Where psychiatry fails to improve well-being, an integrated approach offers promise
Sources: World Psychiatry
In recent decades, the amount of money spent on psychotropic drugs and psychotherapy has failed to make people happier or to improve their well being. A recent essay explores this “practical failure of psychiatry,” equating it with the stigmatization of mental disorders and to ignoring approaches focused on enhancing “positive emotions, character development, life satisfaction, and spirituality.”
What the author suggests is a simple, practical approach to well-being via the integration of “biological, psychological, social, and spiritual methods for enhancing mental health.” He presents evidence about how practical clinical methods can help develop character and happiness among people, and that people can flourish and become self directed when they can become more calm, accept limitations, and let go of fears and conflicts.
Additionally, by increasing mindfulness and working in the service of others, people can learn to be more cooperative. By growing in self awareness of other people’s perspectives (many of which create negative emotions and limit the effects of positive emotions) people can learn to be more “self-transcendent.”
Modern psychiatry also finds itself at a crossroads, the author explains, because the fostering of spirituality and well-being is “crucial” for psychiatry, and yet, these factors have tended to be ignored because of a bias toward “materialistic reductionism.” Self-awareness requires an understanding of all aspects of being a human being, including the meaning that comes from spirituality.
The author also explains the states of self-awareness on the path to well being. People can go from “unaware,” where they are immature and seeking immediate gratification, to the “contemplation” stage, in which people experience effortless calm, impartial awareness, and an ability to access “what was previously unconscious” without effort or distress.
The author has developed a multi-step psychoeducational program for well being, called “The happy life: voyages to well-being.” The 15 intervention modules are about 50 minutes long, and are designed as “a universal intervention” to be used by individuals or within a professional therapy context.
All of the techniques have been tested in clinical work. The first set emphasizes behavioral methods focusing on positive emotions, the second set stimulates deeper meta-cognitive awareness, and the third set involves contemplative access to “preverbal symbols.”