Individual Life Support.
I am always in your corner throughout the process of recovery, from your program’s inception through your core-work, your neural network restructuring, the imple-mentation, and onto your recovery for as long as it takes. Your disorder has impacted your life in varying degrees since adolescence; recovery is a long-term commitment. I am your guide, your teacher, and your companion. I am with you every step of the way.
What is a mental ‘disorder’ in the wellness model of recovery? A mental disorder is any of the many neuroses that negatively impacts your emotional wellbeing and quality of life. It is defined as the inability to function healthily or satisfactorily and it is correctible. There are nine types of depression, several anxiety disorders, nine obsessive-compulsive disorders, five types of stress response, and ten personality disorders sharing similar traits and symptomatology. Every personality, experience, and cause of onset is unique. Every individual is affected differently, in varying degrees of intensity and impact. Rather than focusing on what is wrong with you, however, the wellness model emphasizes your character strengths and abilities that facilitate your recovery. You have always had the power to change; you need to embrace it and make it work for you. In the words of Nelson Mandela, you are the master of your fate and the captain of your destiny.
There are five steps to an effective platform of recovery. The first is customizing a program that addresses your individual needs and personality. Next is the core-work of learning the techniques and mechanisms that will lead you towards recovery. Simultaneously, we will go through the process of restructuring your neural network. The fourth step is going out, together, into the community, to implement what you are learning through positive exposure. Finally, it is achieving remission or one-year recovery. But my support does not have to stop there, because recovery is a journey, not a final destination. Replacing your negative thoughts, behaviors, and self-image with positivity and empowerment holds the key to your future wellbeing and happiness and I am with you every step of the way.
One-size-fits-all approaches are inadequate to address the complexity of the individual personality. The insularity of cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and other methods cannot comprehensively address the personality’s dynamic complexity. Recovery programs must be fluid. Addressing the complexity of the individual personality demands integrating multiple traditional and non-traditional approaches, developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation.
Any recovery program must consider your environment, hermeneutics, history, and autobiography in conjunction with your wants, needs, and aspirations. Absent that your complexity is not valued, and the treatment inadequate. A working platform showing encouraging results for most disorders is an integration of positive psychology’s optimum human functioning with CBT’s behavior modification, neuroscience’s network restructuring, and other personalized supported and non-traditional approaches. You are not your disorder. You are an individual who is impacted by a disorder―a person unique and special, unlike any other. Your recovery must reflect that individuality.
Over the past decade, I have facilitated groups and practicums for persons with depression, anxiety, and other disorders. I have created programs to facilitate recovery. 40 countries have accessed my work, and my latest article on social anxiety disorder is due for release by Springer. As an individual who battled severe social anxiety for 30 years, I understand the value and necessity of creating a platform of recovery entirely focused on your individual needs and personality.
Currently, the COVID19 crisis makes it impossible for us to go into the community and implement all the hard work we do together, but that should not discourage your recovery efforts. We will prioritize the core-learning and neural network restructuring in preparation for the implementation phase post COVID19. You will be even better prepared and more confident.
Every challenge presents opportunity, and the platform for recovery we prepare together will be even more durable. I urge you to resist the temptation to procrastinate your recovery during this crisis. The comprehensive, personalized level of commitment I provide to my clients severely limits the number of persons I can help. If your condition is affecting your emotional wellbeing and quality of life, now is the best opportunity to do something about it. Get in touch with me as soon as possible, so we can create your individualized program and begin your recovery process. You deserve the best life possible, and nothing should hold you back. For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, “It might have been.”
Healthy philautia is an essential element of self-esteem. It embraces the positive aspects of self-love and facilitates our positive self-qualities (i.e., self -compassion, -love, -regard, -respect, -value, -worth, and other intrinsic wholesome attributes). Aristotle argued in the Nichomachean Ethics that healthy philautia was the precondition for all other forms of love.[i]
In psychological terms, healthy philautia adjuncts to other modification programs engineered to overcome or replace maladaptive self-beliefs and behaviors that have supplanted positive self-qualities due to a disruption in our natural human development. Healthy philautia serves as a more focused revitalization tool in CBT’s self-esteem reinforcement and or positive psychology’s optimal functioning. Healthy philautia’s primary psychological application is to regenerate the self-esteem that supports us and our intrinsic goodness.
What causes a deficit of self-esteem?
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs reveals how childhood/adolescent exploitation can disrupt their human development.[ii] Healthy evolution requires satisfying fundamental physiological and psychological needs. The child/adolescent experiencing detachment, exploitation, or neglect, may be disenabled from satisfying her or his physiological and safety needs and the need to belong and experience love, which can impact their acquisition of self-esteem. Self-esteem is the recognition of our value; value is the accumulation of positive self-qualities that generate character strength and virtue.
The deprivation of any fundamental need can detrimentally impact our wellbeing. Wellness models’ psychological positivity addresses this lacuna by emphasizing our character strengths that facilitate motivation and persistence/perseverance.
To Aristotle, healthy philautia is vigorous in its orientation to self and others in its potential goodness. By contrast, its darker variant portends disastrous consequences due to its narcissism, arrogance, and egotism. Healthy philautia encourages the development of our intrinsic positive self-qualities. Positive self-qualities determine our relation to self, to others, and the world. They provide the recognition that we are of value, consequential, and worthy of love. Healthy philautia is vital in every sphere of life and can be considered a basic human need.” [iii] To the Greeks, healthy philautia “is the root of the heart of all the other loves.” [iv] Gadamer writes of healthy philautia: “Thus it is; in self-love, one becomes aware of the true ground and the condition for all possible bonds with others and commitment to oneself.” [v] Healthy philautia is the love that is within oneself. It is not, explains Jericho, “the desire for self and the root of selfishness.” [vi]
Philautia is a binary category of classical Greek love, which embraces both its healthy and unhealthy aspects. Unhealthy philautia is akin to clinical narcissism―a mental condition in which people function with an “inflated sense of their own importance [and a] deep need for excessive attention and admiration,” behind which “lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” [vii] Citizens of Athens could be accused of unhealthy philautia if they placed themselves above the greater good. Today, hubris has come to mean “an inflated sense of one’s status, abilities, or accomplishments, especially when accompanied by haughtiness or arrogance.” [viii]
The Greeks believed that the narcissism of unhealthy philautia could not exist without its complementary opposition of healthy philautia. Positive psychology 2.0 recognized this by emphasizing the need to focus on both our negative and positive qualities. Just like we would not recognize light without darkness, or heat without cold―to know goodness is to understand evil.
Healthy philautia is essential for a good life; it is easy to recognize how the continuous infusion of healthy philautia and its reacquisition of positive self-qualities supports self-respect, reliance, and appreciation of our potential. “One sees in self-love the defining marks of friendship, which one then extends to a man’s friendships with others.” [ix] Recognition of our inherent value generates the realization that we are “a good person who deserves to be treated with respect.” [x] A good person is spiritually, one that is loved. “To feel joy and fulfillment at being you is the experience of philautia.” [xi] It is through recognition of our positive self-qualities and their contribution to the general welfare that we rediscover our intrinsic capacity for love.
[i] Lomas, T. (2017). The flavours of love: A cross‐cultural lexical analysis. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 48(1): 134-152 (2017). doi:10.1111/jtsb.12158.
[ii] Maslow, A.H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4): 370-396 (1943). doi.org/10.1037/h0054346.
[iii] Sharma, A. (2014). Self-Esteem Is the Sense of Personal Worth and Competence That Persona Associate with Their Self – Concepts. IOSR Journal of Nursing and Health Science, 3(6), Ver.4: 16-20.
[iv] Jericho, L. (2015). Inner spring: Eros, Agape, and the Six Forms of Loving. Lilipoh, 20 (79): 38-39.
[v] Gadamer, H-G. (2009). Friendship and Solidarity. Research in Phenomenology, 39: 3-12. (2009). doi:10.1163/156916408X389604
[vi] Jericho, L. (2015). Inner spring: Eros, Agape, and the Six Forms of Loving. Lilipoh, 20 (79): 38-39.
[vii] Mayoclinic. (2017). Personality disorders. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463.
[viii] Burton, N. (2016). These Are the 7 Types of Love. (Online.) Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love.
[ix] Deigh, J. (2001). The Moral Self. Pauline Chazan. Mind. London: Oxford University Press. (2001). doi:10.1093/mind/110.440.1069.
[xi] Jericho, L. (2015). Inner spring: Eros, Agape, and the Six Forms of Loving. Lilipoh, 20 (79): 38-39.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting the emotional and mental wellbeing of over 15 million U.S. adults who find themselves caught up in a densely interconnected network of fear and avoidance of social situations. SAD is the second most diagnosed form of anxiety in the United States.[i] The National Institute of Mental Health[iii] report 31.1% of U.S. adults experience some anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. Statistics are imperfect for the LGBTQ community; the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates their rate is 1.5-2.5 times higher “than that of their straight or gender-conforming counterparts.”[iv]
SAD is the most common psychiatric disorder in the U.S. after major depression and alcohol abuse.[v] It is also arguably the most underrated and misunderstood. A “debilitating and chronic” affliction, SAD “wreaks havoc on those who suffer from it.”[vi] SAD attacks all fronts, negatively affecting the entire body complex, delivering mental confusion, emotional instability, physical dysfunction, and spiritual malaise. Emotionally, persons experiencing SAD feel depressed and lonely. In social situations, they are physically subject to unwarranted sweating and trembling, hyperventilation, nausea, cramps, dizziness, and muscle spasms. Mentally, thoughts are discordant and irrational. Spiritually, they define themselves as inadequate and insignificant. Approximately, only 5% of SAD persons commit to early recovery, reflective of symptoms that manifest maladaptive self-beliefs of worthlessness and futility. SAD has lower recovery-remission rates because many are unable to afford treatment due to SAD induced “impairments in financial and employment stability.”[vii] Over 70% of SAD persons “are in the lowest economic group.”[viii]
Feeling anxious or apprehensive in certain situations is normal; most individuals are nervous speaking in front of a group and anxious when pulled over on the freeway. The typical individual recognizes the ordinariness of a situation and accords it appropriate attention. The SAD person anticipates it, takes it personally, dramatizes it, and obsesses on its negative implications. Social anxiety disorder is a pathological form of everyday anxiety. The clinical term “disorder” identifies extreme or excessive impairment that negatively affects functionality.
The superficial overview of SAD is intense apprehension—the fear of being judged, negatively evaluated and ridiculed. There is persistent anxiety or fear of social situations such as dating, interviewing for a position, answering a question in class, or dealing with authority. Often, mere functionality in perfunctory situations―eating in front of others, riding a bus, using a public restroom—can be unduly stressful. The overriding fear of being found wanting manifests in perspectives of inadequacy and unattractiveness. SAD persons are unduly concerned they will say something that will reveal their ignorance, real or otherwise. They walk on eggshells, supremely conscious of their awkwardness, surrendering to the GAZE―the anxious state of mind that comes with the maladaptive self-belief they are the center of attention. Their movements can appear hesitant and awkward, small talk clumsy, attempts at humor embarrassing, and every situation is reactive to negative self-evaluation. They are apprehensive of potential “negative evaluation by others,” concerned about “the visibility of anxiety, and preoccupation with performance or arousal.”[ix] SAD persons frequently generate images of themselves performing poorly in feared social situations, and their anticipation of repudiation motivates them to dismiss overtures to offset any possibility of rejection. SAD is repressive and intractable, imposing irrational thought and behavior. It establishes its authority through its subjects’ defeatist measures produced by distorted and unsound interpretations of actuality that govern perspectives of personal attractiveness, intelligence, competence, and other errant beliefs.
SAD persons crave others’ company but shun social situations for fear of being found out as unlikeable, stupid, or annoying. Accordingly, they avoid speaking in public, expressing opinions, or even fraternizing with peers. People with social anxiety disorder are prone to low self-esteem and high self-criticism.
Anxiety and other personality disorders are branches of the same tree. There is a significant degree of comorbidity between social anxiety disorder and other mental health problems, most notably depression and substance-abuse.
For over 50 years, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been the go-to treatment for SAD. Only recently have experts determined that CBT is ineffective unless combined with a broader approach to account for the disorder’s complexity and the individual personality. A SAD subject subsisting on paranoia sustained by negative self-evaluation is better served by multiple non-traditional and supported approaches, including those defined as new (third) wave (generation) therapies, developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation with CBT, positive psychology, and neural restructuring serving as the foundational platform for integration.
[i] MHA (2019). The State of Mental Health Care in America. (Online.) Mental Health Association. https://www.mhanational.org /issues/state-mental-health-america.
[ii] ADAA. (2019a). Facts and Statistics. (Online.) Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/understanding-anxiety-and-depression-lgbtq [iii] (NIMH, 2017)
[iii] NIMH (2017). Social Anxiety Disorder. (Online.) National Institute of Mental Health). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder.shtml
[iv] Brenner, B. (2019). Understanding Anxiety and Depression for LGBTQ People. (Online.) Anxiety and Depression Association of America. https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/understanding-anxiety-and-depression-lgbtq.
[v] Heshmat, S. (2014). Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). SAD is a risk factor for addiction. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201410/social-anxiety-disorder-sad
[vi] ADAA. (2019a). Facts and Statistics. (Online.) Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/understanding-anxiety-and-depression-lgbtq
[vii] Gregory. B., Wong, Q. J. J., Craig, D., Marker, C. D., & Peters, L. (2018). Maladaptive Self-Beliefs During Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for social anxiety disorder: A Test of Temporal Precedence. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 42(3): 261–272 (2018). doi.org/10.1007/s10608-017-9882-5
[viii] Nardi, A. E. (2003). The social and economic burden of social anxiety disorder. BMJ, 327 (2003).doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7414.515
[ix] Tsitsas, G. D., & Paschali, A. A. (2014). A Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Applied to a Social Anxiety Disorder and a Specific Phobia, Case Study. Health Psychology Research, 2(3): 1603 (2014). doi:10.4081/hpr.2014.1603.