Monthly Archives: February 2021

Social Anxiety Disorder: General Overview

Social anxiety disorder onsets at adolescence. The afflicted are not responsible for their dysfunction.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the most common mental disorders, affecting the emotional and mental wellbeing of millions of U.S. adults and adolescents 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. Statistics estimate 40 million U.S. adults will experience SAD. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 9.1% of adolescents (ages 10 to 19) currently experience symptoms, and 1.3% have severe impairment. Statistics are imperfect for LGBTQ+ persons; the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates their susceptibility is 1.5-2.5 times higher than that of their straight or gender-conforming counterparts. All statistics are fluid, however; a high percentage of persons who experience SAD refuse treatment, fail to disclose it, or remain ignorant of its symptoms. 

SAD is arguably the most underrated and misunderstood psychological dysfunction. Debilitating and chronic, SAD attacks on all fronts, negatively affecting the entire body complex. It manifests in mental confusion, emotional instability, physical dysfunction, and spiritual malaise. Emotionally, persons experiencing SAD are 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. 

The commitment-to-remedy rate for those experiencing SAD in the first year is less than 6%. This statistic is reflective of symptoms that manifest perceptions of worthlessness and futility. SAD also has lower recovery-remission rates because many of the afflicted are unable to afford treatment due to symptom-induced employment instability. Over 70% of SAD persons are in the lowest economic group.

Social anxiety disorder is a pathological form of everyday anxiety. Feeling anxious or apprehensive in certain situations is normal; most individuals are nervous speaking in front of a group and anxious when visiting their dentist. The typical individual recognizes the normalcy of a situation and accords it appropriate attention. The SAD person anticipates it, personalizes it, dramatizes it, and obsesses on its negative implications. The clinical term “disorder” identifies extreme or excessive impairment that negatively affects functionality.

The generic symptom of SAD is intense apprehension—the fear of being judged, negatively evaluated and ridiculed. There is persistent anxiety and 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 fear that manifests in social situations is so fierce that many SAD persons believe it is beyond their control, which manifests in perceptions of incompetence and hopelessness. Negative self-evaluation interferes with the desire to pursue a goal, attend school, or do anything that might trigger anxiety. Often, the subject worries about things for weeks before they happen. Subsequentially, they will avoid places, events, or situations where there is the potential for embarrassment or ridicule.

The overriding fear of being found wanting manifests in self-perspectives of inferiority 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 uncomfortable center of attention. Their social interactions can appear hesitant and awkward, small talk clumsy, attempts at humor embarrassing–every situation reactive to negative self-evaluation. 

‘Maladaptive’ is a term created by Aaron Beck, the ‘father’ of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Although maladaptive self-beliefs can occur with many psychological dysfunctions, they are most common to SAD. A maladaptive self-belief is a negative self-perspective unsupported by reality. SAD persons can find themselves in a supportive and approving environment, but they tell themselves they are unwelcome and the subject of ridicule and contempt. They ‘adapt’ negatively to a positive situation.

SAD persons are often concerned about the visibility of their anxiety and are preoccupied with performance or arousal. 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. The SAD subject meticulously avoids situations that might trigger discomfort. The maladaptive perceptions of inferiority and incompetence can generate profound and debilitating guilt and shame.  

SAD is repressive and intractable, imposing irrational thoughts and behavior. 

The key to SAD’s hold on its victims is its uncanny ability to sense vulnerability in the child/adolescent. SAD is like the person who comes to dinner and stays indefinitely. It feeds off its host’s irrationality. It crashes on the couch, surrounded by beer cans drained of hope and potential. It monopolizes the bathroom, creating missed opportunities. It becomes the predominant fixture in the house. After a while, its host not only grows accustomed to having it around but forms a subordinate dependency.

SAD persons crave the companionship 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 SAD are prone to low self-esteem and high self-criticism due to the dysfunction itself, and its causal disruption in natural human development. SEE Healthy Philautia and Self-Esteem.

SAD onset occurs during adolescence and can linger in the system for years or even decades before asserting itself. Any number of situations or events trigger the infection. The SAD person could have been subject to bullying or a broken home. Perhaps parents were overprotective, controlling, or unable to provide emotional validation. In some cases, its cause is perceptual. A child whose parental quality time is interrupted by a phone call can sense abandonment. The SAD person is not accountable for their dysfunction; there is the likelihood no one is intentionally responsible. 

SAD is routinely comorbid with depression and substance abuse. Symptom are similar to those of avoidant personality disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, OCD, and schizophrenia. Coupled with the discrepancies and disparity in its definition, epidemiology, assessment, and treatment, SAD is usually misdiagnosed. SEE Misdiagnosis

For over 50 years, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been the go-to treatment for SAD. Only recently have experts determined that CBT can be ineffectual unless combined with a broader approach to account for SAD’s complexity and the individual personality. A SAD subject subsisting on paranoia sustained by negative self-evaluation is better served by multiple approaches, including those defined as new (third) wave (generation) therapies, developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation. CBT, positive psychology, and neural restructuring might serve as the foundational platform for integration. SEE One-Size-Fits-All 

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Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to research and development of methods to alleviate symptoms of psychological dysfunction and discomfort. Our vision is to reshape the current pathographic emphasis on diagnoses over individual, which fosters a deficit, disease model of human behavior. Treatment programs must disavow ineffective, one-size-fits-all approaches and target the individual personality through communication, empathy, collaboration, and an integration of historically and clinically practical methods. All donations support scholarships for workshops and practicums.

The Neglected Significance of Forgiveness in Recovery

The inability or unwillingness to forgive is self-defeating.

Science supports the cliché that by not forgiving, we allow the transgressor to occupy valuable space in our brain. We are so inundated from childhood with the concept of forgiveness, we tend to disregard its power and significance. The role of forgiveness is ridding ourselves of the unresolved antagonisms of hate, resentment, shame, and guilt. These are negatively valanced emotions, which means they are destructive to our physiological wellbeing. They are irrational in that they are harmful to the self. The fact that we get pleasure or satisfaction from our righteous indignation only means our neural network, not knowing any better, has become accustomed to this negativity and transmits the hormones that sustain and give us pleasure (serotonin). 

Recovery from our dysfunction or discomfort requires restructuring our neural network by feeding it positive stimuli to counter the years of harmful, negative input. But there is little room in our brain for healthy thoughts and behaviors unless we evict the bad tenants by forgiving them. That new vacancy allows us to access our character strengths and virtues that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover.

We hold onto anger and resentment because we persuade ourselves it impacts those who transgressed against us. The irony is, they are (1) unaware they injured us, (2) have forgotten it, or (3) take no responsibility for it. The only person affected is us, the injured party.

We amplify the harm inflicted upon us by our irrational compulsion to hold onto our anger and resentment. The bile accumulates and festers until there is no room for things constructive to our recovery. To paraphrase Buddha, holding onto anger is holding onto a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you’re the one who gets burned. The inability or unwillingness to forgive is self-defeating.

Recovery requires letting go of our negative self-perspectives, expectations, and beliefs, opening our minds to new ideas and concepts. 

When we hold onto hate and resentment, we remain imprisoned in the past. Forgiveness opens us to new possibilities and offers hope for the future. 

Allowing our transgressors to dominate our thoughts makes us victims. Forgiving takes away their power. 

The drive for vengeance can be formidable, our baser instinct cries out for retribution. Forgiving is not easy. It takes enormous courage. That’s why it is so powerful

Forgiveness does not condone or excuse the transgressor; it takes their power away. 

We don’t forgive to make our transgressors feel better; they’re not important. We forgive to promote change within our self. 

There are three types of transgression: Those inflicted on us by another, those we inflict on another, and those we inflict on ourselves. We are both victim and abuser. We are victimized by the transgression against us. We abuse ourselves with our resentment and hate. When we transgress, we abuse the other, and our shame for the act victimizes us. Transgression against our self is both self-abuse and victimization. Abuser and victim. This is important to understand and accept. That is the role of mindfulness, a requisite for recovery.

Forgiving those who have harmed us. It is important to recognize that forgiveness is not forgetting or condoning. Our noble self forgives, our pragmatic self remembers. The actions of another may seem indefensible, but forgiving is for our wellbeing, not theirs. 

L. was in a group for social anxiety disorder. He claimed he couldn’t forgive his parents; their injustice was so severe. “If you knew what they’d done to me you wouldn’t ask me to forgive them.” L was unwilling to relinquish his parents’ negative hold on his psyche, much like a cancer victim refusing chemotherapy. Unlike many, he was mindful of the physiological ramifications of holding onto his nixtamalization, which mitigated the negative impact on his recovery, but it will remain an obstacle to recovery until L is willing to forgive and let it go.

Forgiving ourselves for harming another is accepting and releasing the guilt and shame for our actions. It’s important to recognize, transgression against another is a transgression against ourselves. The act of self-forgiveness accepts and embraces our imperfections and evidences our humanness.

Forgiving ourselves for harming ourselves. Transgression against the self is self-deprecation. It is telling ourselves we are worthless by belittling, undervaluing, or disparaging ourselves. Self-pity, self-contempt, and other hyphenated forms of self-abuse. devalue our inherent character strengths and virtues. Forgiving ourselves is challenging because our self-harm is generated by our deficit of self-esteem.

By withholding forgiveness, we deny ourselves the ability to function optimally. Our resentment and hatred are divisive to our emotional wellbeing and disharmonious to our true nature. Inner harmony is impossible unless we heal the anger within ourselves. Forgiving is the only way we expel the hostility. We cannot hope to function optimally without absolving both our self and others whose actions contributed to our negative thoughts and behavior. This courageous willingness to forgive is indispensable to recovery. 

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Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to research and development of methods to alleviate symptoms of psychological dysfunction and discomfort. Our vision is to reshape the current pathographic emphasis on diagnoses over individual, which fosters a deficit, disease model of human behavior. Treatment programs must disavow ineffective, one-size-fits-all approaches and target the individual personality through communication, empathy, collaboration, and an integration of historically and clinically practical methods. All donations support scholarships for workshops and practicums.

Healthy Philautia and Self-Esteem

Healthy philautia serves as a focused revitalization tool for self-esteem.

Healthy philautia is an integrative platform specifically designed to address the deficit of self-esteem caused by our dysfunction or discomfort, and the disruption in human development.

It achieves this through an integration of historically and clinically practical approaches that serve as focused revitalization tools for self-esteem by recognizing and replacing negative self-perspective and behavior. 

Self-esteem. Self-esteem is the self-recognition of our value; value is the accumulation of positive self-qualities that generate our character strengths and virtues. Positive self-qualities (e.g., self-compassion, -love, -regard, -respect, -value, -worth, and other intrinsic wholesome attributes) determine our relationship to self, others, and the world. They provide the evidence we are competent, consequential, and worthy of love.

Psychological dysfunction and discomfort. Both conditions impact our emotional wellbeing and quality of life and can interfere with or limit one or more major life activities. Both are addressed through the same basic processes. The primary distinction is severity. A psychological dysfunction is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnosable criteria. Both are dysfunctions.

How dysfunction impacts self-esteem. The vast majority of dysfunctional onset (or susceptibility to onset) happens during childhood/adolescence, negatively impacting the development of self-esteem. This is best illustrated by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which reveals how childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance disrupts natural human development. The perception of detachment, exploitation, or neglect disenables the child’s safety and security as well as the sense of belonging and being loved, which impacts the acquisition of self-esteem. The adult symptoms and characteristics of the dysfunction continue or augment that deficit. 

Childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance disrupts natural human development.

Why Healthy Philautia? The Greeks categorized love by its object. For philia, the object is comradeship, eros is sexuality, storge is familiar affection, and so on. Philautia is the dichotomy of self-love: the love of oneself (narcissism), and the love that is within oneself (self-esteem). 

Narcissism is a psychological condition in which people function with an inflated and irrational sense of their importance, often expressed by haughtiness or arrogance. It is the need for excessive attention and admiration, masking an unconscious sense of inferiority and inadequacy. 

Healthy philautia is the recognition of our value and potential, the realization that we are necessary to this life and of incomprehensible worth. To feel joy and fulfillment at being you is the experience of healthy philautia,and such feelings cannot be boundAccepting and embracing our self-worth compels us to share it with others and the world, to love and be loved. 

The deprivation of our fundamental needs caused by our dysfunction detrimentally impacts our acquisition of self-esteem. It is not lost but hidden, undeveloped, subverted by our negative self-perspectives. The rediscovery and rejuvenation of self-esteem is an essential component of recovery. ReChanneling advocates and utilizes a Wellness Model over the etiology-driven disease or medical model of mental healthcare. The Wellness Model emphasizes the character strengths and virtues that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to function optimally through the substantial alleviation of the symptoms of dysfunction. 

Among the integrative approaches utilized in the reacquisition of self-esteem are:

  • Positive affirmations and CBT. Positive affirmations and the cognitive aspect of cognitive-behavioral therapy are deliberate, repetitious inputs of positive thoughts and behaviors to replace the negative, unhealthy ones habituated by our dysfunction. Practicing repetitive positive affirmations increases activity in the self-processing systems of the cortex, which counteracts the negative input that threatens self-esteem. The behavioral component of CBT involves activities that reinforce the process.
  • Neural restructuring. Our neural network automatically responds to stimuli by transmitting the hormones that sustain and provide us comfort and pleasure. Deliberate repetitious stimuli compel neurons to fire repeatedly causing them to wire together. The more positive input, the more our brain responds. The more repetitions, the quicker and stronger the new connection. Hormonal rewards of comfort and pleasure motivate us to continue the repetitive practice which, in time, reconstruct our brain’s neural pathways. 
  • Mindfulness. The dual components of Mindfulness–awareness and acceptance–identify the occasions and situations we fear and in which we lack confidence, impacting our self-esteem. Clinically proven questionnaires and surveys assist in discovery, and mindfulness exercises and techniques are examined. Practicum activities assiduously address these fears, while introspection and meditation are vigorously recommended for the home environment. 
  • Abhidharma is the ultimate checklist of our relationship to self, others, and the world. The Buddhist psychology of the eightfold path is a profile of the requisites for rational living. Right views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration have an additional implicit component, that of right choice. Evidence suggests we experience a physiological reaction when choosing to do something irrational or self-detrimental because it conflicts with our inherent awareness of what is beneficial to self and community. Through mindfulness, we learn to recognize this physiological reaction and its impact on our self-esteem. 
  • Positive autobiography helps us focus on our life experiences of achievement, triumphs, and other prideful events and occasions. Our dysfunction sustains itself through irrationality, so we devalue these experiences by disallowing our conscious mind to entertain them. Mindfulness and the Recovered-memory process are especially helpful in unlocking this information. 
  • Positive psychology can be defined as the science of optimal functioning. Its objective is to identify the character strengths and virtues that generate our motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover. Mindfulness of our attributes generates the psychological, physical, and social wellbeing that buffer against dysfunction. The objective is to achieve our potentials and becoming the best that we can be. Research shows that positive psychology interventions improve overall wellbeing and decrease psychological distress in persons with anxiety, mood, and depressive disorders. Studies support the utilization of positive psychological constructs, theories, and interventions for enhanced understanding of and recovery from our dysfunction. 
  • Recovered memory process is utilized to recall hidden memories and the emotions they embrace. Our dysfunction sustains itself on our irrationality and negative self-perceptions. It encourages us to repress feelings, thoughts, and desires unacceptable to our conscious mind, storing them in the archives of our memory. It is useful to retrieve and address the emotions hidden in these repressed memories. The prideful ones fulfill our Positive autobiography and support Neural restructuring. The unhealthy ones allow us to view them from the multiple perspectives of emotion, decreasing the power of their negativity. Stanislavski developed a method for authentic stage-acting that retrieves and deconstructs our volatile memories and emotions. 

The rediscovery and revitalization of self-esteem is an essential part of recovery and cannot be second-tiered. Due to our dysfunction and subsequent disruption in natural human development, we are subject to significantly lower implicit and explicit self-esteem relative to healthy controls. One-size-fits-all methods are inadequate to a multiple pronged approach. Our recovery practicum incorporates activities such as roleplay, interactive exercises, and games. Clinically proven self-esteem exercises, questionnaires, and scales are utilized. Immersion therapy is ideally practiced in a public environment setting but currently remains in-practicum, postponing public immersion for the duration of the pandemic. Utilizing the platform of methods outlined, we collaboratively create a blueprint that emphasizes our inherent strengths, virtues, and attributes to implement the crucial reacquisition of self-esteem and its positive self-qualities.

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Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to research and development of methods to alleviate symptoms of psychological dysfunction and discomfort. Our vision is to reshape the current pathographic emphasis on diagnoses over individual, which fosters a deficit, disease model of human behavior. Treatment programs must disavow ineffective, one-size-fits-all approaches and target the individual personality through communication, empathy, collaboration, and an integration of historically and clinically practical methods. All donations support scholarships for workshops and practicums.

Neural Restructuring, CBT, and Positive Affirmations

When we restructure our neural pathways, there is a correlated change in our behavior and perspective.
  • Our brain contains hundreds-of-billions of nerve cells (neurons) arranged in networks.
  • When neural pathways reshape, there is a correlated change in behavior and perspective.
  • Our brain is not a moral adjudicator, but a mechanical reciprocator. It adapts and correlates to stimuli.
  • Anything destructive to our well-being is irrational and unhealthy.
  • Our brain does differentiate between rational and irrational. Its job is to provide the chemical and electrical maintenance that maintain our vital functions: heartbeat, nervous system, and blood–flow. It tells us when to breathe. It generates our mood, controls our weight and digestion, and so on.
  • A stimulus occurs at every experience: a muscle twitch, a decision, a memory, emotion, reaction, noise, the prick of a needle.
  • Every stimulus causes the receptive neuron to fire, transmitting a message, passed from neuron to neuron until it reaches its destination.
  • Plasticity is the brain’s capacity to change with learning. Learning is a component of everything that happens to a person; it is comprised of infinitesimal moments of experience. Studies in brain plasticity evidence the brain’s ability to change at any age.
  • Our psychological dysfunction or discomfort generates and is sustained by our irrational thoughts and behaviors, impelling us to feed our brain unhealthy stimuli.
  • Our brain is always learning at an accelerated rate. What has been learned can be unlearned. Unhealthy beliefs and behaviors are unlearned, as our brain learns new beliefs and behaviors.
  • The function of cognitive-behavioral restructuring is to supplant irrational thoughts and actions with rational ones. This causes the neural network to restructure. Over time and through repetition, these new thoughts and behaviors become habitual and spontaneous.
  • Deliberate repetitious stimuli compel neurons to fire repeatedly causing them to wire together. The more repetitions the quicker and stronger the new connection.

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The Science of Positive Affirmations. 90% of treatment programs feature cognitive-behavioral therapy. The cognitive aspect is positive affirmations. Practicing repetitive positive affirmations increases activity in the self-processing systems of the cortex, which counteract the negative input that threatens self-esteem. The brain automatically responds by transmitting the hormones that sustain us and provide comfort and pleasure. The more input of positive affirmations, the more our brain responds. These constant feelings of comfort and pleasure then motivate us to continue the repetitive practice of self-affirmations. Positive affirmations must be rational, reasonable, possible, and first-person present time.

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Our brains consist of hundreds-of-billions of nerve cells (neurons) arranged in pathways or networks. Inside each of these neurons, there is electrical activity. Neurons are the core components of our brain and our central nervous system. Our functionality is facilitated by a hugely complex system of synapses, axons, and dendrites working in collaboration with our nerve cells.

Every stimulus we experience causes a receptive neuron to fire, transmitting a message from neuron to neuron until it generates a reaction. A stimulus occurs at every experience: a muscle movement, a decision, a memory, emotion, reaction, noise, the prick of a needle, a twitch. Because of our dysfunction, our brain has structured itself around unhealthy feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. It sustains this irrationality by naturally releasing pleasurable chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine). It does not know any better; it responds to our input. 

Science confirms our neural pathways are constantly realigning. Since its onset (adolescence), our dysfunction or discomfort has been feeding our brain irrational thoughts and behaviors. What is irrational? Irrational is anything detrimental to our emotional wellbeing and quality of life. Simply put, it is irrational to hurt ourselves. 

Our brain cannot differentiate between rational and irrational. It does not think; it provides the means for us to think. It is an organic reciprocator. Its job is to provide the chemical and electrical stimulants that maintain heartbeat, nervous system, and blood–flow. They tell us when to breathe, stimulate thirst, control our weight and digestion. They establish and affect our behavior, moods, memories, and so on. 

Neural restructuring is our brain’s capacity to change with learn­ing; functions performed by our neurotransmitters are learning functions. Our neurons don’t act by themselves but through neural circuits. These circuits strengthen or weaken their connections based on chemical and electrical activity. This process is called Hebbian learning, and this is important. Our brain learns at an incredibly accelerated rate, and what has been learned can be unlearned. The purpose of neural restructuring is to replace irrational thoughts and behaviors with healthy ones. Our beliefs and concepts, thoughts, and actions have been learned and practiced from early on. We are conditioned to them. As our brain reciprocates our positive input, our neural network restructures itself accordingly. Over time, through deliberate repetition, healthy, rational thoughts and behaviors become habitual and spontaneous. Why the repetition? When our neurons fire repeatedly, they wire together. The more repetitions. the quicker and stronger the new connection.

fAn essential element in subverting our dysfunction or discomfort is the deliberate restructuring of our neural network.

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Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to research and development of methods to mitigate symptoms of psychological dysfunction and discomfort. Our vision is to reshape the current pathographic emphasis on diagnoses over individual, which fosters a deficit, disease model of human behavior. Treatment programs must disavow ineffective, one-size-fits-all approaches and target the individual personality through communication, empathy, collaboration, and an integration of historically and clinically practical methods. All donations support scholarships for workshops and practicums.