When people think of mental illness, they often think of imaginary voices or terrifying killers like Charles Manson. However, psycho-logical disorders are not always that dramatic—or that clear-cut. Suppose a person drinks heavily on weekends and doesn’t spend any time with his family. Another person keeps to a strict diet in order to stay thin and still isn’t satisfied with her body weight. Do these people have mental disorders?

The question of what classifies as a mental disorder is often difficult to answer. Psychologists use many criteria to evaluate and diagnose these disorders, and they use a detailed system to classify them into categories. The origins of psychological disorders are varied and often unclear, and understanding these disorders involves an understanding of biology, culture, and personality. Many factors help make us who we are, and those same factors may, in certain people, prove precarious.

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