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Mental illnesses are brain diseases.

People coping with mental illness and their families and therapists need to fight stigma whenever possible. Many illnesses readily recognized as "medical" (for example, emphysema) have social impact and "behavioral" components- to claim that mental illnesses are somehow unique in this respect is nonsense.

Recovery is possible and the goal of therapy and medication, but hard work and commitment are required.

No one seriously expects to learn a second language by taking a pill or putting a speaker under the pillow. This takes real-life practice, study, drill, and time. Likewise, recovery will not take place overnight. Patients who come for eight weekly sessions and then quit, saying "it's not working" misunderstand the process, or were only seeking support for a time-limited crisis in the first place. (By the way, time-limited crisis support can be very effective, just not to be confused with long-term psychotherapy).

The cure is in the person, not the pill.

The purpose of medication is to help regulate mood, "damp down" distracting and draining “brainstorms” such as mania, psychosis, bottomless despair, or dissociation. Managing these "storms" by will power alone requires massive amounts of psychic energy, which are then not available for inner growth, connecting with other people, or having healthy fun. A refusal to include medication in the treatment plan has resulted in many people settling for a life well below their potential and hopes for themselves. In many cases "self-medication" with drugs and alcohol leads to a downward spiral.

Happiness comes from competence.

As soon as a baby learns to roll over, its one goal is to master its world, both internal and external. Specific adult competencies that need to be the goal of any therapy include:

  • Self-mastery, emotional self-regulation
  • Good self-care
  • Ability to take unselfish interest in others
  • Getting pleasure from being a productive member of a community
  • (Please note "productive" doesn't mean here bringing home a paycheck-there are lots of ways disabled adults can "pull their weight" in their families and communities.)

REFLECTIONS ON NEW IDEAS FOR TREATING MENTAL IMBALANCES

 

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