saint Francis University
Loretto, PA, USA

Sociologists interested in mental health and diagnosis should pay attention to this book.  Among other things, it serves as an impressive preface to the upcoming DSM-V. Readers will not find a definitive answer to the question the title poses. To the question ‘What is mental illness?’ McNally answers, ‘It depends.’ Mental illness is many different things. It is a social construction, an outcome of genetics, an evolutionary artifact, and a kind of personal misery.  Read More.