People generally do not want to admit that there is a link between neurological problems and psychological problems when they are essentially related. This is why many people who have a neurological problem, but show symptoms of psychological problems are often misdiagnosed. This is what continuously occurs to many people whose symptoms fit into an already prevalent disorder like schizophrenia/ psychosis of unknown origin. It is not hard to understand how many people could slip through the medical system and are misdiagnosed when you consider the current medical system we have.
A disorder that shows the mix between neuroscience and psychology as well as how keeping the two topics separate can lead to disastrous outcomes is called anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. It is an autoimmune biological neural disorder whose actual symptoms present as psychosis symptoms. Its symptoms include memory loss, emotional disturbances, psychosis, dyskinesia, decrease in speech capabilities and seizures. When a doctor is presented with a patient with these symptoms it’s understandable why the patient is automatically assumed to be suffering from a psychological disorder. The disorder which is still relatively new to the scientific community is not fully known/understood. But it stems from the body’s own immune system attacking the NMDA receptors in the brain, NMDA receptors are commonly found in the hippocampus and have detrimental effects on learning memory and behavior. The disorder presents with symptoms like psychosis, but is caused by an autoimmune neurobiological response.
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I took a class called “Sociology of Mental Health & Illness” last year at Colby, and a lot of the topics relate to what is said here. We discussed the social circumstances that allow for confusion around the topic of psychological disorders, we even discussed if psychological disorders are real at all (or just a social construction). It is really interesting to think that a disorder can cause psychological problems but is completely based upon the biology of the body, with no social circumstances involved. I think this topic can be very controversial, however, because I am sure many people would also argue that other psychological disorders are based completely on the biology of the body- it is just hard to treat them that way because it isn’t as visible as, say, appendicitis. If you are interested in the intersection between the two I would recommend reading “Creating Mental Illness” by Horwitz, it really questions how you look at the mental health system in the United States. Which, I agree with you, really needs some help. It is very complicated to understand what is truly a symptom of a mental illness versus what we just find as abnormal in our culture- and ascribing mental causes to these symptoms can get complicated.