You may not have thought of reimagining your diagnosis; you may not have thought this is possible. Even if you had you may not want to. Currently most of us think of mental health diagnoses as illnesses or disorders much like physical illness.
Messages about anxiety, depression, PTSD and many other experiences are constantly in the media. We are encouraged to think of these as mental health problems. We are told one in four of us have a mental health condition and that such problems can happen to anyone. When it comes to what causes these problems if you look on sites like NHS.uk you will read that they have the following causes;
overactivity in parts of the brain,
imbalance of brain chemicals,
a history of stressful or traumatic experiences,
or even no apparent reason.
These are mainly physical causes and there is no mention of understandable, normal psychological processes. In particular, there is no mention that thinking is important and that it might play a crucial role in our experiences. There is no suggestion our experiences can be seen as anything other than disorders, conditions or mental illness; no suggestion they could be reimagined.
What we get from the media may seem straightforward enough because it is presented as fact and is repeated so often; it appears to be widely accepted and that there is no alternative. This is the message we get from the culture we live in and culture has a greater effect on us than we often realise. It is no wonder then that many of us feel relieved when we are given a diagnosis.
However, the idea that the way we think plays no part in our experiences flies in the face of common sense. When we stop and consider it, we know that when we are anxious, we are worrying that something that we don’t want might be about to happen. When we are feeling low, we know we are stuck in a gloomy frame of mind where we are seeing very little good in our life. When we focus on how we are thinking we can begin to connect how we are feeling with our thoughts.
Somehow the way diagnosis works gets us to think about our experience in a totally different way. It doesn’t encourage us to pay any attention to how we are thinking and how this might influence our emotions.
On thinkingasaction.com we put the person, their thinking and what they are trying to do back at the heart of their experience. Over the next few weeks we will see if it is possible to reimagine various common diagnoses in terms of ordinary psychological processes that focus on our thinking. We will outline the ordinary actions and reactions that can help us understand the experiences that lie behind each of these diagnoses. We will tryto show that each experience, however difficult, has an internal logic based on these ordinary, normal psychological processes.
If you have a suggestion for a diagnosis that could be reimagined leave a message.
If we can reimagine a diagnosis, we will see the world and our experience quite differently. Anxiety will be transformed from something we suffer from to a pattern of predicting and not wanting. Depression will be transformed from an illness that we can’t see our way out of, to a gloomy frame of mind driven by a stream of pessimistic thoughts.
The Origin of Anxieties; available from Kindle, Amazon.co.uk or from Charles Merrett, 12 Erpingham Road, Poole, BH12 1EX, £10 plus £2 p&p.