Tag Archives: Wellness Model

Healthy Philautia

Healthy Philautia is a program―utilized as an adjunct to other traditional and non-traditional approaches
to recovery-remission―that focuses on the renewal and reinvigoration of intrinsic self-esteem.


Healthy philautia is an essential element of self-esteem. It embraces the positive aspects of self-love and facilitates our positive self-qualities (i.e., self -compassion, -love, -regard, -respect, -value, -worth, and other intrinsic wholesome attributes). Aristotle argued in the Nichomachean Ethics that healthy philautia was the precondition for all other forms of love.[i]

In psychological terms, healthy philautia adjuncts to other modification programs engineered to overcome or replace maladaptive self-beliefs and behaviors that have supplanted positive self-qualities due to a disruption in our natural human development. Healthy philautia serves as a more focused revitalization tool in CBT’s self-esteem reinforcement and or positive psychology’s optimal functioning. Healthy philautia’s primary psychological application is to regenerate the self-esteem that supports us and our intrinsic goodness. 

What causes a deficit of self-esteem?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs reveals how childhood/adolescent exploitation can disrupt their human development.[ii] Healthy evolution requires satisfying fundamental physiological and psychological needs. The child/adolescent experiencing detachment, exploitation, or neglect, may be disenabled from satisfying her or his physiological and safety needs and the need to belong and experience love, which can impact their acquisition of self-esteem. Self-esteem is the recognition of our value; value is the accumulation of positive self-qualities that generate character strength and virtue. 

The deprivation of any fundamental need can detrimentally impact our wellbeing. Wellness models’ psychological positivity addresses this lacuna by emphasizing our character strengths that facilitate motivation and persistence/perseverance.

To Aristotle, healthy philautia is vigorous in its orientation to self and others in its potential goodness. By contrast, its darker variant portends disastrous consequences due to its narcissism, arrogance, and egotism. Healthy philautia encourages the development of our intrinsic positive self-qualities. Positive self-qualities determine our relation to self, to others, and the world. They provide the recognition that we are of value, consequential, and worthy of love. Healthy philautia is vital in every sphere of life and can be considered a basic human need.” [iii] To the Greeks, healthy philautia “is the root of the heart of all the other loves.” [iv] Gadamer writes of healthy philautia: “Thus it is; in self-love, one becomes aware of the true ground and the condition for all possible bonds with others and commitment to oneself.” [v] Healthy philautia is the love that is within oneself. It is not, explains Jericho, “the desire for self and the root of selfishness.” [vi] 

Philautia is a binary category of classical Greek love, which embraces both its healthy and unhealthy aspects. Unhealthy philautia is akin to clinical narcissism―a mental condition in which people function with an “inflated sense of their own importance [and a] deep need for excessive attention and admiration,” behind which “lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” [vii] Citizens of Athens could be accused of unhealthy philautia if they placed themselves above the greater good. Today, hubris has come to mean “an inflated sense of one’s status, abilities, or accomplishments, especially when accompanied by haughtiness or arrogance.” [viii]

The Greeks believed that the narcissism of unhealthy philautia could not exist without its complementary opposition of healthy philautia. Positive psychology 2.0 recognized this by emphasizing the need to focus on both our negative and positive qualities. Just like we would not recognize light without darkness, or heat without cold―to know goodness is to understand evil. 

Healthy philautia is essential for a good life; it is easy to recognize how the continuous infusion of healthy philautia and its reacquisition of positive self-qualities supports self-respect, reliance, and appreciation of our potential. “One sees in self-love the defining marks of friendship, which one then extends to a man’s friendships with others.” [ix] Recognition of our inherent value generates the realization that we are “a good person who deserves to be treated with respect.” [x] A good person is spiritually, one that is loved. “To feel joy and fulfillment at being you is the experience of philautia.” [xi] It is through recognition of our positive self-qualities and their contribution to the general welfare that we rediscover our intrinsic capacity for love. 


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

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

[iii] Sharma, A. (2014). Self-Esteem Is the Sense of Personal Worth and Competence That Persona Associate with Their Self – Concepts. IOSR Journal of Nursing and Health Science, 3(6), Ver.4: 16-20.

[iv] Jericho, L. (2015). Inner spring: Eros, Agape, and the Six Forms of Loving. Lilipoh, 20 (79): 38-39.

[v] Gadamer, H-G. (2009). Friendship and Solidarity. Research in Phenomenology, 39: 3-12. (2009). doi:10.1163/156916408X389604

[vi] Jericho, L. (2015). Inner spring: Eros, Agape, and the Six Forms of Loving. Lilipoh, 20 (79): 38-39.

[vii] Mayoclinic. (2017). Personality disorders. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463.

[viii] Burton, N. (2016). These Are the 7 Types of Love. (Online.) Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love.

[ix] Deigh, J. (2001). The Moral Self. Pauline Chazan. Mind. London: Oxford University Press. (2001). doi:10.1093/mind/110.440.1069.

[x] Ackerman, C. (2019). What is Self-Esteem? (Online.) A Psychologist Explains. Positive Psychology. http:www.positive psychology.com/self-esteem/.

[xi] Jericho, L. (2015). Inner spring: Eros, Agape, and the Six Forms of Loving. Lilipoh, 20 (79): 38-39.

Social Anxiety Disorder

SAD is the most common psychiatric disorder in the U.S. after major depression and alcohol abuse.


Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting the emotional and mental wellbeing of over 15 million U.S. adults who find themselves caught up in a densely interconnected network of fear and avoidance of social situations. SAD is the second most diagnosed form of anxiety in the United States.[i] The National Institute of Mental Health[iii] report 31.1% of U.S. adults experience some anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. Statistics are imperfect for the LGBTQ community; the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates their rate is 1.5-2.5 times higher “than that of their straight or gender-conforming counterparts.”[iv]

SAD is the most common psychiatric disorder in the U.S. after major depression and alcohol abuse.[v] It is also arguably the most underrated and misunderstood. A “debilitating and chronic” affliction, SAD “wreaks havoc on those who suffer from it.”[vi] SAD attacks all fronts, negatively affecting the entire body complex, delivering mental confusion, emotional instability, physical dysfunction, and spiritual malaise. Emotionally, persons experiencing SAD feel depressed and lonely. In social situations, they are physically subject to unwarranted sweating and trembling, hyperventilation, nausea, cramps, dizziness, and muscle spasms. Mentally, thoughts are discordant and irrational. Spiritually, they define themselves as inadequate and insignificant. Approximately, only 5% of SAD persons commit to early recovery, reflective of symptoms that manifest maladaptive self-beliefs of worthlessness and futility. SAD has lower recovery-remission rates because many are unable to afford treatment due to SAD induced “impairments in financial and employment stability.”[vii] Over 70% of SAD persons “are in the lowest economic group.”[viii]

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

The superficial overview of SAD is intense apprehension—the fear of being judged, negatively evaluated and ridiculed. There is persistent anxiety or fear of social situations such as dating, interviewing for a position, answering a question in class, or dealing with authority. Often, mere functionality in perfunctory situations―eating in front of others, riding a bus, using a public restroom—can be unduly stressful. The overriding fear of being found wanting manifests in perspectives of inadequacy and unattractiveness. SAD persons are unduly concerned they will say something that will reveal their ignorance, real or otherwise. They walk on eggshells, supremely conscious of their awkwardness, surrendering to the GAZE―the anxious state of mind that comes with the maladaptive self-belief they are the center of attention. Their movements can appear hesitant and awkward, small talk clumsy, attempts at humor embarrassing, and every situation is reactive to negative self-evaluation. They are apprehensive of potential “negative evaluation by others,” concerned about “the visibility of anxiety, and preoccupation with performance or arousal.”[ix] SAD persons frequently generate images of themselves performing poorly in feared social situations, and their anticipation of repudiation motivates them to dismiss overtures to offset any possibility of rejection. SAD is repressive and intractable, imposing irrational thought and behavior. It establishes its authority through its subjects’ defeatist measures produced by distorted and unsound interpretations of actuality that govern perspectives of personal attractiveness, intelligence, competence, and other errant beliefs.

SAD persons crave others’ company but shun social situations for fear of being found out as unlikeable, stupid, or annoying. Accordingly, they avoid speaking in public, expressing opinions, or even fraternizing with peers. People with social anxiety disorder are prone to low self-esteem and high self-criticism.

Anxiety and other personality disorders are branches of the same tree. There is a significant degree of comorbidity between social anxiety disorder and other mental health problems, most notably depression and substance-abuse.

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


[i] MHA (2019). The State of Mental Health Care in America. (Online.) Mental Health Association.  https://www.mhanational.org /issues/state-mental-health-america.

[ii] ADAA. (2019a). Facts and Statistics. (Online.) Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/understanding-anxiety-and-depression-lgbtq [iii] (NIMH, 2017)

[iii] NIMH (2017). Social Anxiety Disorder. (Online.) National Institute of Mental Health). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder.shtml

[iv] Brenner, B. (2019). Understanding Anxiety and Depression for LGBTQ People. (Online.)  Anxiety and Depression Association of Americahttps://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/understanding-anxiety-and-depression-lgbtq.

[v] Heshmat, S. (2014). Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). SAD is a risk factor for addiction. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201410/social-anxiety-disorder-sad

[vi] ADAA. (2019a). Facts and Statistics. (Online.) Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/understanding-anxiety-and-depression-lgbtq

[vii] Gregory. B., Wong, Q. J. J., Craig, D., Marker, C. D., & Peters, L. (2018). Maladaptive Self-Beliefs During Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for social anxiety disorder: A Test of Temporal Precedence. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 42(3): 261–272 (2018). doi.org/10.1007/s10608-017-9882-5

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

[ix] Tsitsas, G. D., & Paschali, A. A. (2014). A Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Applied to a Social Anxiety Disorder and a Specific Phobia, Case Study. Health Psychology Research, 2(3): 1603 (2014). doi:10.4081/hpr.2014.1603.

SAD persons crave others’ company but shun social situations for fear of being found out as unlikeable or unattractive.

Diagnosing Your Disorder. (It’s likely you’ve been misdiagnosed)

It is difficult to get a proper mental health diagnosis even with a knowledgeable and caring clinician


One reason why it is crucial for us to understand the causes and symptoms of our disorder is the likelihood of misdiagnoses. It is time to recognize: we know more about the impact of our condition than our doctors. Psychiatrists may have extensive knowledge of medication, and psychologists, treatment programs, but that expertise is useless if the client is misdiagnosed and mismanaged. Mental health misdiagnosis is a cautionary phenomenon. Even mainstream medical authorities have begun to “criticize the poor reliability, validity, utility and humanity of conventional psychiatric diagnosis.” [i] A recent Canadian study reported, of 289 participants in 67 clinics meeting DSM-IV criteria for social anxiety disorder, 76.4% were improperly diagnosed.[ii] The Anxiety Institute in Phoenix reports an estimated 8.2% of clients had generalized anxiety, but just 0.5% were correctly diagnosed.[iii] Experts cite the mental health community’s difficulty distinguishing different disorders or identifying specific etiological risk factors due to the DSM’s failing reliability statistics. This failure in psychological diagnosis is like being hospitalized for strep throat and losing a leg. 

The DSM changes drastically from one edition to the next, even though the APA swears by its credibility. One study[iv] cites therapist Zimmerman’s[v] concern that criteria are “added, removed, and rewritten, without evidence that the new approach is better than the prior one.” [vi] A recent study points out that DSM-IV listed nine possible symptoms or traits for narcissistic personality disorder; DSM-V contains only two.[vii]  

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. Currently there are eight or nine types of depression, four or five different anxiety disorders, five types of stress response (three of them are PTSD), nine forms of obsessive-compulsive disorders, and ten personality disorders.

Bipolar personality disorder, a psychosis, shares characteristics and symptoms with avoidant, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and post-traumatic stress disorders (neuroses). Psychologists cite the “substantial discrepancies and variation in definition, epidemiology, assessment, and treatment” of social anxiety.[viii] A researcher for this BLOG paper received three different depression diagnoses (including bipolar) and ADHD. Social anxiety was never considered, although he met nine of ten criteria for the disorder.

Adding to misdiagnosis is the prevalence of disorder comorbidity, which is especially concerning if the first diagnosis is inaccurate. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America [ix] reports many disorders are related to social anxiety, including major depression, panic disorder, alcohol abuse, PTSD,[x] avoidant personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders,[xi] schizophrenia,[xii] ADHD, and agoraphobia.[xiii] Anxiety and depression are commonly comorbid. “Some estimates show that 60% of those with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression, and the numbers are similar for those with depression also experiencing anxiety.” [xiv] Three types or clusters categorize 10 personality disorders: 3 focus on the bizarre and eccentric, 4 on the dramatic; and 3 on the anxious and fearful; each cluster shares traits and symptoms. The diagnostic criteria for one disorder are common to others. For example, dependent personality has characteristics and symptoms mirroring social anxiety, avoidant personality, and histrionic personality disorders.[xv] One misdiagnosis is bad enough, not to mention two, resulting in “in worse treatment outcomes.” [xvi]

Thomas Insel,[xvii] director of the National Institute of Mental Health, has been “re-orienting [the organization’s] research away from DSM categories,” declaring that traditional psychiatric diagnoses have outlived their usefulness,  A program of recovery cannot be entertained if the problem is misdiagnosed. A recent article in Scientific American[xviii] suggests replacing traditional diagnoses with easily understandable descriptions of the issues. 

A simple list of people’s problems (properly defined) would have greater scientific validity and would be more than sufficient as a basis for individual care planning and the design and planning of services. However, this BLOG balks at throwing out the baby with the bathwater, positing that the DSM could be utilized as a part of a more thorough analysis focusing on the character strengths that generate motivation and persistence/perseverance towards recovery-remission. 

Etiology and diagnosis drive the disease model. Which disorder do people find most repulsive, and which poses the most threat? What behaviors contribute to the disorder? How progressive is it? How effective are treatments? It is important to recognize how these attributions affect public perception, treatment options, and self-belief and image. Imagine being treated for the wrong condition. Not only does it defeat the purpose of the treatment, but it is also potentially dangerous. Firsthand, we know the impact of our disorder on our emotional wellbeing and quality of life far better than the clinician, whose relationship is one of power over communication. Self-diagnosis is a slippery slope, but a client armed with the knowledge of the traits and characteristics of their disorder, and its impact would have a far better possibility of appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Equally important is recognizing the extent of our strengths and abilities to counter and defeat the symptoms of our disorder. The disease model of mental health tells us the problem; the wellness model emphasizes the solution.

[i] Kinderman, P. (2014). Why We Need to Abandon the Disease-Model of Mental Health Care. [Online.] Scientific American. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/why-we-need-to-abandon-the-disease-model-of-mental-health-care/  .

[ii] 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) (2018). doi.org/ 10.1371/journal.pone.0206357.

[iii] Richards, T.A. (2014). Overcoming Social Anxiety Disorder: Step by Step. [Online.] Phoenix, AZ: The Social Anxiety Institute Press.

[iv] Lynam, D. R. & Vachon, D. D. (2012). Antisocial Personality Disorder in DSM-5: Missteps and Missed Opportunities. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 3(4) 483– 495 (2012). doi:10.1037/per0000006

[v] Zimmerman, M. (2011). Is there adequate empirical justification for radically revising the personality disorders section for DSM-5? Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/a0022108

[vi] Stein, D. J., Fineberg, N. A., Bienvenu, O. J., Denys, D., Lochner, C., Nestadt, G., Leckman, J. F., Rauch, S. L., & Phillips, K. A. (2010). Should OCD be classified as an anxiety disorder in DSM-V? Depression and Anxiety, 6:495-506 (2010). doi:10.1002/da.20699.

[vii] Lynam, D. R. & Vachon, D. D. (2012). Antisocial Personality Disorder in DSM-5: Missteps and Missed Opportunities. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 3(4) 483– 495 (2012). doi:10.1037/per0000006

[viii] 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 (2015).  doi.org/10.1111/pcn.12327

[ix] ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). (2019). [Online.] Facts and Statistics. https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/understanding-anxiety-and-depression-lgbtq.

[x] Koyuncu, A., İnce, E. , Ertekin, E., & Tükel R. (2019). Comorbidity in social anxiety disorder: diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Drugs in Context 2019, 8. doi:10.7573/dic.212573; Lyliard, R. B. (2001). Social anxiety disorder: comorbidity and its implications. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62(Suppl1): 17-24 (2001).

[xi] Cuncic, A. (2018). How Social Anxiety Affects Dating and Intimate Relationships. [Online.] verywellmind. https://www.verywellmind.com/adaa-survey-results-romantic-relationships-3024769; Koyuncu, A., İnce, E. , Ertekin, E., & Tükel R. (2019). Comorbidity in social anxiety disorder: diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Drugs in Context 2019, 8. doi:10.7573/dic.212573

[xii] Cuncic, A. (2018). How Social Anxiety Affects Dating and Intimate Relationships. [Online,] verywellmind. https://www.verywellmind.com/adaa survey-results-romantic-relationships-3024769; Vrbova, K., Prasko, J., Ociskova, M., & Holubova, M. (2017). Comorbidity of schizophrenia and social phobia – impact on quality of life, hope, and personality traits: a cross sectional study. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 13: 2073-2083. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S141749

[xiii] Koyuncu, A., İnce, E. , Ertekin, E., & Tükel R. (2019). Comorbidity in social anxiety disorder: diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Drugs in Context 2019, 8. doi:10.7573/dic.212573

[xiv] Salcedo, B. (2018). The Comorbidity of Anxiety and Depression. (Online). National Alliance on Mental Illness.  https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/January-2018/The-Comorbidity-of-Anxiety-and-Depression 

[xv] DPD. (2007). Dependent personality disorder.  [Online.] Harvard Health Online.

[xvi] Koyuncu, A., İnce, E. , Ertekin, E., & Tükel R. (2019). Comorbidity in social anxiety disorder: diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Drugs in Context 2019, 8. doi:10.7573/dic.212573

[xvii]  Insel, T. (2013). Post by Former NIMH Director Thomas Insel: Transforming Diagnosis. [Online.] Washington, DC: National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

[xviii] Kinderman, P. (2014). Why We Need to Abandon the Disease-Model of Mental Health Care. [Online] Scientific American. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/why-we-need-to-abandon-the-disease-model-of-mental-health-care/ 

What is a Disorder?


To the early civilizations, ‘mental illnesses’ were the domain of supernatural forces and demonic possession. Hippocrates and diagnosticians of the 19th century favored the humours. Lunar influence and sorcery and witchcraft are timeless culprits. In the early 20th century, it was somatogenic.[i] The biological approach argues that “mental disorders are related to the brain’s physical structure and functioning.” [ii] The pharmacological approach promotes it as an imbalance in brain chemistry. The 1st Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness (1952) was produced to address the influx of veteran shell shock (PTSD) and leaned heavily on environmental and biological causes. 

One only needs the American Psychological Association’s [iii] definition of neurosis to comprehend the mental health community’s pathographic focus. The 90-word overview contains the following words: distressing, irrational, obsessive, compulsive, dissociative, depressive, exaggerated, unconscious, conflicts, anxiety, disorders. The 3rd 

The 3rd Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders abandoned the word ‘neurosis’ in 1980, but it remains the go-to term in the mental health community. Its etymology is the Greek neuron ‘nerve’ and the modern Latin osis ‘abnormal condition.’ Coined by a Scottish physician in 1776, neurosis was then defined as functional derangement arising from disorders of the nervous system. 

U.S. government agencies define mental illness as a “diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria” that can “result in functional impairment which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” [iv] This ‘defective’ emphasis has been the overriding psychiatric perspective for over a century. By the 1952 publication of DSM-1, the focus had drifted from pathology (the science of the causes and effects of diseases) to pathography (the delineation of a person’s psychological disorders, categorizing them to facilitate diagnosis). ‘Pathos’ is the Greek word for ‘suffering’ and the root of pathetic, and ‘graphy’ is its biographic rendering. Pathography is the history of an individual’s suffering, aka, a morbid biography. Pathography focuses “on a deficit, disease model of human behaviour,” whereas the wellness model focuses “on positive aspects of human functioning.” [v]

Realistically, most terms for mental illness cannot be eliminated from the culture. Unfortunately, the negative implications of the term and its derivatives promulgate perceptions of incompetence, ineptitude, and undesirability. It is the dominant source of stigma, shame, and self-denigration. In deference to a wellness paradigm, we choose the word ‘disorder’―defined as a correctable inability to function healthily or satisfactorily―over historical terms of pathographic influence.

There are four stages to any illness: susceptibility, onset, gestation, and manifestation. A disorder onsets (client is infected) and manifests (client is affected)―there can be no disagreement about that. Childhood/adolescent exploitation creates the susceptibility to the onset of a disorder, and the holism of the host―mind, body, spirit, and emotions―nurtures it. 

Carl Roger’s study of homeodynamics, or the cooperation of human system components to maintain physiological equilibrium, produced the word ‘complementarity’ to define simultaneous mutual interaction. All human system components must work in concert; they cannot function alone. Integrality describes the inter-cooperation of the human system and the environment and social fields. A disorder is not biologic, hygienic, neurochemic, or psychogenic, but a collaboration of these and other approaches administered by the mind, body, spirit, and emotions (MBSE) working in concert. 

There is no legitimate argument against mind-body collaboration in disease and wellness. Emotions are reactive to the mind and body; spirit’s participation merits explanation. First, spirit is not ‘super,’ but it is a natural component of human development. While some suggest spirit as the seat of emotions and character, the three are distinct entities. Spirit forms the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person. Emotions are the expressions of those qualities, responsive to the mind and body.[vi] 

We all have disorders. They come in different intensities and affect each of us individually. There are at least nine clinical types of depression, five significant forms of anxiety, and four types of obsessive-compulsive disorder; their impacts can be mild, moderate, or severe. Some people adapt quite nicely and get on with their lives. Others incorporate it into their personalities―the cranky boss, clinging partner, temperamental neighbor. We designed this Blog for those of us whose lives are negatively impacted by their disorder. 

Research shows that the onset of disorders happens, ostensibly, to adolescents or younger who have experienced detachment, exploitation, and or neglect. Childhood/adolescent susceptibility to all disorders is plausible because, statistically, 89% of onset happens during adolescence.[vii] However, because symptoms can remain dormant until they manifest in the adult, statistics are indeterminate. This paper posits that childhood/adolescent-onset or susceptibility to onset is total. Claims or ‘evidence’ that onsets occur later in life do not impact the argument that susceptibility to onset originates during childhood/adolescence. 

Anything that interferes with a child’s social development is detrimental to adolescent and adult emotional health. Childhood/adolescent exploitation or abuse is a generic term to describe a broad spectrum of experiences that interfere with their optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development.[viii] Any number of situations or events can trigger the susceptibility to onset; it could be hereditary, environmental, or some traumatic experience.[ix] Inheritability is rare and susceptible to other factors, and traumatic experience is environmental.

The cumulative evidence that childhood and adolescent occasions and events are the primary causal factor in lifetime emotional instability has been well-established. This exploitation interferes with the optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development of the child. Most importantly, it affects our self-esteem, which administrates all our positive self-qualities (self-respect, -reliance, -compassion, -worth, and so on). These are the intangible qualities that make up our character, our goodness, our spirit. Our self-esteem is reactive to―and, in turn, impacts―our body, mind, and emotions. They all work together in concert. If one is affected, all are affected. 

Despite the implication of intentionality in the words’ abuse.’ and ‘exploitation,’ much can be perceptual. A toddler who senses abandonment when a parent is preoccupied could develop emotional issues[x] Onset or susceptibility to onset should never be considered the child/adolescent’s fault and may be no one’s fault.

Undoubtedly, this sociological model conflicts with moral models that claim, “mental illness is onset controllable, and persons with mental illness are to blame for their symptoms,” [xi] or that mental illness is God’s punishment for sin or amoral behavior. Again, it is crucial to recognize we are not responsible for our disorder. Quite possibly, no one is at fault. Playing the blame game only distracts from the solution: What are we going to do about it?


[i] Bertolote, J. (2008). The roots of the concept of mental health. World Psychiatry, 7(2): 113-116 (2008). doi:10.1002/j.2051-5545.2008.tb00172.x; Farreras, I. G. (2020). History of mental illness. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. http://noba.to/65w3s7ex

[ii] McLeod, S. (2018). The Medical Model. (Online.) Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/medical-model.html

[iii] APA. (2020). Neurosis. (Online definition.) Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.  https://dictionary.apa.org/neurosis  Accessed 05 April 2020.

[iv] Salzer, M. S., Brusilovskiy, E., & Townley, G. (2018). National Estimates of Recovery-Remission from Serious Mental Illness. Psychiatric Services, 69(5) 523-528 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201700401; SAMSHA. (2017).  2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  (Rockville, MD: SAMHSA. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml#:~:text=Serious%20 mental%20illness%20(SMI)%20is,or%20more%20major%20life%20activities.

[v] Mayer, C.-H., & May, M. (2019). The Positive Psychology Movement. PP1.0 and PP2.0. In C-H Mayer and Z. Kőváry (Eds.), New Trends in Psychobiography (pp. 155-172). Springer Nature Switzerland. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-916953-4_9.

[vi] Mullen, R.F. (2018). ‘Mental’ Disorders. ReChanneling.org. http://www.rechanneling.org/page-12.html 

[vii] Baron, M., Gruen, R., Asnis, l., Kane, J. (1983). Age-of-onset in schizophrenia and schizotypal disorders.Clinical and genetic implications. Neuropsychobiology,10(4):199-204 (1983). doi:10.1159/000118011; Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin,  R., Merikangas,  K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry62(6):593–602 (2005). doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593; Jones, P. (2013). Adult mental health disorders and their age at onset. British Journal of Psychiatry, 202(S54), S5-S10. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.112.119164

[viii] Steele, B.F. (1995). The Psychology of Child Abuse. Family Advocate, 17 (3). Washington, DC: American Bar Association.

[ix] Mayoclinic. (2019). Mental Illness. (Online.) Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968; NIH. (2019).Child and Adolescent Mental Health. (Online.) National Institute of Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/child-and-adolescent-mental-health/index.shtml

[x] Lancer, D. (2019). What is Self-Esteem? (Online.) PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-self-esteem/  Accessed 19 November 2019.

[xi] Corrigan, P. (2006). Mental Health Stigma as Social Attribution: Implications for Research Methods and Attitude Change. Clinical Psychology Science and Practice, 7(1), 48-67 (2006). Doi:10.1093/clipsy.7.1.48.

Why One-Size-Fits-All Approaches Fail

Recovery programs must reflect our unique and individual personalities.


Personal recovery is an individual process. Just as there is no one right way to do or experience recovery, so also what helps us at one time in our life may not help us at another. Recovery programs must learn to appreciate the individuality of their subjects. The insularity of cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and other approaches cannot address the dynamic complexities of our personality.

It is arrogant of recovery programs to lump us into a single niche. Stereotyping is what people do when they are not interested in getting to know the individual. Judging by public opinion, a person with a Malfunction would be stereotyped as an unpredictable, potentially violent, and undesirable individual―a claim supported by the stigma triad of ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination. We are unique individuals with unique personalities who happen to be impacted by a disorder. 

Your program of recovery should be one specifically designed for your unique needs.

Programs that boast of a specialized combination of other programs are also ineffectual unless they adapt their approach to fit the individual. Recovery programs complain that it is unproductive, time-consuming, and challenging. If that is the case, they have no business working with people who seek their advice. 

Let us use the example of cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is the most highly utilized program of recovery in the world. It is usually the first question asked at a counseling session. Are you familiar with cognitive behavioral therapy? Almost 90 percent of the approaches empirically supported by the American Psychological Association involve cognitive-behavioral treatments. Six years minimum of specialized education, and that is their opening gambit? Would you be comfortable with a general practitioner who only treats clients for the mumps?

There are at least 65 psychology programs and types of therapy. A program is never static but develops through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation. Our cultural environment, heritage, background, and associations reflect our wants, choices, and aspirations. If they are not given consideration, then we are not valued.

We are better served by an 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. Do not settle for someone else’s recovery program; demand one specifically designed for your unique needs.

Restructuring Our Neural Network

When we restructure our neural pathways, there is a correlated change in our behavior and perspective.

Science confirms our neural pathways are constantly realigning. Our disorder has been feeding our brain irrational thoughts and concepts since its onset. What is irrational? Irrational is anything detrimental to our emotional wellbeing and quality of life. Simply put, it is irrational to hurt yourself.

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

Hundreds-of-billions of nerve cells (neurons) arranged in pathways or networks make up our brains. Inside each of these neurons, there is electrical activity. Every stimulus we experience causes its receptive neuron to fire, transmitting a message from neuron to neuron until it generates a reaction. A stimulus occurs at every experience―a muscle movement, a decision, a memory, emotion, reaction, noise, the prick of a needle, a twitch―every part of our living being. Because of our disorder, we have structured our brain around unhealthy feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Our brain sustains this irrationality by naturally releasing pleasurable chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine). It does not know any better; it just works off our input. 

Neural restructuring is our brain’s capacity to change with learn­ing; functions performed by our neurotransmitters are learning functions. This process is called Hebbian learning, and this is important. Our brain learns at an incredibly accelerated rate, and what has been learned can be unlearned. A conscious input of healthy thought patterns reverses the trend. As our brain reciprocates our positive activities, our neural network restructures itself accordingly. We unlearn our unhealthy beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy ones. Over time, through deliberate repetition, healthy, rational thoughts and behaviors become habitual and spontaneous. 

An essential element in subverting our disorder is the deliberate restructuring of our neural network.

Neural restructuring is science, not hyperbole. The power of our words, thoughts, and actions is life-altering. We all can change the direction of our lives through Hebbian relearning, but the restructuring does not happen overnight, which is it must begin on day one of our commitment to recovery.