Status Examination

By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 03-03-2010

When a person is
brought to the emergency room of a hospital, certain vital signs of physical
health are taken. Essentially blood pressure, pulse rate, respirations, and
temperature are checked. Then neural check may be done; reflexes may be
checked; further tests related to the reason for admission may be ordered.
These checks and tests if done aid in the proper diagnosis and formulation of a
treatment plan. Similarly there are vital signs of mental and spiritual health.
In this short article vital signs of emotional or mental health is explored.

When an
emotionally disordered or mentally deranged person is seen by a psychiatrist or
a clinical psychologist, a mental status examination is performed. Through this
assessment a person’s reality testing is checked. What is looked for is a
person’s ability to adjust, adapt, and live according to norms in a given
society, function meaningfully, relate to others (family, friends, co-workers,
persons in authority, subordinates, other members in society), work, dispense
one’s obligations, enjoy one’s privileges, and experience satisfaction,
pleasure, and happiness in life. Typically a person’s orientation to the three
spheres, (place, person, and time), insight and judgment (good or poor), affect
(appropriate, inappropriate, flat, restricted), thought (rational, irrational,
peculiar), intellectual ability, personality disorders, unusual experiences,
irrational fears (phobias), obsessions and compulsions, traumatic or
catastrophic experiences, losses, addictions, and substance use are
evaluated.  Let us look at a few
examples.  To a question: In what way an orange and a banana alike?one
might answer: both are fruits,
another might answer: both have peels,
and a third might answer: one is round
and the other islong. These three answers indicate three distinct reasoning
levels of a person. To a question: Would
you jump into a lake to save a drowning person knowing that you cannotswim?if
the answer is yes, it indicates poor
judgment. If one answers yes to a
question, Do yousee things that are not
there? We know that person has visual hallucinations. A comprehensive
interview consisting of detailed and probing questions as well as clinical
observations during the interview can elicit an accurate diagnosis in view of
an adequate treatment plan.

In sum: an
emotionally healthy person is oriented, has bright affect, good insight and
judgment, is able to enjoy work and life, have fun, develop and maintain good
(not exploitative) relationships, and problem-solve, has good decision-making
skills and a good attitude toward life, has a high level of energy, and is
flexible enough to adapt to new situations and to compromise without
sacrificing one’s values, and has good coping skills in stressful situations.  

About The Author

Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti

Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.