By learning self-acceptance and how to tolerate shame, I transformed my personality in large and small ways — 22 ways that I detailed in my last two blogs – here and here. My experience provided me with solid anecdotal evidence that developing self-acceptance works.
My experience also revealed that I not only have a talent for self-transformation, but I seemed to have good skills for helping others with their emotional and behavioral struggles.
So I decided to become a clinical psychologist. But even before I started undergraduate or graduate psychology studies I recognized that the labels used by the psychiatry profession — “depression,” “bi-polar,” “OCD,” etc. — were arbitrary and largely meaningless. Intuition and common sense told me that human behavior was more easily defined and understood by looking through a lens that considered natural, primal reasons for these human choices and reactions.
After I graduated and completed my clinical training, I began work as a psychotherapist, wrote an award-winning book on related topics, and continued to refine these ideas.
The more I understood about the mental health profession, the angrier I got seeing people mislabeled and stigmatized and even drugged for what were merely normal reactions and adaptations to their life experiences.
Every case showed ways that the current system failed through its fundamental mischaracterizations.
Because I never bought into the propaganda that mental disorders were caused by brain malfunctions, I easily saw things through an entirely different lens.
- Kids raised by angry and anxious parents developed angry and anxious behaviors that were labeled as “ADHD” or “Oppositional-Defiant Disorder.”
- Teens emotionally neglected or rejected by alcoholic or emotionally withdrawn parents grew up “depressed.”
- Many people who failed to get loving, nurturing, warm care as children failed to learn to trust the secure bonds that should come in human relationships. Not surprisingly, they struggled in their adult relationships with uncertainty, disconnection, loneliness, anger, or jealousy. They then felt anxious and depressed because they also naturally craved normal human emotional connection, acceptance and understanding.
As I refined these ideas I studied extensively about five key concepts:
- The Primal Threat Response or “Fight-or-Flight”
- Fear of Social Exclusion
- Shame as an Attempt to Prevent Social Exclusion
- Developmental Trauma
- Attachment Status
(If you want to jump right into learning all the details about Self-Acceptance Psychology ideas, such as these Five Causative Factors, click here.)
I was amazed that traditional psychology training did not address any of these topics in any depth. In fact, I didn’t learn about any of these topics in psychology graduate school.
Yet I continued to see the powerful influence of these ideas and kept wondering: Why weren’t more people talking about how these five ideas work together to explain human psychology?
Well, certainly authors and researchers are talking about ideas such as self-compassion, trauma, attachment, and shame. However, because of the academic system, individual researchers study one topic or even a small subset of a topic. It seemed as if no one was tying these concepts together, which to me was the answer.
Researchers are forced to use the current DSM diagnostic categories and grant funding ties them to hold onto the traditional biomedical or disease model.
Perhaps a clinician needed to propose a solution to the DSM and its ills. Psychotherapists see people every day and see the many ways their behaviors are influenced by their psychosocial environment and experiences. We see the big picture, where researchers may not be able to.
At first I hesitated to speak up: I’m not an expert, after all. And these ideas seemed so obvious that surely others must have considered them before.
But I finally gave up waiting for others to speak up. I had to take a risk to address this very important problem that affects millions of people.
Since training as a psychologist, studying huge volumes of material and working with clients, I am even more convinced that the labels used in the DSM are not only inaccurate and misleading, but downright harmful.
What if there was a system for understanding human emotions and behaviors that:
- was more useful and accurate than the current psychiatric diagnostic model of the DSM?
- could bring about a real understanding of the causes of human behavior?
- could improve relationships with others?
- could improve the relationship you have with yourself?
- could lead to real, permanent change — bringing contentment and an improved sense of connection to others and to yourself?
I finally decided to propose a simple, but powerful new paradigm for understanding emotional difficulties called Self-Acceptance Psychology. In stark contrast to the disease model, Self-Acceptance Psychology is based on five well-accepted and well-researched psychological concepts, which, when considered together, provide a powerful new framework to understand and promote permanent change in mood and behavior.
Self-Acceptance Psychology reframes emotional problems as adaptive and self-protective responses to experiences of fear, trauma, shame, and lack of secure attachment.
Critics may state that these five ideas are not new. But combining these ideas and using them as a paradigm to confront the current mental health diagnostic and treatment system is new.
I believe we must tie these Five Causative Factors together to really give us a weight of evidence with which to fight the medical model and DSM.
To dispel other critics: I’m branding and packaging this as Self-Acceptance Psychology to give it the weight needed to directly combat the DSM diagnostic system — not just as a method of making money for me personally. Quite frankly, this project is a risk for me professionally — there are far more financially profitable ways for me to spend my time and effort than on this campaign!
Because of my transformation and what I see happen to my clients every day, I knew I had to speak up. Self-Acceptance Psychology does more than help those who have minor emotional or personality issues, as I did. It provides a paradigm shift for how society and the mental health profession can view “mental disorders.” I feel compelled to speak up because I want to prevent any more children harmed by ADHD medication and blamed for their behaviors, teens labeled with “Major Depressive Disorder” and stuffed full of brain-damaging drugs, or an adult labeled as “Bi-Polar” and told they have an incurable, lifelong “illness.”
My goal is outrageous, but essential — to start a revolution in how we define and treat mental illness. I had to fight against the current system that labels, stigmatizes and over-medicates people who are merely having normal, natural emotional reactions.
Why should we blindly accept the falsehoods promoted by psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies who merely want to make money from suffering?
Don’t stop learning about this powerful idea! Join the Self-Acceptance Psychology revolution and help change the future of mental health! Read more in “Self-Acceptance Psychology“, sign up for email updates, and follow me on social media.
Be kind to yourself…