Tag Archives: Depression

Social Anxiety and Proactive Neuroplasticity

Social Anxiety and Proactive Neuroplasticity is a no-fee membership group that focuses on utilizing the tools and techniques of proactive neuroplasticity to dramatically alleviate the symptoms and traits of social anxiety.

All-day, every day, we experience fear, depression, loneliness, and emotional pain. Anxious about how others perceive us, we feel incompetent, awkward, and undesirable. We worry about criticism, disapproval, and rejection; never ‘fitting in.’ We’re apprehensive to enter a conversation, afraid we’ll have nothing to talk about and will appear dull or ignorant. We are caught up in an interconnected network of fear and avoidance of social situations. 

The group evolved from a 640-member group that focuses on social anxiety disorder in the LGBTQ+ community. It is an extension of Dr. Mullen’s course offered by Academia.edu called Neuroscience and Happiness. Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral ChangeYears of research, writing, and facilitating recovery groups and workshops that address dysfunction and discomfort evidenced that proactive neuroplasticity is the most effective means to accelerate and consolidate learning (and unlearning). A primary objective of recovery from social anxiety is replacing our irrational and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors with rational and productive ones. 

Proactive neuroplasticity empowers us to transform our thoughts, behaviors, and perspectives, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. It can dramatically mitigate the self-destructive symptoms and traits of social anxiety. Utilizing the tools and techniques developed for DRNI (deliberate, repetitive, neural information), proactive neuroplasticity accelerates and consolidates learning and unlearning which directly correlates to recovery.

Proactive neuroplasticity deliberately compels our brain to repattern its neural circuitry. It’s what makes learning and registering new experiences possible. All information notifies our brain to restructure, producing a correlated change in behavior and perspective. What is significant is our ability to dramatically accelerate learning by deliberately compelling our brain to repattern its neural circuitry.

Utilizing an integration of science and east-west psychologies, DRNI is the most potent and effective means of learning as we structurally remodel our neural network. Science gives us proactive neuroplasticity, CBT and positive psychologies are western-oriented, and eastern practice provides the therapeutic aspects of Abhidharma psychology and self-analysis, and the overarching truths of ethical behavior.

This is a discussion group for individuals who want to learn the tools and techniques that facilitate proactive neuroplasticity to alleviate social anxiety and its common comorbidities. We will be a national, diverse membership, sharing experiences and insight through workshops, activities, discussion groups, virtual conference calls, etc.

Link to join

Or, if you would like additional information before joining, please fill out the following.

Anatomy of an Online Recovery Workshop

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Personal • Group • Corporate     Seminars • Workshops • Groups

ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, 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 dysfunction.  

The suspension of on-site workshops due to pandemic restrictions compelled ReChanneling to focus on online recovery groups, broadening its outreach from local to national participation. Our social anxiety group, for example, includes persons from SF, Vancouver, NYC, Riverside, Taos, Tracy, Los Angeles, Houston, and so on. Although we will be reinstituting on-site workshops next year, we will continue our online recovery work with persons nationally. 

ReChanneling’s focus on recovery from anxiety and depression has expanded to the comorbidities that factor into dysfunctions. In one anxiety Recovery Group, these included major depression, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and substance abuse. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America and other expert organizations report multiple dysfunctions related to social anxiety including major depression, panic disorder, alcohol abuse, PTSD, avoidant personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia, ADHD, and agoraphobia. Well over 60% of individuals with anxiety also have depression are both are commonly associated with substance abuse. They can all be treated by the same paradigmatic approach that fosters self-reliance, determination, and perseverance. This overview focuses on social anxiety and, by design, its multiple comorbidities.

The symptomatic similarities impacting disorders and neuroses are established by cause and origin. Cumulative evidence that a toxic childhood leads to psychological complications has been well-established, as has the recognition of early exploitation as a primary causal factor in lifetime emotional instability. It has been determined that the onset of dysfunction happens in adolescence or earlier as a consequence of childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance. This causes a disruption in natural human development negatively impacting the satisfaction of self-esteem. In those cases of later onset of some PTSD and clinical narcissism, the susceptibility originates in childhood. 

The Online Recovery Group.

Logistics. Lecture halls can accommodate hundreds of people; a workshop, perhaps 15. A targeted Recovery Group is most effective with a maximum of 10 on-site participants, and six or fewer online 

Composition. Constructing the human component of a Recovery Group is akin to assembling a jury. Compatibility of diagnoses is important. Individuals with anxiety and depression function well together; combining narcissistic personality with social anxiety disorder might be unwise. Sex, race, education, region, and sexual orientation do not factor in as much as political, philosophical, and religious leanings; tolerance and compatibility are essential. Adolescents function best in their own environment. The severity of diagnosis, determined by a series of evaluation forms, is rarely a factor in neuroses; psychoses require medical intervention. The final determination of compatibility within a Recovery Group can be assessed during the initial group interaction.

A healthy composition of shared experiences produces a supportive, collegial atmosphere where individuals are comfortable delving into issues and activities that might otherwise be emotionally or culturally prohibitive. 

Confidentiality. Roughly two-thirds of persons with diagnosable disorders do not disclose or seek recovery due to several justifiable attributions – public opinion, media misrepresentation, visibility, stigma, etc. The symptoms and traits of dysfunction generate a reticence to self-revelation. Three levels of confidentiality are established to address this: (1) information shared within the group says within the group, (2) personal information revealed in written exercise is addressed individually, and (3) some personal information important to self-evaluation can remain with the individual; the objective is personal revelation. 

Proactive neuroplasticity is the act of deliberately inputting information into our neural network. What is that information? What goes into manufacturing that information? The objective is to ensure the information is of the highest quality in order to effect change. How do we expedite this? What are the best tools and techniques? First of all, there is no one right way to recover or achieve a personal goal or objective. So also, what helps us at one time in our life may not help us at another.

It is myopic and, frankly arrogant 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. 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 and subjective experience 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.

Every integrated approach collaborates with and supports the others. We’ll delve deeper into the objectives and benefits of each. For now, here’s a brief overview.

Cognitive-Behavioral Modification (CBM).  

Social anxiety and other self-destructive conditions stem from negative, irrational thinking and behavior caused by ingrained reactions to situations and conditions. The impediments to achieving a goal or objective are similar. 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. The psychology’s mental health interventions have proved successful in mitigating the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other self-destructive patterns, producing significant improvements in emotional wellbeing. Positive psychology uses scientific understanding to aid in the achievement of a productive and satisfactory life, rather than merely treating mental illness, countering the pathographic focus of established mental healthcare.  

Abhidharma Psychology and the Overarching Truths of Ethical Behavior 

The Abhidharma explores the essence of perception and experience, and the reasons and methods behind mindfulness and self-analysis. 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 my belief, the historical revisions and translations of Buddha’s teachings overlooked the most important path to a healthy and productive life—that of right choice. Our self-destructive nature compels us to make the 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 deliberate and repetitive information supplied to our neural network via proactive neuroplasticity.

The ultimate objectives of a Recovery Group are:

  • To provide the tools and techniques to replace years of toxic thoughts and behaviors with rational, healthy ones, dramatically alleviating the self-destructive symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other dysfunctions
  • To compel the rediscovery and reinvigoration of the individual’s character strengths, virtues, and attributes.
  • To design a targeted behavioral modification process to help the individual re-engage their social comfort and status.
  • To provide the individual the means to control their dysfunction, rather than allowing it to control them.

The main components utilized in our Recovery Group include psycho-education, cognitive comprehension, roleplay, exposure, and homework.

Psycho-Education involves teaching individuals about the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and physiological reactions. Complementarity is the inherent cooperation of our human system components in maintaining physiological equilibrium. It is mind, body, spirit, and emotions working in concert. This cooperation extends to our emotions, i.e., the complementarity of anger, laugher, pride, sadness, etc. Sustainability of our dysfunction as well as efforts to recover require and engage simultaneous mutual interaction.

Cognitive Comprehension involves correcting negative or inaccurate cognitions by identifying distorted thoughts and developing rational replies. It is based on the premise that dysfunction compels individuals to avoid the reality of their symptomatic negative self-image and beliefs, generating inaccurate, biased processing while in social situations.

Roleplay is geared towards addressing fear and anxiety-provoking situations specific to the individual. Participants act out various social roles in dramatic situations that, through comprehension and repetition, compel a change in attitudes and engage different ways of coping with stresses and conflicts.

Exposure is designed to elicit the individual’s fears, allowing them to recognize they are irrational and unfounded. In imaginal exposure, the individual is asked to visualize and describe the feared stimulus. By logically addressing it and utilizing techniques like the vertical arrow, they experience a decrease in anxiety over time. In vivo exposure allows the individual to confront feared stimuli in real-world conditions.

Homework is designed to help the individual identify distorted thoughts when they occur naturally and consists of exercises individuals that encourage self-evaluation that leads to rediscovery and recognition of worth and potential. Because the participants experience different degrees of social anxiety and different social triggers, the homework assignments are geared and designed towards individual responses which are confidentially addressed and developed between the participant and facilitator. 

Positive Personal Affirmations
Character Resume
Diversions
Plan for Exposure Situation
Vertical Arrow Technique
Shame, Blame, and Guilt
Persona
Complementarity
Positive Autobiography

Deliberate conversations
Affirmative Visualization
Slow-talk, slow thinking
Cognitive Distortions
Negative, pressure, conditional words
ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
Moderating Exposure Situations
Coping skills
Others TBD

These are active, structured Recovery Groups for people who are willing and motivated to address the symptoms of their dysfunction. This means we can only work with self-motivated and committed individuals. We cannot accept people or continue to support them unless they are willing to participate in the discussions and exercises. While progress is exponential, goals are not met overnight. Recovery is a lifelong work-in-progress.

On-site workshops will resume post-pandemic. Individual short and long-term recovery support is also available to a select few. 

For further information or to request an interview, please fill out the following form.

Testimonials

Michael Z. – “I have lived with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) for as long as I can remember. It has overwhelmed me many times throughout my life, especially in avoiding crowds of people such as meet ‘n greets, conferences, picnics in the park, etc. I have always made the excuse that I cannot attend an event because my SAD would go into overdrive, fearing the upcoming event, always feeling “less” than others that will be there. Especially if my brain thinks the event will be “clicky.”

Our recovery group focuses on neuroplasticity (reprogramming the brain). The work brings up a lot of SAD feelings about the past and present. There are several straightforward assignments to complete while in recovery. It’s amazing what feelings come up when I’m assigned these exercises. I’ve learned:

  • My SAD does not rule me nor is it my fault that I have it.
  • How to transform any SAD negative thoughts into nurturing myself through daily affirmations

I feel more confident about attending a social gathering. Sure, I still have SAD, but now I have a plan how I can attend an event and feel more comfortable mingling with others. I like Robert’s SAD recovery program, especially how it’s taking many of my negative thoughts away and replacing them with positive ones. I also appreciate the others that are in our recovery group, as we all mingle quite well. And, of course, Robert is always there as nurturing and positive friend.”     

Matty S. – “It doesn’t come easy. Having the tools is just the start. Really understanding them all is still a challenge and the constant, long-term repetitiveness of DRNI is brutal. I’m not perfect by any means and I fall back a lot. I remember you said to consider projected failure as a process of learning, and setbacks are only possible with progress. Life is much better. I came into the program registering about a 9 out of 10 on the Richter scale of anxiety and depression. I’m now between 3 and 5 and working to get even more in control. I would give the practicum the most credit, but it taught me that I’m the captain of my ship, so I take credit and pride for hanging in there …                                                                   

Jose Garcia Silva, Ph.D.“I have never encountered such an efficient professional … His work transpires dedication, care, and love for what he does.”                                                                            

Leon V. – “I love his classes because the only pressure comes from within, not from the instructor, who clearly loves and knows what he is doing.                                                                                         

Janice Parker, Ph.D.“I am simply in awe at the writing, an individual’s insights, an individual’s deep knowing of transcendence, an individual’s intuitive understanding of psychic-physical pain, an individual’s connection of the pain to healing, an individual’s concept/title, and above all, an individual’s innate compassion …”                                                             

David C – “I’ve been unhappy and angry for as long as I can remember.  I hated my life and I was unhappy at work. I didn’t have anyone to confide in. When you kept pushing that cognitive stuff I was ready to walk, but you persuaded me that that was my social anxiety looking for an excuse to quit on myself. I don’t do as much of the positive repetitions as I should, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s something I didn’t have before you. As far as I concerned, that pretty much says it all.”              

Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, 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 dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Online Courses at Academia.edu

I’m pleased to announce my new four-part course for Academia.edu: Social Anxiety Disorder in the LGBTQ+ Community.

The course explores the pervasiveness of social anxiety in the LGBT community and how it disrupts the ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships.

An estimated one in four U.S. adults and adolescents have diagnosable depression and anxiety. The LBGT community is twice as likely to be impacted as their counterparts. LGBT adolescents are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide, and 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide in their lifetime.

Roughly one/third of LGBT persons have social anxiety disorder. Their avoidance of social situations is aggravated by the unwillingness to disclosure or seek treatment due to the stigma of diagnosis, public opinion, victimization, family rejection, homophobia, heterosexism, and identity. 

This course illustrates how social anxiety impacts healthy relationships, how the problem is exacerbated in the LGBT community, and what can be done to address the issue. The innate desire-to love and be loved is no less dynamic than any other group, but the fear and anxiety of intimacy and companionship impedes the ability to establish and maintain sustainable social connectedness. 

  • Session 1: The prevalence of social anxiety disorder in the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Session 2: Victimization, heterosexism, and homophobia in the LGBTQ+ Community.
  • Session 3: Social anxiety’s disruptive impact on healthy relationships.
  • Session 4: A paradigmatic approach to recovery utilizing proactive neuroplasticity.

Neuroscience and Happiness: Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change

Neuroplasticity is the scientific evidence of our brain’s adaptation to learning. By deliberately enhancing the process, we can proactively transform our thoughts, behaviors, and perspectives, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. All experience notifies our neural pathways to restructure, generating a correlated change in behavior and perspective. This course demonstrates how information creates the electrical activity that restructures our neural network. The deliberate, repetitive neural input of information strengthens and solidifies the connections between neurons, dramatically accelerating and solidifying learning through synaptic neurotransmission.

  • Session 1: The evolution of proactive neuroplasticity and its impact on our behavior.
  • Session 2: The proactive application of neuroplasticity; how it empowers change.
  • Session 3: The neural trajectory of information and how it accelerates and strengthens learning.
  • Session 4: Psychological approaches that help us construct our neural information.

BROADENING THE PARAMETERS OF THE PSYCHOBIOGRAPHY: The Character Motivations of the ‘Ordinary’ Extraordinary” https://rechanneling.org/…/the-value-of-psychobiography/in C-E Mayer, P. J. .P. Fouché, R. Van Niekerk (eds.) Psychobiographical Illustrations on Meaning and Identity in Sociocultural Contexts, Palgrave MacMillan (2022).

MY EXPERIENCE OF A RECHANNLING PRACTICUM A graduate of the 10-hour ReChanneling practicum has created a website partially dedicated to his experiences. He is halfway through the five-week, 10-hour session, sharing his reactions, thoughts, and perspectives in separate posts for each hour of the practicum and including the 4 weekly post-session work-at-home. LINK

ENLISITNG POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGIES TO CHALLENGE LOVE WITHIN SAD’S CULTURE OF MALADAPTIVE SELF-BELIEFS in Claude-Helene Mayer,  Elisabeth Vanderheiden (Eds.) International Handbook of Love Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives available at Amazon and other fine booksellers.

How an Honorable Psychobiography Embraces the Fluidity of Truth in New Trends in Psychobiography, Chap. 5 (pp: 79-95). Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-16953-4-https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-16953-4

Revisiting your inherent character strengths, virtues, and attributes that generate the motivation and perseverance to attain your aspirations.

Establishing a Wellness Model for LGBTQ+ Persons with Anxiety and Depression. Academia.edu, Researchgate.com. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.17550.38728 (PDF) Establishing a Wellness Model for LGBTQ+ Persons with a Mental Dysfunction (researchgate.net)

The wellness model’s emphasis on character strengths, virtues, and attributes not only positively impacts the self-beliefs and image of a mentally ill person but resonates in sexual and gender-based identities and portends well, the recovery-remission of an LGBTQ+ person

The Impact of Unresolved Blame and Guilt in Recovery

Blame and guilt are normal emotions that become toxic when unresolved. They collaborate when blame is utilized to avoid personal accountability, and when guilt is a consequence of accepting blame for harming another. They both generate shame until or unless addressed.

Blame

Blame is the act of censuring, holding responsible, or making negative statements about the self, an individual, or group that their action(s) were wrong, and they are socially or morally irresponsible. Blame is threefold: (1) blaming others who have harmed us; (2) blaming ourselves for harming another; (3) blaming ourselves for self-harm. 

Blaming is a natural and healthy response to situations, although the initial act is often distorted. For example, children often blame themselves for household disharmony. A student may blame a failing test grade on their stupidity rather than their lack of preparedness. We blame ourselves for our dysfunction and society for making our life so difficult. We blame ourselves, our parents, our neighbors, god, and anyone caught lurking for inconsequential things or situations beyond anyone’s control.

Most of our blaming is in response to forgettable, harmless situations. Some blaming carries significant emotional weight, especially if the harm is serious or prolonged. We often carry that emotional baggage throughout our life. It is unhealthy and non-conducive to recovery. When we hold onto these feelings, we construct our neural network with anger, hurt, and resentment. To paraphrase Buddha, holding onto anger is holding onto a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you’re the one who gets burned. Our transgressors are likely (1) unaware they injured us, (2) have forgotten the injury, (3) take no responsibility for it, (4) or don’t care. The only person negatively impacted is the blaming party.

Those who have harmed us should be held accountable, and we must take responsibility for our own transgressions. To release the negative energy, we must forgive those transgressions and move on. Why is that difficult to do? Because our anger and righteous indignation satisfy us. We also become physiologically addicted to the pleasurable chemicals that reward our hatred and resentment.

Transgressions against another manifest in guilt and shame—negative baggage that can only be released by accepting responsibility, making amends, and forgiving ourselves.

Self-blame is one of the most toxic forms of self-abuse. Since it is irrational to self-harm, it is caused by our dysfunction. We falsely self-blame for our behaviors and our perceived character deficits caused by our dysfunction. We are not our dysfunction, therefore, any blame must be ascribed to the dysfunction; self-blame is irrational and delusory. When addressed rationally, it can lead to positive change.

Guilt

Guilt is a psychological term for a natural self-conscious emotion that condemns the self while conscious of being evaluated by another person(s). It is the physiologically harmful feeling of having done something wrong, with an implicit need to correct or amend.

There are multiple levels and factors of guilt. We feel guilt for harming another, and for being the type of person who would affect harm. We feel guilt for harming ourselves. We guilt ourselves for things over which we have no control (cognitively distorted guilt).

The sensation of guilt is a reminder that we have done something wrong that we need to correct or amend. Such actions can remove the overriding vehemence of guilt from our conscience. Guilt is self-focused but highly socially relevant: It supports important interpersonal functions by, for example, encouraging adjusting or repairing valuable relationships and discouraging acts that could damage them. 

Rather than taking responsibility for guilt-provoking actions, we often play the blame game, ascribing the guilt to another entity. Since we subconsciously recognize our attribution, we add the burden of blame to the burden of guilt.

Until or unless we are mindful of our actions that elicited the guilt, and address those actions, we carry that emotional baggage throughout our life. It is unhealthy and non-conducive to self-esteem and recovery. When we hold onto guilt, we pattern our neural network with self-doubt, self-contempt, and self-unworthiness.

The harmful impact of guilt can be resolved by:

  1. Mindfulness (recognition and acceptance) of the act that incurred the guilt.
  2. Recognizing and disputing any cognitively distorting guilt for things we are not responsible for or things over which we have no control.
  3. Making direct amends for acts we are responsible for. Making substitutional amends if direct amends are not possible. 
  4. Then forgiving our self for the act that incurred the guilt. 

When we allow the negativity of guilt to take up valuable space in our brain, it impedes the flow of positive thought and action necessary for recovery. To excise this harmful negativity, we must forgive ourselves (which requires amending or remedying). Years of hanging onto guilt take their toll, and the negative self-image builds and solidifies, and overwhelms anything that hints at self-worth or value. Guilt is considered a ‘sad’ emotion, along with agony, grief, and loneliness, each a debilitating symptom of social anxiety disorder.

By withholding forgiveness, we deny ourselves the ability to function optimally; it is divisive to our wellbeing and disharmonious to our true nature. Forgiving is the only way to expel the hostility. We cannot hope to recover without courageously absolving our self and others whose behavior contributed to our negativity.

Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, 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 dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

The Hostility of Mental Health Stigma

dreamstime

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

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

Origins and Evolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How MHS Affects the Victim 

MHS impacts the victim through a series of stigma experiences:

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

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

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

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

Solution

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

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

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

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

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Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, 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 dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Recovery and The Willful Pursuit of Ignorance

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

The resistance to fully acknowledge our physiological dysfunction (neurosis) is a major impediment to our recovery. Many deliberately choose to remain ignorant of the destructive capability of their dysfunction. We go to enormous lengths to remain oblivious to its symptoms, characteristics, and traits as if, by ignoring them, they don’t exist or will somehow go away. Despite these efforts, the aura of undesirability cannot be muted.

Emphasis must be placed on the importance of fully recognizing and accepting our dysfunctional idiosyncrasies and how they impact our emotional wellbeing and quality of life—mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Deliberate ignorance is tantamount to fixing a malfunctioning computer by ignoring the manual. This resistance, arguably justified by multiple attributions, is meant to protect us from our irrational self-beliefs, but the shield is unsustainable and counterproductive.

The attributions to resistance are correlated internal and external components. The former is implemented by the dysfunction, diagnosis, and disruption in natural human development. External resistance is generated by the stigma triad of ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination. 

The overarching attributions to internal resistance are personal baggage, mental health stigma, and the natural physiological aversion to change. External attributions fall within the following categories, each informing the others:

  • Public opinion
  • Media misrepresentation
  • Visibility
  • Distancing
  • Diagnosis
  • Mental health stigma

Physiological Aversion. We are hard-wired to dislike change. Our bodies and brains are structured to resist anything that disrupts our equilibrium. Our nervous system monitors our metabolism, temperature, weight, and other survival functions. A new diet or exercise regimen produces physiological changes in our heart rate, metabolism, and respiration, which impact these functions. Inertia senses and resists these changes, making them difficult to maintain. Our brain’s basal ganglia resist any modification in patterns of behavior. Thus, habits like smoking or gambling are hard to break, and new undertakings (e.g., recovery), challenging to maintain.

Personal Baggage. Every physiological dysfunction and discomfort generates an emotional and behavioral identity due to childhood disturbance, and the corresponding disruption in natural human development. Most are more correlational than dissimilar and commonly comorbid. Their impact Is variable and distinguishable by human complexity. Many induce self-destructive decisions like substance abuse or emotional blackmail. Self-perceptions of incompetence, unattractiveness, and worthlessness are buttressed by guilt, blame, and shame. 

Public Opinion. Public aversion to mental illness is hard-wired. Individuals perceived as repugnant or weak in mind or body have suffered since the dawning of humankind. Psychological dysfunction and discomfort are components of natural human development. Scientific American speculates they are so common almost everyone will develop at least one diagnosable disorder at some point in their life. However, much of society views them differently because they see dysfunction in themselves, and it frightens them. That fear generates and is generated by prejudice, ignorance, and discrimination. 

Media Misrepresentation. TV, books, and films exaggerate the symptoms and traits of dysfunction, stereotyping the dysfunctional as annoying, dramatic, and peculiar. Portrayals suggest all persons impacted are unpredictable and dangerous. A 2011 comparative study revealed that nearly half of U.S. stories on mental illness explicitly mention or allude to violence. The media is powerful. Studies show homicide rates go up after televised heavyweight fights, and suicide increases after on-screen portrayals. 

Visibility is the public display of behaviors associated with dysfunctions. Not only are the recipients uneasy or repulsed by such behaviors, but the afflicted are vividly conscious of being observed, whether actual or imagined, and surrender to the GAZE―what psychoanalyst Lacan defines as the anxious state of mind that comes with scrutiny and unwanted attention.

Distancing is the public expression of contempt for the behaviors associated with dysfunction. Social distance varies, obviously, by diagnosis, but also by region, race and ethnicity, political persuasion, educational attainment, and economics. Distancing reflects the feelings a prejudiced group has towards another group; it is the affirmation of undesirability. In stigma research, the extent of social distance correlates to the level of discriminatory behavior. 

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

Diagnosis. impacted by the DSM, the disease model of mental healthcare, ignorance or ineptitude of mental health professionals, and misdiagnoses.  Diagnosis drives mental health stereotypes. Which dysfunction is the most repulsive, and which poses the most threat? People are concerned about the severity of the dysfunction, whether it is contagious, or whether the dysfunction was caused by certain behaviors. Will the symptoms worsen? Is the dysfunction punishment for sin, implying the more dangerous the symptoms, the worse the offense? Diagnosis is facilitated by the deficit disease model of mental healthcare via the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder which focuses on the history of harmful behavior.

The disease model assumes that emotional distress is merely symptomatic of biological illness. The Wellness Model of mental healthcare focuses on the positive aspects of human functioning that promote our wellbeing and recognize our essential and shared humanity. Positive psychologies and the Wellness Model emphasize what is right with us, innately powerful within us, our potential and determination. Rather than disease and deficit, they emphasize our character strengths, virtues, and attributes. Recovery is not achieved by focusing on incompetence and weakness; it is achieved by embracing and utilizing our inherent strengths and abilities. 

Benefits of the Wellness Model

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

Resistance closes the door to possibility. Nothing comes in, nothing goes out. Nonresistance is a prerequisite for recovery. We cannot recover if we do not consider our options. Nonresistance opens our minds and broadens our perspective. Consideration of new possibilities is rewarding and productive; resistance is counterintuitive to recovery.

Resistance v. Repression

RESISTANCE is the deliberate or unconscious attempt to prevent something from happening for any reason whatsoever. REPRESSION is a defense mechanism that prevents certain events, feelings, thoughts, and desires that the conscious mind refuses to accept. It is the ‘stuff’ that permeates our brain that we cannot address because we have compartmentalized it and misplaced the key. 

Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, 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 dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Utilizing Complementarity to Address Social Anxiety (and other dysfunctions)

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

Complementarity is the inherent cooperation of our human system components in maintaining physiological equilibrium. It is mind, body, spirit, and emotions working in concert. Sustainability of our social anxiety as well as efforts to recover require simultaneous mutual interaction.

How is this physiologically relevant? 

Every thought and behavior generates a realignment of our neural network which produces a correlated change in our thought and behavior. Our neural network transmits the chemical and electrical maintenance that maintains our vital functions: heartbeat, nervous system, and blood–flow. It tells us when to breathe. It generates our mood, controls our weight and digestion. It provides acetylcholine for learningnoradrenaline for concentration, glutamate for memory (Mind), adrenaline for muscles, endorphins to relax (Body), dopamine for motivation, GABA for anxiety (Spirit), and serotonin for mood stabilization (Emotions).

Examples of Complementarity (Simultaneous Mutual Interaction).

  • The freeway fender bender: I could have died (mind); I’m sweating and my heart is pounding (body); I’m angry, and frustrated (emotions); I’m suddenly conscious of my mortality (spirit).
  • The social gathering: everyone’s looking at me (mind); I’m aware of my posture and walk (body); I’m nervous about making a good impression (emotions); yet I’m confident I will do well (spirit).

Mindfulness of Complementarity.

Recognizing that the “Self’ is not a single entity but a complex collective of four major components: mind, body, spirit, and emotions (“MBSE”); accepting that these components react simultaneously and work in concert. One component will appear to dominate, depending on the situation. 

How is this relevant to social anxiety?

The symptoms of social anxiety attack our self-image. Because this causes us to build up defense mechanisms, our reactions are often irrational (self-destructive). This is especially pertinent in situations where our anxiety and depression generate self-denigrating or unhealthy responses: the social event, job performance review, the interview, the classroom.

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 socially anxious person anticipates it, takes it personally, dramatizes it, and obsesses on its negative implications. 

Let’s look at an example applicable to social anxiety disorder: We find ourselves in a social situation where our apprehensions and fears overwhelm us. We feel incompetent and unattractive. Our dysfunction persuades us we are being judged, criticized, or held in contempt. We either feel we are the center of attention or invisible. Our deflated spirit and fraught emotions fight for dominance. 

Addressing the complexity of the individual personality demands integrating multiple traditional and non-traditional approaches, developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation. Any recovery program must the subject’s environment, hermeneutics, history, and autobiography in conjunction with her or his wants, needs, and aspirations. Absent that, their complexity is not valued, and the treatment is inadequate. A working platform showing encouraging results for most disorders integrates positive psychology’s optimum human functioning with CBT’s behavior modification, and neural restructuring via proactive neuroplasticity – the deliberate, repetitive neural [input of] information input (DRNI).

Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, 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 dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Social Anxiety Disorder: General Overview

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

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

Social anxiety is arguably the most underrated, misunderstood, and misdiagnosed disorder. Debilitating and chronic, SAD attacks on all fronts, negatively affecting the entire body complex. It manifests in mental confusion, emotional instability, physical dysfunction, and spiritual malaise. Emotionally, persons experiencing SAD are depressed and lonely. In social situations, they are physically subject to unwarranted sweating and trembling, hyperventilation, nausea, cramps, dizziness, and muscle spasms. Mentally, thoughts are discordant and irrational. Spiritually, they define themselves as inadequate and insignificant. 

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

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

The generic symptom of SAD is intense apprehension—the fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, and ridiculed. There is persistent anxiety and fear of social situations such as dating, interviewing for a position, answering a question in class, or dealing with authority. Often, mere functionality in perfunctory situations―eating in front of others, riding a bus, using a public restroom—can be unduly stressful. 

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

The overriding fear of being found wanting manifests in self-perspectives of inferiority and unattractiveness. SAD persons are unduly concerned they will say something that will reveal their ignorance, real or otherwise. They walk on eggshells, supremely conscious of their awkwardness, surrendering to the GAZE―the anxious state of mind that comes with the maladaptive self-belief they are the uncomfortable center of attention. Their social interactions can appear hesitant and awkward, small talk clumsy, attempts at humor embarrassing–every situation reactive to negative self-evaluation. 

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

SAD persons are often concerned about the visibility of their anxiety and are preoccupied with performance or arousal. SAD persons frequently generate images of themselves performing poorly in feared social situations, and their anticipation of repudiation motivates them to dismiss overtures to offset any possibility of rejection. The SAD subject meticulously avoids situations that might trigger discomfort. The maladaptive perceptions of inferiority and incompetence can generate profound and debilitating guilt and shame.  

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

SAD persons crave companionship but shun social situations for fear of being found out as unlikeable, stupid, or annoying. Accordingly, they avoid speaking in public, expressing opinions, or even fraternizing with peers. People with SAD are prone to low self-esteem and high self-criticism due to the dysfunction itself, and its causal disruption in natural human development.

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

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

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

Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, 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 dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

The Neglected Significance of Forgiveness in Recovery

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

  • Recovery requires letting go of our negative self-perspectives, expectations, and beliefs, opening our minds to new ideas and concepts. 
  • When we hold onto hate and resentment, we remain imprisoned in the past. Our anger and resentment, unless released, gets passed onto others. Forgiving opens us to new possibilities and offers hope for the future. 
  • Allowing our transgressors to dominate our thoughts makes us victims. Forgiving takes their power away. 
  • The drive for vengeance can be formidable, our baser instinct cries out for retribution. Forgiving is not easy. It takes enormous courage.
  • We don’t forgive to make our transgressors feel better; they’re not important. We forgive to promote change within our self. 

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

Forgiving those who have harmed us. It is important to recognize that forgiveness is not forgetting or condoning. Forgiving does not minimize the impact of the harm. Forgiving does not imply reconciliation with the transgressor. Forgiving is not tolerating bad behavior or allowing it to continue. Forgiving is not forgetting. Our noble self forgives, our pragmatic self remembers. The actions of another may seem indefensible, but forgiving is for our wellbeing, not theirs. 

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

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

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

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

Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, 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 dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Healthy Philautia and Self-Esteem

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

Self-esteem is mindfulness (recognition and acceptance) of our value to our self, 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, 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 utilize each component.
  • We rediscover and reinvigorate our self-esteem through exercises designed to help us become mindful of our inherent strengths, virtues, and attributes. 

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

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

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

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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

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, subverted by our negative self-perspectives. The rediscovery and rejuvenation of self-esteem is an essential component of recovery. ReChanneling advocates and utilizes a Wellness Model over the etiology-driven disease or medical model of mental healthcare. The Wellness Model emphasizes the character strengths and virtues that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to function optimally through the substantial alleviation of the symptoms of dysfunction. 

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

  • Positive 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 which, 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 reengaging our positive self-properties that constitute healthy self-esteem.
  • Abhidharma is the ultimate checklist of our relationship to self, others, and the world. The Buddhist psychology of the eightfold path is a profile of the requisites for rational living. Right views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration have an additional implicit component, that of right choice. Evidence suggests we experience a physiological reaction when choosing to do something irrational or self-destructive because it conflicts with our inherent awareness of what is beneficial to self and community. Through mindfulness, we learn to recognize this physiological reaction and its impact on our self-esteem. 
  • Positive psychology can be defined as the science of optimal functioning. Its objective is to identify the character strengths and virtues that generate our motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover. Mindfulness of our attributes generates the psychological, physical, and social wellbeing that buffer against dysfunction. The objective is to achieve our potentials and becoming the best that we can be. Research shows that positive psychology interventions improve overall wellbeing and decrease 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. Immersion therapy is ideally practiced in a public environment setting but currently remains in-practicum, postponing public immersion for the duration of the pandemic. Utilizing the platform of methods outlined, we collaboratively create a blueprint that emphasizes our inherent strengths, virtues, and attributes to implement the crucial reacquisition of self-esteem and its positive self-qualities.

Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, 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 dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.