Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment…
-Lao Tzu.

Mental Disorders are a group of illnesses that are associated with abnormal psychological or behavioral manifestations in terms of emotions, thoughts, cognition, sensory perceptions, beliefs and behavior.

These disorders have peculiar ways in which they manifest and this is medically termed as symptoms and signs.

The symptoms and signs of mental disorders help in defining the particular mental disorder.

Unfortunately, some or most of these symptoms are not well understood by the populace. Hence, the disorders are given different interpretations.

This gives credence to the need to educate the public on the symptoms & signs of these disorders with hope that this knowledge will enable people to recognize the problem and then seek for help in appropriate medical facilities.


1. Distortion is sleeping pattern (Insomnia and hyper-somnia); one of the earliest symptoms indicating Psychological disturbance is distortion or change in sleeping pattern of an individual.
This change could be in form of lack of sleep (insomnia) or too much sleep (hypersomnia).
Insomnia could either be total (no sleep at all) or intermittent (the person wakes up at short intervals) or terminal (the individual wakes up earlier than their usual time of waking up).

Hypersomnia refers to either excessive daytime sleepiness or excessive time spent sleeping. It is a condition in which a person has trouble staying awake during the day.

2. Hallucinations;
This is a term used to describe a perception experienced without external stimuli. This symptom could occur in the five senses namely; Auditory, visual, olfactory, gustatory and tactile.
This literarily means that an individual could perceive a stimuli through any of these sensory pathways without any object or stimuli leading to the perception.

a. Auditory hallucination;
In auditory hallucination the individual could hear a voice or different voices talking to him/her directly (2nd person auditory hallucination) or voices commanding him/her to do something (command hallucination).
In 3rd person auditory hallucination the individual hears voices discussing about him/her as a 3rd person.
This hearing of strange voices that others around the person do not hear occurs in full consciousness.
That is; when the person is fully awake and not asleep
These types of symptoms indicate a severe psychological disorder.

b. Visual hallucination;
The individual sees things other people around him/her do not see.
In addition to psychological illness, this could also mean that the individual has some form of brain damage (organic brain disorder).

c. Olfactory hallucination:
Olfactory hallucination is where the sense of smell is affected. The individual perceives certain odors /scents that others around him do not perceive. This could also be due to a psychological illness or organic Brain disorder.

d. Gustatory hallucination; this is a term used in describing when an individual experiences a taste of something that is absent from their mouth.

e. Tactile hallucination; this is when an individual has a feeling in the skin without any stimuli (touch). It could either be light tactile hallucination, for example; crawling sensation in the skin, formication or deep tactile hallucination.
The deep tactile hallucination indicates more severe psychological disturbance. For example, where an individual has a feeling of having sexual intercourse with someone while he/she is alone.

3. Delusions;
Delusion is a significant symptom found in patients with major psychiatric disorder. It is a false belief strongly held by an individual despite logical reasoning and evidence contradicting the belief.

Usually, the belief is not in consonance with the individual’s religious, cultural and intellectual background.

a. Paranoid delusion;
Here, the individual believes that people around him/her have the intent of harming them in different ways and therefore becomes suspicious of everyone around them either at work, place of worship, their neighborhood or even at home.
In some cases the person might stop eating meals prepared by someone else. Some may force the family to relocate to a new place. This may continue for months or years until the family seeks for appropriate medical attention.

b. Grandiose delusion;
Persons who have grandiose delusions think much highly of themselves than what they are. Some may believe that they have supernatural powers or that they are superhuman. They also take risks and engage in risky behaviours. These delusions usually in some cases are associated with expansive living. If they are in business or in a place of authority, they could be reckless with finance and may tip the organization or the people they are governing into debt.

c. Delusions of Jealousy;
Persons who suffer from this type of delusion are highly suspicious of their spouse. He /she monitor the spouse through the spouse’s phone, handbag, and emails. They can even go as far as checking the undergarments of their spouses. They have such unbelievable belief of the spouses’ amorous relationship with others and are always looking for evidence to confirm their belief. This in most cases results in divorce, physical abuse or even murder.

To be continued…..
Dr. Uchendu Ifedilichukwu Uzoeghe
Consultant Neuropsychiatrist

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