“If we want to build a mental health system that can address the nation’s mental health crisis, we can’t afford to do more of the same,” says APA Chief Science Officer Dr. Mitch Prinstein.”
Dr. Prinstein’s call for action hit a real nerve in the psychology community. There are any number of ways a new approach to mental health could be more innovative. Today there is still a stigma attached to psychology and psychotherapy because it is synonymous with mental illness. If we’re talking about Mental Health, we have to redefine the reasons people should seek out psychotherapy. Instead of waiting till a person is in crisis mode, we must also use it when minor problems arise, as a preventive measure.
Why are people seeing psychotherapists? The answer appears so obvious that it might seem a waste of time even asking this question. But the obvious answer, “to help them solve their problems” may not be the only answer. The theory that “Love is nourishment like air, food, and water.” (Deutsch 1988) has now been confirmed through research by scientists like Luby, Field, Watson, Deutsch, Fredrickson, et al. Perhaps the lack of nourishing love and how to acquire it is the reason.
We know that the therapeutic relationship between therapist and patient is one of the keys to successful outcomes. We believe that what people are seeking, subconsciously perhaps, is the nourishment of unconditional love, which they received to some degree in infancy and growing up. Why are they seeking it as adults? As Erich Fromm, the acclaimed psychologist wrote, because, “…human beings are starved for love.” We believe that good therapists are already providing this love to one degree or another. After all, where can a person go where someone listens, without judgment, is committed to them, their wellness, and so forth? We might even say, ‘people are buying 45-50 minutes of unconditional love’! By using a little logic here, it becomes apparent that one of the important things a therapist needs to do, besides being nurturing, is to teach their patients to love themselves and others, unconditionally. In an emotionally health manner.
If therapy was psycho-educational and developmental, instead of pathological and psychoanalytic, each patient would be able to take something valuable and useful from the very first session and every session thereafter. Now imagine them being guided by the therapist to literally share what they are learning with their family, with their friends, with their neighbors, with their colleagues, without shame, and be able to, without trying, start to make a difference in those people’s lives as well? It would amount to a consciously orchestrated ripple effect. Then every patient becomes the unwitting advocate for our country’s mental health.
Therapists also need to have patients fill out a simple survey to monitor the patient’s progress and thereby the therapist’s own effectiveness. Most therapists do not use this as a tool. The APA needs to start monitoring their members’ effectiveness. Why would a patient recommend therapy to their friends if they were not that satisfied themselves?
The final problem with our society achieving mental health – is that psychology continues to imitate the Medical Model.
A broken heart is not to be fixed like a broken leg, or even heart disease. We know what caused those problems. But what causes a broken heart? And what is it? What causes depression is different from illnesses caused by a virus like Covid. Yet we persist and insist on having this paradigm. It causes to mislead ourselves and our profession, as well as insurance companies. They should pay for preventative care and help save themselves a lot of money. And yet these non-physical “mental” illnesses cause more death and lost work time than most physical illnesses.
We have convinced ourselves that symptoms equal causes. He is depressed because of his childhood. He was abused. Why does abuse cause depression in some and bring out the will to fight in another? A broken leg is a broken leg, no matter how many screws and pins you have to insert. You can replace a kidney, a liver, even a heart.
We must realize that we have to look somewhere else for the cause of “mental” illnesses. Identifying symptoms does not explain causality. And without causality we’re left with using drugs to mask symptoms. Imagine giving people who broke a leg a lot of alcohol or drugs to numb their pain and send them home. And yet that is what people who have emotional pain turn to. And yet that is what we prescribe, by and large, for mental illnesses.
What is needed –
- New definition and paradigm for Psychology that focuses on education and prevention, not pathology.
- We have to understand the implications of “Love is nourishment, like air, food, and water.”
- Become familiar with the research of Luby, Field, Watson, Deutsch, and Fredrickson.
- Psychology needs to focus on the conditional nature of our loving relationships and the harm it does to children’s and adults’ self-esteem, self-worth, and the painful dependency on others it creates.
- The solution is to give permission and teach human beings to love self and others unconditionally, in an emotionally healthy manner.
To this effect GHD, Inc. is announcing a Global Educational Campaign – bringing a new Science of Love and Unconditionality to humanity.
Stefan Deutsch, President
Global Human Development, Inc.
516 220 6471