Abnormal psychology can be defined as “the scientific study of abnormal behaviour undertaken to describe, predict, explain and change abnormal patterns of functioning. ” (Comer 2) The field is devoted to the scientific study of problems that obscure ne line between normal and deviant behaviour. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the deviant behaviour of Diana Miller, also known as Disco Di. This paper will touch upon the diagnosis features, cultural and gender factors as well as paradigms and treatment methods, in order to analyze her specific case, understand the cause of Miller’s diagnosis as well as what contributed to her illness.
Diana Miller, aged 25, was born in Toronto and was raised by her immigrated parents. At the age of 3, Diana’s father walked out, leaving her mother to be the sole provider, only to return when she was 12 after reuniting with her mother. At the age of 12, Diana’s younger sister Carol was killed in a drunk driver accident. After suffering through an unstable and traumatic childhood, Diana began to show signs of Major Depressive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder as well as multiple other mental illnesses at the age of 17.
Her symptoms and episodes continued to increase in severity, which inevitably lead her to being placed in multiple impatient hospitalizations. 1. Diagnostic Features /Differential Diagnosis Diana Miller was given the diagnoses of Major Depressive Disorder and of Borderline Personality Disorder after being hospitalized in seven psychiatric institutions. I agree with the diagnosis given to her as I feel as though her symptoms coincide with the diagnosis features that accompany both Major Depressive Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. Diana’s multiple suicide attempts and depression that lead her o her first hospitalization is demonstrative of an individual suffering from Major Depressive Disorder.
Major Depressive Disorder is considered a branch of unipolar disorders in which individuals experience extreme sadness, chronic feeling of emptiness, unstable emotions, as well a focus on death and suicide. Diana’s symptoms coincided with the diagnosis features within her first suicide attempt. “Alone, in her enormous suburban house, with her parents away on vacation, depressed and desperately lonely, she made herself a Valium and Scotch cocktail, drank it, and then called her psychiatrist. (Disco Di 2015)
She experienced a Major Depressive Episode as her frantic efforts to avoid her imagined abandonment, in addition to her extreme loneliness and depression lead her to focus on and attempt suicide. Although throughout the article it is unstated if Disco Di suffered from significant weight loss, insomnia, or psychomotor agitation, the symptoms that were experienced can still be considered extreme and for grounds of the diagnosis. Miller’s history of many different symptoms over the years suggests a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.
BPD is characterized through the instability of mood, relationships and self-image. They typically involve intense, unstable relationships, uncertainty about sexuality, extreme emotions, continuous suicidal thoughts as well as a chronic feeling of emptiness. (Ayearst 2015) Diana demonstrates multiple of the characteristic symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder over many years. Over Miller’s life she was involved in unstable, extreme and intense relationships with men that were “Stormy, full of passion, unbearable longing and [shared many] violent arguments. (Disco Di 2015)
Diana’s multiple “hot and cold” relationships also exhibit extreme idealization and devaluation showcasing how Diana was unable to integrate complex feelings, only able to view a situation as all good or all bad. In addition, I also feel as though her diagnosis of BPD is accurate as she demonstrated impulsivity through her addiction with sex, overuse of prescription drugs and eating binges, as well as her continuous suicidal behaviour, extreme emotions and a dependency on others to avoid loneliness.
Although I agree with Diana’s previous diagnosis of both Major depressive disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, I feel as through she exhibits other Axis I and II Disorders that she has not been diagnosed with. Within the Disco Di article, it states that Diana experiences multiple negative eating habits “She had eating binges, followed by crash diets to get back to her normal weight. She was obsessed with calories… (Disco Di 2015). This behaviour suggests a diagnosis of binge eating diagnosis.
The second diagnosis that I feel as though Diana should be given is of a substance dependence and substance abuse disorder. She exhibited an addiction to both alcohol and Valium as she drank excessively and increased her Valium intake despite the recurrent social and interpersonal problems that were caused by her use of both substances. 2. Cultural and Gender Factors Culture is understood as a collection of characteristics and known facts about a particular group. These characteristics can include language, religion, arts, habits, skills and values.
Culture itself, helps shape individuals as it creates an indirect set of rules that dictates how each individual should act, dress, and behave within certain social settings. Social and cultural factors have been linked in the shaping of mental illness. This includes both the diagnosis and the diagnostic features/symptoms as individuals are heavily influenced by culture and social backgrounds on beliefs, perceptions, and perspectives. “With a seemingly endless range of subgroups and individual variations, culture is important because it bears upon what all people bring to the clinical setting. (Rockville 2001)
Cases like Disco Di share instances in where culture affects individuals and their families own perception of the disorder and diagnosis. Disorders like schizophrenia, depression and now eating disorders are prominent in cultures worldwide, all share similar symptoms. However the treatment of disorders alike these differ due to the cultural practices of each society. Each society looks through a different cultural lens, diagnosing and treating disorders differently based on their shared customs, norms and values.
In western cultures we explain mental disorders as a result of biological, sociological and environmental factors, but cultures like Buddhism aim to heal mental illness spiritually as well as with mental training, rather than with therapy and medication. “Buddhism suggests that many of them can be remedies through skilful, sustained mental training. “(Wallace 2006) As culture plays an important role in shaping our social expectations, through processes, behaviour and expressions, it in it turn, shapes the diagnosis, treatment and symptoms experienced.