Psychopathology Across the Life-Cycle
Psychopathology is the study of the nature and causes of mental disorders. Because definitive etiologies for most mental disorders have not been identified, psychopathology for the most part is focused on the myriad manifestations of psychiatric illness. An elusive concept itself, mental disorder has been defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. xxxi) as “a clinically significant behavio-ral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an indi-vidual and that is associated with present distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suf-fering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom”.
The manifestations of psychiatric illness can be grouped into five broad domains of human functioning: 1) consciousness, orientation, memory, and intellect; 2) speech, thinking, perception, and self-experience; 3) emotions; 4) physical functioning; and 5) behavior and adaptive functioning. These five areas encompass the processes by which humans know about themselves and the world around them; how they think, reason, learn, and express themselves; how they feel and express these feelings; how they perceive their bodies and experience their sensations and essential functions; and how they act and react to both internal and external stimuli.