When someone tells you they have an illness such as cancer, you probably feel empathy. Would you feel the same way if someone told you they had schizophrenia or another psychological disorder? Psychological disorders are arguably some of the most misunderstood illnesses. Sometimes you may think someone has a psychological disorder because you cannot understand or trust them. Think about how Pat’s friends and co-workers might describe her differently if they knew she had a psychological disorder.

Last week, you noticed that Pat’s results on the MMPI-2 included elevated scores on the scales for paranoia and schizophrenia. Previously, she refused to discuss prior hospitalizations and health. However, this week she is ready to talk:

“Well, I guess we are not strangers anymore. I told you before I was in the hospital and the last time was when I was 31. I was not in there for body aches. I was there because people thought I was crazy. I’m a bit better now because I am in treatment. I have my moments when things are really bad. For example, I would hear voices—sometimes I thought it was God, and I could hear Him just like I hear you. Other times I would have the television turned off but it would be talking to me anyway. I even started thinking my neighbors were poisoning my tap water, so I stopped showering and drinking. I got hospitalized because I was sure that God and my neighbors were working together to hurt me so they could put me in prison.”

Pat stops a moment to catch her breath, and you notice that her arms are twitching a little. As you think back, you realize she has done that a lot since you have been getting to know her. “Like I said, I only get that bad once in a while when I am not on my medication. However, I still sometimes hear things that aren’t there or worry that people are out to get me even with the treatment. It’s just less.”

This week explores contributing factors, including social-cultural factors, on psychological disorders.


Week 5 Learning Resources

This page contains the Learning Resources for this week. Be sure to scroll down the page to see all of this week’s assigned Learning Resources.

Required Resources


  • Myers, D. G. (2014). Exploring psychology, in modules (9th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
    • Module 39, “Basic Concepts of Psychological Disorders, and Mood Disorders” (pp. 542–561)
    • Module 40, “Schizophrenia” (pp. 562–568)
    • Module 41, “Other Disorders” (pp. 569–583)
  • Szasz, T. S. (1960). The myth of mental illness. American Psychologist, 15, 113–118.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

    This article argues that mental illness does not exist, focusing on topics such as ethics in psychiatry, problems in living, and brain disease.

  • DSM5 Bridge Document: Note regarding DSM Changes


Optional Resources


Week 5 Assignment

Application: Social-Cultural Influences on Diagnosis and Treatment

With social-cultural, biological, and psychological influences being so diverse, the line between normal and disorder may be hard to draw.  For example, consider cultures that are heavily grounded in religious or folk beliefs.  In those cultures, talking to dead ancestors may be considered a normal practice (Friedrich, 1987).

Social-cultural factors are important because they influence how patients communicate symptoms, and which ones they report. In a clinical setting, these factors also influence how patients understand the disorder and consequent treatment. The medical model traditionally has viewed psychological disorders as illnesses that must be cured. In contrast, the biopsychosocial approach recognizes that culture influences the circumstances by which we understand individuals.

For this assignment, focus on the social-cultural factors that affect Pat’s behavior.

To prepare for this Assignment:

  • Imagine you are an intern at a clinic that has been asked to prepare a PowerPoint presentation about Pat’s case.
  • Consider how Pat’s social-cultural factors affect her diagnosis and treatment for paranoid schizophrenia.

Submit by Day 7 a PowerPoint presentation of 2–3 slides explaining Pat’s diagnosis from a biopsychosocial perspective.


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