Personal Experience

How are mental disorders affected by development?

Mental disorders are a reality in many peoples lives even when the outside world does not realize it. Many people tend to put a mask over their emotions and feelings to portray to the rest of the world that they are perfectly fine, when In reality some metal disorders can affect the development of children and adolescents into their adulthood. Effects can be seen from the contextual, cognitive, behavioral, and psychodynamic perspectives of development.

Contextual:  Urie Bronfenbrenner offers the perspective that considers the relationship between individuals and their physical, cognitive, personality, and social worlds. Bronfenbrenner’s theory involves five different levels of of influence for individuals (Feldman, 2015, p. 27-29) . A person’s surroundings and social construct definitely has an effect on their mental health.  discuss this in their  They discuss the affects of the type of neighborhood grown up in, the affects of social and economic class, as well as the affects of the history of mental health issues within their family (Aneshensel, 1996, p. 295).

Psychodynamic:  The psychodynamic study offers a perspective that behavior is motivated by inner forces, memories, and conflicts, of which a person has little awareness or control. This perspective was studied and proposed by Erik Erikson and Sigmund Freud  (Feldman, 2015, p. 19-22). Our behavior and feelings are powerfully affected by unconscious motives. Saul McLeod (2013) writes on Erikson’s theory that there are 5 stages of psychodynamic development through adolescence. He writes: “The fifth stage is identity vs. role confusion, and it occurs during adolescence, from about 12-18 years. During this stage, adolescents search for a sense of self and personal identity, through an intense exploration of personal values, beliefs and goals.” This stage is a time of transition and great mental growth.  A child becomes more aware of who they are as well as others around them.

Behavioral: The behavioral perspective offers an approach that suggests the keys to understanding development are observable behavior and outside stimuli in the environment. This study was proposed by John B. Watson  (Feldman, 2015, p. 22-24). Saul McLeod (2016) discusses Watson’s theory. He expands on the idea that inner thoughts and observations of the outside world ultimately affect behavior. He writes: “Behaviorism emphasize the role of environmental factors in influencing behavior, to the near exclusion of innate of inherited factors.” What is observed of the outside world plays a large role in how individuals react and behave in different situations.

Cognitive: Piaget proposes a theory of study that emphasizes how people internally represent and think about the world. With each stage of growth come a new development within one’s cognitive thinking  (Feldman, 2015, p. 24-27). Saul McLeod (2015) explains Piaget’s theory to be: “a progressive reorganization of mental processes as a result of biological maturation and environmental experience. Children construct an understanding of the world around them, then experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment.” As individuals continue to grow in their cognitive understanding of the environments around them they may begin to compare themselves and realize what makes them a little different from others, which in turn may cause low self-esteem. Individuals begin to be affected by how other act towards them, which can affect their feelings towards others and themselves.

I myself have struggled with the mental disorders depression and anxiety for years now. I always knew of various turning points for me, both good and bad, but it was not until this class that I began to understand why those turning points came at the times they did. My transition to a new high school for my junior and senior years was my big turning point and I now understand it is because I was exposed to such a new environment and so many new people that I began comparing myself and struggling to find joy within my days. I was later diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety and with that, found out there is a relatively extensive history of depression in my family. My mom and both my grandma and my grandpa on my mother’s side all struggled with depression. As my mom and I made connections with each other we discovered that I have been dealing with anxiety since I was little. Since my mental illnesses did not fully surface until later in my adolescence my development was not greatly hindered. However, there was sort of a pause in my cognitive growth. I was constantly tired and run down, and for a while I struggled to eat and keep myself nourished.  My motivation for every aspect of life quickly plummeted and I was unable to do some of the various activities I participated in before. While, personally, my development was not greatly influenced by my mental disorders, I can understand how having other mental illnesses can greatly affect one’s development.

For me, the biggest impact of my depression and anxiety was the history of mental illness in my family as well as the new environment I was put in. Freud, Erikson, Bronfenbrenner, Watson and Piaget all created theories and perspective that add to the causes and affects of mental illnesses on the development of individuals through their adolescent years.



Works Cited:

Aneshensel, C. F.,  Sucoff, C. A. (1996). The Neighborhood Context of Adolescent Mental Health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior,  37, 293-310.

Feldman, R. S. (2015). Child Development (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

McLeod, S. A. (2013). Erik Erikson. Retrieved from

McLeod, S. A. (2016). Behaviorist Approach. Retrieved from

McLeod, S. A. (2015). Jean Piaget. Retrieved from

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