The Restrictive Realities of Belief

Taken from the Foreword:

Mental distress is a completely normal human response to the changing circumstances that each of us experience at some point in our lives.

We may feel distressed about the loss of a loved relative, the break-up of a friendship, failing to get promoted at work, struggling to make ends meet or some other life challenge that leads to uncomfortable emotions.

Normal or Pathological?

Who decided that these normal feelings of distress are signs of mental illness or indicate an underlying biological malfunction?

Is a mental ‘disorder’ a scientific fact or a ‘label’ used to classify and categorise behaviours considered to be ‘abnormal’?

How convincing is the evidence used to justify the pathologising of some people in society?

Why Can Some Cope Better than Others?

Why is it that some people are able to cope much better with adversity than others?

Are our coping skills determined by our genetic make-up or by the way we are brought-up by our parents or care-givers?

Is the way that we experience life ‘fixed’ or can we change the way that we make sense of things that ‘happen’ to us?

Is Mental Wellness Variable Across Different Cultures?

Does the cultural environment in which we live and grow-up play any role in the creation and maintenance of these so-called illnesses, or is the external context largely irrelevant to our personal experience?

How Does Psychotherapy Work?

How does the process of psychotherapy help a person change the way that they feel about things?

How can a conversation between two people be as effective, if not more effective, than anti-depressant medication for those experiencing depression?

Are some therapy methods better than others or are they all pretty much the same?

These are the types of questions that psychological researchers have been seeking the answers to for more than 100 years, ever since Sigmund Freud developed Psychoanalysis at the turn of the last century.

The Two Opposing Models

The current state of our knowledge regarding mental well-being and distress is characterised by two principal, and fundamentally different, philosophical positions.

  • The bio-medical model of the human experience which seeks to explain our experiences as objective (separate from the environment in which we live) and which can be understood through the chemical processes that occur within the human body (where all human bodies are essentially the same from a biological perspective).
  • The psycho-social model of the human experience which regards our experiences as subjective (made sense of in our own unique way and related to the context in which we live our lives) which are understood by the socio-cultural understandings and beliefs that we acquire during our lifetimes.

This book argues that the bio-medical model of mental distress has not only failed to solve the problem of human misery through the diagnosing and prescribing of psycho-active drugs such as the SSRI anti-depressants, but that the model itself makes the problems worse not better!

Both models are supported by vast swathes of scientific literature making it extremely difficult for the general public to be able to decide what is most useful for them when it comes to understanding their problems.

The Power of the Establishments

One of the biggest challenges facing those who argue against the bio-medical modelling of the human experience is that the medical and pharmaceutical corporations wield so much power and influence over which message is promoted to the public that we can feel like our voices get drowned out by the noise.

And yet the evidence on the ground seems to be unequivocal; the number of people being diagnosed as mentally ill is at a record high within the Western World. In the UK alone 71 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were issued in 2018 compared to 36 million in 2008 (British Medical Journal March 2019).

This means that either (a) more people are mentally ill than at any other time in the UK’s history, or (b) more people are being diagnosed as mentally ill than ever before.

Although these two explanations might appear to be saying the same thing, they are not.

The first explanation is a statement about how many people are actually ill.

The second explanation is a statement about how many people are told that they are ill.

Knowledge is Power

It is our view, and it is shared with many thousands of other academics and clinicians across the field of Psychology, that mental distress is not only normal, but also that it can be managed, modified and experienced differently through the acquisition of knowledge and understandings described in this volume.

It is our wish that by the time you get to the end of this book, having understood the principles and acted upon the new knowledge contained within it’s page, that you will have freed yourselves of the restrictive realities that have been produced by the societal beliefs and values that you have been, up until now, encouraged to believe.

Paul Lee. BSc. (Hons) MSc. (Psychology) – August 2021

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The Restrictive Realities of Belief Book by Paul Lee BSc MSc.