Friday, January 09, 2015

Negative Psychology? Or Is It Focusing on People?

A few nights ago, I was up until a far too late hour with a sibling discussing various topics regarding mental health, addiction, trauma, etc. As can happen, I found myself going into a monologue about the subjects. This happens due to a passion that I have for them. Over the years I’ve had opportunities to attend trainings and supervision on various subjects. What I find fascinating is when two seemingly unrelated subjects or ideas come together in a correlational fashion. Therefore, I was discussing these types of experiences with him. As we continued our discussion, I did not find myself enlightened by the topic as I had heretofore experienced; but, rather, I found myself becoming saddened and despondent. I remember the moment when I was aware of my mood change when I had finished talking about the effects of pornography and other addictions on the brain and my brother asked, “Is it possible for the effects to be reversed? Or for the person to experience some kind of full recovery?” At that point was when I had realized that I had backed myself in a corner. I had been focusing on the psychological research that I had studied, which is very negative. In fact, that is one of the complaints of the psychology field is that it can be negatively focused, which is why Positive Psychology became a movement. We finished the conversation and I went to bed. The next morning I was still feeling despondent. I meditated on the “why” of my mood and realized that I had, once again, focused so heavily on the research that I forgot about the human aspect of this field. The study of people does not take into account the people as it looks for correlations in variables. Now, I’m not saying that research does not carry importance, as research is highly beneficial, but the people no longer become the focus as the variables and how they interact with other variables carry more weight. But, I digress. 

As I was reflecting on what we had discussed and the sense of sadness it brought due to the negative results of mental health problems I had a very strong impression come to my mind. It was simply put “What are you going to do about it, Jamison?” At that moment, the sense of hopelessness disappeared and I experienced a feeling of empowerment and I asked myself the question, “what can I do about it?” The answer, then, was simple. I can keep trying. I can keep trying to work with people to help them see that despite their struggles, traumas, addictions, disorders, negative experiences in all of their forms that they have inherent value just by virtue of being alive and being a member of the human family. Is that not what counseling is about? Our clients struggle with various maladies of the human experience which bring them to question their value. We call these struggles disorders as a means to classify and measure. But, at the end of the day, do we not all have moments of depression, anxiousness, traumas, addiction, behavioral outbursts, etc.? Therefore, what I can do is engage anxiously in a positive cause to try to help where I am able and hope that my interaction and interventions will result in an increase of self-awareness. I can provide treatments that are intentional and purposeful that help give others an idea of the direction they hope to go that they might liberate themselves from “disorders” with which they are plagued. And, maybe, along the way I too can learn more about myself, have more self-awareness, and learn (piece by piece) of my own value as a member of the human family.