Read articles by Clark, et al. (2013) and Cummins (2013). It is highly recommended that you also watch one or two of the videos on mental illness from the TED playlist, All kinds of minds (9 talks), as these provide valuable insights into a variety of disorders and the issues associated with them.
For this discussion, refer to the information in the “Introduction to the Miller Family document.” Lucy Miller is a 20-year-old college student who has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Sarah Miller, her mother, recalls that as a teen, Lucy would get very talkative at night and couldn’t go to sleep. Sarah also recalled that Lucy was kicked off the cheerleading squad when her GPA fell below 3.0, and that during this time, Lucy’s friends were being mean to her. When this occurred, Lucy was “really down” for a couple of months. She didn’t want to talk to a counselor and she told her mother Sarah that she would be fine. Lucy blamed the entire situation on the issues with the girls in her class. However, coping with the mood swings became increasingly difficult for her. Lucy began experimenting casually with illegal drugs and found that they helped. Unfortunately, she kept getting them from friends at school and has now become addicted to them.
Examine the potential biological basis for Lucy’s psychological disorder. What, if anything, in her family history might point to this issue being hereditary? Be sure to apply basic medical terminology where appropriate. Consider the biases that are often held regarding mental illness. How much volition is involved in mental illness? How much is related to environment and genetics? Do we think about mental illness differently when we know the person well versus if the person is a stranger (e.g., a homeless individual or a panhandler on the street)? Analyze the impact that our stage of lifespan development has on how we think of our own mental health and the mental health of others. What impact does it have on our associated behaviors and the long-term outcomes associated with the disorder?
Read “Recovering Health Through Cultural Traditions” by Krohn (2013).
Refer to the information in the “Introduction to the Miller Family” document. For this discussion, choose one of the following family members currently experiencing issues with substance abuse and complete the discussion according to the instructions below.
Option 1: Lucy Miller – As we learned in Discussion 1 this week, this 20-year-old college student has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As a coping mechanism for her wild mood changes, Lucy began experimenting with illegal drugs while still in high school and has now become addicted to them.
Option 2: Lucy’s younger brother, Josh, was recently discovered using marijuana. His response to his parents when confronted was, “It’s just an herb! Grandma Ella says as long as it is natural, it is good.” In truth, Grandma Ella hasn’t said anything about marijuana and does not know that Josh has been using it.
Option 3: Sam Miller, Lucy and Josh’s uncle, is an alcoholic. He is 50 years old, divorced, and estranged from both his ex-wife and their only son. He’s had no contact with either of them for many years. Sam has a long history of work and legal problems related to drinking. The family sees him as a “loser.”
After choosing one of the people above, analyze the biology of substance abuse and describe its potential for dependence in certain families and the outcomes of various behaviors. Is it likely that Lucy, Josh, or Sam had a genetic predisposition to alcohol or substance addition? How does lifespan development make a difference in propensity to abuse substances? How does the stage of life at which the abuse begins impact the user’s behaviors?