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In attempting to define "maladjustment" as a psychological disorder the American Psychiatric Association admits that the condition as it is currently diagnosed and treated is exceptionally ambiguous. Due to its comprehensive definition, maladjustment can be generally classified as an "adjustment disorder" (AD) which is "1) a maladaptive reaction 2) to a psychosocial stressor 3) that remits when the stressor remits or an adaption has taken place" (Strain, 1996, p. 1034). However, critics of the AD diagnosis have expressed their dissatisfaction with its 1) its "lack of explicit operational criteria" and 2) its usage as a "residual "wastebasket" for cases that do not fulfill the criteria for other mental disorder diagnoses" (Strain, 1996, p. 1033). Yet since two slightly more differentiated categories of maladjustment have been presented, neurosis and psychosis, these will constitute the main focus of this brief overview.

Neurosis is generally understood as any of various mental functional disorders characterized by anxiety, compulsions, phobias, depression or disassociation. In Adaption to life: How the best and the brightest came of age Vaillant concludes that psychopathology is a part of everyday life (Vaillant, 1977, p. 3). Hartmann in his celebrated 1937 monograph Ego psychology and the problem of adaption concludes that health and adaptation are inseparable (Vaillant, 1977, p. 4). Neurosis settles in when the need for adjustment is mishandled, ei

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Category: Psychology - M

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