Category Archives: Psychology

Resolving Our Negative Moral Emotions

Dr. Robert F. Mullen
Director/ReChannleing

Numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the
pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate,
repetitive, neural information.  WeVoice

We retain an abundance of destructive information, formed by our core and intermediate beliefs ― information seemingly impervious to uprooting due to its resistant or repressive nature. A lot of this negative information is from the unresolved moral emotions of shame and guilt. These often lead to internal or external blaming, determined by who we choose to be accountable. While each is a natural response to things that negatively impact us, when left untreated, they encumber our neural network with negative energy and obstruct the process of recovery. 

Whether or not we chose to be accountable for our actions determines how we attribute blame. If we are unwilling or unable to accept responsibility, we resort to external blaming. Internal blaming is taking responsibility for things over which we either have no control or for which we have no accountability. Both are irrational and cognitively distorted attributions.

Recovery from disorders like social anxiety and depression requires restructuring our neural network – feeding it positive stimuli to counter the years of toxicity. Unresolved shame and guilt impede the flow of positive neural input unless and until we evict the bad tenants.

There are three basic types of transgressions: Those inflicted on us by another, those we inflict on another, and those we inflict on ourselves. By not resolving these conflicts, we remain both victim and abuser. We are victimized by holding onto the transgression against us. We are abusers when we transgress. Our shame for either act victimizes us. Self-transgression and blaming are both abuse and victimization, neither conducive to recovery. 

There are volumes of psychological treatises on guiltshame, and blame. The following brief overviews focus on their impact on social anxiety, depression, and comorbidities. 

Shame

Shame is the stomach-churning feeling of humiliation and distress that comes from the sense of being or doing a dishonorable, ridiculous, or immodest thing; the feeling that we are unbefitting and undesirable. A pioneer in shame study, psychologist Gershen Kaufman described the emotion as “sudden unexpected exposure coupled with blinding inner scrutiny.” Shame is painful, incapacitating, and inescapable, embracing every aspect of the human experience. It negatively impacts our psychological and physiological health, eroding our self-image and our relationships with others. We feel powerless, acutely diminished, and worthless. We want to become invisible. Failing that, we often become hostile and aggressive. 

Guilt

Shame says I am a mistake; Guilt says I made a mistake

Guilt is a psychological term for a self-conscious emotion that condemns the self while conscious of being evaluated by another person(s). Guilt is the painful awareness of having done something wrong, coupled with the innate need to correct or amend. The moral emotion of guilt causes us to self-deprecate and invites condemnation from those who witness our actions.

We feel guilt for harming another, and for being the type of person who would cause harm. We feel guilt for harming ourselves. We guilt ourselves for things over which we have no control.

Unless resolved, we carry the emotional baggage of guilt and shame throughout our lives, adding to the negative self-beliefs generated by our disorder(s). It is unhealthy and non-conducive to recovery and self-transformation. Retaining this toxicity of adds to our anxiety and depression, and can compel behavioral obsessiveness, avoidance, and other personality shortfalls that impact our self-esteem. When we hold onto these feelings, we construct our neural network with anger, hurt, and resentment. 

PROACTIVE NEUROPLASTICITY YOUTUBE SERIES

Symptomatically, we feel shame and guilt for our self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. These negative moral emotions are irrational. Social anxiety, like most disorders, is the result of childhood disturbance that interferes with our optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. The disturbance can be real or imagined, intentional or accidental. Social anxiety sense this vulnerability and onsets in adolescence. Cumulative evidence that a toxic childhood is a primary causal factor in lifetime emotional instability has been well-established.

Both shame and guilt have their usefulness. They can be revealing, cathartic, and motivational, encouraging emotional and spiritual growth, and broadening self-awareness. That may mitigate their emotional impact, but it does not address their toxic impact on our neural network if left unresolved. They are both self-focused but highly socially relevant, supporting important interpersonal functions by, for example, encouraging adjusting or repairing valuable relationships and discouraging acts that could damage them. 

Forgiving is the only rational response. The irrational response is blaming. When we want to escape from the toxicity of our negative moral emotions, rather than rationally challenging them, we resort to blaming. 

Blaming

Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, or making negative statements about ourselves, another, or a group. We condemn their action(s) as wrong, and socially or morally irresponsible. Holding ourselves or others accountable for harmful behavior is a justifiable response. Holding onto that anger is self-destructive. Cognitively distorted blaming falls under one of two categories. External blaming involves holding others accountable for our actions, rather than accepting responsibility for their consequences.  Internal blaming is taking responsibility for things over which we either have no control or for which we have no accountability. We perceive everything as our fault and feel shame and guilt when things go wrong. 

Self-blaming is a toxic form of emotional self-abuse prevalent in social anxiety disorder. We irrationally blame ourselves for our behaviors and our perceived character deficits caused by our disorder. SAD thrives on our self-denigration, self-contempt, and other hyphenated forms of self-abuse. We blame ourselves when we avoid interacting with someone out of our fear of rejection. We have something noteworthy to share in class but are afraid to raise our hands. We want to join a conversation but are afraid our nerves will expose us. Then, adding insult to injury, we beat ourselves up because our symptoms get the better of us causing us to self-characterize as stupid, incompetent, or unattractive. SAD negatively impacts our core sense of self and our ability to behave in socially constructive ways. 

Blaming becomes irrational when left unresolved; it is irrational to self-harm. The resolution is forgiveness. We cannot hope to function optimally without absolving both ourselves and others whose behaviors contributed to our negative thoughts and behavior. This willingness and ability to forgive is a necessary component of the transformative act and indispensable to recovery. 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. The inability or unwillingness to forgive impedes the flow of positive thought and action necessary for recovery. Forgiving is the only way we expel the hostility. Of unresolved and irrational guilt, shame, and blame., Forgiveness is the rational response; social anxiety disorder is the epitome of irrationality. 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the goal, forgiving the process. This forgiving, which underscores the attributes of courage, compassion, and self-reliance, is indispensable to the revival of our self-worth. 

Forgiving those who have harmed us. It is important to recognize that forgiving is not forgetting or condoning. Our noble self forgives; our pragmatic self remembers. The actions of another may seem indefensible, but forgiving them is for our wellbeing, not theirs. We forgive to promote change within ourselves and, as forgivers, we reap the rewards. 

Forgiving ourselves for harming another is accepting and releasing the guilt and shame for our actions. It’s important to recognize that transgression against another is a transgression against ourselves. Our shame and guilt can only be resolved by accepting responsibility, making direct or substitutional amends, and forgiving ourselves. The act of self-forgiveness accepts and embraces our imperfections and evidences our humanness. 

Forgiving ourselves for self-harm. Transgression against the self is self-sabotage. It belittles, undervalues, and condemns us. 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.

Why is it difficult to forgive?

Our anger and resentment physiologically sustain us. We have acclimated to the neurotransmissions of the hormones that reward the negativity of our unresolved moral emotions. We label our anger, righteous indignation. We persuade ourselves those who have harmed us are devastated by our hostility notwithstanding they are (1) unaware they injured us, (2) have forgotten, or (3) take no responsibility. The only person affected is us, the injured party. 

The benefits of forgiveness

Forgiving begins when we conclude that the disconnectedness, brought on by our unwillingness to confront our hostility, becomes so fundamentally discomforting that resolution is essential for emotional survival.

The act of forgiving relieves us of all that has happened before and offers a future that is unencumbered by the past, giving us room for new possibilities. The act of forgiving resolves animus and restores us to equal footing by eliminating the other’s influence. Forgiving ourselves for allowing our perception of victimization stops us from paying that victimization forward. 

In a group session, Jimmy L. 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.” He was unwilling to relinquish his parents’ negative hold on his psyche, much like a cancer victim refusing chemotherapy. Nonetheless, his awareness of the physiological ramifications of holding onto anger and resentment bodes well for the future.

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Proactive Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change

Dr. Robert F. Mullen
Director/ReChanneling

Numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate, repetitive, neural information. — WeVoice

This is a general overview of Dr. Mullen’s Academa.edu course titled Neuroscience and Happiness. Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change and a reprint of a guest post for a Canadian mental health website.

Neuroplasticity is evidence of our brain’s constant adaptation to learning. Scientists refer to the process as structural remodeling of the brain. It is what makes learning and registering new experiences possible. All information notifies our neural network to realign, generating a correlated change in behavior and perspective. 

What is significant is our ability to dramatically accelerate learning by consciously compelling our brain to repattern its neural circuitry. Deliberate, repetitive, neural information (DRNI) empowers us to proactively transform our thoughts and behaviors, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. 

Reactive neuroplasticity is our brain’s natural adaption to information. Information includes thought, behavior, experience, and sensation. Active neuroplasticity is cognitive pursuits such as engaging in social interaction, teaching, aerobics, and creating. Proactive neuroplasticity is the most effective means of learning and unlearning because the regimen of deliberate, repetitive neural input of information accelerates and consolidates the brain’s restructuring. 

Neurons, the core components of our brain and central nervous system, convey information through electrical activity. The input of information causes a receptor neuron to fire. Each firing stimulates a presynaptic or sensory neuron that, depending upon the integrity of the information, forwards it via an axon or connecting pathway to a synapse. The signal is picked up by the postsynaptic neuron’s hairlike dendrites that forward the information to the nucleus of the cell body. Continuous electrical energy impulses engage millions of participating neurons, causing a cellular chain reaction in multiple interconnected areas of our brain.  

A Brief History

The science of neuroplasticity was identified in the 1960s from research into the rejuvenation of brain functioning after a massive stroke. Before that, researchers believed that neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons, ceased shortly after birth. Our brain’s physical structure was assumed to be permanent by early childhood. 

Today, we recognize that our neural pathways are not fixed but dynamic and malleable. The human brain retains the capacity to continually reorganize pathways and create new connections and neurons to expedite learning.

Neurons do not act by themselves but through neural circuits that strengthen or weaken their connections based on electrical activity. The deliberate, repetitious, input of information impels neurons to fire repeatedly, causing them to wire together. The more repetitions, the more robust the new connection. This is Hebbian Learning.

Hebbian Learning

Synaptic connections consolidate when two or more neurons are activated contiguously. Neural circuits are like muscles, the more repetitions, the more durable the connection. Hebb’s rule of neuroplasticity states, neurons that fire together wire together. When multiple neurons wire together, they create more receptor and sensory neurons. Repeated firing strengthens and solidifies the pathways between neurons. The activity of the axon pathway is heightened, causing the synapses to accelerate neurotransmissions of pleasurable and motivating hormones.

We not only prompt our neural network to restructure by deliberately inputting information, but through repetition, we cause circuits to strengthen and realign, speeding up the process of learning and unlearning. 

What happens when multiple neurons wire together? Every input of information, intentional or otherwise, causes a receptor neuron to fire. Each time a neuron fires, it reshapes and strengthens the axon connection and the neural bond. Repeated neural input creates multiple connections between receptor, sensory, and relay neurons, attracting other neurons. An increase in learning efficacy arises from the sensory neuron’s repeated and persistent stimulation of the postsynaptic cell. Postsynaptic neurons multiply, amplifying the positive or negative energy of the information. Energy is the size, amount, or degree of that which passes from one atom to another. The activity of the axon pathway heightens, prompting the synapses to increase and accelerate the release of hormones that generate the commitment, persistence, and perseverance useful to recovery or the pursuit of personal goals and objectives.

The consequence of DRNI over an extended period is obvious. Multiple firings substantially accelerate and consolidate learning. In addition, DRNI activates long-term potentiation, which increases the strength of the nerve impulses along the connecting pathways, generating more energy. Deliberate, repetitive, neural information generates higher levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factors) proteins associated with improved cognitive functioning, mental health, and memory. 

We know how challenging it is to change, to remove ourselves from hostile environments, and to break habits that interfere with our optimum functioning. We are physiologically hard-wired to resist anything that jeopardizes our status quo. Our brain’s inertia senses and repels changes, and our basal ganglia resist any modification in behavior patterns. DRNI empowers us to assume accountability for our emotional well-being and quality of life by proactively controlling the input of information.

Neural Reciprocity

Neural restructuring does not happen overnight. Recovery-remission is a year or more in recovery utilizing appropriate tools and techniques. Meeting personal goals and objectives takes persistence, perseverance, and patience. Substance abuse programs recommend nurturing a plant or tropical fish during the first year before contemplating a personal relationship. The successful pursuit of any ambition varies by individual and is subject to multiple factors. However, once we begin the process of DRNI, progress is exponential. Our brain reciprocates our efforts in abundance because every viable input of information engages millions of neurons with their own energy transmission. 

DRNI plays a crucial role in reciprocity. The chain reaction generated by a single neural receptor involves millions of neurons that amplify energy on a massive scale. The reciprocating energy from DRNI is vastly more abundant because of the repeated firing by the neuron receptor. Positive energy in, positive energy multiplied millions of times, positive energy reciprocated in abundance. 

Conversely, negative energy in, negative energy multiplied millions of times, negative energy is reciprocated in abundance. 

Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

Our brain does not think; it is an organic reciprocator that provides the means for us to think. Its function is the maintenance of our heartbeat, nervous system, and blood flow. It tells us when to breathe, stimulates thirst, and controls our weight and digestion.

Neurotransmissions

Because our brain does not distinguish healthy from toxic information, the natural neurotransmission of pleasurable and motivational hormones happens whether we feed it self-destructive or constructive information. That’s one of the reasons breaking a habit, keeping to a resolution, or recovering is challenging. The power of DRNI is that a regimen of positive, repetitive input can compensate for decades of irrational, self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, and provide the mental and emotional wherewithal to effectively pursue our personal goals and objectives. 

We receive neurotransmissions of GABA for relaxation, dopamine for pleasure and motivation, endorphins to boost our self-esteem, and serotonin for a sense of well-being. Acetylcholine supports neuroplasticity, glutamate enhances our memory, and noradrenalin improves concentration. In addition, information impacts the fear and anxiety-provoking hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. When we input negative information, our brain naturally releases neurotransmitters that support that negativity. 

Conversely, every time we provide positive information, our brain releases hormones that make us feel viable and productive, subverting the negative energy channeled by the things that impede our potential. 

Constructing the Information

Deliberate neural information is differentiated by goal, objectives, and content, which determine the integrity of the information and its correlation to durability and learning efficacy. The most effective information is calculated and specific to our intention. Are we challenging the negative thoughts and behaviors of our dysfunction? Are we reaffirming the character strengths and virtues that support recovery and transformation? Are we focused on a specific challenge? What is our end goal – the personal milestone we want to achieve? 

The process is theoretically simple but challenging, due to the commitment and endurance required for the long-term, repetitive process. We do not don tennis shorts and advance to Wimbledon without decades of practice with racket and balls; philharmonics cater to pianists who have spent years at the keyboard. DRNI requires a calculated regimen of deliberate, repetitive, neural information that is not only tedious but also fails to deliver immediate tangible results, causing us to readily concede defeat and abandon hope in this era of instant gratification.

Fortunately, the universal law of compensation anticipates this. The positive impact of proactive neuroplasticity is exponential due to the abundant reciprocation of positive energy and the neurotransmission of hormones that generate motivation, persistence, and perseverance. Proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI dramatically mitigates symptoms of physiological dysfunction and discomfort and advances the pursuit of goals and objectives.

To quote Noble Prize-winning author, André Gide “There are many things that seem impossible only so long as one does not attempt them.”

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Neuroscience and Happiness: Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change

Numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

This is a general overview of Dr. Mullen’s Academa.edu course “Neuroscience and Happiness. Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change.”

Neuroplasticity is the scientific evidence of our brain’s constant adaptation to information. Scientists refer to the process as structural remodeling of the brain. It’s what makes learning and registering new experiences possible. All information notifies our neural pathways to restructure, generating a correlated change in behavior and perspective.

 Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

What is significant is our ability to dramatically accelerate learning by deliberately compelling our brain to repattern its neural circuitry. DRNI or deliberate, repetitive neural information empowers us to proactively transform our thoughts, behaviors, and perspectives, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. 

Thanks to advances in technology, researchers can get a never-before-possible look at the brain’s dynamic and malleable inner mechanics.

Three forms of neuroplasticity.

Reactive neuroplasticity is our brain’s natural and indeliberate adaptation to information. We react unconsciously to sensory information and insensible experiences: music, colors, sounds, tactile impressions, and phenomena. Whether it negatively or positively processes that information depends upon the content. Examples of positive reactions might be a warm bath, delightful company, or a child’s laughter. An adverse reaction might be rush-hour traffic, disappointment, or a hostile gesture

Active neuroplasticity is achieved through intentional cognitive pursuits such as learning, engaging in social interaction, teaching, creating, or listening to music—not just hearing it but actively listening to it. 

DRNI (deliberate, repetitive neural information) is proactive neuroplasticity—the deliberate repatterning of our neural network utilizing tools and techniques developed for the process. Proactive neuroplasticity through DRNI is the most potent and effective means of learning

(1) it alleviates symptoms of ‘mental’ disorders and general discomforts that impact our emotional well-being and quality of life. A regimen of DRNI can compensate for and overwhelm decades of irrational and harmful thoughts and behaviors.

(2) The calculated regimen of repetitive neural input accelerates and consolidates learning. It facilitates the pursuit of our personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. 

Recovery from emotional dysfunction and the pursuit of goals and objectives are facilitated through the same process of DRNI.

Our brain is in constant flux; it never stops realigning to new information. Connections strengthen and weaken, neurons atrophy and others are born, learning replaces unlearning, chemical and electrical energy dissipates and expands, and functions shift from one region to another. Proactively stimulating our brain with deliberate, repetitive neural information accelerates and consolidates the process; there is a correlated change in thought, behavior, and perspective, becoming habitual and spontaneous over time.  

Each neural input of information causes a receptor neuron to fire, transmitting chemical and electrical energy, from neuron to neuron throughout the nervous system. DRNI expedites the process. Multiple positive DRNI, such as a series of positive personal affirmations (PPAs), cause multiple receptor neurons to fire, dramatically amplifying learning through synaptic neurotransmission. 

Hormonal and chemical neurotransmitters

Our brain rewards us with chemical and hormonal neurotransmissions: GABA for relaxation, serotonin and dopamine for pleasure and motivation, and endorphins for euphoria. In addition, it supplies us with chemicals and hormones that facilitate learning, memory, and concentration. 

Life can be difficult; many of us are unsatisfied, unhappy, and nonproductive. When that information filters into our neural system, our neurotransmitters support that negativity. That’s why it’s so hard to break a bad habit and recovery is difficult. Conversely, every time we provide positive input, our brain releases those same chemicals and hormones, generating feelings of self-worth and healthy productivity. It generates the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to achieve our potential.

Our brain is an organic reciprocator.

Our human brain does not think; it is an organic reciprocator that allows us to think. Its job is to provide the chemical and electrical maintenance that supports our vital functions: heartbeat, nervous system, and blood–flow. Neural messages tell us when to breathe, stimulate thirst, and control our weight and digestion. Our brain does not differentiate rational from irrational thinking, healthy from toxic behaviors. Instead, it reacts to the positive or negative energy of the information. 

Universal abundance

Our brain codes the health or toxicity of information into negative or positive electrical energy. That energy, duplicated by millions of participating neurons, is reciprocated in abundance because a single neuron receptor ultimately engages millions of participating neurons, each with its energy transmissions. Our human brain contains 86 billion nerve cells or neurons arranged in pathways or networks based on that electrical activity. The reciprocating energy from DRNI is vastly more abundant because of the repeated firing of the neuron receptor. Positive energy in, positive energy multiplied millions of times, positive energy reciprocated in abundance. 

Trajectory of Information

Neurons are the core components of our brain and our central nervous system. Inside each neuron is electrical activity. Information stimulates or excites a receptor neuron which fires, stimulating a presynaptic or sensory neuron via an axon or connecting pathway. Sensory neurons transmit the information to the synapse at the junction of the postsynaptic cell or relay neuron. The synapse permits the neurons to interact. The neuron’s hairlike tendrils (dendrites) pick up the synaptic signal and forward that information to the soma or nucleus of the cell body. Continuous electrical and chemical energy impulses engage millions of participating neurons, which transmit the electrical energy to millions of other neurons in multiple interconnected areas of our brain. Finally, the electrical energy converts back into information relayed by the motor neuron to its appropriate destination–our ears, bladder, muscles, and so on. Cognitive information is compartmentalized into the areas of the brain associated with the distinctly human traits of higher thought, language, and human consciousness.

Every input of information, intentional or otherwise, causes a receptor neuron to fire. Each time a neuron fires, it strengthens the axon connection and the neural bond. DRNI expedites the process through deliberate repetition. An increase in learning efficacy arises from the sensory neuron’s repeated and persistent stimulation of the postsynaptic cell. Multiple firings dramatically accelerate and consolidate learning. In addition, DRNI activates long-term potentiation, which increases the strength of the nerve impulses along the connecting pathways, generating more energy. BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factors are proteins that neurons need for survival. Deliberate, repetitive neural information generates higher levels of BDNF, which is associated with improved cognitive functioning, mental health, and memory. 

Onset

Combined statistics evidence roughly 90% of neuroses onset at adolescence or earlier. In the event conditions like PTSD or clinical narcissism begin later in life, susceptibility originates in childhood as a consequence of childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance(s). Our self-esteem and image are modified by experience and help form the foundation of our personality. We are who we are because of our core beliefs and the accumulation of our experiences. Since its onset, our dysfunction or discomfort has been feeding our brain irrational thoughts and behaviors. Irrational is anything detrimental to our emotional well-being and quality of life.

Simply put, it is not logical or reasonable to cause ourselves harm. These irrational thoughts and behaviors compel us to feed our brains harmful and self-destructive information. The purpose of DRNI is to replace those perceptions of undesirability and unworthiness generated by our childhood disturbance(s). 

Personal goals and objectives

The alternative utilization of DRNI is in the pursuit of our goals and objectives—improving life satisfaction, transforming ourselves, and becoming the best that we can be. We all know how difficult it is to change, remove ourselves from hostile environments, and break harmful habits that interfere with optimum functioning. We’re physiologically hard-wired to resist anything that disrupts our equilibrium. Our inertia senses and repels changes, and our brain’s basal ganglia resist any modification in behavior patterns. DRNI empowers us to assume accountability for our emotional well-being, productivity, and quality of life, by proactively controlling information input.

Hebbian Learning

Hebbian learning describes how neurons learn by responding to information. Hebb’s rule of neuroplasticity states that neurons that fire together wire together. In other words, the more neurons communicate with one another, the stronger the connection. When multiple neurons wire together, they create more receptor and sensory neurons. Repeated firing strengthens and solidifies the pathways between neurons. Synaptic connections consolidate when two or more neurons are activated contiguously. The more repetitions, the quicker and more robust the new connection. The activity of the axon pathway is heightened, urging the synapses to increase and accelerate the release of chemicals and hormones. Conscious repetition of information correlates to more robust learning and unlearning.

We are physiologically acclimated to our condition. It has been developing within us since childhood. This is why it is challenging to establish new habits or change our self-image and outlook. Let us use the example of someone with social anxiety disorder. The predominant symptom of SAD is intense apprehension of social interaction—the fear of being judged, negatively evaluated and ridiculed. This causes persistent, pathological anxiety in everyday situations such as dating, interviewing for a position, or even answering a question in class. 

Because our brain does not differentiate healthy from toxic information, each time a SAD person avoids a social situation or alienates someone out of fear of rejection, she or he is chemically and hormonally compensated. Self-destructive behaviors are rewarded with GABA for relaxation, dopamine for pleasure and motivation, endorphins for euphoria, and serotonin for a sense of well-being. We receive acetylcholine for our negativity, glutamate to support our selective memory, and noradrenaline to meddle with our concentration. Our brain says good job. Here is some more encouragement for your irrational behavior. 

Our neural network naturally adapts and restructures to information, whether reactive to unconscious experience or actively generated by our compulsion to engage and learn. Logic dictates that if our neural network learns from information, its deliberate, repetitive neural input enhances the process. If information naturally strengthens and consolidates neural connections to accelerate learning, then repetition dramatically expedites the process. 

Positive Personal Affirmations

Positive personal affirmations are rational, reasonable, possible, goal-focused, and first-person or future time. Rational because the objective is subverting irrationality. Remember, it is illogical and unreasonable to cause ourselves harm. PPAs are fair and sensible reflections of our aspirations and intentions. The end goal must be possible, or the effort is counter-productive and futile. Goal-focused is self-explanatory; our path will be purposeless meandering if we do not know our destination. PPAs should be unconditional and to the point.

DRNI

The information at the core of DRNI is calculated and specific to our intention. Are we challenging the negative thoughts and behaviors of our dysfunction? Are we reaffirming the character strengths that generate the motivation and perseverance to accomplish? What is our end goal? What is the personal milestone we desire to achieve? The crucial element of DRNI is the content of the intention behind the information. The strength of the message correlates to its durability and learning efficacy. 

So, what is the content of deliberate, repetitive neural information, how is it constructed, and what materials are helpful to its construction?  CBT, positive psychology, and other positive approaches collaboratively work to develop the specific, intention-driven content of the positive personal affirmations at the core of DRNI.  

Cognitive-Behavioral

As light is the absence of darkness, so positive is the absence of negativity. Cognitive-behavioral therapy’s overarching objective is to replace irrational and unhealthy thoughts and behaviors with productive and emotionally affirming ones. 

As our understanding of behavioral neuroplasticity evolved, it became clear that the practice of cognitive-behavioral modification produces changes in human brain activity. Further studies revealed that an effective way to counter the negativity generated by our dysfunction or discomfort is through the cognitive aspect of CBM, the deliberate, repetitious input of positive information. Over time and through repetition, new thoughts and behaviors become habitual and spontaneous. Studies of CBM have shown it to be an effective treatment for various mental illnesses, including depression, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic, bipolar and eating disorders, PTSD, OCD, and schizophrenia. CBM’s mechanisms of change are formidable tools in behavioral modification when utilizing repetitive cognitive reinforcement in concert with other approaches. The behavioral aspect supports the process Positive personal affirmations, embraced by us for centuries, are the cognitive aspect of CBM.

Positive Psychology

Positive psychology is the most viable adjunct to cognitive-behavioral modification in the processing of DRNI. Although the program functions best in conjunction with other approaches, its focus on the positive aspects of human development and achievement not only improves our self-image and perspectives but greatly enhances overall psychological and physiological health.

Positive psychology describes the pursuit of recovery and goals and objectives as people determining their potential and purpose by constructing and reclaiming a valued and welcoming identity. Its emphasis is on recognizing and regenerating our inherent character strengths, virtues, and attributes, which underscore our creativity, optimism, resilience, empathy, compassion, humor, and life satisfaction. It facilitates this through mindfulness, autobiography, positive writing, gratitude, forgiveness, kindness, and other self-affirming techniques. The overarching objective of positive psychology is to identify our inherent assets and capabilities to achieve our potential to become the best that we can be.

Accepting scientific validity to approaches that support DRNI encourages us to control our dysfunction or discomfort and achieve our motivating personal concerns. Achieving recovery and motivating personal concerns are not overnight achievables, however. The process is simple in theory but challenging due to the commitment and endurance required for the long-term, repetitive process of proactive neuroplasticity. We do not put on tennis shorts and advance to Wimbledon without decades of practice with racket and balls; philharmonics cater to pianists who have spent some time at the keyboard. DRNI requires a calculated regimen of deliberate, repetitive neural information. We can have all the tools we require, but they need to come out of the shed. Not only is DRNI repetitious and tedious, but it also fails to deliver immediate tangible results, causing us to readily concede defeat and abandon hope in this era of instant gratification. 

Recommended Practice: Repeat three positive personal affirmations a minimum of 5 times daily. That is about five minutes of your time. 

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the
pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate,
repetitive, neural information. WeVoice.  

The Hostility of Mental Health Stigma

Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate, repetitive, neural information. — WeVoice

Mental Health Stigma (MHS) is the hostile expression of the abject undesirability of a human being who has a mental illness. It is the instrument that brands the mentally dysfunctional (victim) defective due to stereotypes. MHS is purposed to protect the general population from unpredictable and dangerous behaviors by any means necessary. MHS is fomented by prejudice, ignorance, and discrimination. The stigmatized are devalued in the eyes of others and subsequently in their self-image as well.

Between 50 and 65 million U.S. adults and adolescents have a mental illness; 90% of those will be impacted by mental health stigma, a presence that elicits unsupportable levels of shame and jeopardizes the emotional and societal well-being of the afflicted.

Trajectory

The Signaling Event. MHS is triggered by a set of signals or a signaling event, i.e., an occasion, experience, news story, or encounter where the visibility of behaviors and mannerisms associated with mental illness elicit a reaction.

The Label. Labeling defines the signaling event and distinguishes it from other labels. ‘Woman’ is a label; it is specific, restrictive to gender, and says certain things that distinguish it from other labels. A successful label elicits a strong public reaction. The defining characteristics of the label become the stereotype. Labeling is subject to the labeler’s belief system and, like stereotype and stigma, is reliably inaccurate because of implied expectations of behavior. 

The Stereotype. Labeling gives the signal a moniker for identification; the stereotype defines it and gives it meaning. Stereotyping is a cognitive differentiation of something that piques one’s interest; everyone stereotypes. Mental health stereotyping is distinguishable by pathographic overtone that identifies the victim as unpredictable, potentially violent, and undesirable. 

Ironically, 14th-century asylums in Spain and Egypt were built to protect the mentally afflicted from the dangerous and violent members of society.

Mental health labeling and stereotypes support and collaborate with preconceived notions of mental illness, generated by the natural aversion to weakness and difference. This is supported by an ignorant and prejudicial belief system and, on occasion, personal experience. Labels and stereotypes are unbound by truth or evidence; believability is the ultimate criterion.  

Stigma. A stigma is a brand or mark that negatively impacts a person or group by distinguishing and separating that person or group from others. The branding concept originated with the ancient Greek custom of identifying criminals, slaves, or traitors by carving or burning a mark into their skin. Stigma is identified by three types: (1) abominations of the body, (2) moral character stigmas, and (3) tribal stigmas. The first refers to physical deformity or disease; tribal stigmas describe membership in devalued races, ethnicities, or religions; and moral character stigma refers to persons perceived as weak, immoral, duplicitous, dishonest, e.g., criminals, substance addicts, cigarette smokers, and the mentally ill. 

Mental Health Stigma. The objective of MHS is the perceptual protection of the general population from the unpredictable and dangerous behaviors associated with mental illness by any means necessary, including deception, misinformation, and fear-baiting. Its ultimate goal is to negatively impact the social reintegration of the victim. 

  • Anticipatory stigma is the expectation of a stigma due to behavior or diagnosis, and subsequent adverse social reactions. This causes resistance by the potential victim to disclose any physiological aberration.  
  • Stigma-avoidance identifies those who avoid or postpone treatment fearing the associated stigma will discredit them and negatively impact their quality of life. Studies indicate almost one-third of the potential victims resist disclosure, impacting the potential for recovery.
  • Family stigmatization occurs when family members reject a child or sibling because of their mental illness. Throughout history, it was commonly accepted that mental illness was hereditary or the consequence of poor parenting. A 2008 study found 25% to 50% of family members believe disclosure will bring shame to the family. (Courtesy-stigma denotes a supportive family member.)

An active stigma is a parasitic one. If it finds enough suitable hosts, the parasitosis can spread rapidly by traditional means. Studies show the aversion to mental illness is prosocially hard-wired which provides an abundance of hosts.  

Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

Contributing Factors to MHS. The stigma triad of ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination is generated and supported by preconceived notions, general obliviousness, a lack of education, and society’s deep-rooted fear of its susceptibility. The primary attributions to MHS are public opinion, media misrepresentation, visibility, diagnosis, and the disease or pathographic model of mental healthcare. 

How MHS Impacts the Victim 

MHS impacts the victim through a series of stigma experiences:

  • Felt stigma. The anticipated or implied threat of a stigma.  
  • Enacted stigma. The activated stigma. 
  • External stigma. The victim holds the perpetrator responsible for the stigma. 
  • Internalized stigma. The victim assumes behavioral responsibility for the stigma.
  • Experienced stigma. Victim’s reaction to the stigma.

The victim anticipates their mannerisms, behaviors or diagnosis will generate a stigma (felt stigma). When the stigma is realized it becomes an enacted stigma. The victim blames the person who originated the stigma (external stigma) or assumes responsibility due to behavior (internalized stigma). When the stigma impacts the victim’s wellbeing, it becomes an experienced stigma

MHS Impact. Mental health stigma can negatively affect the victim’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life by jeopardizing their:

  • Safety, health, and physiological wellbeing 
  • Livelihood
  • Housing
  • Social Status
  • Relationships

Solution

Mental health stigma will not be mitigated or eliminated until the mental healthcare community embraces the wellness model over the disease of mental health. The disease model of mental health focuses on the problem; creating a harmful symbiosis between the individual and the diagnosis. The wellness model emphasizes the solution. A battle is not won by focusing on incompetence and weakness but by knowing and utilizing our strengths, and attributes. That is how we positively function―with pride and self-reliance and determination―with the awareness of what we are capable of. 

Establishing new parameters of wellness calls for a reformation of thought and concept. In 2004, the World Health Organization began promoting the advantages of a wellness over disease perspective, defining health as a state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The World Psychiatric Association has aligned with the wellness model and it has become a central focus of international policy. Evolving psychological approaches have become bellwethers for the research and study of the positive character strengths that facilitate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance helpful to recovery. Wellness must become the central focus of mental health for the simple reason that the disease model has provided grossly insufficient results.

A WORKING PLATFORM showing encouraging results for most physiological dysfunctions and discomforts is an integration of positive psychology’s optimum human functioning with CBT’s behavior modification, neuroscience’s network restructuring, and other personality-targeted approaches. including affirmations, autobiography, and methods to regenerate self-esteem and motivation.

This new wellness paradigm, however, should not be a dissolution of medical model approaches but an intense review of their efficacy, and repudiation of the one-size-fits-all stance within the mental health community. 

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Top 10 SAD Fears and Apprehensions

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“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the
pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI — deliberate,
repetitive, neural information.” WeVoice (Madrid)

Top Ten List of SAD Apprehensions and Fears

10. Misunderstood by others (including therapists): No one else understands what it feels like to have social anxiety. Social anxiety remains a relatively misunderstood anxiety disorder, so it comes as no surprise that we feel at a loss when it comes to overcoming it. Many therapists lack the required knowledge to diagnose the disorder properly, and very few structured cognitive-behavioral therapy groups exist in the world.

9. Restricted from living a “normal” life: We feel our options in life are limited. Because we feel unable to engage in common, everyday activities, we feel trapped. A sense of helplessness and lack of control often accompany the feelings of being stuck or trapped.

8. Trapped (in a vicious cycle): We realize that our thoughts and actions don’t make rational sense, but we feel doomed to repeat them anyway. We don’t know any other way to handle scenarios in our lives. It is difficult for us to change our habits because we don’t know how.

7. Alienated: We feel alienated and isolated from our peers and families. We feel like we “don’t fit in” because no one understands us. The more we think this way, the more isolated we become. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. We identify with the word “loner.”

6. Hypersensitive to criticism and evaluation: We interpret things in a negatively skewed way. Our brain’s default position is irrational and negative. Even a minor misunderstanding can lead to a lengthy period of self-criticism. Sometimes others try to offer us advice, and we can take it the wrong way. We avoid events or activities where we can be judged, and this contributes to our lack of experience and sociability.

5. Depression over perceived failures: We replay events in our heads over and over, replaying how we “failed miserably” in our own perception. We’re certain that others noticed our anxiety. We may go our entire lives thinking back and re-living a “failed” experience, e.g., a public presentation, a bad date, or a missed opportunity. We keep replaying these things in our minds over and over again, which only reinforces our feelings of failure and defeat.

4. Dread and worry over upcoming events: We obsess about upcoming events, and “negatively predict” the outcomes. Worrying about the future focuses our attention on our shortcomings. We may experience anticipatory anxiety for weeks because we feel the event will cripple us.  Worrying causes more worry, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Our fear and anxiety is built up to gigantic proportions, the more time we spend worrying about the future. We make mountains out of molehills.

3. Uncertainty, hesitation, lack of confidence: We generally have low self-esteem. We hold ourselves back and avoid situations in life. We don’t participate in conversations as much as we could. We avoid situations because we fear being criticized and rejected by others. The fear of disapproval is so strong that we don’t get enough life experience in social situations, due to our habit of avoidance.

2. Fear of being the center of attention: Being put on the spot or made the center of attention is another primary symptom of social anxiety disorder. The thought of giving a presentation in front of a group of people cripples us with anxiety and fear. We worry that everyone will notice our anxiety, even though we are good at hiding it. We may display physiological symptoms of anxiety including sweating, blushing, shaking of the hands or legs, neck twitches, and weakening of the voice.

1. Self-Consciousness: Social anxiety makes us too aware of what we’re doing and how we’re acting around others. We feel like we’re under a microscope and everyone is judging us negatively. As a result, we pay too much attention to ourselves and worry about everyone seeming to observe and notice us. We worry about what we say, how we look, and how we move. We are obsessed with how we’re perceived.

Courtesy Social Anxiety Institute/Phoenix

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

DeConstructing ReChanneling

Numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the
pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate,
repetitive, neural information. WeVoice.  

ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed to compel the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of emotional dysfunction. 

Origins

Impacted by social anxiety disorder, ReChanneling’s director spent his formative years trying to comprehend the source of his emotional and behavioral problems. Years later, studies for his degree revealed severe social anxiety disorder. Armed with that knowledge, Mullen began to research methods to alleviate the symptoms of dysfunctions and discomforts. These efforts developed into groups and workshops for 550+ San Francisco bay area individuals. Recognizing the interrelationship of DSM-defined disorders, Dr. Mullen broadened his research to include the multiple forms of anxiety and depression and their comorbidities, e.g., PTSD, OC-D, substance abuse, self-esteem and motivational issues. Realizing the approaches utilized in recovery apply to the pursuit of goals and objectives, ReChanneling now facilitates individuals seeking to self-modify and transform. Proactive neuroplasticity through direct, repetitive, neural information (DRNI) is the culmination of these efforts. 

Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

Emotional dysfunction and discomfort. Both conditions can result in functional impairment which interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Both impact our emotional well-being and quality of life. Both are addressed through the same basic processes. The primary distinction between the two is severity. Psychological dysfunction is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnosable criteria. ReChanneling advocates and supports the 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. 

A Paradigmatic Approach 

The Wellness Model

One of the disadvantages of the etiological perspective is its focus on dysfunction over the individual; traditional psychology has abandoned studying the human experience in favor of focusing on a diagnosis. Evidence suggests that conventional psychiatric diagnoses have outlived their usefulness. The National Institute of Mental Health, for example, is replacing diagnoses with easily understandable descriptions of the issues based on emerging research data, not on the current symptom-based categories. 

The disease model of mental health focuses on the problem, creating a harmful symbiosis of individual and their dysfunction. The Wellness Model emphasizes the solution. A battle is not won by focusing on incompetence and weakness; it is won by knowing and utilizing our strengths, and attributes. That is how we positively function―with pride and self-reliance and determination―with the awareness of what we are capable of. 

The insularity of cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychologies, and other approaches cannot comprehensively address the complexity of the personality. We are better served by the integration of multiple traditional and non-traditional approaches, including those defined as new (third) wave (generation) therapies, developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation. Our environment, heritage, background, and associations reflect our wants, choices, and aspirations. If they are not given consideration, then we are not valued.

An integration of science and east-west psychologies is essential to capture the diversity of human thought and experience. Science gives us proactive neuroplasticity; cognitive-behavioral modification and positive psychology’s optimal functioning are western-oriented, and eastern practices provide the therapeutic benefits of Abhidharma psychology and the overarching truths of ethical behavior. Included in this program are targeted approaches utilized to restore self-esteem by correcting maladaptive and self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.

Cognitive-Behavioral

Lack of motivation and self-esteem stems from negative, irrational thinking and behavior caused by ingrained reactions to situations and conditions. The impediments to achieving a goal or objective are corroborative. 

Cognitive-behavioral modification (CBM) trains us to recognize our automatic negative thoughts and behaviors (ANTs), replacing them with healthy rational ones (ARTs) until they become automatic and permanent. The behavioral component of CBM involves activities that reinforce the process. CBM is structured, goal-oriented, and focused on the present and the solution. Almost 90 percent of therapeutic approaches involve cognitive-behavioral treatments. However, critical studies dispute cognitive-behavioral therapy’s efficacy, claiming it fares no better than non-CBT programs. They argue its effectiveness has deteriorated since its introduction, concluding it is no more successful than mindfulness-based therapy for depression and anxiety. Despite these criticisms, the program of thought and behavior therapy modification by Beck in the 1960s is still useful in modifying the irrational thoughts and behaviors that sustain dysfunction and discomfort and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives when used in concert with other approaches.

Positive Psychology

While CBM focuses on modifying our negative self-image and beliefs, positive psychology emphasizes our inherent and acquired strengths, virtues, and attributes. PP focuses on the inherent human traits that help us transform and flourish. Its mental health interventions have proved successful in mitigating the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other self-destructive patterns, producing significant improvements in emotional well-being. Positive psychology uses scientific understanding to aid in the realization of a satisfactory life, rather than merely treating mental illness, countering the pathographic focus of established mental healthcare. 

Abhidharma Psychology

The Abhidharma explores the essence of perception and experience, and the reasons and methods behind mindfulness and meditation. It presents a clear system for understanding our psychological dispositions, processes, habits, and challenges. Western teachings tell us what to avoid—envy, gluttony, greed, lust, hubris, laziness, and rage. Buddhist psychology tells us what to embrace—a valuable life, good intentions, tolerance, wholesome and kind living, productive livelihood, positive attitude, self-awareness, and integrity. 

It’s our belief that the historical revisions and translations of Buddha’s teachings overlooked the most important path to a healthy and productive life—that of making the right choice. Our self-destructive nature compels us to choose the self-destructive one even when every fiber of our being contradicts this compulsion. We know this because our entire human system revolts at self-destructive choices. Our physiological equilibrium is disrupted, producing changes in our heart rate, metabolism, and respiration. Inertia senses and opposes these changes, negatively impacting our brain’s basal ganglia, delivering mental confusion, emotional instability, and spiritual malaise

Self-Esteem

The rediscovery and reinvigoration of our self-esteem are achieved through a series of clinically proven exercises to help the individual reinvigorate our positive self-properties (self -reliance, -compassion, -resilience, etc.) disenabled by childhood exploitation, the onset of dysfunction, the subsequent disruption in natural human development, and the general distress brought on by life’s uncertainty.

To fully address the personality, we must create individual-based solutions. Training in prosocial behavior and emotional literacy are useful supplements to typical approaches. Behavioral exercises are utilized to practice the execution of considerate and generous social skills. Positive affirmations have enormous subjective value. Data provide evidence for mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions. Motivational enhancement strategies help overcome resistance to new ideas and concepts.

Each approach provides an integral link to the quality and intention of the information we supply to our neural network via proactive neuroplasticity.

Emotions

Emotions are associated with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation. Do they dictate our behavior, or are we able to manage their volatility? Rather than succumbing to emotional instability, awareness of the origins of emotional instability prevents reactionary outbursts and inconsistency due to a lack of foresight, empathy, and perspective. 

Recovered-Memory Process is the umbrella term for methods or techniques utilized in recalling memories. We repress certain feelings, thoughts, and desires unacceptable to the conscious mind and store them in the archives of our memory. It is helpful to retrieve and address the emotions felt in those repressed memories that once flashed by like a meteor. Stanislavski developed a method for authentic stage-acting that addresses our volatile emotions to deconstruct and better understand them. 

Affective Emotion Management. Emotions are not solitary and exclusive but fluid and mutually interconnected, although we allow one to dominate the others. Love and hate are indistinct and interchangeable extremes of the same instinct as are laughter and tears, resentment and acceptance, and so on. The ability of the film actor to project an emotion when script and schedule demand it, demonstrates they are controllable. Any situation can be experienced through laughter, tears, pride, or anger. We choose the one that suits a psychological need, which exposes its transience and manipulability. Utilizing Stanislavski’s method of emotional management, we assume control of our emotions, rather than allowing them to control us. 

Practicum versus Therapy

ReChanneling is practicum over therapy. A practicum is designed for self-reliance. While therapy often incurs a subordinacy to or dependency on the counselor, a practicum is a program developed in collaboration with the individual that targets her or his unique condition. We design a blueprint and provide the recovery methods, but the responsibility for achieving the goal rests on the individual, who controls the progress with the facilitator’s guidance.

DRNI

The deliberate, repetitive input of neural information.

The consequence of DRNI over a long period is obvious. Multiple firings substantially accelerate and consolidate learning. In addition, DRNI activates long-term potentiation, which increases the strength of the nerve impulses along the connecting pathways, generating more energy. Deliberate, repetitive, neural information generates higher levels of BDNF(brain-derived neurotrophic factors) proteins associated with improved cognitive functioning, mental health, and memory. 

We know how challenging it is to change, to remove ourselves from hostile environments, and to break habits that interfere with our optimum functioning. We’re physiologically hard-wired to resist anything that jeopardizes our status quo. Our brain’s inertia senses and repels changes, and our basal ganglia resist any modification in behavior patterns. DRNI empowers us to assume accountability for our emotional well-being and quality of life by proactively controlling the input of information.

Neural Reciprocity

Neural restructuring doesn’t happen overnight. Meeting personal goals and objectives takes persistence, perseverance, and patience. Recovery-remission from a mental dysfunction is a year or more in recovery utilizing appropriate tools and techniques. Substance abuse programs recommend nurturing a plant or tropical fish during the first year before contemplating a personal relationship. The successful pursuit of any ambition varies by individual and is subject to multiple factors. However, once we begin the process of DRNI, progress is exponential. Our brain reciprocates our efforts in abundance because every viable input of information engages millions of neurons with their own energy transmission. 

DRNI plays a crucial role in reciprocity. The chain reaction generated by a single neural receptor involves millions of neurons that amplify energy on a massive scale. The reciprocating energy from DRNI is vastly more abundant because of the repeated firing by the neuron receptor. Positive energy in, positive energy multiplied millions of times, positive energy reciprocated in abundance. 

Conversely, negative energy in, negative energy multiplied millions of times and reciprocated in abundance. 

Neurotransmissions

Our brain doesn’t think; it is an organic reciprocator that provides the means for us to think. Its function is the maintenance of our heartbeat, nervous system, blood flow, etc. It tells us when to breathe, stimulates thirst, and controls our weight and digestion. 

Because our brain doesn’t distinguish healthy from toxic information, the natural neurotransmission of pleasurable and motivational hormones happens whether we feed it self-destructive or constructive information. That’s one of the reasons breaking a habit, keeping to a resolution, or recovering is challenging. The power of DRNI is that a regimen of positive, repetitive input can compensate for decades of irrational, self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, and provide the mental and emotional wherewithal to effectively pursue our personal goals and objectives. 

Since our brain does not differentiate healthy from toxic information, it automatically responds to the energy of information, transmitting chemicals and hormones to reward it. We receive neurotransmissions of GABA for relaxation, dopamine for pleasure and motivation, endorphins for euphoria, and serotonin for a sense of well-being. Acetylcholine supports our positivity, glutamate enhances our memory, and noradrenalin improves concentration. In addition, information impacts the fear and anxiety-provoking hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. When we input negative information, our brain naturally releases neurotransmitters that support that negativity. 

Conversely, every time we provide positive information, our brain releases chemicals and hormones that make us feel viable and productive, subverting the negative energy channeled by the things that impede our potential. 

Constructing the Information

Deliberate neural information is differentiated by context, content, and intention, which determine the integrity of the information and its correlation to durability and learning efficacy. The most effective information is calculated and specific to our intention. Are we challenging the negative thoughts and behaviors of our dysfunction? Are we reaffirming the character strengths and virtues that support recovery and transformation? Are we focused on a specific challenge? What is our end goal – the personal milestone we want to achieve? 

The process is theoretically simple but challenging, due to the commitment and endurance required for the long-term, repetitive process. We don’t put on tennis shorts and advance to Wimbledon without decades of practice with racket and balls; philharmonics cater to pianists who have spent years at the keyboard. DRNI requires a calculated regimen of deliberate, repetitive, neural information that is not only tedious but also fails to deliver immediate tangible results, causing us to readily concede defeat and abandon hope in this era of instant gratification. To quote Noble Prize-winning author, André Gide “There are many things that seem impossible only so long as one does not attempt them.”

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

Dysfunction is Evidence of Our Humanness.

Dr. Robert F. Mullen
Director/ReChanneling

Numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate, repetitive, neural information.” — WeVoice (Madrid)

There is a saying that circulates among mental health professionals. Why do only 26% of people have a diagnosable mental disorder? . . . Because the other 74% haven’t been diagnosed yet.

We are all psychologically dysfunctional in some way. “Mental illnesses are so common that almost everyone will develop at least one diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their life” (Scientific American). 

Why do we treat the mentally ill with contempt, trepidation, and ridicule? We are hard-wired to fear and isolate mental illness, and we have been misinformed by history and the disease model of mental health. There are four common misconceptions about psychological dysfunctions. They are (1) abnormal and selective, (2) a consequence of behavior, (3) solely mental, and (4) psychotic. 

Let’s deconstruct these misconceptions.

The dysfunctional are psychotic.

There are two degrees of mental illness: neuroses and psychoses. When someone sees, hears, or responds to things that are not actual, they are having a psychotic episode. While few persons experience psychosis, everyone has moderate-and-above levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. We are universally neurotic. Since the overwhelming majority of mental disorders are neuroses, we are all dysfunctional to some extent. (Although the term ‘neurosis’ has been effectively eliminated from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it is a far less prejudicial term than mental illness. We prefer the term ‘physiological dysfunction and discomfort’ to embrace neuroses and disorders).

Emotional dysfunction is abnormal or selective. 

Neurosis is a condition that negatively impacts our emotional well-being and quality of life but does not necessarily impair or interfere with normal day-to-day functions. It is a standard part of natural human development. One-in-four individuals have diagnosable neurosis. According to the World Health Organization, nearly two-thirds of people with emotional dysfunction reject, refuse to disclose, or choose to remain oblivious to their condition. Mental disorders are common, and undiscriminating, and impact us all in some fashion or another. Many of us have more than one disorder; depression and anxiety are commonly comorbid, often accompanied by substance abuse. 

Emotional dysfunction is the consequence of a person’s behavior. 

Combined statistics prove that 89% of neuroses onset at adolescence or earlier. In the event conditions like PTSD or clinical narcissism manifest later in life, the susceptibility originates in childhood. Most psychologists agree that neurosis is a consequence of childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance. Any number of things can cause this. Perhaps parents are controlling or do not provide emotional validation. Maybe the child is subjected to bullying or from a broken home. Behaviors later in life may impact the severity but are not responsible for the neurosis itself. It is never the child’s fault, nor reflective of their behavior. There is the likelihood that no one is intentionally responsible. This disputes moral models that we are to blame for our disorder, or that it is God’s punishment for sin.  

A dysfunction is solely mental.

In early civilizations, mental illness was the domain of supernatural forces and demonic possession. Hippocrates and diagnosticians of the 19th century looked at the relative proportions of bodily fluids. Lunar influence, sorcery, and witchcraft are timeless culprits. In the early 20th century, it was somatogenic. The biological approach argues that neuroses are related to the brain’s physical functioning, while pharmacology promotes it as a chemical or hormonal imbalance. However, the simultaneous mutual interaction of all human system components—mind, body, spirit, and emotions—is required for sustainability and recovery.

The disease model focuses on the history of deficit behavior. The American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) brief definition of neurosis contains the following words: distressing, irrational, obsessive, compulsive, dissociative, depressive, exaggerated, unconscious, and conflicts. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the APA, uses words like incapable, deceitful, unempathetic, manipulative, difficult, irresponsible, and incompetent. 

This ‘defective’ emphasis has been the overriding psychiatric perspective for over a century. The disease model is the chief proponent of the notion that the mentally ill are dangerous and unpredictable. We distance ourselves and deem them socially undesirable. We stigmatize them. The irony is, we are them. 

  • Over one-third of family members hide their relationship with their dysfunctional child or sibling to avoid bringing shame to the family. They are considered family undesirable, a devaluation potentially more life-limiting and disabling than the neurosis itself. 
  • The media stereotypes neurotics as homicidal schizophrenics, impassive childlike prodigies, or hair-brained free-spirits. One study evidenced roughly half of U.S. news stories involving emotional dysfunction allude to violence. 
  • Psychologists argue that more persons would seek treatment if psychiatric services were less stigmatizing. There are complaints of rude or dismissive staff, coercive measures, excessive wait times, paternalistic or demeaning attitudes, pointless treatment programs, drugs with undesirable side effects, stigmatizing language, and general therapeutic pessimism. 
  • The disease model supports doctor-patient power dominance. Clinicians deal with 31 similar and comorbid disorders, 400 plus schools of psychotherapy, multiple treatment programs, and an evolving plethora of medications. They cannot grasp the personal impact of neurosis because they are too focused on the diagnosis. 

A recent study of 289 clients in 67 clinics found that 76.4% were misdiagnosed. An anxiety clinic reported over 90% of clients with generalized anxiety were incorrectly diagnosed. Experts cite the difficulty in distinguishing different disorders or identifying specific etiological risk factors due to the DSM’s failing reliability statistics. Even mainstream medical authorities have begun to criticize the validity and humanity of conventional psychiatric diagnoses. The National Institute of Mental Health believes traditional psychiatric diagnoses have outlived their usefulness and suggests replacing them with easily understandable descriptions of the issues.

Because of the disease model’s emphasis on diagnosis, we focus on the dysfunction rather than the individual. Which disorder do we find most annoying or repulsive? What behaviors contribute to the condition? How progressive is it, and how effective are treatments? Is it contagious? We derisively label the obvious dysfunctional ‘a mental case.’

Realistically, we cannot eliminate the word ‘mental’ from the culture. Unfortunately, its negative perspectives and implications promulgate perceptions of incompetence, ineptitude, and unlovability. Stigma, the hostile expression of someone’s undesirability, is pervasive and destructive. Stigmatization is deliberate, proactive, and distinguishable by pathographic overtones intended to shame and isolate. 90% of persons diagnosed with a mental disorder claim they have been impacted by mental health stigma. Disclosure jeopardizes livelihoods, relationships, social standing, housing, and quality of life. 

The disease model assumes that emotional distress is merely symptomatic of biological illness. The Wellness Model focuses on the positive aspects of human functioning that promote our well-being and recognize our essential and shared humanity. The Wellness Model emphasizes what is right with us, innately powerful within us – our potential and determination. Recovery is not achieved by focusing on incompetence and weakness; it is achieved by embracing and utilizing our inherent strengths and abilities. 

Benefits of the Wellness Model

  • Revising negative and hostile language will encourage new positive perspectives
  • The self-denigrating aspects of shame will dissipate, and stigma becomes less threatening. 
  • Doctor-client knowledge exchange will value the individual over the diagnosis.
  • Realizing neurosis is a natural part of human development will generate social acceptance and accommodation. 
  • Recognizing that they bear no responsibility for onset will revise public opinion that individuals deserve their neurosis because it is the result of their behavior. 
  • Emphasizing character strengths and virtues will positively impact self-beliefs and image, leading to more disclosure, discussion, and recovery-remission. 
  • Realizing proximity and susceptibility will address the desire to distance and isolate. 
  • Emphasis on value and potential will encourage accountability and foster self-reliance.

The impact of neurosis begins during childhood; recovery is a long-term commitment. The Wellness Model creates the blueprint and then guides, teaches, and supports us throughout the recovery process by emphasizing our intrinsic character strengths and attributes that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover. 

The adage, treat others as you want to be treated, takes on added relevance when we accept that we all experience neuroses. In fact, dysfunction is evidence of our humanness.

Request a referenced copy of this article @ rechanneling@yahoo.com.

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

Dysfunction in the LGBTQ+ Community

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Establishing a Wellness Model for LGBTQ+ Persons with Anxiety, Depression, and Comorbid Emotional Dysfunction

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.
Director/ReChanneling

Firmly establishing wellness models in mental health requires nothing less than a reformation of language, power structure, and perspective throughout the mental healthcare community and beyond. 

65 million U.S. adults and 18.5 million adolescents have major depression and anxiety. Estimates show that 60% of those with anxiety also have depression symptoms, and both are comorbid with substance abuse. The LBGTQ+ community is 1.5-2.5 times more likely to have anxiety and depression than their straight or gender-conforming counterparts. Similar numbers hold for LGBTQ+ persons with other mental and emotional disorders. Anxiety and depression are the primary causes of the 56% increase in adolescent suicide over the last decade. High school LGBTQ+ students are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide in their lifetime.

Wellness must become the central focus of mental health because the disease model has provided grossly unsatisfactory results. Rather than obsessing on disease and deficits, wellness models emphasize the character strengths and virtues that generate motivation, persistence, and perseverance essential to recovery. Psychological science is there, but it needs positive implementation through program integration, positive evaluation, transparency, and information management. Empathy and communication must supersede etiology and misdiagnosis. 

Wellness impacts more than mental health; it is a paradigmatic perspective that seeks to promote a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. This paper will show how the wellness model’s sociological emphasis on character strengths and attributes not only positively impacts the self-beliefs and image of a mentally ill person but resonates in sexual and gender-based identities and portends well, the recovery-remission of an LGBTQ+ person with a mental illness.  

Introduction

To illustrate the wellness model’s potential impact, this paper focuses on LGBTQ+ persons with anxiety and depression disorders, which comprise 42% of diagnosable dysfunctions in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It posits what is learned can be applied to the remaining 58% of mental disorders that impact an LGBTQ+ person’s emotional well-being and quality of life. “There is an urgent need to develop and disseminate tailored evidence-based interventions that improve the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth. (Wilkerson et al., 2016, p. 358). 

Depression and anxiety are the two most common forms of mental dysfunction impacting millions of U.S. adults who find themselves caught up in a densely interconnected network of fear and avoidance of social situations. Johns Hopkins (2020) reports that around 25 million U.S. adults have a depressive illness, and 45 million have anxiety. Adolescent numbers fluctuate between 8 and 18 million (CDC, 2020; NIMH, 2017); the actual number is indeterminate. Statistics are even less reliable for the LGBTQ+ community because large-scale mental health studies rarely include sexual and gender identity (NAMI, 2020b). “Federally funded surveys only recently have begun to identify sexual minorities in their data collections” (Medley et al., 2020, p. 1). Experts estimate the infection rate in the LBGTQ+ community is 1.5 to 2.5 times higher “than that of their straight or gender-conforming counterparts” (Brenner, 2019, p. 1).

Depressive illnesses tend to co-occur with anxiety and substance abuse (Johns Hopkins, 2020). “Some estimates show that 60% of those with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression, and the numbers are similar for those with depression also experiencing anxiety” (Salcedo, 2018, p. 1). Anxiety and depression are the primary causes of the 56% increase in adolescent suicide over the last decade (Curtin & Heron, 2019). “High school students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers,” and “40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide in their lifetime” (NAMI, 2020b, p. 1). 

Anxiety is the most common mental dysfunction, impacting the emotional well-being and quality of life of adults and children who find themselves caught up in a densely interconnected network of fear, worry, and apprehension. The psychological and sociological toll can be overwhelming. Physically, anxiety can cause sweating, trembling, fatigue, and rapid heartbeat, lower the immune system and increase the risk of heart disease risk. Persons with depression may experience a lack of interest and enjoyment of daily activities, significant weight fluctuation, insomnia or excessive sleeping, enervation, inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Anxious and depressed persons frequently generate images of themselves performing poorly in social situations (Hirsch & Clark, 2004; Hulme et al., 2012) for fear of being found out as unlikeable, stupid, or annoying. Accordingly, they avoid speaking in public, expressing opinions, or even fraternizing with peers. Symptoms can be repressive and intractable, imposing irrational thought and behavior (Richards, 2014; Zimmerman et al., 2010) that govern perspectives of personal attractiveness, intelligence, and competence (Ades & Dias, 2013). Over time, these self-beliefs become automatic negative thoughts (Amen, 1998) that determine initial reactions to situations or circumstances. 

Mental Health and LGBTQ+ Culture

Halloran and Kashima (2006) define culture as “an interrelated set of values, tools, and practices that are shared among a group of people who possess a common social identity” (p. 140). Culture determines how mental illness is perceived or diagnosed, how services are organized, and how they’re funded. It also affects how patients express their symptoms…and how they cope in the range of their community and family supports. (Daw, 2001, p. 1)

Studies and research indicate that mental health culture is underscored by the same interrelated attributions to mental health stigma: public opinion, media representation, family rejection, distancing, and the diagnosis itself. These attributions are also LGBTQ+ cultural influences along with heterosexualism and victimization. Both are impacted by history, while the disease model remains the primary contributor to mental health culture.   

LGBTQ+ culture is defined by its sexual and gender identity as distinct from the heterosexual and cisgender community (NAMI, 2020b). Subcultures within the community comprise “a diverse set of groups, including distinct groups based on sexual orientation and gender identity” (Lewis et al., 2017, p. 861), each struggling to develop their recognition. LGBTQ+’s social identity is shaped by oppression and its role in overcoming it. The community faces “numerous challenges and instances of heterosexism and homophobia in their daily lives” (UW-Madison, 2020, p. 1), including “discrimination, prejudice, denial of civil and human rights, harassment, and family rejection” (NAMI, 2020b, p. 1). The contrast in social culture is underscored by 26 countries with legalized same-sex marriage versus 73 countries where homosexual activity between consenting adults is illegal (Equaldex, 2020) and 8 countries where it is punishable by death (ILGA, 2019). LGBTQ+ people worldwide are confronted by “violence, arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, torture, and execution, according to Amnesty International” (WEF, 2018, p. 1). Because of this cultural disparity, this paper limits its focus to LGBTQ+ mental health issues in the United States. 

Transition

Working within a wellness model of mental health has become a central focus of international policy (Slade, 2010). As psychologist Kinderman (2014) writes, “we need wholesale and radical change, not only in how we understand mental health problems but also in how we design and commission mental health services” (p. 1). Decades of pathographic focus in psychological research and studies, negative diagnostic attributions, stereotyping and stigma, public and institution resistance, and a doctor-client power dominance factor in the need to transition to a wellness paradigm.

Firmly establishing wellness models in mental health requires nothing less than a reformation of language, power structure, and perspective throughout the mental healthcare community and beyond. Rather than obsessing on disease and deficits, wellness models emphasize the character strengths and virtues that generate motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recovery. Psychological science is there but needs implementation through program integration, positive evaluation, transparency, and information management. Empathy and communication must supersede etiology. This paper does not endorse a total dissolution of medical model approaches, but a review of their efficacy and the psychological effectiveness of their pathographic dominance is highly warranted. 

Redefining Mental Health

Government agencies define mental illness as a “diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria” that can “result in functional impairment which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities” (Salzer et al., 2018, p. 3). This ‘defective’ emphasis has been the overriding psychiatric perspective for centuries. 

The pathographic or disease perspective of diagnosis and recovery focuses on the history of an individual’s suffering to facilitate diagnosis. Schioldann (2003, p. 303) defines pathography as a historical biography from a medical, psychological, and psychiatric viewpoint. It analyses a single individual’s biological heredity, development, personality, life history and mental and physical pathology, within the socio-cultural context of his/her time, in order to evaluate the impact of these factors upon his/her decision-making, performance, and achievements. (Kőváry, 2011, p. 742)

One only needs the American Psychological Association’s (APA, 2020) definition of neurosis to comprehend the mental health community’s pathographic focus. The 90-word overview contains the following words: distressing, irrational, obsessive, compulsive, dissociative, depressive, exaggerated, unconscious, conflicts, anxiety, disorders. DSM-3 abandoned the word ‘neurosis’ in 1980, but it remains the go-to term in the mental health community. Coined by a Scottish physician in 1776, neurosis defined itself as functional derangement of the nervous system. Pathography focuses “on a deficit, disease model of human behaviour (sic),” whereas the wellness model focuses “on positive aspects of human functioning” (Mayer & May, 2019, p. 159). 

Studies and research portray the mental healthcare community as drowning in pessimism (Henderson et al., 2014; Khesht-Masjedi et al., 2017; Pryor et al., 2009). “There is evidence to indicate the problem may be endemic in the medical health community” (Gray, 2002, p. 3), and universally systemic (Knaak et al., 2017). Noted psychologist Alison Gray (2002) argues that more disordered persons would seek treatment if psychiatric services were less stigmatized and stigmatizing. Patients commonly report instances where a staff member was inordinately rude or dismissive. They cite coercive measures, excessive wait times, paternalistic or demeaning attitudes, treatment programs revolving around drugs with undesirable side effects, stigmatizing language, and general therapeutic pessimism (Henderson et al., 2014; Huggett et al., 2018). Clients with more severe complications or illnesses are often deemed “difficult, manipulative, and less deserving of care” (Knaak et al., 2017, p. 2). Nurses and clinicians cite a lack of collegial support, insufficient knowledge and training, and the fear of client self-harm (Henderson et al., 2014), leading them to over-diagnose and over-prescribe (Huggett et al., 2018).

Transitioning from the disease model’s pathographic language to the optimistic and encouraging language of wellness models is everyone’s responsibility in the mental health community―its institutions, associations, practitioners, researchers, media, and clients. In the growing opinion of clinical psychologists, empathy and communication must take precedence over etiology. 

We must move away from the disease model, which assumes that emotional distress is merely symptomatic of biological illness, and instead embrace a model of mental health and well-being that recognizes our essential and shared humanity. Our mental health is largely dependent on our understanding of the world and our thoughts about ourselves, other people, the future, and the world. (Kinderman, 2014, p. 3

Language and Perspective

Language generates and supports perspective, and linguists agree that the relationship between language and power is mutual (Ng & Deng, 2017). Language influences thought and action. Terms like incapacity, deceit, unempathetic, manipulative, and irresponsible describe DSM-5 traits for various disorders. The argument is not that these descriptions are invalid; they are overwhelmingly negative and perceptually hostile. Judging by public opinion, media representation, and mental health stereotypes and stigma, these words help frame the perception of a person with a mental disorder (DeMare, 2016; Pinfold et al., 2005; Pryor et al., 2009).

Realistically, we cannot eliminate the word ‘mental’ from the culture. The disease model’s guide for 70 years is called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Unfortunately, the word ‘mental’ is a limited description of a disorder, and its negative implications support perceptions of incompetence, unworthiness, and undesirability. It is the dominant source of stigma, shame, and self-denigration. Psychologically, the word mental defines a person or their behavior as somehow extreme or illogical. Adolescents derisively assign the term to the unpopular, different, and socially inept. The urban dictionary defines mental as someone silly or stupid. 

Hostile and demeaning language is pervasive throughout mental healthcare promulgated by the disease or medical model’s pathographic undercurrent. This perspective influences public opinion, study and research, media representation, the doctor-patient power structure, community interrelationships, and client self-beliefs and image. Transitioning from the disease model to wellness models requires constructing a more reasonable mental health perspective by addressing misunderstanding, misinformation, and the overriding focus of the disease model on diagnosis, disorder, deficit, and denigration. 

Misinformation is generated by the psychological community’s difficulty finding agreement due to changing criteria, “substantial discrepancies and variation in definition, epidemiology, assessment, and treatment” (Nagata et al., 2015, p. 724), and the intractability of the American Psychiatric Association. There are four common misconceptions about mental disorders. They are (1) abnormal and selective, (2) a consequence of behavior, (3) solely mental, and (4) psychotic. These are corrected by universality, age of onset, complementary, and the clear differentiation of psychosis from neurosis. 

Universality. A recent article in Scientific American speculates that “mental illnesses are so common that almost everyone will develop at least one diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their life” (Reuben & Schaefer, 2017, p. 1). It is a part of natural human development. One-in-four individuals have a diagnosable mental disorder. According to the World Health Organization, nearly two-thirds of people who believe they have a mental disorder reject or refuse to disclose their condition. Include those who dispute or chose to remain oblivious to their dysfunction, and we can conclude that mental disorders are common, undiscriminating, and universally impacting. 

Age of Onset. The onset of a disorder is a consequence of early psychophysiological disturbance, according to Mayoclinic (2019). Perhaps parental behaviors are overprotective or controlling or do not provide emotional validation (Cuncic, 2018). The receptive juvenile might be the product of bullying, abuse, or a broken home. “LGBT youths experience greater stressors from childhood into early adulthood, such as child abuse and unstable housing, that exacerbate mental health problems” (Mustanski et al., 2016, p. 527). LGBTQ+ youth experience disproportionately high rates of verbal and physical harassment and other types of peer victimization (Berlan et al., 2010; Reisner et al., 2015). “Gender minority youth had approximately four-fold higher odds of experiencing any bullying or harassment in the past year” (Reisner et al., 2015, pp. 35-36).

Childhood/adolescent exploitation or abuse are generic terms to describe a broad spectrum of experiences that interfere with a youth’s optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development (Steele, 1995). Any number of situations or events can trigger the susceptibility to onset; it could be hereditary, environmental, or some traumatic experience (Mayoclinic, 2019; NIH, 2019). Statistically, the LGBTQ+ community is at “a higher risk than their heterosexual counterparts for traumatic life experiences such as childhood physical, psychological, and sexual abuse” (Bandermann, 2014, p. 3).

Despite the implication of intentionality in the words’ abuse’ and ‘exploitation,’ a toddler might sense abandonment and develop emotional issues when a parent is preoccupied (Lancer, 2019). The child/adolescent is not accountable for their dysfunction; there is the likelihood no one is intentionally responsible. Similarly, with the scientific affirmation that, while sexual and gender-based identities may have a genetic or biological basis, they are not chosen, and the LGBTQ+ person is not accountable; unlike mental illness, there is no implicit or explicit responsible party.

Undoubtedly, this sociological model conflicts with moral models that claim, “mental illness is onset controllable, and persons with mental illness are to blame for their symptoms” (Corrigan 2006, p. 53), and sexual and gender-based orientation is a choice.

Complementarity. In early civilizations, mental illness was the domain of supernatural forces and demonic possession. Hippocrates and diagnosticians of the 19th century looked at the relative proportions of bodily fluids. Lunar influence, sorcery, and witchcraft are timeless culprits. In the early 20th century, it was somatogenic. The biological approach argues that neuroses are related to the brain’s physical functioning (McLeod, 2018), while pharmacology promotes it as a chemical or hormonal imbalance. Carl Roger’s study of the cooperation of human system components to maintain physiological equilibrium produced the word ‘complementarity’ to define simultaneous mutual interaction. Mind, body, spirit, and emotions work in concert. The same mutual interaction is evident in sexual and gender-based identities as it is in all persons.

Psychosis and Neurosis. There are two degrees of mental disorders: neuroses and psychoses. When someone sees, hears, or responds to things that are not actual, they are having a psychotic episode. While few persons experience psychosis, everyone has moderate-and-above levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. Neurosis is a condition that negatively impacts our emotional well-being and quality of life but does not necessarily impair or interfere with normal day-to-day functions. Since the overwhelming majority of mental disorders are neuroses, humans are all dysfunctional to some extent. 

“Language reveals power, reflects power, maintains existing dominance, unites and divides . . . and creates influence.” (Ng & Deng, 2017, p. 15). The similar impact of the wellness model on the mentally ill and the LGBTQ+ person is evident. Revising negative and hostile language to embrace a positive dialogue of encouragement and appreciation generates new perspectives that positively contribute to self-beliefs and image, leading to more disclosure, discussion, and, in the case of mental illness, recovery-remission. The self-denigrating aspects of shame should dissipate; stigma becomes less threatening. 

Accepting that mental illness and sexual and gender-based identities are ubiquitous and non-discriminating should make it easier to embrace the subject within the family structure. Realizing their proximity and general susceptibility should mitigate the desire to distance and isolate. Accepting their social pervasiveness should alleviate the prejudice, ignorance, and discrimination attached to mental illness (Khesht-Masjedi et al., 2017; Pescosolido, 2013; Pinfold et al., 2005; Wood & Irons, 2017), as well as sexual and gender-based identities (Adamczyk & Liao, 2018; Dodge et al., 2016; Lewis et al., 2017). Recognizing that neither the mentally ill nor the LGBTQ+ person is accountable disputes the belief that they are weak or amoral and their condition a reflection of behavior. (Condition is herein defined as the state of something with regard to its quality.)

Resistance to Recovery

The term stigma-avoidance defines those who fear that public disclosure could, potentially, stigmatize and discredit them. Statistics from the National Bureau of Economic Research “find that survey respondents under-report mental health conditions 36% of the time when asked about diagnosis” (Bharadwaj et al., 2017, p. 3). A recent study by Salzer et al. (2018) reveals that only one-third of disordered persons were in recovery-remission in 2017. The lower recovery-remission rates may be partly due to the inability to afford treatment due to anxiety-induced financial and employment instability (Gregory et al., 2018). More than 70% of social anxiety disorder patients, for example, are in the lowest economic group (Nardi, 2003).

The LGBTQ+ community’s resistance to disclosing a mental disorder, seeking treatment, or accepting a diagnosis is due to the same attributions that underscore general reticence: stigmatization, victimization, public opinion, media representation, family rejection, and the diagnosis itself. 

Stigmatization 

Mental health stigma is the hostile expression of the abject undesirability of the afflicted. 90% of survey respondents with a mental disorder claim they have been impacted by mental health stigma (NAMI 2020a). Stigmatization is deliberate and proactive, distinguishable by pathographic overtones intended to shame and isolate (Pryor et al., 2009). Disclosure of a mental disorder jeopardizes livelihoods, relationships, social standing, housing, and quality of life (Huggett et al., 2018; Pinfold et al., 2005; Sowislo et al., 2016; Wood & Irons, 2017). “The deleterious effects of stigma and prejudice on the health of sexual minority individuals have been well-documented across both physiological and psychological domains” (Dodge et al., 2016, p. 1). 

For LGBTQ youth, the minority stress theory posits that their health is affected by the degree to which their social environment stigmatizes sexual and gender minorities and the extent to which LGBTQ+ youth in these environments are expected to hide their non-conformity. (Wilkerson et al., 2016, p. 359)

Mental health stigma is expressed within three categories:

  • Tribal stigma devalues.
  • Moral character stigma implies amorality and weakness.
  • Abominations of the body stigma refers to physical deformity or disease (Pryor et al., 2009).

Mental disorder occupies the last two categories. Ignorance equates a mental disorder with weakness or contributing behavior, while the medical model focuses on the disease and deformity aspect. The LGBTQ+ community’s sexual and gender-based identity is socially and culturally tribal.

Victimization

“Community-based samples of LGBT youths have shown that as many as 30% may experience psychological distress at clinically significant levels” (Mustanski et al., 2016, p. 527). A study of the effects of cumulative victimization on LGBTQ+ youth’s mental health found that they “experience greater mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) . . . than do heterosexual and cisgender individuals” (Mustanski et al., 2016, p. 527). Contributors include internalized homophobia, stigma consciousness, identity concealment, and experiences of heterosexism and victimization. (Heterosexism is the sociological term for discrimination or prejudice against gay people by heterosexuals who assume heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation). Sexual and gender-identity minorities are disproportionally subject to bullying, harassment, and other peer victimization (Berlan et al., 2010; Reisner et al., 2015). The LGBTQ+ community is “one of the most targeted communities by perpetrators of hate crimes in the country” (NAMI, 2020b, p. 1). 

Because of the greater risk of victimization in LGBT individuals compared with heterosexuals starting as early as adolescence, research is needed that examines how trajectories of sexual orientation-based victimization across development influence the risk for mental health problems for LGBT people. (Mustanski et al., 2016, p. 528)

Public Opinion 

Although recognition, attributions, and service use may reflect prejudice associated with mental illness, the heart of stigma lies in social acceptance” (Pescosolido, 2013, p. 8). The image of the dangerous, unpredictable, mentally ill person is still widely endorsed by the public (Corrigan & Watson, 2002; Pinfold et al., 2005). Stuart and Arboleda-Flórez (2012) analysis of two surveys (1990/2006) on public perception found, that “between 80-100 percent of respondents . . . favored involuntary hospitalization for that disorder when they thought that violence was an issue” (p. 7). 

Attitudes toward sexual and gender-based identity became substantially more accepting between the 1970s, the most significant shift among 18- to 29-year-olds (Adamczyk & Liao, 2018; Dodge et al., 2016). “It is clear that Americans have become more accepting of same-sex sexual behavior and relationships, but it is unclear how universal those changes are and whether they are due to age, time period, or cohort” (Twenge et al., 2016, p. 10).

Persons tend to be more supportive, in part, “because gay men and lesbians are then seen as less responsible for their orientation” (Adamczyk & Liao, 2018, p. 4). An overwhelming share (92%) of the U.S. LGBTQ+ community believes “society has become more accepting of them in the past decade and expect it to grow even more accepting in the decade ahead” (Pew, 2020, p 1). However, many rights and benefits afforded to LGBTQ+ individuals depend on region, race and ethnicity, political persuasion, educational attainment, economics, and religiosity (Adamczyk & Liao, 2018; Dodge et al., 2016; UW-Madison, 2020). Religion is strongly associated with negative beliefs about the justifiability of LGBTQ+ “sexual behavior and marriage” (Twenge et al., 2016, p. 8). The degree of intolerance is denominational and subject to the frequency of attendance. Jews and moderate-to-liberal protestants are more tolerant than Baptists, fundamentalists, and Catholics (Adamczyk & Liao, 2018; Schnabel, 2016). The Pew (2020) study shows that 29% of LGBTQ+ persons have felt unwelcome in a place of worship;

Heterosexual women consistently demonstrate more positive attitudes toward sexual and gender minority groups than heterosexual men who are “traditionally expected to more rigidly conform to gender explicitly heteronormative norms and stereotypes” (Dodge et al., 2016, p. 4). Attitudes toward lesbians and gay men are significantly more positive than attitudes toward transgender people (Adamcyzk & Liao, 2018; Lewis et al., 2017), whereas “bisexual individuals commonly report experiencing stigma, prejudice, and discrimination from both heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals” (Dodge et al., 2016, p. 1).

Education and interpersonal contact mitigate prejudicial attitudes and behaviors towards both the mentally disordered and LGBTQ+ individuals. Contact-based education has emerged as the most influential factor in public attitude and behavior towards people with mental health problems (Pinfold et al., 2005; Corrigan, 2006). “Multiple studies have found that knowing someone who is LGBTQ+ is associated with more supportive attitudes” (Adamczyk & Liao, 2018, p. 10), and “may increase knowledge, reduce anxiety, and increase empathy” (Lewis et al., 2017, p. 862). This benefit has not crossed over to transgender people, likely, because “personal contact is relatively small” (Lewis et al., 2017 p. 871).

According to the Pew Research Center (Pew, 2020), 30% of the LGBTQ+ community reported they have been threatened or physically attacked, 21% treated unfairly by an employer, and 58% the target of slurs or jokes. Heterosexism inflicts itself on individual, familial, institutional, employment, political, and cultural levels, and openly occurs in educational, career, religious, and social settings (Bandermann, 2014; Lewis et al., 2017). 

While public opinion has drastically improved for the LGBTQ+ community, the perception of the dangerous and unpredictable mentally disordered person who should be isolated has not changed substantially in decades (Stuart & Arboleta-Flórez, 2012). A primary goal of wellness models is mitigating mental health stigma by changing the public perspective. 

Media Representation 

A 2011 study revealed that nearly half of U.S. media stories on mental illness mention or allude to violence (Pescosolido, 2013). News and social media, propelled by far-right politics, fundamentalism, and other fringe organizations, contribute to discrimination and prejudice. Analysis of film, television, and tabloid presentations identify three common misconceptions: people with mental illness are homicidal maniacs, they have childlike perceptions of the world that should be marveled at, or they are rebellious, free spirits (Corrigan, 2006). Portrayals of sexual and gender-based identity in the latter half of the 20th century were, generally, stereotypical exaggerations. “Beginning in the 1990s, some highly likable gay and lesbian television and media characters began to appear in the media” (Adamczyk & Liao, 2018, p. 10). Still, there is an abundance of gay-themed portrayals designed to arouse feelings of shock, betrayal, and titillation. Media coverage commonly promotes disinformation that negatively impacts the self-beliefs and image of LGBTQ+ persons. 

Family Rejection

Family stigmatization is the rejection of an LGBTQ+ or mentally dysfunctional child or sibling. A 2008 literature review found around 38% of family members “attempt to hide their relationship in order to avoid bringing shame to the family” (Stuart & Arboleda-Flórez, 2012, p. 8). Another study showed that 34% of LGBTQ+ persons reported rejection by family members, 49% reported unfair treatment, and “52% were subject to anti-gay remarks from family members” (Bandermann, 2014, p. 3). The implication of familial undesirability impacts a mentally disordered and LGBTQ+ person’s sense of positive self, a devaluation more potentially “life-limiting, and disabling than the illness itself” (Stuart & Arboleda-Flórez, 2012, p. 3). “The difficulties of living with psychiatric distress are magnified by the experience of rejection” (Gray, 2002), which can lead to psychological and physiological health issues, substance abuse, and addiction.

Etiology and Misdiagnoses 

Etiology and diagnosis drive the disease model. Which disorder do people find most repulsive, and which poses the most threat? What behaviors contribute to the disorder? How progressive is the disorder, and how effective are treatments? (Corrigan, 2006). It is essential to recognize how these attributions affect public perception, treatment options, and client self-beliefs and image. 

“Until the 1950s, most homosexual persons studied by psychologists and others were prisoners or mental patients, so it was easy to conclude that these were linked” (McFarland, 2018, p. 1). In 1973, the APA announced homosexuality was no longer an illness. DSM diagnostic criteria change dramatically from one edition to the next. Lynam and Vachon (2012) cite therapists’ concern that criteria are “added, removed, and rewritten, without evidence that the new approach is better than the prior one” (p. 483). The social fears described in the DSM-II in 1968 became social phobia in the DSM-III (1980), and social anxiety disorder in 1994’s DSM-IV, resulting in the nickname, the ‘neglected anxiety disorder.’

Revisions, substitutions, and contradictions between DSMs are never universally accepted. Even under the best circumstance with a knowledgeable and caring clinician, it is difficult to obtain a proper mental disorder diagnosis. In addition to the nine types of depression, four anxieties, and eight obsessive-compulsive disorders, the current DSM lists five types of stress response and ten personality disorders, each sharing similar traits and symptomatology with varying degrees of impact. Bipolar personality disorder, for example, shares characteristics and symptoms with generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder (Sagman & Tohen, 2009). The most common comorbidities associated with anxiety are major depression, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcohol abuse/dependence. For example, social anxiety disorder is often comorbid with avoidant personality disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia (Cuncic, 2018; Vrbova et al., 2017), ADHD, and agoraphobia (Koyuncu et al., 2019).

The Social Anxiety Institute (Richards, 2019) reports that an estimated 8.2% of patients had generalized anxiety, but just 0.5% were correctly diagnosed. A recent Canadian study by Chapdelaine et al. (2018) reported, of 289 participants in 67 clinics meeting DSM-4 criteria for social anxiety disorder, 76.4% were improperly diagnosed. 

Self-Esteem

Maslow’s (1943/1954) hierarchy of needs reveals how childhood disturbance can disrupt natural human development. Healthy growth requires satisfying fundamental physiological and psychological needs. The experience of detachment, exploitation, or neglect may disenable the subject from satisfying their physiological and safety needs and or the need to belong and experience love, which can impact the acquisition of self-esteem

If the child is criticized, overly controlled, or not given the opportunity to assert itself, it begins to feel insecure in its ability to survive, and may then become overly dependent on others, develop low self-esteem, and experience a sense of shame or doubt in its own abilities. (Vanderheiden & Mayer, 2017, p. 15)

Research on persons with depression and anxiety reveals how the disease model “diminishes hope, self-esteem, self-efficacy, empowerment, and quality of life.” (Garg and Raj, 2019, p. 124). LGBTQ+ youth rejected because of their identity have much lower self-esteem, are more isolated, and have less support than those accepted by their families (House, 2018). 

Self-esteem determines one’s relation to self, to others, and the world. Self-esteem is the umbrella for all the positive self-qualities that structure optimal functioning, e.g., self -respect -resilience, -efficacy, -reliance, -compassion, -value, -worth, and other intrinsic wholesome attributes. Self-esteem provides the recognition that one is consequential and worthy of love. A grassroots poll by Unite UK (2016) found that 62% of LGBTQ+ persons believe they have low self-esteem. Exposure to historical alienation, ambiguous public opinion, adolescent bullying, heterosexualism, and other harmful elements, in time, will have an impact on an LGBTQ+ person’s self-beliefs and image (Unite UK, 2016). 

Recovery

Recovery is an individual process. Humans have unique DNA and disparate sensibilities, memories, and abilities. One-size-fits-all approaches are inadequate to fully address the personality’s dynamic complexity and its owner’s uniqueness. Mental illness is ubiquitous and non-discriminating; dysfunction embraces every walk of life. Indeed, “the LGBTQ+ community encompasses a wide range of individuals with separate and overlapping challenges regarding their mental health” (NAMI, 2020b, p. 1). 

Recovery is “about seeing people beyond their problems – their abilities, possibilities, interests, and dreams – and recovering the social roles and relationships that give life value and meaning” (Slade, 2010, p. 2). Recovery programs must be fluid, integrating multiple traditional and non-traditional approaches developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation. Any analysis must consider the subject’s environment, hermeneutics, history, and autobiography in conjunction with their wants, beliefs, and aspirations. Otherwise, the personality complexity is not valued, and the treatment is inadequate.

Positive Psychology and the Wellness Model

In 2004, the World Health Organization began promoting the advantages of the wellness perspective, declaring health “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (Slade, 2010, p. 1). The World Psychiatric Association states, “the promotion of well-being is among the mental health system” (Schrank et al., 2014, p. 98). As psychologists point out, “psychological well-being is viewed as not only the absence of mental disorder but also the presence of positive psychological resources” (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009, p. 468). 

The wellness model’s chief facilitator is positive psychology (PP), which originated with Maslow’s (1943/1954) seminal texts on humanism; APA president Seligman legitimized it in 1998. Positive psychology and other optimistic approaches focus on the inherent ability, “not only to endure and survive but also to flourish” (Mayer & May 2019, p. 160). 

Positive psychology is a relatively new field (since 1998) that, ostensibly, complements rather than replaces traditional psychology. Defined as the science of optimal functioning, PP’s objective is “to study, identify and amplify the strengths and capacities that individuals, families, and society need to thrive” (Carruthers & Hood, 2004, p. 30). Cultural psychologist Levesque (2011) describes optimal functioning as the study of how individuals attempt to achieve their potential and become the best they can be. 

Studies support the utilization of positive psychological constructs, theories, and interventions for enhanced mental health understanding and improvement. PP interventions have “improved wellbeing and decreased psychological distress in mildly depressed individuals, in patients with mood and depressive disorders, [and] in patients with psychotic disorders” (Chakhssi et al., 2018, p. 16). As Carruthers and Hood (2004) point out, “The things that allow people to experience deep happiness, wisdom, and psychological, physical and social wellbeing are the same strengths that buffer against stress and physical and mental illness” (p. 30).

The academic discipline of positive psychology continues to develop evidence-based interventions that focus on eliciting positive feelings, cognitions, or behaviors (Schotanus-Dijkstra et al., 2018). Positive psychology offers promising interventions “to support recovery in people with common mental illness, and preliminary evidence suggests it can also be helpful for people with more severe mental illness” (Schrank et al., 2014, p. 99). 

Positive Psychology 2.0.  

One of the early challenges of positive psychology was its inattention to the negative aspects of character. Recognizing this, psychologists advocated a more holistic approach to embrace the dialectical opposition of human experience. As one psychologist put it, “people are not just pessimists or optimists. They have complex personality structures” (Miller, 2008, p. 598). Positive Psychology 2.0 (PP 2.0) evolved as a correction to the singular focus on optimism to embrace a more inclusive and balanced perspective (Rashid et al., 2014). 

The disease model of mental health bases recovery on the remission of symptoms or the suspension of substantial interference or limitation (ADAMHA, 2012; Salzer et al., 2018). The wellness model maintains that individuals with a mental disorder can live satisfying and fulfilling lives regardless of symptoms or impairments associated with the diagnosis (Slade, 2010). Schrank et al. (2014) describe recovery as people “(re-) engaging in their life on the basis of their own goals and strengths, and finding meaning and purpose through constructing and reclaiming a valued identity and valued social roles” (p. 98). By emphasizing wellness, the positive psychology movement aims to destigmatize mental illness by emphasizing “the positive while managing and transforming the negative to increase wellbeing” (Mayer & May, 2019, p. 163). Perkins and Repper (2003, p. 3) write: 

People with mental illness who are in recovery are those who are actively engaged in working away from Floundering (through hope-supporting relationships) and Languishing (by developing a positive identity), and towards Struggling (through Framing and self-managing the mental illness) and Flourishing (by developing valued social roles).  

Concluding Thoughts

Thomas Insel (2013), director of the National Institute of Mental Health, is “re-orienting its research away from DSM categories” (p. 2), declaring that traditional psychiatric diagnoses have outlived their usefulness (Kinderman, 2014). NIMH is transforming diagnosis based on emerging research data and a doctor-patient communication dynamic rather than on the current symptom-based categories. Kinderman (2014) suggests replacing traditional diagnoses with easily understandable descriptions of the issues.

A simple list of people’s problems (properly defined) would have greater scientific validity and would be more than sufficient as a basis for individual care planning and the design and planning of services. (1)

In mental health, recovery-remission is a realized, long-term mitigation of symptoms. Wellness impacts more than mental health; it is a paradigmatic perspective that seeks to promote a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Its sociological emphasis on optimal human functioning, designed to counter the pathographic focus of other models, not only positively impacts the self-beliefs and image of a mentally ill person but resonates in sexual and gender-based identities and portends well, the recovery-remission of an LGBTQ+ person with a mental illness. 

There are many approaches to recovery. Psychology textbook author, Farreras (2020) cites 400 different schools of psychotherapy. Mayer and May (2019) characterize current positive psychology as “a balanced, interactive, meaning-centered and cross-cultural perspective” (p. 156) that considers equally “positive emotions and strengths and negative symptoms and disorders” (Rashid et al., 2014, p. 162). Positive psychology works best in conjunction with other programs (CBT, for example), and its mental health interventions have proved successful in mitigating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other disorders. “Growing research suggests that a positive psychological outlook not only improves ‘life outcomes’ but enhances health directly” (Easterbrook, 2001, p. 23).

Training in prosocial behavior and emotional literacy might be useful supplements to specific interventions. Behavioral exercises enhance the execution of resilient and generous social skills. Positive personal affirmations have enormous subjective value as well. Data supports mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions to re-engage and regenerate positive thoughts, feelings, and memories. Castella et al. (2014) suggest motivational enhancement strategies to help clients overcome resistance. Ritter et al. (2013) tout the benefits of positive autobiography to counter destructive thoughts and behaviors. The importance of considering the nuanced and unique dynamics inherent in the relationships among emotional expression, intimacy, and overall relationship satisfaction for dysfunctional individuals and LGBTQ+ persons, should be thoroughly investigated (Montesi et al., 2013).

However, this paper balks at throwing out the baby with the bathwater, positing that the current diagnostic system should be utilized as a part of a more thorough analysis that embraces communication and emphasizes the character strengths that generate motivation, persistence, and perseverance toward recovery-remission. All “patients with mental disorders deserve better” (Insel, 2013, p. 2). 

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

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