Category Archives: Recovery

The Value of Mindfulness in Recovery

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

We share an intimate and unhealthy relationship with our emotional dysfunction that manifests in many ways. 

  • The tolerant relationship. We recognize our condition is detrimental to a healthy and productive lifestyle, but we are too lazy or apathetic to address it. 
  • The resigned relationship. We devalue our character strengths and virtues, convincing ourselves any attempt at recovery is futile. We have given up.
  • The self-pitying relationship. We wallow in our misery because it comforts us and confirms our victimization.
  • The assimilate relationship. We acclimate to our condition, adapting and incorporating it into our system. This is the odd relationship where we become our dysfunction.
  • The denial relationship. We refuse to acknowledge the problem, denying its existence, our dismissal so pervasive it subconsciously metastasizes, like unchecked cancer. 

Emotional dysfunction generates a correlated deficiency of self-esteem due to the condition and the corresponding disruption in natural human development. The overwhelming majority of dysfunctional onset happens during adolescence due to a toxic childhood environment caused by physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance. This disturbance manifests in perceptions of abandonment, exploitation, and detachment, engendering a disruption in natural human development which negatively impacts our self-esteem 

Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is mindfulness (recognition and acceptance) of our value to ourselves, society, and the world. Self-esteem can be further understood as a complex interrelationship between how we think about ourselves, how we think others perceive us, and how we process or present that information. 

Self-esteem deficits are the consequence of disapproval, criticism, and apathy of influential others—family, colleagues, ministers, and teachers. Any number of factors impact self-esteem including our environment, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and education. 

Proactive Neuroplasticity

Proactive Neuroplasticity. The primary objective or consequence of recovery is the restructuring of our neural network. When neural pathways reshape, there is a correlated change in behavior and perspective. Our brain is not a moral adjudicator, but an organic reciprocator, adapting and correlating to stimuli. 

Every stimulus we input causes a receptive neuron to fire, transmitting a message from neuron to neuron until it generates a reaction. Neural restructuring is the deliberate input of positive stimuli to compensate for years of dysfunctional negative input. Deliberate repetitious stimuli compel neurons to fire repeatedly causing them to wire together. The more repetitions the quicker and stronger the new connection.

Neural restructuring is deliberate plasticity—functionally modifying our neural network through repetitive activation. Neuroplasticity is our brain’s capacity to change with learning—to relearn. Studies in brain plasticity evidence the brain’s ability to change at any age. Behavioral Plasticity is the capacity and degree to which human behavior can be altered by environmental factors such as learning and social experience.  In theory, a higher degree of plasticity makes an organism more flexible to change, whereas a lower degree of plasticity results in an inflexible behavior pattern. Behavioral plasticity enables an organism to change its behavior through learning.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the state of active, open recognition and acceptance of present realities. It is the act of embracing our flaws as well as our inherent character strengths, virtues, and attributes. Mindfulness is the key to re-engaging our positive self-properties that constitute healthy self-esteem 

True mindfulness of our dysfunction is more than recognition and acceptance; it is embracement. By embracing our flaws as well as our character strengths, virtues, and attributes, we embrace ourselves. Love is linked to positive mental and physical health outcomes. Love motivates recovery. Embracing our dysfunction or discomfort is an act of love.

Our condition is a natural component of human development. It is evidence of our humanness. Think of it as an emotional virus. We are not our dysfunction any more than we are an accidental broken limb. We are individuals with emotional dysfunction. Embracing it does not mean we don’t want to transform into healthy and more productive individuals; it encourages transformation. 

Embracing is not acquiescence, resignation, or condoning. Acquiescence is accepting our condition and doing nothing to change it. Condoning is accepting it and allowing it to fester. Resignation is defeatism. Embracing is logically accepting ourselves for who we are—human dysfunctional beings abounding in ability and potential. It is embracing our character strengths, virtues, and attributes that facilitate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover. It is embracing our totality. Healthy self-love is a fundamental component of self-esteem; we can never strive toward our potential until we truly learn to embrace ourselves. The value of mindfulness in recovery is immeasurable. 

*          *          *

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

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)

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

*          *          *   

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.  

Healthy Philautia and Self-Esteem

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)

Philautia

Healthy philautia is an integrative platform specifically designed to address the deficit of self-esteem caused by our dysfunction or discomfort, and the disruption in human development. While healthy philautia is synonymous with self-esteem, it illustrates that narcissism and self-esteem are opposites on the same spectrum, which helps strategize recovery.

Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is mindfulness (recognition and acceptance) of our value to ourselves, society, and the world. Self-esteem can be further understood as a complex interrelationship between how we think about ourselves, how we think others perceive us, and how we process or present that information.

Self-esteem deficits are the consequence of disapproval, criticism, and apathy of influential others—family, colleagues, ministers, and teachers. Any number of factors impact self-esteem including our environment, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and education.

  • Our negative self-image is generated by our deficit of self-esteem.
  • Self-esteem administers and is determined by our self-properties. Positive self-properties: self -reliant, -compassionate, -confidant, -worth, etc. Negative self-properties: self -destructive, -loathing, -denigrating, etc.
  • Our positive self-properties tell us we are of value, consequential, and desirable. 
  • Our intrinsic self-esteem is never fully depleted or lost; however, underutilized self-properties can be dormant like the unexercised muscle in our arm or leg.
  • Self-esteem impacts our mind, body, spirit, and emotions separately and in concert. Mindfulness of this complementarity is important to emotional and behavioral control as we learn to subvert the distress of one component by engaging another.
  • We rediscover and reinvigorate our self-esteem through exercises designed to help us become mindful of our inherent strengths, virtues, and attributes. 

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

How emotional dysfunction impacts self-esteem. 

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

Maslow’s Hierarchy

Illustrating how childhood disturbance subverts the satisfaction of self-esteem.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Positive personal affirmations and CBT. Positive personal affirmations and the cognitive aspect of cognitive-behavioral therapy utilize DRNI, the deliberate, repetitious, neural information input of positive thought and behavior to replace the toxicity generated by our dysfunction. Neuroplasticity increases activity in the self-processing systems of the cortex, which counteracts the negative input that threatens self-esteem. The behavioral component of CBT involves activities that reinforce the process.
  • Proactive neuroplasticity. Our neural network responds to stimuli by transmitting the hormones that sustain and provide us comfort and pleasure. Deliberate repetitious stimuli compel neurons to fire repeatedly causing them to wire together. The more repetitions, the stronger the new connections. Hormonal rewards of comfort and pleasure motivate us to continue the repetitive practice that, over time, reconstruct our brain’s neural pathways. 
  • Mindfulness is a state of active, open recognition and acceptance of present realities. It is the act of embracing our flaws as well as our inherent character strengths, virtues, and attributes. Mindfulness is the key to re-engaging our positive self-properties that constitute healthy self-esteem.
  • Abhidharma presents a clear system for understanding our psychological dispositions, processes, habits, and challenges. The Buddhist psychology of the eightfold path is a profile of the requisites for rational living. Right views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration have an additional implicit component, that of making the right choice. Evidence suggests we experience a physiological reaction when choosing to do something irrational or self-destructive because it conflicts with our inherent awareness of what is beneficial to ourselves and our community.
  • Positive psychology can be defined as the science of optimal functioning. Its objective is to identify the character strengths and virtues that generate our motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover. Mindfulness of our attributes generates the psychological, physical, and social well-being that buffer against dysfunction. The objective is to achieve our potential, becoming the best that we can be. Research shows that positive psychology interventions improve overall well-being and decrease physiological distress in persons with anxiety, mood, and depressive disorders.
  • Recovered memory process is utilized to recall hidden memories and the emotions they embrace. Our dysfunction sustains itself on our irrationality and negative self-perceptions. It encourages us to repress feelings, thoughts, and desires unacceptable to our conscious mind, storing them in the archives of our memory. It is useful to retrieve and address the emotions hidden in these repressed memories.

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

*          *          *

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.”

*          *          *

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.  

Social Anxiety Disorder and Relationships.

Numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

Enlisting Positive Psychologies to Challenge Love Within SAD’s Culture of Maladaptive Self-Beliefs.

in C.-E. Mayer and E. Vanderheiden (eds.) International Handbook of Love. Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives, Springer Publications, 2021.

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the most common psychophysiological malfunctions, affecting the emotional and mental well-being of over 15 million U.S. adults who find themselves caught up in a densely interconnected network of fear and avoidance of social situations. These observations provide insight into the relationship deficits experienced by people with SAD. Their innate need-for-intimacy is no less dynamic than that of any individual, but their impairment disrupts the ability (means-of-acquisition) to establish affectional bonds in almost any capacity. The spirit is willing, but competence is insubstantial. It is the means of acquisition and how they are symptomatically challenged by SAD that is the context of this research.

Notwithstanding overwhelming evidence of social incompatibility, there is hope for the startlingly few SAD persons who commit to recovery. A psychobiographical approach integrating positive psychology’s optimum human functioning with CBT’s behavior modification, neuroscience’s network restructuring, and other supported and non-traditional approaches can establish a working platform for discovery, opening the bridge to the procurement of forms of intimacy previously inaccessible. It is an arduous and measured crossing that only 5% of the afflicted will even attempt in the first year of onset.

Keywords: Love. Social anxiety disorder. Intimacy. Philautia. Means-of-acquisition.

59.0 Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is the second most commonly diagnosed form of anxiety in the United States (MHA, 2019). The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA, 2019a) estimate that nearly 15 million (7%) American adults experience its symptoms. Ritchie and Roser (2018) report 284 million SAD persons, worldwide, and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2017) reports 31.1% of U.S. adults experience some anxiety disorder at some time in their lives, Global statistics are subject to “differences in the classification criteria, culture, and gender” (Tsitsas & Paschali, 2014), and “in the instruments used to ascertain diagnosis”(NCCMH, 2013).

Studies in other western nations (e.g., Australia, Canada, Sweden) note similar prevalence rates as in the USA, as do those in culturally westernized nations such as Israel. Even countries with strikingly different cultures (e.g., Iran) note evidence of social anxiety disorder (albeit at lower rates) among their populace. (Stein & Stein, 2008)

SAD is the most common psychiatric disorder in the U.S. after major depression and alcohol abuse (Heshmat, 2014). It is also arguably the most underrated and misunderstood. A “debilitating and chronic” psychophysiological affliction (Castella et al., 2014), SAD “wreaks havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it” (ADAA, 2019a). SAD attacks all fronts, negatively affecting the entire body complex, delivering mental confusion (Mayoclinic, 2017b), emotional instability (Castella et al., 2014; Yeilding, 2017), physical dysfunction (NIMH, 2017; Richards, 2019), and spiritual malaise (Mullen, 2018). Emotionally, persons experiencing SAD feel depressed and lonely (Jazaieri, Morrison, & Gross, 2015). Physically, they are subject to unwarranted sweating and trembling, hyperventilation, nausea, cramps, dizziness, and muscle spasms (ADAA, 2019a; NIMH, 2017). Mentally, thoughts are discordant and irrational (Felman, 2018; Richards, 2014). Spiritually, they define themselves as inadequate and insignificant (Mullen, 2018).

SAD is randomly misdiagnosed (Richards, 2019), and the low commitment to recovery (Shelton, 2018) suggests a reticence by those infected to recognize and or challenge their malfunction. Approximately 5% of SAD persons commit to early recovery, reflective of symptoms that manifest maladaptive self-beliefs of insignificance and futility. Grant et al. (2005) state, “about half of adults with the disorder seek treatment,” but that is after 15–20 years of suffering from the malfunction (Ades & Dias, 2013). Resistance to new ideas and concepts transcends those of other mental complications and is justified by, among other attributions:

  • 1. general public cynicism
  • 2. self-contempt of the afflicted, generated by maladaptive self-beliefs
  • ignorance or ineptitude of mental health professionals
  • real or perceived social and mental health stigma
  • the natural physiological aversion to change

Many motivated towards recovery are unable to afford treatment due to SAD-induced “impairments in financial and employment stability” (Gregory, Wong, Craig, Marker, & Peters, 2018). The high percentage of jobless people experiencing social anxiety disorder in the U.S. is related to “job inefficiency and instability” (Felman, 2018), greater absenteeism, job dissatisfaction, and frequent job changes. “More than 70% of social anxiety disorder patients are in the lowest economic group” (Nardi, 2003).

According to leading experts, the high percentage of SAD misdiagnoses are due to “substantial discrepancies and variation in definition, epidemiology, assessment, and treatment” (Nagata, Suzuki, & Teo, 2015). The Social Anxiety Institute (Richards, 2019) reports that, among patients with generalized anxiety, an estimated 8.2% had the condition, but just 0.5% were correctly diagnosed. A recent Canadian study by Chapdelaine, Carrier, Fournier, Duhoux, and Roberge (2018) reported, of 289 participants in 67 clinics meeting the criteria for social anxiety disorder outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV), 76.4% were improperly diagnosed.

Social anxiety disorder is a pathological form of everyday anxiety. The clinical term “disorder” identifies extreme or excessive impairment that negatively affects functionality. Feeling anxious or apprehensive in certain situations is normal; most individuals are nervous speaking in front of a group and anxious when pulled over on the freeway. The typical individual recognizes the ordinariness of a situation and accords it appropriate attention. The SAD person anticipates it, takes it personally, dramatizes it, and obsesses on its negative implications (Richards, 2014).

SAD’s culture of maladaptive self-beliefs (Ritter, Ertel, Beil, Steffens, & Stangier, 2013) and negative self-evaluations (Castella et al., 2014) aggravate anxiety and impede social performance (Hulme, Hirsch, & Stopa, 2012). “Patients with SAD often believe they lack the necessary social skills to interact normally with others” (Gaudiano & Herbert, 2003). Maladaptive self-beliefs are distorted reflections of a situation, often accepted as accurate. The co-founder of CBT, Aaron Beck provides three types of maladaptive self-beliefs responsible for persistent social anxiety. Core beliefs are enduring fundamental understandings, often formed in childhood and solidified over time. Because SAD persons “tend to store information consistent with negative beliefs but ignore evidence that contradicts them, [their] core beliefs tend to be rigid and pervasive” (Beck, 2011). Core beliefs influence the development of intermediate beliefs―attitudes, rules, and assumptions that influence one’s overall perspective, which, in turn, influences thought and behavior. Automatic thoughts and behaviors (ANTs) are real-time manifestations of maladaptive self-beliefs, dysfunctional in their irrationality (Richards, 2014; Wong, Moulds, & Rapee, 2013).

Negative self-images reported by patients with social anxiety disorder reflect a working self that is retrieved in response to social threat and which is characterized by low self-esteem, uncertainty about the self, and fear of negative evaluation by others. (Hulme et al., 2012)

Halloran and Kashima (2006) define culture as “an interrelated set of values, tools, and practices that is shared among a group of people who possess a common social identity.” As the third-largest mental health care problem in the world (Richards, 2019), social anxiety disorder is culturally identifiable by the victims’ “marked and persistent fear of social and performance situations in which embarrassment may occur,” and the anticipation “others will judge [them] to be anxious, weak, crazy, or stupid” (APA, 2017). Although studies evidence “culture-specific expression of social anxiety” (Hoffman, Asnaani, & Hinton, 2010), SAD “is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in almost all areas of a person’s life” (Richards, 2019). SAD affects the “perceptual, cognitive, personality, and social processes” of the afflicted who find themselves caught up in “a densely interconnected network of fear and avoidance of social situations” (Heeren & McNally, 2018).

The superficial overview of SAD is intense apprehension—the fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, and ridiculed (Bosche, 2019). There is persistent anxiety or fear of social situations such as dating, interviewing for a position, answering a question in class, or dealing with authority (ADAA, 2019a; Castella et al., 2014). Often, mere functionality in perfunctory situations―eating in front of others, riding a bus, using a public restroom—can be unduly stressful (ADAA, 2019a; Mayoclinic, 2017b). This overriding fear of being found wanting manifests in perspectives of incompetence and worthlessness (Richards, 2019).

SAD persons are unduly concerned they will say something that will reveal their ignorance, real or otherwise (Ades & Dias, 2013). They walk on eggshells, supremely conscious of their awkwardness, surrendering to the GAZE―the anxious state of mind that comes with the maladaptive self-belief they are the center of attention (Felman, 2018; Lacan, 1978). Their movements can appear hesitant and awkward, small talk clumsy, attempts at humor embarrassing, and every situation reactive to negative self-evaluation (ADAA, 2019a; Bosche, 2019). They are apprehensive of potential “negative evaluation by others” (Hulme et al., 2012), and concerned about “the visibility of anxiety, and preoccupation with performance or arousal” (Tsitsas & Paschali, 2014). SAD persons frequently generate images of themselves performing poorly in feared social situations (Hirsch & Clark, 2004; Hulme et al., 2012) and their anticipation of repudiation motivates them to dismiss overtures to offset any possibility of rejection (Tsitsas & Paschali, 2014). SAD is repressive and intractable, imposing irrational thought and behavior (Richards, 2014; Zimmerman, Dalrymple, Chelminski, Young, & Galione, 2010). It establishes its authority through its subjects’ defeatist measures produced by distorted and unsound interpretations of actuality that govern perspectives of personal attractiveness, intelligence, competence, and other errant beliefs (Ades & Dias, 2013).

We are all familiar with the free association test. The person in the white coat tosses out seemingly random words and the recipient responds with the first word that comes to mind. Consider the following reactions: boring, stupid, worthless, incompetent, disliked, ridiculous, inferior (Hulme et al., 2012). Most people use personal pejoratives daily, but few personalize and take them to heart like a SAD person. These maladaptive self-beliefs, over time, become automatic negative thoughts (Amen, 1998) implanted on the neural network (Richards, 2014). They determine initial reactions to situations or circumstances. They inform how to think and feel and act. The ANT voice exaggerates, catastrophizes, and distorts. SAD persons crave the company of others but shun social situations for fear of being found out as unlikeable, stupid, or annoying. Accordingly, they avoid speaking in public, expressing opinions, or even fraternizing with peers … People with social anxiety disorder are typified by low self-esteem and high self-criticism. (Stein & Stein, 2008)

Anxiety and other personality disorders are branches of the same tree. “There is a significant degree of comorbidity between social anxiety disorder and other mental health problems, most notably depression (19%), substance-abuse disorder (17%), GAD [generalized anxiety disorder] (5%), panic disorder (6%), and PTSD (3%)” (Tsitsas & Paschali, 2014). The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA, 2019a) includes many emotional and mental disorders related to, components of, or a consequence of social anxiety disorder including avoidant personality disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, OCD, and schizophrenia.

Personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses. They involve long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy and inflexible. The behaviors cause serious problems with relationships and work. People with personality disorders have trouble dealing with everyday stresses and problems. (UNLM, 2018)

Personality reflects deep-seated patterns of behavior affecting how individuals “perceive, relate to, and think about themselves and their world” (HPD, 2019). A personality disorder denotes a “rigid and unhealthy pattern[s] of thinking, functioning and behaving,” which potentially leads to “significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school” (Castella et al., 2014). 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).

59.1.1. SAD and Interpersonal Love

In unambiguous terms, the desire-for-love is at the heart of social anxiety disorder (Alden, Buhr, Robichaud, Trew, & Plasencia, 2018). Interpersonal love relates to communications or relationships of love between or among people. The diagnostic criteria for SAD, outlined in the DSM-V (APA, 2017), include: “Marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others.” SAD persons find it inordinately difficult to establish close, productive relationships (Castella et al., 2014; Fatima, Naizi, & Gayas, 2018). Their avoidance of social activities limits the potential for comradeship (Desnoyers, Kocovski, Fleming, & Antony, 2017; Tsitsas & Paschali, 2014), and their inability to interact rationally and productively (Richards, 2014; Zimmerman et al., 2010) makes long-term, healthy relationships unlikely. SAD persons frequently demonstrate significant impairments in friendships and intimate relationships (Castella et al., 2014). According to Whitbourne (2018), SAD persons’ avoidance of other people puts them at risk of feeling lonely, having fewer friendships, and being unable to take advantage of the enjoyment of being with people who share their hobbies and interests.

There is a death of research directly investigating the relationship between SAD and interpersonal love (Montesi, Conner, Gordon, & Fauber, 2013; Read, Clark, Rock, & Coventry, 2018). A study on friendship quality and social anxiety by Rodebaugh, Lim, Shumaker, Levinson, and Thompson (2015) notes the lack of relative quality studies; Alden et al. (2018) report on the lack of attention paid to the SAD person’s inability or refusal to function in close relationships. The few studies that do exist report that the SAD person exhibits inhibited social behavior, shyness, lack of assertion in group conversations, and feelings of inadequacy while in social situations (Darcy, Davila, & Beck, 2005). This dominant culture of maladaptive self-beliefs results in the tendency to avoid new people and experiences, making the development of “adequate and close relationships (e.g., family, friends, and romantic relationships)” extremely challenging (Cuming & Rapee, 2010). Experiencing social anxiety disorder translates to less trust and perceived support from close interpersonal relationships (Topaz, 2018).

Although intimately related, the desire-for-love and the means-of-acquisition are binary operations. Most forms of interpersonal love require the successful collaboration of wanting and obtaining. The desire-for-love is the non-consummatory component of Freud’s eros life instinct (Abel-Hirsch, 2010). The means-of-acquisition are the methods and skills required to complete the transaction―techniques that vary depending upon the type of love in the offing. Let us visualize love as a bridge, with desire (thought) at one end and acquisition at the other; the span is the means-of-acquisition (behavior). The SAD person cannot get from one side to the other because the means of acquisition are structurally deficient (Desnoyers et al., 2017; Tsitsas & Paschali, 2014). They grasp the fundamental concepts of interpersonal love and are presented with opportunities but lack the skills to close the deal. Painfully aware of the tools of acquisition, they cannot seem to operate them.

59.2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT purposed for SAD is typically conceptualized as a short-term, skills-oriented approach aimed at exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors while changing the culture of maladaptive self-beliefs into productive, rational thought and behavior (Richards, 2019). CBT focuses on “developing more helpful and balanced perspectives of oneself and social interactions while learning and practicing approaching one’s feared and avoided social situations over time” (Yeilding, 2017). Almost 90% of the approaches empirically supported by the “American Psychological Association’s Division 12 Task Force on Psychological Interventions” involve cognitive-behavioral treatments, according to Lyford (2017). “Individuals who undergo CBT show changes in brain activity, suggesting that this therapy improves your brain functioning as well” (NAMI, 2019).

Recent meta-analytic evidence suggests that CBT as an effective treatment for SAD compares favorably with other psychological and pharmacological treatment programs (Cuijpers, Cristea, Karyotaki, Reijnders, & Huibers, 2016). There is no guarantee of success, however, and standard CBT is imperfect (David, Cristea, & Hoffman, 2018; Mullen, 2018). The best outcome a SAD sufferer can hope for is mitigation of symptoms through thought and behavior modification and the simultaneous restructuring of the neural network, along with other supported and non-traditional treatments..

“[M]any patients, although being under drug therapy, remain symptomatic and have a recurrence of symptoms,” according to the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry. “40–50% are better but still symptomatic, and 20–30% remain the same or worse.” (Manfro, Heldt, Cordiol, & Otto, 2008)

Behavioral and cognitive treatments are globally proven methodologies. There are multiple associations worldwide, “devoted to research, education, and training in cognitive and behavioral therapies” (McGinn, 2019). CBT Conferences (2019) are offered across the globe, “where knowledge transfer takes place through debates, round table discussions, poster presentations, workshops, symposia, and exhibitions.” David et al. (2018) credit CBT as the best standard we have in the field currently available—for the following reasons: (1) CBT is the most researched form of psychotherapy. (2) No other form of psychotherapy is systematically superior to CBT in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and other disorders; if there are systematic differences between psychotherapies, they typically favor CBT. (3) Moreover, the CBT theoretical models/mechanisms of change have been the most researched and are in line with the current mainstream paradigms of the human mind and behavior (e.g., information processing).

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is “a worldwide humanitarian organization,” fostering the “dissemination of evidence-based prevention and treatments through collaborations with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)” (McGinn, 2019). The World Confederation of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies (WCCBT) is a global multidisciplinary organization promoting health and well-being through the scientific development and implementation of “evidence-based cognitive-behavioral strategies designed to evaluate, prevent, and treat mental conditions and illnesses” (ACBT, 2019).

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is arguably the gold standard of the psychotherapy field. David et al. (2018) maintain, “there are no other psychological treatments with more research support to validate.” Studies of CBT have shown it to be an effective treatment for a wide variety of mental illnesses including depression, SAD, generalized anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, PTSD, OCD, panic disorder, and schizophrenia (Kaczkurkin & Foa, 2015; NAMI, 2019). However, David et al. (2018) suggest if the gold standard of psychotherapy defines itself as the best in the field, then CBT is not the gold standard. There is clearly room for further improvement, “both in terms of CBT’s efficacy/effectiveness and its underlying theories/mechanisms of change.”

Lyford (2017) provides two examples of criticism. A 2013 meta-analysis published in Clinical Psychology Review comparing CBT to other therapies, failed to “provide corroborative evidence for the conjecture that CBT is superior to bona fide non-CBT treatments.” An 8-week clinical study by Sweden’s Lund University in 2013, concluded that “CBT was no more effective than mindfulness-based therapy for those suffering from depression and anxiety.”

Another meta-analysis conducted by psychologists Johnsen and Friborg (2015) tracked 70 CBT outcome studies conducted between 1977 and 2014 and concluded that “the effects of CBT have declined linearly and steadily since its introduction, as measured by patient self-reports, clinician ratings, and rates of remission.” According to the authors, “Just seeing a decrease in symptoms,” he says, “doesn’t translate into greater well-being.” This is reflective of most one-size-fits-all approaches.

While this study recognizes CBT as the best foundation for addressing the SAD culture of maladaptive self-beliefs, it makes the point standard CBT, alone is not necessarily the most productive course of treatment. New and innovative methodologies supported by a collaboration of theoretical construct and integrated scientific psychotherapy are needed to address mental illness as represented in this era of advanced complexity. A SAD person subsisting on paranoia sustained by negative self-evaluation is better served by multiple non-traditional and supported approaches, including those defined as new (third) wave (generation) therapies, developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation with CBT and positive psychology serving as the foundational platform for integration.

59.3. Categories of Interpersonal Love

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle (1999) encapsulates love as “a sort of excess of feeling.” Utilizing the classic Greek categories of interpersonal love is vital to this study; each classification illustrates how SAD symptoms thwart the subject’s means-of-acquisition in seven of eight categories (with the notable exception of healthy philautia). The three primary categories: (1) philia (comradeship), (2) eros (sexual), and (3) agape (selfless and unconditional), are followed by (4) storge (family), (5) Ludus (provocative), (6) pragma (practical), and the two extremes of philautia: (7) narcissistic and, (8) positive self-qualities. Forms of inanimate love are excluded from this study, “including love for experiences (meraki), objects (érōs), and places (chōros)” (Lomas, 2017).

1. Aristotle called philia “one of the most indispensable requirements of life” (Grewal, 2016). Philia is a bonding of individuals with mutual experiences―a “warm affection in intimate friendship” (Helm, 2017). This platonic love subsists on shared experience and personal disclosure. A core symptom of a SAD person is the fear of revealing something that will make them appear “boring, stupid or incompetent” (Ades & Dias, 2013). Even the anticipation of interaction causes “significant anxiety, fear, self-consciousness, and embarrassment” (Richards, 2014) because of the fear of being scrutinized or judged by others (Mayoclinic, 2017b).

2. Eros is reciprocal feelings of shared arousal between people physically attracted to each other, the fulfillment declared by the sexual act. The SAD person’s self-image of unlikability (Stein & Stein, 2008) coupled with the fear of intimacy (Montesi et al., 2013) and rejection (Tsitsas & Paschali, 2014) has significant consequences in terms of acquiring a sexual partner, and satisfaction of the sexual act (Montesi et al., 2013). SAD’s culture of maladaptive self-beliefs poses severe challenges to their ability to establish, develop, and maintain romantic relationships (Cuncic, 2018; Topaz, 2018). A study by Montesi et al. (2013), examining the SAD’s person’s symptomatic fear of intimacy and sexual communication concluded, “socially anxious individuals experience less sexual satisfaction in their intimate partnerships than nonanxious individuals, a relationship that has been well documented in previous research.” The study reported a lacuna of literature, however, examining the sexual communication of SAD persons.

3. Through the universal mandate to love thy neighbor, the concept of agape embraces unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance (Helm, 2017). SAD generally infects adolescents who have experienced detachment, exploitation, and or neglect (Steele, 1995). This form of love characterizes itself through unselfish giving; the SAD person’s maladaptive self-belief that she or he is the constant focus-of-attention is a form of self-centeredness bordering on narcissism (Mayoclinic, 2017a).

4. Again, the primary cause of SAD stems from childhood hereditary, environmental (Felman, 2018; NAMI, 2019), or traumatic events (Mayoclinic, 2017b). In each case, the SAD person is exploited (unconsciously or otherwise) in the formative stages of human motivational development: those of physiological safety and belongingness, and love (Maslow, 1943). As a result, storge or familial love and protection, vital to the healthy development of the family unit, is severely affected. The exploited adolescent (Steele, 1995) faces serious challenges recognizing or embracing familial love as an adolescent or adult.

5. A SAD person’s conflict with the provocative playfulness of Ludus is evident by the fear of being judged and negatively evaluated by others (Mayoclinic, 2017b) as well as themselves (Hulme et al., 2012; Ritter et al., 2013). Persons experiencing SAD do not find social interaction pleasurable (Richards, 2019) and have limited expectations things will work out advantageously (Mayoclinic, 2017b). Finally, SAD persons’ maladaptive self-beliefs generally result in inappropriate behavior in social situations (Kampmann, Emmelkamp, & Morina, 2019).

6. The obvious synonym for pragma is practicality―a balanced and constructive quality counterintuitive to someone whose modus operandi is discordant thought and behavior (Richards, 2014; Zimmerman et al., 2010). Pragma is mutual interests and goals securing a working and endurable partnership, facilitated by rational behavior and expectation. The SAD personality sustains itself through irrationality (Felman, 2018) and maladaptive self-beliefs (Hulme et al., 2012; Ritter et al., 2013). The pragmatic individual deals with relationships sensibly and realistically, conforming to standards considered typical. The overriding objective of a SAD person is to “avoid situations that most people consider “’normal’ ” (WebMD, 2019).

The onset of SAD is a consequence of early psychophysiological disturbance (Felman, 2018; Mayclinic, 2019a). The receptive juvenile might be the product of bullying (Felman, 2018), abuse (NAMI, 2019), or a broken home. Perhaps parental behaviors are overprotective or controlling or do not provide emotional validation (Cuncic, 2018). Subsequently, the SAD person finds it difficult to let his or her guard down and express vulnerability, even with someone they love and trust (Cuncic, 2018). Alden et al. (2018) note that SAD persons “find it difficult, in their intimate relationships, to be able to self-disclose, to reciprocate the affection others show toward them.”

There is a large body of research linking love with positive mental and physical health outcomes (Rodebaugh et al., 2015). Relationships, love, and associations with others lead one to recognition of their value to society “and motivates them towards building communities, culture and work for the welfare of others” (Capon & Blakely, 2007). Love is developed through social connectedness. Social connectedness, essential to personal development, is one of the central psychological needs “required for better psychological development and well-being” (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Social connectedness plays a significant role as mediator in the relationship between SAD and interpersonal love (Lee, Dean, & Jung, 2008) and is strongly associated with the level of self-esteem (Fatima et al., 2018).

59.4. Philautia

The seventh and eighth categories of interpersonal love are the two extremes of philautia: narcissism and positive self-qualities. To Aristotle, healthy philautia is vigorous “in both its orientation to self and to others” due to its inherent virtue (Grewal, 2016). “By contrast, its darker variant encompasses notions such as narcissism, arrogance and egotism” (Lomas, 2017). In its positive aspect, any interactivity “has beneficial consequences, whereas in the latter case, philautia will have disastrous consequences” (Fialho, 2007).

The good man should be a lover of self (for he will both himself profit by doing noble acts, and will benefit his fellows), but the wicked man should not; for he will hurt both himself and his neighbors, following as he does evil passions. (Grewal, 2016)

59.4.1. Unhealthy Philautia

Unhealthy philautia is akin to clinical narcissism―a mental condition in which people function with an “inflated sense of their own importance [and a] deep need for excessive attention and admiration.” Behind this mask of extreme confidence, the Mayoclinic report (2017a) states, “lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” SAD persons live on the periphery of morbid self-absorption through their self-centeredness. Their obsession with excessive attention (ADAA, 2019b) mirrors that of unhealthy philautia. In Classical Greece, persons could be accused of unhealthy philautia if they placed themselves above the greater good. Today, hubris has come to mean “an inflated sense of one’s status, abilities, or accomplishments, especially when accompanied by haughtiness or arrogance” (Burton, 2016). The self-centeredness and self-absorption of a SAD person often present themselves as arrogance; in fact, the words are synonymous. The critical difference is that SAD persons do not possess an inflated sense of their own importance but one of insignificance.

59.4.2. Healthy Philautia

Aquinas’ (1981) response to demons and disorder states, “evil cannot exist without good.” The Greeks believed that the narcissism of unhealthy philautia would not exist without its complementary opposition of healthy philautia, which is commonly interpreted as the self-esteeming virtue―an unfortunate and wholly incomplete definition. Rather than self-esteem only, philautia incorporates the broader spectrum of all positive self-qualities.

Rather, we are concerned here with various positive qualities prefixed by the term self, including -esteem, -efficacy, -reliance, -compassion, and -resilience. Aristotle argued in Nichomachean Ethics that self-love is a  precondition for all other forms of love. (Lomas, 2017)

Positive self-qualities determine one’s relation to self, to others, and the world. They provide the recognition that one is of value, consequential, and worthy of love. “Philautia is important in every sphere of life and can be considered a basic human need” (Sharma, 2014). To the Greeks, philautia “is the root of the heart of all the other loves” (Jericho, 2015). Gadamer (2009) writes of philautia: “Thus it is; in self-love one becomes aware of the true ground and the condition for all possible bonds with others and commitment to oneself.” Healthy philautia is the love that is within oneself. It is not, explains Jericho (2015) “the desire for self and the root of selfishness.” Ethicist John Deigh (2001) writes:

Accordingly, when Aristotle remarks that a man’s friendly relations with others come from his relations with himself … he is making the point that self-love (philautia), as the best exemplar of love … is the standard by which to judge the friendliness of the man’s relations with others.

Positive self-qualities are obscured by SAD’s culture of maladaptive self-beliefs and the interruption of the normal course of natural motivational development. Positive psychology embraces “a variety of beliefs about yourself, such as the appraisal of your own appearance, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors” Cherry, 2019). It points to measures “of how much a person values, approves of, appreciates, prizes, or likes him or herself” (Blascovich & Tomaka, 1991). Ritter et al. (2013) conducted a study on the relationship between SAD and self-esteem. The research concluded that SAD persons have significantly lower implicit and explicit self-esteem relative to healthy controls, which manifest in maladaptive self-beliefs of incompetence, unattractiveness, unworthiness, and other irrational self-evaluations.

Healthy philautia is essential for any relationship; it is easy to recognize how the continuous infusion of healthy philautia into a SAD person supports self-positivity and interconnectedness with all aspects of interpersonal love. “One sees in self-love the defining marks of friendship, which one then extends to a man’s friendships with others” (Deigh, 2001). Self-worthiness and self-respect improve self-confidence, which allows the individual to overcome fears of criticism and rejection. Risk becomes less potentially consequential, and the playful aspects of Ludus less threatening. Self-assuredness opens the door to traits commonly associated with successful interpersonal connectivity―persistence and persuasiveness, optimism of engagement, a willingness to vulnerability. A SAD person’s recognition of her or his inherent value generates the realization that they “are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect” (Ackerman, 2019). A good person is, spiritually, one that is loved by God; reciprocation is instinctive and effortless. “To feel joy and fulfillment at being you is the experience of philautia” (Jericho, 2015). The philautia described by Aristotle, “is a necessary condition to achieve happiness” (Arreguín, 2009) which, as we continue down the classical Greek path, is eudemonic. In the words of positive psychologist Stephen (2019), eudaimonia

describes the notion that living in accordance with one’s daimon, which we take to mean ‘character and virtue,’ leads to the renewed awareness of one’s ‘meaning and purpose in life’.

Aristotle touted the striving for excellence as humanity’s inherent aspiration (Kraut, 2018). He described eudaimonia as “activity in accordance with virtue” (Shields, 2015). Eudaimonia reflects the best activities of which man is capable. The word eudaimonia reflects personal and societal well-being as the chief good for man. “The eudaimonic approach … focuses on meaning and self-realization and defines well-being in terms of the degree to which a person is fully functioning” (Ryan & Deci, 2001). It is through recognition of one’s positive self-qualities and potential productive contribution to the general welfare that one rediscovers the intrinsic capacity for love. Let us view this through the symbolism of Socrates’ tale of the Cave (Plato, 1992). In it, we discover SAD persons chained to the wall. Their perspectives generate from the shadows projected by the unapproachable light outside the cave. They name these maladaptive self-beliefs: useless, incompetent, timid, ineffectual, ugly, insignificant, and stupid. The prisoners have formed a subordinate dependency on their surroundings and resist any other reality until, one day, they find themselves loosed from their bondage and emerge into the light. Like the cave dwellers, the SAD person breaks away from maladaptive self-beliefs into healthy philautia’s positive self-qualities, which encourage and support connectivity to all forms of interpersonal love.

A study published in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (Hulme et al., 2012) looked at the effect of positive self-images on self-esteem in the SAD person. Eighty-eight students were screened with the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS) and divided between the low self-esteem group or the high self-esteem group. The study had two visions. The first was to study the effect of positive and negative self-beliefs on implicit and explicit self-esteem. The second was to investigate how positive self-beliefs would affect the negative impact of social exclusion on explicit self-esteem, and whether high socially anxious participants would benefit as much as low socially anxious participants. The researchers used a variety of measures and instruments. The Social Interaction Anxiety Scale is standard in SAD therapy and CBT workshops; the Implicit Association Test (IAT) reveals the strength of the association between two different concepts. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) is a 10-item self-report measure of explicit self-esteem; the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Trait (STAI-T) is a 20-item scale that measures trait anxiety; and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) is a self-report scale measuring depression, anxiety, and general distress.

Social exclusion is inherently aversive and reduces explicit self-esteem in healthy individuals … the effect of exclusion has been measured in terms of its impact on positive affect and on four fundamental need scores (self-esteem, control, belonging, and meaningful existence) which contribute to psychological well-being. (Hulme et al., 2012)

The study’s results were consistent with evidence-based on implicit self-esteem in other disorders; it found that negative self-imagery reduces positive implicit self-esteem in both high and low socially anxious participants. It provided supporting evidence of the effectiveness of promoting positive self-beliefs over negative ones, “because these techniques help patients to access a more positive working self” (Hulme et al., 2012). It also demonstrated that positive self-imagery maintained explicit self-esteem even in the face of social exclusion.

59.5. Conclusion

For 25 years, since the appearance of SAD in DSM-IV, the cognitive-behavioral approach has reportedly been effective in addressing social anxiety disorder. It is structurally sound and would conceivably remain the foundation for future programs, however, it is not the therapeutic gestalt it claims to be. Productive cognitive-behavioral approaches emphasize the replacement of SAD’s automatic negative thoughts and behaviors (ANTs) with automatic rational ones (ARTs). As defined by UCLA psychologists Hazlett-Stevens and Craske (2002), CBT approaches treatment with the assumption that a specific central or core feature is responsible for the observed symptoms and behavior patterns experienced (i.e., lawful relationships exist between this core feature and the maladaptive symptoms that result). Therefore, once the central feature is identified, targeted in treatment, and changed, the resulting maladaptive thoughts, symptoms, and behaviors will also change.

Clinicians and researchers have reported the lack of a clear diagnostic definition for social anxiety disorder; features overlap and are comorbid with other mental health problems (ADAA, 2019a; Tsitsas & Paschali, 2014). Experts cite substantial discrepancies and disparities in the definition, epidemiology, assessment, and treatment of SAD (Nagata et al., 2015). More specifically, according to a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Alden et al., 2018), “there is not enough attention paid in the literature to the ability to function in the close relationships” required for interpersonal love.

Standard CBT also lacks methodological clarity. Johnsen and Friborg (2018) cite the varying forms of CBT used in study and therapy over the years. Experts point to two predominant types of CBT: “the unadulterated CBT created by Beck and Ellis, which reflects the protocol-driven, highly goal-oriented, more standardized approach they first popularized,” and the more integrative and collaborative approaches of “modern” CBT (Wong et al., 2013). This study maintains neither faction should be ignored if we are to effectively challenge the evolving complexities of positive self-qualities and their importance to the individual’s psychological well-being.

The deficit of positive self-qualities in individuals impaired by SAD’s symptomatic culture of maladaptive self-beliefs combined with the interruption of the natural course of human motivational development is a new psychological concept in our evolving conscious complexity. Cognitive-behavioral therapies focus on resolving negative self-imaging and irrationality through programs of thought and behavioral modification.  Positive self-qualities in healthy philautia is not a new concept; it was being discussed in symposia almost two-and-a-half centuries ago. The psychological ramifications and methods to address it, however, are in their formative stages. There is a need for innovative psychological and philosophical research to address the broader implications of healthy philautia’s positive self-qualities, which could deliver the potential for self-love and societal concern to the SAD person, opening the bridge to the procurement of all forms of interpersonal love.

Kashdan, Weeks, and Savostyanova (2011) cite the “evidence that social anxiety is associated with diminished positive experiences, infrequent positive events, an absence of positive inferential biases in social situations, fear responses to overtly positive events, and poor quality of life.” Models of CBT that attempt only to reduce the individual’s avoidance behaviors would benefit from addressing more specifically the relational deficits that such people experience, as well as positive psychological measures to counter SAD’s culture of maladaptive self-beliefs. Non-traditional and supported approaches, including those defined as new (third) wave (generation) therapies, with CBT serving as the foundational platform for integration, would widen the scope and perspective in comprehending SAD’s evolving intricacies.

One such step is the integration of positive psychology within the cognitive behavioral therapy model which, “despite recent scientific attention to the positive spectrum of psychological functioning and social anxiety/SAD … has yet to be integrated into mainstream accounts of assessment, theory, phenomenology, course, and treatment” (Kashdan et al., 2011). CBT would continue to modify automatic maladaptive self-beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors, and positive psychology would replace them with positive self-qualities.

Training in prosocial behavior and emotional literacy might be useful supplements to typical interventions. Behavioral exercises can be used to practice the execution of considerate and generous social skills. Positive affirmations have enormous subjective value as well. Data provide evidence for mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions, where the goal is not only to respond to the negativity of maladaptive self-beliefs but to pursue positive self-qualities despite the presence of unwanted negative thoughts, feelings, images, or memories. Castella et al. (2014) suggest motivational enhancement strategies to help clients overcome their resistance to new ideas and concepts. Ritter et al. (2013) tout the benefits of positive autobiography to counter SAD’s association with negative experiences, and self-monitoring helps  SAD persons to recognize and anticipate their maladaptive self-beliefs (Tsitsas & Paschali, 2014). Finally, the importance of considering the “nuanced and unique dynamics inherent in the relationships among emotional expression, intimacy, and overall relationship satisfaction for socially anxious individuals” should be thoroughly considered (Montesi et al., 2013). As positive psychology turns its attention to the broader spectrum of philautia’s positive self-qualities, integration with CBT’s behavior modification, neuroscience’s network restructuring, and other non-traditional and supported approaches would establish a working platform for discovery.

*          *          *

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.  

__________

References

Abel-Hirsch, N. (2010). The life instinct. The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 91(5), 1055–1071. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-8315.2010.00304.x

ACBT (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies). (2019). The world confederation of cognitive and behavioral therapies (WCCBT). Retrieved September 22, 2019, from http://www.abct.org/docs/Members/WCCBT_2019.pdf

Ackerman, C. (2019). What is self-esteem? A psychologist explains. Positive Psychology. Retrieved August 10, 2019, from http:www.positive psychology.com/self-esteem/

ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). (2019a). Facts and statistics. Retrieved June 7, 2019, from https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/understanding-anxiety-and-depression-lgbtq

ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). (2019b). What’s normal and what’s not? Retrieved August 12, 2019, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/just-for-teens/whats-normal-whats-not

Ades, T., & Dias, S. (2013). Social anxiety disorder: Recognition, assessment and treatment. NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 159. Retrieved October 17, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK327649/

Alden, L. E., Buhr, K., Robichaud, M., Trew, J. L., & Plasencia, M. L. (2018). Treatment of social approach processes in adults with social anxiety disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(6), 505–517. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000306

Amen, D. G. (1998). Change your brain, change your life: The breakthrough program for conquering anxiety, depression, oppressiveness, anger, and impulsiveness. New York City: Three Rivers Press.

APA (American Psychiatric Association). (2017). Social anxiety disorder. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: Fifth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Aquinas, T. (1981). St. Thomas Aquinas Summa theologica. Chicago: Thomas More Publishing.

Aristotle. (1999). Nicomachean ethics (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.

Arreguín, H. Z. (2009, November 18). The role of philautia in Aristotle’s ethics. Acta Philosophica, I381–390. Retrieved August 17, 2019, from http://www.actaphilosophica.it/sites/default/files/pdf/2_2009_arreguin.pdf

Beck, J. S. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy, second edition: Basics and beyond. New York City: Guilford Press.

Blascovich, J., & Tomaka, J. (1991). Measures of self-esteem. Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes. San Diego, CA: Academic.

Bosche, M. (2019). Social anxiety disorder and social phobia. Anxiety.org. Retrieved from anxiety.org/social-anxiety-disorder-sad

Brenner, B. (2019). Understanding anxiety and depression for LGBTQ people. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/understanding-anxiety-and-depression-lgbtq

Burton, N. (2016). These are the 7 types of love. Psychology Today. Retrieved July 7, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love

Capon, A. G., & Blakely, E. J. (2007). Checklist for healthy and sustainable communities. New South Wales Public Health Bulletin, 18, 51–54. https://doi.org/10.1071/nb07066

Castella, K. D., Goldin, P., Jazaieri, H., Ziv, M., Heimberg, R. G., & Gross, J. L. (2014). Emotion beliefs in social anxiety disorder: Associations with stress, anxiety, and well-being. Australian Journal of Psychology, 66, 139–148. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajpy.12053

CBT Conferences. (2019). Conference series. Psychology health conference series. Retrieved September 15, 2019, from https://psychologyhealth.conferenceseries.com/events-list/cognitive-behavioral-therapy

Chapdelaine, A., Carrier, J.-D., Fournier, L., Duhoux, A., & Roberge, P. (2018). Treatment adequacy for social anxiety disorder in primary care patients. PLoS ONE, 13(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0206357

Cherry, K. (2019). What exactly is self-esteem? Verywellmind. Retrieved September 17, 2019, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-esteem-2795868

Cuijpers, P., Cristea, L. A., Karyotaki, E., Reijnders, M., & Huibers, M. J. H. (2016). How effective are cognitive behavior therapies for major depression and anxiety disorders? A meta-analytic update of the evidence. World Psychiatry, 15, 245–258. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20346

Cuming, P., & Rapee, S. (2010). Social anxiety and self-protective communication style in close relationships. Journal of Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48(2), 87–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2009.09.010

Cuncic, A. (2018). How social anxiety affects dating and intimate relationships. Verywellmind. Retrieved September, 17, 2019, from https://www.verywellmind.com/adaa-survey-results-romantic-relationships-3024769

Darcy, K., Davila, J., & Beck, G. (2005). Is social anxiety associated with both interpersonal avoidance and interpersonal dependence? Cognitive Therapy and Research, 29(2), 171–186. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-005-3163-4

David, D., Cristea, I., & Hoffman, S. G. (2018). Why cognitive behavioral therapy is the current gold standard of psychotherapy. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00004

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli1104_01

Deigh, J. (2001). The moral self. Pauline Chazan. Mind. London: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/110.440.1069 .

Desnoyers, A. J., Kocovski, N. L., Fleming, J. E., & Antony, M. M. (2017). Self-focused attention and safety behaviors across group therapies for social anxiety disorder. Anxiety Stress & Coping, 30(4), 441–455. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2016.1239083

Fatima, M., Naizi, S., & Gayas, S. (2018). Relationship between self-esteem and social anxiety: Role of social connectedness as a mediator. Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 15(2), 12–17. Retrieved from http://www.gcu.edu.pk/FullTextJour/PJSCS/2017b/2.%20%20Saba%20Ghayas%20(1).pdf

Felman, A. (2018). What’s to know about social anxiety disorder? Medical News Today. Retrieved August 22, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176891.php

do Céu Fialho, M. (2007). “Philanthrôpia” and “Philautia” in Plutarch’s “Theseus”. Hermathena, 182, 71–83. Retrieved from https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.sfpl.org/stable/23041719?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

Gadamer, H.-G. (2009). Friendship and solidarity. Research in Phenomenology, 39, 3–12. https://doi.org/10.1163/156916408X389604

Gaudiano, B. A., & Herbert, J. D. (2003). Preliminary psychometric evaluation of a new self-efficacy scale and its relationship to treatment outcome in social anxiety disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 27(5), 537–555. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1026355004548

Grant, B., Hasin, D., Blanco, C., Stinson, F., Chou, S., & Goldstein, R. B. (2005). The epidemiology of social anxiety disorder in the United States: Results from the national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 66(11), 1351–1361. https://doi.org/10.4088/jcp.v66n1102

Gregory, B., Wong, Q. J. J., Craig, D., Marker, C. D., & Peters, L. (2018). Maladaptive self-beliefs during cognitive behavioural therapy for social anxiety disorder: A test of temporal precedence. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 42(3), 261–272. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-017-9882-5

Grewal, D. S. (2016). The political theology of laissez-faire: From philia to self-love in commercial society. Political Theology, 17(5), 417–433. https://doi.org/10.1080/1462317X.2016.1211287

Halloran, M., & Kashima, E. (2006). Culture, social identity, and the individual. In Individuality and the group: Advances in social identity. London: Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446211946.n8

Hazlett-Stevens, H., & Craske, M. G. (2002). Brief cognitive-behavioral therapy: Definition and scientific foundations. In F. W. Bond & W. Dryden (Eds.), Handbook of brief cognitive behaviour therapy (pp. 1–20). New York: Wiley.

Heeren, A., & McNally, R. J. (2018). Social anxiety disorder as a densely interconnected network of fear and avoidance for social situations. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 42(6), 103–113. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-018-9952-3

Helm, B. (2017). Love. In Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ love  

Heshmat, S. (2014). Social anxiety disorder (SAD). SAD is a risk factor for addiction. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201410/social-anxiety-disorder-sad . Accessed 17 August 2019.

Hirsch, C. R., and Clark, D. (2004). Information-processing bias in social phobia. Clinical Psychology Review, 24(7):799-825 (2004). doi:10/1016/j.cpr.2004.07.005

Hoffman, S. G., Asnaani, M. A. U., & Hinton, D. E. (2010). Cultural aspects in social anxiety and social anxiety disorder. Depression and Anxiety, 27(12), 1117–1127. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20759

HPD (Histrionic Personality Disorder). (2019). Psychology Today. Retrieved September 12, 2019, from https://www.psychology today.com/us/conditions/histrionic-personality-disorder

Hulme, N., Hirsch, C., & Stopa, L. (2012). Images of the self and self-esteem: Do positive self-images improve self-esteem in social anxiety? Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 41(2), 163–173. https://doi.org/10.1080/16506073.2012.664557

Jazaieri, H., Morrison, A. S., & Gross, J. J. (2015). The role of emotion and emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder current. Psychiatry Reports, 17(1), 531. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-014-0531-3

Jericho, L. (2015). Innerspring: Eros, agape, and the six forms of loving. Lilipoh, 20(79), 38–39.

Johnsen, T. J., & Friborg, O. (2015). The effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy as an anti-depressive treatment is falling. Psychological Bulletin, 141(4), 747–768. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000015

Kaczkurkin, A. N., & Foa, E. B. (2015). Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 17(3), 337–346. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: An update on the empirical evidence.

Kampmann, I. L., Emmelkamp, P. M. G., & Morina, N. (2019). Cognitive predictors of treatment outcome for exposure therapy: Do changes in self-efficacy, self-focused attention, and estimated social costs predict symptom improvement in social anxiety disorder? BMC Psychiatry, 19(80). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-019-2054-2

Kashdan, T. B., Weeks, J. W., & Savostyanova, A. A. (2011). Whether, how, and when social anxiety shapes positive experiences and events: A self-regulatory framework and treatment implications. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 786–799. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.03.012

Kraut, R. (2018). Aristotle’s ethics. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved September 27, 2019, from https://plato.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/encyclopedia/archinfo.cgi?entry=aristotle-ethics

Lacan, J. (1978). Seminar XI: The four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis. London: W.W. Norton.

Lee, R. M., Dean, B. L., & Jung, K. R. (2008). Social connectedness, extraversion, and subjective well-being: Testing a mediation model. Personality and Individual Differences, 45(5), 414–419. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2008.05.017

Lomas, T. (2017). The flavours of love: A cross-cultural lexical analysis. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 48(1), 134–152. https://doi.org/10.1111/jtsb.12158

Lyford, C. (2017). Is cognitive-behavioral therapy as effective as clinicians believe? Despite longstanding authority, new research questions CBT’s reliability. Psychotherapy Networker. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/blog/details/705/is-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-as-effective-as-clinicians

Manfro, G. G., Heldt, E., Cordiol, A. V., & Otto, M. W. (2008). Cognitive-behavioral therapy in panic disorder. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, 2(8), 1–7. Retrieved from https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1516-44462008000600005andscript=sci_arttextandtlng=en

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0054346

Mayoclinic. (2017a). Personality disorders. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved July 25, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463

Mayoclinic. (2017b). Social anxiety disorder (social phobia). Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved August 13, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/social-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353561

McGinn, L. K. (2019). International associates. Association for behavioral and cognitive therapies. In 53rd Annual Convention. Retrieved September 14, 2019, from http://www.abct.org/Members/?m=mMembers&fa=InternationalAssociates

MHA (Mental Health America). (2019). Social anxiety disorder. Retrieved September 15, 2019, from https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/social-anxiety-disorder

Montesi, J. L., Conner, G. T., Gordon, E. A., & Fauber, R. L. (2013). On the relationship among social anxiety, intimacy, sexual communication, and sexual satisfaction in young couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 81–91. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-012-9929-3

Mullen, R. F. (2018). What is cognitive-behavioral? rechanneling.org. Retrieved from https://www.rechanneling.org/page-13.htm.

Nagata, T., Suzuki, F., & Teo, A. R. (2015). Generalized social anxiety disorder: A still-neglected anxiety disorder 3 decades since Liebowitz’s review. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 69(12), 724–740. https://doi.org/10.1111/pcn.12327

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illnesses). (2019). Psychotherapy. Retrieved September 15, 2019, from https://www.nami.org/learn-more/treatment/psychotherapy

Nardi, A. E. (2003). The social and economic burden of social anxiety disorder. BMJ, 327. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7414.515

NCCMH (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). (2013). Social anxiety disorder: Recognition, assessment and treatment. NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 159. Retrieved September 15, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK266258/

NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health). (2017). Social anxiety disorder. Retrieved September 15, 2019, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder.shtml

Plato. (1992). The republic. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.

Read, D. L., Clark, G. I., Rock, A. J., & Coventry, W. L. (2018). Adult attachment and social anxiety: The mediating role of emotion regulation strategies. PLoS ONE, 13(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207514

Reuben, A., & Schaefer, J. (2017). Mental illness is far more common than we knew. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/mental-illness-is-far-more-common-than-we-knew/

Richards, T. A. (2014). Overcoming social anxiety disorder: Step by step. Phoenix, AZ: The Social Anxiety Institute Press.

Richards, T. A. (2019). What is social anxiety disorder? Symptoms, treatment, prevalence, medications, insight, prognosis. The Social Anxiety Institute. Retrieved June 14, 2019, from https://socialphobia.org/social-anxiety-disorder-definition-symptoms-treatment-therapy-medications-insight-prognosis

Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2018). Mental health. Our world in data. Retrieved October 7, 2019, from https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health

Ritter, V., Ertel, C., Beil, K., Steffens, M. C., & Stangier, U. (2013). In the presence of social threat: Implicit and explicit self-esteem in social anxiety disorder. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 37(6), 1101–1109. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-013-9553-0

Rodebaugh, T. L., Lim, M. H., Shumaker, E. A., Levinson, C. A., & Thompson, T. (2015). Social anxiety and friendship quality over time. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 44(6), 502–511. https://doi.org/10.1080/16506073.2015.1062043

Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.141

Sharma, A. (2014). Self-esteem is the sense of personal worth and competence that persona associate with their self—concepts. IOSR Journal of Nursing and Health Science, 3(6), Ver.4: 16–20.

Shelton, J. (2018). Social anxiety disorder: Symptoms, causes and treatment. Psycom. Retrieved September 7, 2019, from https://www.psycom.net/social-anxiety-disorder-overview

Shields, C. (2015). Aristotle. In Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Stanford, CA: The Metaphysics Research Lab. Retrieved August 23, 2019, from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle/

Steele, B. F. (1995). Psychodynamic and Biological Factors in Child Maltreatment. In Helfer, M. E., Kempe, R. S., Krugman, R. D. (Eds. ) The Battered Child, (fifth edition), (pp. 73-103). University of Chicago Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.1192/S000712500015041X

Stein, M. B., & Stein, D. J. (2008). Social anxiety disorder. The Lancet, 371(9618), 1045–1136. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60488-2

Stephen, J. (2019). What is eudaimonic happiness? How and why positive psychologists are learning from Aristotle. Psychology Today. Retrieved September 12, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-doesnt-kill-us/201901/what-is-eudaimonic-happiness

Topaz, B. (2018). You can stop social anxiety from ruining your relationships. PsychCentral. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/you-can-stop-social-anxiety-from-ruining-your-relationships/

Tsitsas, G. D., & Paschali, A. A. (2014). A cognitive-behavior therapy applied to a social anxiety disorder and a specific phobia, case study. Health Psychology Research, 2(3), 1603. https://doi.org/10.4081/hpr.2014.1603

UNLM (U.S. National Library of Medicine). (2018). Personality disorders. Retrieved September 27, 2019, from https://medlineplus.gov/personalitydisorders.html

WebMD. (2019). What is social anxiety disorder? WebMD Medical Reference. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder#1

Whitbourne, S. K. (2018). Is social anxiety getting in the way of your relationships? Psychology Today. Retrieved August 14, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201806/is-social-anxiety-getting-in-the-way-your-relationships

Wong, Q. L. L., Moulds, M., & Rapee, R. M. (2013). Validation of the self-beliefs related to social anxiety scale. Assessment, 21(3), 300–311. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191113485120

Yeilding, R. (2017). Developing the positive in managing social anxiety. National Social Anxiety Center. Retrieved August 14, 2019, from https://nationalsocialanxietycenter.com/2017/09/18/developing-positive-managing-social-anxiety/

Zimmerman, M., Dalrymple, K., Chelminski, I., Young, D., & Galione, J. H. (2010). Recognition of irrationality of fear and the diagnosis of social anxiety disorder and specific phobia in adults: Implications for criteria revision in DSM-5. Depression and Anxiety, 27(11), 1044–1049. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20716

You Deserve to Be Treated with Dignity and Respect

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)

This is a personal message to those of you whose emotional well-being and quality of life are impacted by a ‘mental’ disorder. I write as someone who knows what you are going through, and who understands the system. I have dealt with social anxiety disorder throughout my life. I have spent the last 16 years researching and developing methods to alleviate the impact of mental dysfunctions. I know the disease model of mental health has been ineffective and demeaning, and I emphasize the importance of adopting a Wellness Model that treats you with dignity and appreciation for your abilities and potential. 

You are not alone.

  • 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children (ages 6-17) have a diagnosable mental illness.
  • 20 million adults and 5 million adolescents experience mild to major depression.
  • Anxiety disorders impact 45 million adults and 13 million adolescents.
  • 60% of those have both anxiety and depression. Substance abuse is often comorbid.
  • The estimated rate of infection for minorities is 1.5-2.5 times higher.
  • Anxiety and depression are the primary causes of the 56% increase in adolescent suicide over the last decade.
  • Sexual and gender-based adolescents are almost five times more likely to attempt suicide.

There are four essential facts I want you to recognize.

1. You are not abnormal. A disorder (physiological dysfunction), or what they used to call neurosis, is a common part of natural human development. Mental health professionals have a saying. Question: Why do 26% of American adults have a diagnosable mental disorder? Answer: Because the other 74% haven’t been tested.  Scientific American speculates that mental disorders are so common, that almost everyone will develop at least one diagnosable disorder at some point in their life. It is, simply, a condition that negatively impacts your emotional well-being and quality of life. 

2. It is not your fault. You were infected, most likely, during your childhood. In the rare event that onset happens later in life, the susceptibility originates in childhood. The infection is a consequence of some physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance. It could be hereditary, environmental, or the result of trauma. Any number of things could have caused it. Perhaps your parents were controlling or did not provide emotional validation. Perhaps you were bullied, or you are from a broken home. It is never your fault and it may be no one’s fault.

Forget what you have been told. You have been negatively informed by the disease model of mental health, and influenced by mental health stigma. The disease model focuses on diagnosis, deficit, and denigration. Through its diagnostic process, you cease to be an individual and become your disorder. The Wellness Model emphasizes your character strengths and virtues that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover.

3. You are not ‘mental. Not only is the description inaccurate, but it promotes hostile perceptions of incompetence, unworthiness, and undesirability. It is the dominant source of stigma, shame, and self-loathing. It feeds the pervasive public stereotype of the dangerous and unpredictable, deranged person who should be isolated in an institution. 

They once thought mental illness was demonic possession. They blamed it on the moon, sorcery, witchcraft, and bodily fluids. In the early 20th century, it was your cellular structure. The biological approach says it is in your brain; the pharmacological approach pushes drugs to balance your chemistry and hormones. The fact is that simultaneous mutual interaction of your human system components is required for the sustainability of life and your disorder.

Your dysfunction is not ‘mental,’ biologic, hygienic, neurochemical, or psychogenic. It is a combination of all of these things, facilitated by all your human system components – mind, body, spirit, and emotions – working in concert. 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. So, we have to change the common perception of the word. The Wellness Model’s primary objective is the reformation of language, power structure, and perspective throughout the mental healthcare community and beyond.

4. You deserve better ― from the ‘mental’ healthcare industry, your doctor, family, peers, media, and community. ‘Mental’ illness is a stigma, formed by ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination. It is supported by public opinion, family rejection, a misinformed community, media misrepresentation, and the disease model of mental health. No wonder so many avoid treatment, reject diagnosis, or refuse to disclose their condition.

General public opinion supports the notion you are dangerous, unpredictable, and socially undesirable.

Roughly 37% of family members hide their relationship with their child or sibling in order to avoid bringing shame to the family. Many disordered are family undesirable, a devaluation more life-limiting, and disabling than the illness itself.

The media stereotypes you as a hysterical, unpredictable, and dangerous schizophrenic. Half of the news stories on ‘mental’ illness allude to violence. You are either a homicidal maniac, an emotionally challenged childlike prodigy, or a rebellious, hair-brained, free spirit.

Healthcare professionals are often undertrained, misinformed, and inflexible. You know how your disorder impacts your emotional well-being and quality of life far better than your doctor. Clinicians deal with 31 similar and comorbid disorders, over 400 schools of psychotherapy, multiple treatment programs, and a constantly evolving plethora of medications, but they do not know the personal impact of your disorder.

The mental healthcare community is drowning in pessimism. There is evidence to indicate the problem is endemic in the medical health community, and universally systematic, which means that it impacts you personally, and the disease model is the culprit. Clients report instances where staff members are inordinately rude or dismissive. Complaints include coercive measures, excessive wait times, paternalistic or demeaning attitudes, one-size-fits-all treatment programs, medications with undesirable side effects, stigmatizing language, and general therapeutic pessimism.

The etiology-driven, disease model defines you as incapable, deceitful, unempathetic, manipulative, difficult, irresponsible, and incompetent. These descriptions are straight from the manual. This ‘defective’ emphasis has been the overriding psychiatric perspective for over a century. By the 1952 publication of the first DSM, the focus had drifted from pathology (the science of the causes and effects of diseases) to pathography (the breakdown of an individual’s problems, categorizing them to facilitate diagnosis). Pathography focuses on a deficit, disease model of human behavior. Which disorder poses the most threat? What behaviors contribute to the disorder? Are you contagious? What sort of person has a mental illness? It is these attributions that form your self-beliefs and image.

To iterate, the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes 31 dysfunctions. Most share symptomatology and are comorbid. Estimates show that 60% of those with anxiety also have symptoms of depression, and both are comorbid with substance abuse. The following are closely related to or comorbid with social anxiety: major depression, panic disorder, alcohol abuse, PTSD, avoidant personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia, ADHD, and agoraphobia.

Diagnostic criteria change dramatically from one edition to the next. Causes and symptoms are added, removed, and rewritten without evidence that the new approach is better than the prior one. Researchers cite substantial discrepancies and variations in definition, epidemiology, assessment, and treatment. One clinic reports that 8.2% of their clients had generalized anxiety; 0.5% were correctly diagnosed. A study of 67 clinics reported that 76.4% of social anxiety clients were improperly diagnosed.

That is why the Wellness Model focuses on the individual over the diagnosis. The disease model focuses on the diagnosis. The Wellness Model emphasizes your character strengths and attributes that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover. 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 recover―with pride and self-reliance and determination―with the awareness of what we are capable.

Recovery is an individual process. There is no one right way to do or experience recovery. You are not toasters, mass-produced in a factory. You have unique DNA. There has never been a human being with your sensibilities, memories, and abilities. Your personality is comprised of distinct phenomena generated by everything experienced in your lifetime. It formed itself by core beliefs and developed through social, cultural, and environmental experiences. It is your current being and the expression of that being―your inimitable way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

One-size-fits-all approaches have never been able to address the complexity of your individual personality. Any evaluation and treatment program must comprehensively address your individual complexity. Recovery programs must be innovative, fluid, and targeted.

Clinicians must assimilate your culture and earn your trust. They do not have to become you; they must attempt to understand your culture in order to relate to you. An LGBTQ+ person will not be served well by a fundamentalist Baptist psychotherapist. Any clinician or program must consider your environment, history, and autobiography in conjunction with your wants, needs, and aspirations.

Your dysfunction has impacted your life since childhood; recovery is a long-term commitment. The Wellness Model creates the blueprint then guides teaches and supports you throughout the process of recovery, but you must do the work. The Wellness Model helps you reengage your intrinsic character strengths and attributes that generate the motivation and persistence and perseverance to recover.

Any suggestion of undesirability is a devaluation more life-limiting and disabling than the illness itself. You deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and appreciation. 

*          *          *

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.  

Why One-Size-Fits-All Approaches Fail

Dr. Robert F. Mullen
Director/ReChanneling

Numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

Recovery and motivational programs must
reflect our unique and individual personalities.

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

Recovery from disorders and discomforts, and the pursuit of goals and objectives physiological dysfunction and discomfort (disorders/neuroses) is an individual process. Just as there is no one right way to do or experience transformation, so also what helps us at one time in our life may not help us at another.

It is myopic of recovery programs to lump us into a single niche. Individually, we are a conglomerate of personalities―distinct phenomena generated by everything and anything experienced in our lifetime. Every teaching, opinion, belief, and influence develops our personality. It is our current and immediate being and the expression of that being. It forms itself by core beliefs and is developed by social, cultural, and environmental experiences. It is constant and fluid, singular yet multiple. It is our inimitable way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. It is who we are, who we think we are, and who we believe we are destined to become. It is expressed by the simultaneous mutual interaction of our mind, body, spirit, and emotions.

The insularity of cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychologies, and other approaches cannot comprehensively address the complexity of the personality. The approaches best suited to support proactive neuroplasticity are those that help us construct our information while supporting the learning/unlearning aspect of neural restructuring, i.e., replacing toxic with positive, productive information. We are best served by the integration of approaches, developed through clinical study, client targeting, 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.

A collaboration 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.

In the disease model of mental healthcare, we are treated as our diagnosis rather than individuals with concerns and issues. The traits, characteristics, and symptoms defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) are subject to substantial deviations in definition, epidemiology, and treatment. Mental health experts maneuver among multiple types of depression, several anxiety disorders, nine obsessive-compulsive disorders, five types of stress response, and ten personality disorders sharing similar traits and symptomatology with varying degrees of impact. A cumulation of experts has social anxiety disorder comorbid with avoidant personality disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, and schizophrenia. Of U.S. adults with any mental disorder, in a one-year period, 14.4 percent have one disorder, 5.8 percent have two, and 6 percent have three or more. 60% of those with anxiety also have depression and vice versa, and both are regularly comorbid with substance abuse. 

The disease model of mental health focuses on what is wrong with us. It is based on the history of our negative behavior. The Wellness Model emphasizes our character strengths, virtues, and attributes that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover and pursue our goals and objectives. A battle is not won by focusing on incompetence and weakness; it is won by knowing and utilizing inherent strengths and attributes. That is how we successfully recover―with pride and self-reliance and determination―with the awareness of what we are capable of. 

All treatment programs are flawed to some extent; integration into a platform of approaches can compensate for that ineffectiveness. Let us use the example of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Almost 90 percent of the approaches to recovery involve cognitive-behavioral treatments. However, many critical studies dispute CBT’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 modification pioneered by Beck in the 1960s is still useful in modifying the irrational thoughts and behaviors that sustain a disorder when used in concert with other approaches.

Positive psychology has its critics, too. They claim positive psychology is still in its formative stage and, despite recent scientific attention to the positive spectrum of human potential, has yet to be integrated into mainstream theory, assessment, and treatment options.

Until recently, the focus on optimal functioning’s positive aspects ignored the individual’s holism by neglecting their negative aspects. The emergence of PP2.0 rectified the lacuna. Positive psychology now emphasizes the positive while managing and processing the negative to increase well-being.

Platform Integration

Even mainstream medical authorities have begun to recognize the unreliability of conventional psychiatric diagnoses. A recent Canadian study reported, that of 289 participants in 67 clinics meeting DSM-IV criteria for social anxiety disorder, 76.4% were improperly diagnosed. The Anxiety Institute in Phoenix reports an estimated 8.2% of clients had generalized anxiety, but just 0.5% were correctly diagnosed. Experts cite the mental health community’s difficulty distinguishing different disorders or identifying specific etiological risk factors due to the fluidity and ambiguity of the DSM. Focusing on the individual personality would compensate for the statistical failures of diagnosis based on the disease model’s reliance on DSM criteria.

The massive number of revisions, substitutions, and changes from one DSM to the next is never universally accepted. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and researchers who specialize or survive by funding are justifiably protective of their territory. Even under the best circumstance with a knowledgeable and caring clinician, it is difficult to get a proper diagnosis. What is crucial is communication and collaboration between subject and clinician, eliminating the power dynamic of the diagnostic process. 

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.

We must address the individual over the diagnosis and create individual-based solutions. Training in prosocial behavior and emotional literacy might be useful supplements to typical interventions. Behavioral exercises can be used to practice the execution of considerate and generous social skills. Positive affirmations have enormous subjective value as well. Data provide evidence for mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions. Motivational enhancement strategies could help clients overcome their resistance to new ideas and concepts. Many therapists tout the benefits of positive autobiography to focus on our positive life experiences. Evidence-based solutions must address issues of self-esteem.

The best solution is an integrated platform of approaches targeting the personality. Diagnoses must be vigorously challenged by individual concerns and experiences, and treatment programs must reflect this dynamic. 

*          *          *

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.