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1021 Mental Disorders

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,021 – Mental Disorders.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,021. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode. What is the Learning Guide? Well, I’m glad you asked. The Learning Guide contains a complete transcript of everything I say on this episode – well, everything that Lucy and I say on this episode. The Learning Guide also contains vocabulary, definitions, sample sentences, cultural notes, and other interesting information to help you understand this episode. Go to our website for more information.

This episode is about mental disorders – problems that people have psychologically, mentally. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Dr. Miao: At Berthiaume College, we take mental health issues very seriously. That’s why we have so many mental health services on campus.

Dean: Such as?

Dr. Miao: Well, for example, there is a meeting tonight of our support group for anorexics and bulimics. Tomorrow night, I’ll be speaking to a group of students about depression to make them aware of the warning signs.

Dean: Those are very important issues.

Dr. Miao: Yes, they are. In this student health center, we see cases ranging from social anxiety disorder to schizophrenia. In addition to serious mental disorders, college students are at risk of developing many types of antisocial behaviors resulting from the pressures of college and the stress of being on their own.

Dean: I know what you mean. One of my roommates copes with stress by binge drinking. My other roommate has become obsessive-compulsive. You should see how clean our apartment is.

Dr. Miao: And you? How have you been dealing with the stress?

Dean: Me? I think I’m the only well-adjusted one in the group.

Dr. Miao: Are you sure? You seem to have developed a nervous habit of pulling your hairs out one at a time.

Dean: What?! No, I haven’t.

Dr. Miao: Denying you have a problem is often a sign that you have a problem.

Dean: That’s crazy!

Dr. Miao: Shh! We don’t use the c-word here. Come with me.

[end of dialogue]

Dr. Miao opens our dialogue by saying, “At Berthiaume College, we take mental health issues very seriously. “Mental health issues” refers to problems that someone may have due to psychological or emotional issues, things that perhaps relate to how well they react to stress or to difficult situations. “Mental health” is a general term referring to one’s psychological and emotional wellness or well-being. Dr. Miao works at a college, “Berthiaume College.” She says, “that’s why we have so many mental health services on campus.” Dr. Miao is talking to a student named Dean.

Dean wants to know what kind of mental health issues Dr. Miao is talking about. Dr. Miao says, “Well, for example, there is a meeting tonight of our support group for anorexics and bulimics.” A “support group” is a group of people who get together who all have the same problem, either a physical or a mental problem. One of the most famous support group structures in the U.S. and around the world is “Alcoholics Anonymous.” Alcoholics Anonymous is a group of people who get together in their community or their neighborhood to help each other with their problem of alcoholism.

This is a “support group for anorexics and bulimics,” however. “Anorexic” (anorexic) is an adjective used to describe a person who suffers from something called “anorexia nervosa,” which is a mental illness that causes you to eat very little and to exercise a lot in order to lose weight, but you do it to an extreme extent so that you become too thin, and in some cases, tragically, you may even die from this disorder. A “bulimic” (bulimic) is a person who suffers from something called “bulimia,” which is when you eat a lot of food and then you basically vomit it up – you throw it up – in order to maintain or lose weight.

“Tomorrow night,” Dr. Miao continues, “I’ll be speaking to a group of students about depression to make them aware of the warning signs.” “Depression” (depression) is a long period of feeling sad, often associated with lack of energy and lack of motivation. A “lack (lack) of” something means you don’t have any. So, you don’t have any energy or you don’t have any motivation – or at least, not enough to do what you need to get done.

Dr. Miao is going to talk to this group of students about the warning signs of depression. A “warning sign” is an indication that there is a problem. So, if you start gaining weight suddenly, and within a month or two, you’re 10 or 20 pounds heavier than you should be, that might be a warning sign that there’s something wrong with either the way you are eating or perhaps some problem that you are having in your body – some physical issue.

Dean says, “Those are very important issues” (the issues that Dr. Miao just mentioned). Dr. Miao continues. She says, “Yes, they are. In this student health center we see cases ranging from social anxiety disorder to schizophrenia.” “Social anxiety disorder” is a condition that causes you to fear being around other people because you are perhaps afraid of being embarrassed or of not being as good as the people around you.

“Schizophrenia” (schizophrenia) is also a mental disorder. This one is related to making it difficult or impossible for you to know what is real and what is imaginary. People with schizophrenia often react to other people and situations in strange ways because they’re imagining things that aren’t actually real. Dr. Miao is talking about the student health center at the college. A “student health center” would be a place where students go to get medical attention, to get medical help. This kind of medical help has to do with mental health.

Dr. Miao continues, “In addition to serious mental disorders, college students are at risk of developing many types of antisocial behaviors resulting from the pressures of college and the stress of being on their own.” Now, let’s break that down and talk about what that sentence means. Dr. Miao is saying that “college students are at risk of developing” certain behaviors. “To be at risk of” something means that you might be in danger of getting that thing. There is a possibility that something bad will happen to you.

The bad thing that will happen to college students is that they will develop “antisocial behaviors.” “Antisocial (antisocial) behavior” is a way of acting that doesn’t show consideration of the people around you. It’s a way of acting that may make you mean to or hurt other people around you. The word “antisocial” is also used to describe people who don’t like being around other people. I think I’m antisocial, actually. Anyway, Dr. Miao says that college students are at risk of developing these types of antisocial behaviors.

Dean says, “I know what you mean,” meaning I understand what you are saying. “One of my roommates copes with stress by binge drinking.” A “roommate” is someone that shares a room or an apartment with you. “To cope (cope) with” something means to be able to handle or deal with a difficult and challenging situation. We use this expression – this phrasal verb “to cope with” something – when we are talking about someone who has to deal with a difficult situation. “Binge (binge) drinking” is when you drink a lot of alcohol in a very short amount of time.

“My other roommate,” Dean continues, “has become obsessive-compulsive.” “To be obsessive (obsessive) – compulsive (compulsive)” is to be concerned often about very small things. When you are obsessive about something, you’re constantly thinking about it. Normally, when we talk about someone being obsessive-compulsive, we’re talking about someone who perhaps repeats certain behaviors over and over again. They may wash their hands a hundred times in order to make sure they are clean. That would perhaps be an example of an obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Dean says that his roommate has become obsessive-compulsive. He says, “You should see how clean our apartment is.” That expression “you should see” means this is a very good example – I am giving you a good example, and if you actually went to my apartment and saw it, you would understand what I’m talking about. We’ll often use that expression “you should see” when we are giving an example similar to what the other person said, and perhaps even a better case of whatever the phenomenon you’re talking about is than the person gave you.

So, someone may say, “Well, my brother is really lazy,” and you may say to that person, “Well, you should see my brother – he doesn’t even get up in the morning.” You’re giving that person an example of that situation or that phenomenon that is perhaps even a better example of what you are talking about than what the other person gave. So, Dr. Miao is giving examples of conditions, mental disorders, and Dean is saying he understands what Dr. Miao is talking about and then gives her some examples from his own personal experience.

Dr. Miao then asks Dean, “And you? How have you been dealing with the stress?” Dean says, “Me? I think I’m the only well-adjusted one in the group.” “To be well-adjusted” is to be normal – to be adapted to some situation and to behave in a way that is appropriate and acceptable. Dr. Miao says, “Are you sure? You seem to have developed a nervous habit of pulling your hairs out one at a time.” Dr. Miao is saying that Dean has a nervous habit. A “habit” is something you do over and over again.

You may have a habit of brushing your teeth every morning. That’s a good habit. A “nervous habit” is something you do, perhaps even without realizing it, because you are nervous – because you are, perhaps, under stress. I have a nervous habit. I tap my feet. I take my foot and I pound it against the ground. My wife absolutely hates my nervous habit. She’s always telling me to stop tapping my feet. “To tap” (tap) is to move your foot up and down so that it hits the floor or the ground.

Anyway, enough about my mental problems – back to our dialogue. Dr. Miao is telling Dean that he has this nervous habit of pulling out his hairs one at a time – taking the hair, I’m guessing (I’m hoping) on his head and pulling it out. Dean says, “What?! No, I haven’t,” meaning he has not developed this nervous habit. Dr. Miao says, “Denying you have a problem is often a sign that you have a problem.” “To deny” (deny) something is to say that something is not true, to say that it doesn’t exist.

Dr. Miao is saying that Dean is denying that he has a problem, and that when you say you don’t have a problem, this is a sign that you have a problem. This is something that psychologists like to say and that has sort of entered into the general public view of mental disorders or problems: people who deny they have a problem have a problem.

Of course, the other possibility is that a person who denies he has a problem doesn’t have a problem, but we live in a world now affected by psychological theory, and this is one that at least is popular among a lot of people – that denying the problem means perhaps that you actually have that problem. And I’m sure that happens, as well.

Dean says, “That’s crazy.” Dr. Miao says, “Shh! We don’t use the c-word here. Come with me.” Dean is reacting to Dr. Miao’s statement, saying that she’s crazy, she’s out of her head, she’s nuts. “Crazy” is a very negative way to describe someone who may have a mental disorder.

So, Dr. Miao says, “We don’t use the c-word here.” The “c-word” here means crazy. When there’s a word or a term that you don’t want to say out loud, you can use an expression or a phrase like this by just using the first letter of the word. It’s usually a word that is a bad word or that you don’t want to talk about or say out loud, perhaps because it is rude or unacceptable.

So, someone might say, “I got in trouble by saying the f-word in school.” The “f-word” refers to a word that begins with “F” and in this case is considered a very bad word to say in English. It’s a four-letter word that ends with “K.” You probably have heard it. So, that phrase has become popular now when people want to mention a word without actually saying the word, and that’s what Dr. Miao is doing here.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Dr. Miao: At Berthiaume College, we take mental health issues very seriously. That’s why we have so many mental health services on campus.

Dean: Such as?

Dr. Miao: Well, for example, there is a meeting tonight of our support group for anorexics and bulimics. Tomorrow night, I’ll be speaking to a group of students about depression to make them aware of the warning signs.

Dean: Those are very important issues.

Dr. Miao: Yes, they are. In this student health center, we see cases ranging from social anxiety disorder to schizophrenia. In addition to serious mental disorders, college students are at risk of developing many types of antisocial behaviors resulting from the pressures of college and the stress of being on their own.

Dean: I know what you mean. One of my roommates copes with stress by binge drinking. My other roommate has become obsessive-compulsive. You should see how clean our apartment is.

Dr. Miao: And you? How have you been dealing with the stress?

Dean: Me? I think I’m the only well-adjusted one in the group.

Dr. Miao: Are you sure? You seem to have developed a nervous habit of pulling your hairs out one at a time.

Dean: What?! No, I haven’t.

Dr. Miao: Denying you have a problem is often a sign that you have a problem.

Dean: That’s crazy!

Dr. Miao: Shh! We don’t use the c-word here. Come with me.

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter is definitely the most well-adjusted person here at the Center for Educational Development. Her name is Dr. Lucy Tse. Thank you, Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
mental health – an assessment of a person’s psychological and emotional wellness, especially how one reacts to stress and how one interacts with other people

* Do you think people with serious mental health problems should be allowed to own guns?

support group – a group of people who suffer from a similar illness, problem, or experience and meet regularly to discuss it and help each other

* When Vic’s wife died, he started attending a support group for young widowers.

anorexic – a person who suffers from anorexia nervosa, a mental illness that causes one to eat very little and exercises a lot to lose weight, becoming extremely thin, but still believing that one is fat

* I’ve never seen Jennifer eat anything except plain lettuce. Do you think she’s anorexic?

bulimic – a person who suffers from bulimia, a disease that causes one to eat a lot of food, but then vomit it (throw it up) to avoid gaining weight

* Bulimics can have major health problems because the body doesn’t get proper nutrition.

depression – long periods of unexplained feelings of sadness and a lack of energy and motivation

* A lot of new mothers suffer from depression as they adjust to their new lifestyle.

warning sign – an indication that there is a problem

* These small tremors could be warning signs that the volcano is going to erupt again.

social anxiety disorder – a condition that causes one to fear being around other people because one is afraid of being embarrassed or teased, and feels inferior to or not as good as other people

* People who have social anxiety disorder find it extremely difficult to meet new people and make friends.

schizophrenia – a mental disorder that makes it difficult or impossible to know what is real and what is imaginary, and negatively affects how one reacts to other people and situations

* Clarke was diagnosed with schizophrenia when doctors realized he believed he was speaking with Albert Einstein.

at risk of – in danger of; with a possibility of something bad happening

* People who eat a lot of salt and fat are at risk of having a heart attack.

antisocial behavior – a way of acting that does not show consideration for the thoughts and feelings of other people

* Paurin demonstrates antisocial behavior, often threatening her colleagues and making them feel extremely uncomfortable.

to cope with – to be able to handle or deal with something that is difficult and challenging

* How is Ophelia coping with her mother’s death?

binge drinking – the practice of drinking a lot of alcohol in a very short period of time

* If you often have four or five drinks at a time, you might have a problem with binge drinking.

obsessive-compulsive – a mental disorder that causes one to excessively worry about things and engage in repetitive, uncontrolled behaviors

* Some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder spend hours washing their hands every day.

well-adjusted – accustomed and adapted to a situation or environment, meeting general expectations for how one should appear and behave

* Their children appear to be happy, well-adjusted kids who love playing with others.

nervous habit – an action or behavior that one unconsciously performs repeatedly, especially when experiencing stress or worry

* Jenna has a nervous habit of biting her nails when she’s working under a deadline.

to deny – to say that something is not true; to not recognize the existence or reality of something

* The man denied stealing the money, even thought three people said they saw him do it.

(letter)-word – a phrase used to avoid saying a rude, unacceptable, or secret word, using only the first letter as an indication of what that word might be

* When I was a kid, my parents punished me for saying the f-word.

Comprehension Questions
1. How will Dr. Miao make the students aware of the warning signs of depression?
a) He’ll show them where the signs are for the mental health building.
b) He’ll inform them about treatment options for depression.
c) He’ll teach them about the symptoms of depression.

2. What does Dr. Miao mean when she says, “We don’t use the c-word here”?
a) She doesn’t want Dean to shout.
b) She doesn’t like people to use the word “crazy.”
c) She wants all of their services to be confidential.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
warning sign

The phrase “warning sign,” in this podcast, means an indication that there is a problem: “Falling sales could be a warning sign that our competitors are offering a superior product.” The phrase “a sign of the times” is an indication of how people live nowadays, or a description of modern life: “Small children playing with tablet computers are just a sign of the times.” The phrase “sign of life” is an indication that a person or organism is alive: “Unfortunately, by the time the paramedics arrived at the scene of the accident, they couldn’t find any signs of life.” Finally, the phrase “tell-tale sign” is an indication or clue that something bad has happened: “The girl’s sudden change in behavior at school is a tell-tale sign that she may be having problems at home.”

well-adjusted

In this podcast, the phrase “well-adjusted” means accustomed and adapted to a situation or environment, and meeting general expectations for how one should appear and behave: “Damian seems surprisingly well-adjusted, given what a difficult childhood he had.” As a verb, “to adjust” means to adapt to something or become familiar and comfortable with it: “How long did it take you to adjust to life in the big city?” The verb “to adjust” also means to change something a little bit to improve it: “Can you adjust the focus of the camera lens?” Or, “When driving a rental car, always adjust the mirrors and seat position before you start the car.” Finally, the phrase “to adjust” can mean to move a piece of clothing to make it more attractive or more comfortable: “Here, let me adjust your necktie.”

Culture Note
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is sometimes called the “psychiatrist’s bible,” where a psychiatrist is a doctor who studies mental health problems and can prescribe medications for them. The DSM was first created in 1952 and is now in its fifth “edition” (revision of a book that has been published multiple times).

The DSM “standardizes” (makes the same) “diagnoses” (a doctor’s assessment of what is wrong with a patient) for psychiatric “disorders” (health problems). Specifically, the DSM “classifies” (groups by related types) mental disorders, presents their characteristics, and “assigns” (names) “codes” (strings of numbers and/or letters) to each disorder. This allows psychiatrists, researchers, insurers, and others to share information about a patient’s diagnosis and treatment quickly and easily.

Some people “criticize” (say bad things about) the DSM because it classifies mental disorders based on their “symptoms” (how a condition affects one’s body or behavior) instead of the “causes” (what makes something happen) of the disorder. Other people say that the DSM has a “cultural bias” such that the diagnoses do not “account for” consider expectations of behavior for people from other cultures. The most recent edition has been criticized for “medicalizing normality” (viewing normal behavior as a medical problem) and increasing the likelihood that more people will use psychiatric drugs.

“Despite these criticisms” (even thought these negative things are being said), the DSM “remains” (continues to be) an important tool for psychiatrists in their work with patients, colleagues, and health system administrators.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - b