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NURS 8302 Discussion Factors That Influence the Development of Psychopathology

NURS 8302 Discussion Factors That Influence the Development of Psychopathology

Psychopathology is defined as either the study of mental disorders or the presence of behaviors and experiences that may suggest mental illness or psychological impairment. The biological theory of psychopathology argues that mental disorders have an organic or physical cause and focuses on genetics and neurotransmitters. According to Lebowitz and Appelbaum (2019), biological factors, including genetic essentialism and neuroessentialism, influence the development of psychopathology. Genetic explanations for a particular characteristic tend to result in the belief that it is absolute and is caused basically and mainly by genes. Therefore, genetic factors influence the development of psychopathology through unique, immutable essences located in the brain or DNA (Lebowitz & Appelbaum, 2019). This causes abnormal symptoms and behavior in an individual. Besides, genetics predispose a person to a mental illness, although the disorders are triggered by stress.

Neuroscientific factors influencing the development of psychopathology include imbalances of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and acetylcholine. Mental disorders are a result of a dysfunction of neurotransmitter levels (Troller-Renfree et al., 2018). For instance, abnormal levels of dopamine activity such as reduced dopamine levels are associated with ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder, while increased levels are attributed to schizophrenia (Troller-Renfree et al., 2018). Besides, dysfunction in serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine is associated with certain mental illnesses and their associated neural networks. This includes major depression, phobias, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

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Psychological factors, including behavioral and cognitive processes, emotional and developmental elements, also influence the development of psychopathology. Cognitive deficits affect processes such as thinking, perception, memory, motivation, language, and skilled movements (Troller-Renfree et al., 2018). They may influence psychopathology by affecting individuals’ ability to pay attention, remember and recall information, process and respond to information quickly, think critically, solve problems, and initiate speech

Emotions influence mental illnesses secondary to cognitive components that affect an individual’s judgment causing a wide range of mood disorders. Developmental factors, including prenatal, history of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, bullying, and domestic violence, have been associated with the development of psychopathology (Einstein & Klepacz, 2017). Mental illnesses can develop if an infant is exposed to drugs, alcohol, or infections in utero, which disrupt early fetal brain progression (McLaughlin et al., 2020). Stressful events influence the development of mental disorders, mainly mood and anxiety disorders. Furthermore, poor parenting influences disorders such as depression and anxiety (McLaughlin et al., 2020). Child maltreatment is associated with both adverse mental health outcomes and poor responses to mental health treatment. Children exposed to maltreatment are at risk for developing externalizing behavioral problems manifested by reactive aggression (McLaughlin et al., 2020).  Separation or bereavement in families, and childhood trauma, influence disorders such as psychosis and schizophrenia.

NURS 8302 Discussion Factors That Influence the Development of Psychopathology

Socio-cultural factors such as poverty, low socioeconomic status, lack of access to health services, inadequate nutrition have been associated with the development of psychopathology. These factors lead to stress, which is a major factor that contributes to mental illnesses such as mood disorders (Einstein & Klepacz, 2017). Besides, gender influences the development of psychopathology, with some disorders being more prevalent in one gender than the other. For instance, men have a higher risk of developing personality disorders, while women have a higher risk of developing depressive disorders.

Interpersonal factors associated with the development of psychopathology include being emotionally detached and hopeless. Individuals who are emotionally detached find it hard to empathize with other people or share their emotions (Einstein & Klepacz, 2017). They may try to rationalize logic in a situation or event where there is no logical explanation. Besides, they tend to emphasize the value of their independence and may become neurotic. Self-esteem can also influence the development of psychopathology. Too low and too high self-esteem can be detrimental to a person’s mental health (Einstein & Klepacz, 2017). An individual’s self-esteem plays a major role in their overall mood and quality of life. Consequently, persons with poor self-esteem may be aggressive, violent and develop anxiety, self-deprecating behavior, and other mental illnesses.




Einstein, E. H., & Klepacz, L. (2017). What Influences Mental Illness? Discrepancies between Medical Education and Conception. Journal of medical education and curricular development4, 2382120517705123. https://doi.org/10.1177/2382120517705123

Lebowitz, M. S., & Appelbaum, P. S. (2019). Biomedical Explanations of Psychopathology and Their Implications for Attitudes and Beliefs about Mental Disorders. Annual review of clinical psychology15, 555–577. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050718-095416

McLaughlin, K. A., Colich, N. L., Rodman, A. M., & Weissman, D. G. (2020). Mechanisms linking childhood trauma exposure and psychopathology: a transdiagnostic model of risk and resilience. BMC medicine18, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-020-01561-6

Troller-Renfree, S., Zeanah, C. H., Nelson, C. A., & Fox, N. A. (2018). Neural and Cognitive Factors Influencing the Emergence of Psychopathology: Insights from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project. Child development perspectives12(1), 28–33. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12251

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