It is normal to feel anxious from time to time. We can all be a little nervous before a first date, anxious for economic reasons or for our future job. Worry is a natural and common human emotion.
But, in some cases, it becomes excessive. Managing daily life becomes extremely difficult when negative or obsessive thoughts constantly invade the mind. This excess of obsessive negativity is known as neurotic behavior.
There are many different circumstances that fall under neurosis. Therefore, it is common to speak of specific neuroses; it helps people understand what specific psychological condition is being referred to. In this article we describe the different types of neurosis that are included in the medical literature.
What is neurosis?
Neurosis – or neuroticism – is defined as a psychological trait or pattern of behavior that a person has tendency to emotional instability and developing maladaptive relationships with otherswith myself and with the environment.
Neurosis is a complex subject and has been constantly discussed in the field of psychology. Depending on the context, this abstract concept can refer to several ideas. This happens because over the years different meanings of the behavior pattern have been derived by mental health professionals and also by other fields outside of the clinical realm. The term is therefore confusing.
It is common to call someone neurotic who cannot properly regulate their emotions. However, this does not mean that he has symptoms of a psychological disorder. For example, we can describe a person who has difficulty making a decision as a neurotic person.
Neurosis is not a disease per se, but rather a psychological concept that refers to it difficulty relating to oneself and the world. These existential difficulties are caused by the awareness of one’s own limitations and impending death.
Our species has the ability to use symbols and think abstractly. We are able to desire, to choose and to perceive our own transcendence. In some cases, this inherent human search for meaning is accompanied by emotional unease and anxiety. When these symptoms make it difficult to adapt to the environment, maintain healthy relationships or enjoy life. This is when we speak of neuroticism.
As we can see, this crisis of meaning is accompanied by high anxiety can encompass different psychological disorders. In this type of disorders, contact with reality is not lost and they differ from psychotic disorders.
What types of neurosis exist?
As we have seen, neurosis is a term with multiple meanings due to its broad definition. Neurotic behaviors and emotional responses to stress have historically been classified into three main categories: phobic, hysterical, and obsessive. Each of these terms refers to a different relationship with the tensions of existence, including decision-making, uncertainty, attachments, and feelings of emptiness. These relationships can cause emotional pain in some people, which these behavioral classifications address in different ways.
Different specific mental disorders fall under the general umbrella of neurosis and its types. This type of disorder is related to unbearable anxiety or reduced rational thinking due to emotional turmoil. These conditions are sometimes classified as neurosis; however, the term is rarely used in modern scientific terminology due to declining popularity. Instead, specific disorders called phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are usually referred to by their clinical number.
1. Obsessional neurosis
A person suffering from this form of neurosis experiences constant mental anguish due to repetitive and intrusive thoughts. These thoughts cannot be suppressed and cause great frustration, and may cause the patient to engage in repetitive behaviors in hopes of alleviating the discomfort.
People who experience this psychological phenomenon are afraid of facing new feelings of anxiety. This causes them to try to keep almost everything under control around them to avoid situations that could cause these seizures.
2. Phobic neurosis
People with phobic neurosis often experience significant anxiety when exposed to certain specific stimuli, for example, flying, public speaking, certain animals… Therefore, the main symptom of these disorders is a pathological tendency to avoid triggering situations, which can create disorders comparable to the symptoms themselves. In other words, trying to avoid situations that cause stress and anxiety can actually cause more stress and anxiety.
From psychology, this type of neurosis is currently classified as a type of phobia. These phobias are divided into specific phobias and social phobias.
3. Depressive neurosis
Depressive neurosis significantly affects a person’s mood. In general, this reaction stems from an experience considered to be extremely negative and harmful. Symptoms of depressive neurosis include frequent crying, general lack of motivation, loss of ability to appreciate, and strong thoughts that everything is pointless and there is no way to recover.
4. Hysterical neurosis
The idea that repressed desires lead to psychological disorders is one of the oldest concepts in psychology. This conception was dominant in the psychiatric community of the Victorian era and in the theories of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. According to this thought, hysteria in neurotic patients was caused by fear unsatisfied desires that have generated somatic alterations such as false deafness or blindness. Currently, this concept has become obsolete and its symptoms are attributed to different psychological disorders listed in textbooks.
Neurotic personality and mental illness
As we have seen, people classified as neurotic do not suffer from a psychological disorder in the strict sense. Neuroticism it is one of the five personality traits as well as extroversion, kindness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness. These refer to a specific set of common characteristics found in most people around the world.
Neuroticism is not a diagnosable medical condition; instead, it’s simply a personality type where that trait predominates. This trait favors the appearance of various negative behaviors. Neurotics believe that different situations are much worse than they really are, which makes them more susceptible to stress. It causes them to sit frequently irritated and angry
Certain mental health conditions can also cause people to exhibit neurotic behaviors. In addition, a personality with a high degree of neuroticism can also promote the appearance of certain types of disorders such as internalization disorders.
Causes, diagnosis and treatment of neurosis
As we have seen, in the different types of neurosis, anxiety manifests itself in different ways, but they have similar causes and treatment. Emotional instability can be favored by certain circumstances. The factors we mention below help to develop neurotic personalities; however, they do not always appear. These include:
- Family breakdown.
- Affective deprivation or emotional deficiencies.
- Overprotection or insufficient care in childhood.
- Genetic factors.
- Different distressing events during development (including abuse).
- Social, environmental and cultural conditions unfavorable.
In most cases, patients who suffer from neurosis benefit enormously from psychotherapeutic treatment. Various strategies are used in the psychological treatments of neuroses; however, each patient is treated individually due to condition-specific differences. The therapy generally consists of developing sessionswhich aims to change the way patients see themselves, the environment and the circumstances around them.
There are different approaches to treating neuroses. A well-known method is psychoanalytic therapy, which helps patients understand the underlying causes of their symptoms. Psychoanalysis allows patients to grow and develop a better understanding of themselves.
Alternatively, some professionals believe that neuroses result from learned behaviors. In this case, patients can treat their symptoms by desensitization; desensitization therapy exposes patients to their fears in small incremental doses over several weeks. Another approach to learning new behaviors is through modeling; a patient learns by observing more effective examples in other people.
Some neurotic patients may need combined pharmacological treatment, as well as psychotherapy. Generally, the use of medication is necessary in patients who have severe symptoms such as depression or anxiety.
The primary goal of psychotherapeutic intervention is to improve the patient’s quality of life. This leads to a reduction in the frequency and severity of symptoms. It also allows the patient to adjust their mental patterns and behaviors to better cope with everyday life.
Although specific preventive measures against neurosis have not been described. Healthy lifestyle habits, such as getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well, usually help prevent neurosis.