I came across a new psychological philosophy term today, it was when I was listening to my usual Podcast All in the Mind, the topic was personal construct psychology. I must admit I was compelled on hearing the central tenets. Like existentialism this orientation leans toward philosophical underpinnings, the therapist aims to avoid imposing opinion and tries to facilitate the patient to discover and realize their own constructs and how they are indeed modifiable. In my opinion this isn’t radically new or different. I think of some of the humanist and existential perspectives definitely exhibit clear crossover intent. I guess when initially evaluate the various modes of psychology and healing they appear excitingly different and unique initially but the more I delve into each and understand underlying principles and thesis, I realize that so much compelling similarities manifest – in fact I really think the same when I encounter the human condition, underneath so many disparate personalities lie ridiculously similar urges, impulses, fear and desires. In my own experience with my Christian faith and churches I sometimes also discover a similar phenomenon, it’s disturbing how similar a high Anglican and a high Catholic service actually are! It got me thinking about all the various forms of therapy and orientations of therapy: psychodynamic, CBT, ACT, DBT, existential, music therapy, art therapy, self help, mutual help, ahhhh….so much and how often I meet people hell bent on the idea that certain modes of therapy, and only certain modes, will unlock their shackles of low mood and lingering clouds of depression, disease and bodily and psychological malfunctions.
How I Beat Depression reinforces the fact that very rarely a single mode of therapy is going to be mutually exclusive and capable of solely causing a holistic and lasting recovery from depression. I always believe a genuine recovery is made when someone actually tries to live a balanced life and puts his or her own recovery in a proper perspective and not view it as the be all and end all. In so many cases I honestly feel that the person’s own expectations and believe about the efficacy and capability of certain treatment largely dictates the actual effectiveness of the treatment; the good old self-fulfilling prophecy is so true, the placebo factor always seems to prevail. How many times do people try up to 25 different types of anti-depressant medication, searching for the ‘right one’, or trial dozens of therapists and therapies searching for the right one. Unfortunately this rough and useless path is so common for so many. I work 2 days at a week at a private psychiatric hospital and I see first hand how tragically common is this trajectory is, a colossal waste of time for the person and the professional alike, a classic case of both parties being overburdened.
I think it’s so tempting in this day an age to refine, refine and refine treatment options in order to create highly exclusive and tailored treatment options for complex needs and unfortunately because of the tendency for the DSM 4 (turning 5)
to inflate sometimes harmless erratic behaviour into diagnosable and clinical disorders, ‘complex needs’ proliferate in the mental health system. Got PTSD, depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse? Easy, says today modern thinking: go see a PTSD trauma specialist psychologist, a psychiatrist for anti-depressant medication, an anxiety disorder group for management of anxiety and a CBT group or AA for alcohol use. On the surface this appears logical and orderly plan of attack, a multidisciplined approach to a complex need, tacking each separate problem with a unique specialist designed solely for that problem. While for some this approach may indeed work – as long as each mode practices ethically and professionally and aims to phase itself out in due course – what I think is always inherently risky is that by so compartmentalising treatment to such a great extent, the sufferers own personal connections between certain behaviours and mental states vanish, or at least become distorted and confused. Not only that, many facets of treatment entails lots of time spent in treatment, this means lots of meetings, appointments becomes overwhelming and all-consuming and always places the persons own mental health and recovery always at centre stage, paradoxically many mental health conditions arise out of a misplaced importance of self, the tendency of becoming beholden to so many meetings and therapy can often perpetuate and reinforce the egos misplaced sense of self.
But this is always a fine line isn’t it, what is healthy therapy and what is unhealthy dependence inducing emotional hugging? How I Beat believes it comes back to that word again: holistic. Standing back from rigidly analysing and becoming obsessed with one’s own recovery from depression (a function of ruminative analytical depressive traits) and the long and ultimately futile search for the elusive and non existent magic bullet, letting go of these limiting mindsets and making a bold, brave and radical decision to learn from other people who have recovered (mutual help), with the assistance of professionals when needed, and embracing the path of genuine growth. Many choose the wide and overcrowded path of over-medical quicksand pits, some choose the real path of personal growth and transformation. We hope your path is the latter 🙂
- Exercise and depression – Always worth going over this again! (howibeatdepression.com)