Reflecting on your experiences of life to date, what instances of abnormal behaviour or mental disorder have you observed? What do they have in common? In other words, what, for you, defines abnormality?
If you see someone behaving in an abnormal way, does this seem threatening to you? If you do make links between behaviour that is out of the ordinary and a potential threat, why do you believe that this is?
What would you say to someone who maintained that mental disorder was due to demonic possession?
What are the major differences that you can think of between everyday anxiety and anxiety that might be labelled as abnormal? What signs would demonstrate to you that someone else was suffering from an anxiety disorder?
Think of any instances of phobic behaviour that you have seen. Are these genuine and debilitating phobias or simply someone expressing a dislike? If a family member or a friend was suffering from a phobia, what help would you attempt to give them?
Have you ever experienced generalised anxiety, that is, anxiety that does not seem to be attached to any particular event or circumstance? How do you think that such anxiety comes about?
What do you think are the main differences between being depressed and simply feeling down or between being manic and simply feeling elated? Do you believe that it is possible for someone to simply 'snap out' of a depression? If not, why not?
Think of people that you have known who have suffered from depression. What do you believe to have been the causes? Do these causes have anything in common? Why do you think that depression is so common in our society? Is it likely to be as common in other (say, Eastern) societies?
Which of the various explanations suggested to account for schizophrenia do you consider to be the most likely?
Have you ever experienced any of the splits with reality that characterise schizophrenia, even in minor form? If you have, what do you think might have brought them about?
Can you imagine a culture in which schizophrenic ways of behaving were the norm? Is it possible that schizophrenics in our culture are simply out of joint with the place and the time?
■ Have you or anyone that you know ever experienced something so psychologically traumatic that it might have prompted some sort of dissociation? In this sense, are reactions such as day-dreaming a mild form of dissociation? Relat-edly, do you ever feel that there might be a Jekyll and Hyde aspect to some people, that at times their personality changes?
Work through each of the 10 personality disorders and make two lists - one of people that you have known that fit into the category and one of any impulses you might have felt in that direction. What do you think might have prompted any such impulses on your part?
Do you think that any of the personality disorders would preclude someone living a relatively normal life, even though people around might be suffering?
To what extent have your previous views of abnormal behaviour or mental illness been shaped by society in the form of news items, fiction, and so on?
To what extent do you believe that people should be obliged to receive treatment for mental illness? What criteria would you use in making such decisions?
^CHAPTER SEVENTEEN ►
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This guide Don't Panic has tips and additional information on what you should do when you are experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. With so much going on in the world today with taking care of your family, working full time, dealing with office politics and other things, you could experience a serious meltdown. All of these things could at one point cause you to stress out and snap.