Increasing rate of psychological disorders
The monsters of the mind are far worse than those that actually exist. Fear, doubt, and hate have hamstrung more people than beast ever have – Christopher Paolini.
After his involvement in a head-on collision accident with another driver, Cole hasn’t been able to drive again. This phobia puts a lot of stress on his marriage because his wife does all the driving. The erstwhile vivacious and gregarious Tonia has become a depressive recluse because of two robbery attacks she had on her way back from work.
Ade’s somnambulism has degenerated to the point where most mornings, neighbours locate him outside his one bedroom flat. Adamu’s drug addiction habit has ruined his legal practice just like Dike’s involvement in kidnapping business has tarnished the former noble image of the family. In the case of Denise, the best way to handle the diagnosis of a terminal illness like HIV infection was suicide. How would his family and friends receive the news that he Demise, a morally and upright professional engineer was now a victim of the dreaded HIV?
The essence of depicting these unfortunate life situations is to highlight both the scope and propensity of psychological disorders in our society today. Before now, psychological and psychiatric disorders were erroneously regarded as the health problems of the developed and sophisticated worlds of Europe and America. The basis of the error was (still is) that Africa enjoys the culture of non or poor use of statistics. Also, the prevalent problem of stigmatization of sufferers of psychological problems in Africa contributes significantly to the underestimated status such health problems enjoy.
For the purpose of easy communication, I take preference to the traditional subdivision of psychological and psychiatric problems into two major spheres of neuroticism and psychotism. The former term is used generally to refer to all cases of mild psychological problems whereby the individual is majorly in control of his mind. Examples are anxiety disorders, sadness, and inferiority complex. In contrast, psychoticism refers to all forms of psychological problems that are severe and results in the individual losing touch with reality. Examples are mental retardation, manic-depression and schizophrenia.
One major cause of increasing psychological problems in our society today is the predominant imbalance of life events. Put more correctly, increase in responsibilities without a corresponding leverage of support systems leads to breakdown in psychological equilibrium. For instance, in our contemporary Nigerian society there exists a state of imbalance between the responsibilities and support systems of the ordinary citizen. In terms of dividend of governance and economic remuneration, the privileges of the ordinary citizens are far below the responsibilities required of them. Election promises are neither honoured after the electorate has voted nor do the monthly wage of the workers meet their basic needs. This form of lacuna between high responsibility and low or no support system predisposes people to become victims of psychological disorders.
The issue of prevalent stressors is another significant cause of increasing psychological disorders in our society. A stressor is an event or experience which poses threat or challenge to the individual. It initiates as well as increases strain, pressure and pain in the life of the individual and if not properly managed, may lead to both psychological and physiological breakdown of the individual.
Unfortunately, in our contemporary society, there exist a multitude of diversities of stressors. These include, socio-economic, socio-cultural, bio-chemical, psycho-spiritual, environmental, enthno-religious and their likes. Ironically, there seems to be no visible and plausible solution to this evolution of these stressors. The result is that many individuals who cannot cope end up as victims of psychological disorders.
The increasing dimension of apathy, which characterizes industrialised societies of our modern world is yet another huge contributor to the prevalence of psychological disorders.An inter-disciplinary term, Bystander Apathy or Effect, is the phenomenon whereby people are unlikely to offer help to victims or sufferers of calamities.Initially, it was a sociological event but today, research work in bystander apathy cuts across psychology, criminology, law, economics, religion and forensic science. Like Dr. Cosmans Ilechukwu noted, the opposite of love isn’t hatred. It is apathy.
Problems of life, which would have been nipped at the bud, are left to fester into complications and complexities. The erstwhile community lifestyle, which existed in African societies is gradually been eroded and erased. As our African society joins the league of the developed and technological advanced society, the suffocating paradigm shift of invading novel lifestyles such as egotism, narcissism, hedonism, relativism and humanism replace accountability, altruism and philanthropism. One obvious consequent harvest of this human developmental shift is the prevalence of psychological disorders.
Perhaps, no singular factor has increased the index of psychological disorders in our societies today than the emergence of this season of unbridled uncertainties. The psychological and psychiatric health of many citizens have degenerated. Incidences of high blood pressure, mania, psychopathism, sociopathism, narcissism, phobias, and suicide are on the increase. Like the Holy Writ rightly noted, fear has torments. Multitudes are struggling with mental and emotional torments. Psychological disorder is a significant consequence of the inability to cope with fear and torment.
On one occasion I had to interfere in the life of a young family, which was on an outing in a London restaurant to celebrate their only daughter’s birthday. The reason for my audacious action was that the three children of the family were neglected while the parents for a long time were busy on their mobile phones. The misuse of technology is driving Homo Sapiens crazy. Daily, relationships we once cherished are encumbered and endangered by the almighty gadgets which are the products of modern technology.
It is common knowledge that both youths and adults are caught up in cyber bullying. The exposure to half-truth, raw violence, compelling spiritism, addictive pornography, and other forms of human perversions contribute significantly to the breakdown of both the mental and emotional state of many individuals in our society today.
Of course, ignorance of psychological and psychiatric problems is prevalent in our African society. Both preventive and early handling of such psychological disorders suffer negligence because of lack of knowledge.
The right beginning point to ameliorate the problem of increasing psychological problem in our society today is to provide the right and adequate form of education. Consistent with this line of thought the late Nelson Mandela said that, education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
The ministry of education at all levels (national, state and local government), working with various institutional leadership (primary, secondary and tertiary) should deliberately include psychological health studies in their curriculum. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses and their professional colleagues should engage in consistent and regular enlightenment campaigns on psychological health.The various cadres of government should ensure that they execute the primary assignment of safeguarding the lives and properties of the citizen.This is to erase the prevalence of fear and terror which are strong negative emotions which initiate as well as exacerbate psychological disorders.
• Dr. Passy Amaraegbu, a Clinical Psychologist wrote from Lagos.
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