Four Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy V: The World of Mental Illness

Four Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy V: The World of Mental Illness

The Treatment of “Mental Illness”

There is the famous old saying: “if all you have is a hammer then you will treat everything as a nail!” From a very similar (though reversed) perspective, we would suggest that if your assumptive world is saturated with medical imagery and language, then you are likely to offer treatments that are medically oriented. Psychopharmacology is the most obvious of the medical “hammers” to be deployed. We can also turn to medical procedures that are much more intrusive (and sometimes curative): such as electroconvulsive therapies and lobotomies.

In a more preventive mode (and in closely alignment with our second assumptive world), we can point to various Western strategies for the “healing” of “mental illness”. These often involve the “big three”: nutrition, sleep, and exercise. In many cases, these more benign procedures were first introduced in Western societies through the “osteopathic” and “chiropractic: branches of medicine and in other branches of what I have already identified as “alternative medicine.” These practices are becoming more “mainstream” (as I noted above) and have been re-identified as “complementary medicine.” Regardless of their name, these practices have proven to be of great benefit in both the prevention and amelioration of certain psychopathologies. We may find that this “healthier” branch of contemporary psychiatry and psychology will become increasingly influential—yet remain under the general purview of the fourth assumptive world (with some nodes in the direction of the second assumptive world).

When we turn to the role played by the fourth assumptive world in Asian societies, there is extensive interweaving of practices from the world of medicine with the practices embraced by the second assumptive world. Procedures such as acupuncture and the application of healing stones and crystals reflect a more hammer-like application of Asian medicine (often interwoven with Western alternative practices) to the treatment of many physical and mental “illnesses”. Other procedures such as meditation, mindfulness and the martial arts enter as purer expressions of the second assumptive world.

Clearly, the reframing of psychopathy as “mental illness” has led to significant improvement in the treatment of such forms of psychopathy as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders. Medications have been of great benefit to men and women suffering from sustained anxiety, and to those struggling with phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Perhaps of greatest importance is the recognition that medical treatments (such as medication) should be coupled with psychotherapeutic treatment. Anxiety-reducing medications should be supported with emotion-focused therapeutic sessions: the anxiety can be reduced so that therapy is possible, and the therapy can help reduce the future need for medications. Cognitive-behavioral therapies can help reduce psychopathic symptoms, while healthy habits can help keep new symptoms from emerging.


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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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