What is Self-Discrepancy Theory?

Introduction

The self-discrepancy theory states that individuals compare their “actual” self to internalised standards or the “ideal/ought self”. Inconsistencies between “actual”, “ideal” (idealised version of yourself created from life experiences) and “ought” (who persons feel they should be or should become) are associated with emotional discomforts (e.g. fear, threat, restlessness). Self-discrepancy is the gap between two of these self-representations that leads to negative emotions.

Developed by Edward Tory Higgins in 1987, the theory provides a platform for understanding how different types of discrepancies between representations of the self are related to different kinds of emotional vulnerabilities. Higgins sought to illustrate that internal disagreement causes emotional and psychological turmoil. There were several previous theories proving this concept such as the self-inconsistency theory, the cognitive dissonance theory, and the imbalance theory (e.g. Heider, 1958); however, Higgins wanted to take it one step further by determining the specific emotions that surfaced as a result of these internal disagreements. Previous self-imbalance theories had recognised only positive or negative emotions. The self-discrepancy theory was the first to assign specific emotions and affects to the disparity.

The theory proposes how a variety of self-discrepancies represents a variety of types of negative psychological situations that are associated with different kinds of discomfort. A primary goal of the self-discrepancy theory is to create an understanding of which types of contrasting ideas will cause such individuals to feel different kinds of negative emotions.

The structure of the theory was built based on three ideas. First classify the different kinds of discomfort felt by those people holding contrasting ideals experienced, as well as the various types of emotional vulnerabilities felt by the different types of discrepancies. Lastly, to consider the role of the different discrepancies in influencing the kind and type of discomfort individuals are most likely to experience.

Domains of the Self

The theory postulates three basic domains of the self.

DomainDescription
ActualActual self is one’s representation of the attributes that one believes one actually possesses, or that one believes others believe one possesses. The “actual self” is a person’s basic self-concept. It is one’s perception of their own attributes (intelligence, athleticism, attractiveness, etc.).
IdealIdeal self is one’s representation of the attributes that someone (oneself or another) would like one, ideally, to possess (i.e. a representation of someone’s hopes, aspirations, or wishes for one). The “ideal-self” is what usually motivates individuals to change, improve and achieve. The ideal self-regulatory system focuses on the presence or absence of positive outcomes (e.g. love provided or withdrawn).
OughtOught is one’s representation of the attributes that someone (oneself or another) believes one should or ought to possess (i.e. a representation of someone’s sense of one’s duty, obligations, or responsibilities). The ought self-regulatory system focuses on the presence or absence of negative outcomes (e.g., criticism administered or suspended).

Standpoints of the Self

Self-discrepancy theory initiates the importance of considering two different standpoints (or vantage points) in which “the self” is perceived. A standpoint on the self is defined as “a point of view from which you can be judged that reflects a set of attitudes or values.”

Own

An individual’s own personal standpoint.

Other

The standpoint of some significant other. Significant others may comprise parents, siblings, spouses, or friends. The “other” standpoint is what the self perceives their significant other’s standpoint to be.

Except for theories focusing on the actual self, previous theories of the self had not systematically considered the different domain of self in terms of the different standpoints on those domains. These two constructs provide the basis from which discrepancies arise; that is, when certain domains of the self are at odds with one another, individuals experience particular emotional affects (ex: one’s beliefs concerning the attributes one would personally like ideally to possess versus your beliefs concerning the attributes that some significant other person, such as your mother, would like you ideally to possess).

Discrepancies

Discrepancies create two major types of negative physiological situations: absence of positive outcomes, which is associated with dejection-related emotions, and the presence of negative outcomes which is associated with agitation-related emotions.

ActualIdealOught
OwnSelf-ConceptSelf-GuideSelf-Guide
OtherSelf-ConceptSelf-GuideSelf-Guide

Self-Concept

Actual/Own vs. Actual/Other

These self-state representations are the basic self-concept (from either or both standpoints). Discrepancies between own self-concept, and other self-concept can be described as an identity crisis, which often occurs during adolescence. Guilt is a characteristic result of discrepancy from the own perspective. Shame is a characteristic result of discrepancy from the other perspective.

Self-Guide

Actual/Own vs. Ideal/Own

In this discrepancy, a person’s view of their actual attributes does not match the ideal attributes they hope to develop. Discrepancy between these self-guides is characterised by dejection-related emotions such as disappointment and dissatisfaction. Actual/ideal discrepancies are associated with low self-esteem and characterised by the threat of absence of positive outcomes. Specifically, an individual is predicted to be vulnerable to disappointment or dissatisfaction because these emotions are associated with people believing that their personal wishes have been unfulfilled. These emotions have been described as being associated with the individuals’ own standpoint and a discrepancy from his or her hope, desire, or ideals. The motivational nature of this discrepancy also suggests that it could be associated with frustration because of these unfulfilled desires. Emotions such as blameworthiness, feeling no interest in things, and not feeling effective was also associated with this discrepancy. In addition, this discrepancy is also associated with dejection from perceived lack of effectiveness or self-fulfilment. This discrepancy is uniquely associated with depression.

Actual/Own vs. Ideal/Other

Here, one’s view of their actual attributes does not match the ideal attributes their significant other hopes or wishes for them. The ideal self-guide is characterised by the absence of positive outcomes, and accompanied by dejection-related emotions. More specifically, because one believes that they have failed to obtain some significant other’s hopes or wishes are likely to believe that the significant other is disappointed and dissatisfied with them. In turn, individuals will be vulnerable to shame, embarrassment, or feeling downcast, because these emotions are associated with people believing that they have lost standing or esteem in the eyes of others. Analysis of shame and related emotions have been described as being associated with the standpoint of one or more other people and discrepancies from achievement and/or status standards. Other analyses describe shame as being associated with concern over losing the affection or esteem of others. When people have a sense of the difference between their actual self and their social ideal self, an individual will experience feelings of shame and unworthiness. Shame that is often experienced when there is a failure to meet a significant other’s goals or wishes involves loss of face and presumed exposure to the dissatisfaction of others. Feeling lack of pride, lack of feeling sure of self and goals, feeling lonely, feeling blue, and feeling not interested in things was also associated with this discrepancy. This discrepancy is associated with dejection from perceived or anticipated loss of social affection or esteem.

Actual/Own vs. Ought/Other

This discrepancy exists when a person’s own standpoint does not match what they believe a significant other considers to be his or her duty or obligation to attain. Agitation-related emotions are associated with this discrepancy and results in the presence of negative outcomes. More specifically, because violation of prescribed duties and obligations is associated with punishment, this particular discrepancy represents the presence of negative outcomes. The individual experiencing this discrepancy will have an expectation of punishment; therefore, the person is predicted to be vulnerable to fear and feeling threatened, because these emotions occur when danger or harm is anticipated or impending. Analyses of such emotions have described them as being associated with the standpoint of one or more other people and discrepancy from norms or moral standards. The motivational nature of this discrepancy suggests that one might experience feelings of resentment. The feeling of resentment arises from the anticipated pain to be inflicted by others. The person might also experience anxiety because of apprehension over negative responses from others. This discrepancy is associated with agitation from fear and threat. In addition, it is also associated with agitation from self-criticism. Social anxiety is uniquely associated with this discrepancy.

Actual/Own vs. Ought/Own

A discrepancy between these self-guides occurs when one’s view of their actual attributes do not meet the expectations of what they think they ought to possess. This discrepancy is associated with the presence of negative outcomes and is characterised by agitation-related emotions such as self-dissatisfaction. An individual predicts a readiness for self-punishment. The person is predicted to be vulnerable to guilt, self-contempt, and uneasiness, because these particular feelings occur when people believe they have transgressed a personally legitimate and accepted moral standard. Analysis of guilt have described it as associated with a person’s own standpoint and a discrepancy from his or her sense of morality or justice. The motivational nature of this discrepancy suggests associations with feelings of moral worthlessness or weakness. Transgression of one’s own internalised moral standards has been associated with guilt and self-criticism because when people attribute failure to a lack of sufficient effort on their part, they experience feelings of guilt.

Ideal vs. Ought

Ideal self and ought self act as self guides with which the actual self aspires to be aligned. The ideal self represents hopes and wishes, whereas the ought self is determined through obligation and sense of duty. In terms of the ideal or ought discrepancy and specific to self-regulatory approach vs. avoidance behaviours, the ideal domain is predisposed to approach behaviour and the ought domain is predisposed to avoidance behaviour.

Another Domain of Self

In 1999 Charles Carver and associates made a new amendment to the theory by adding the domain of feared self. Unlike the self guides proposed by Higgins which imply an actual or desired (better) self, the feared self is a domain that measures what one does not desire to be. In many cases, this may have a different level of influence in terms of priority on the self than previous domains and self-guides. It is human nature to avoid negative affect before approaching positives.

Availability and Accessibility of Self-Discrepancies

Beliefs that are incongruent are cognitive constructs and can vary in both their availability and accessibility. In order to establish which types of discrepancies an individual holds and which are likely to be active and produce their associated emotions at any point, the availability and accessibility of self-discrepancies must be distinguished.

Availability

The availability of a self-discrepancy depends on the extent to which the attributes of the two conflicted self-state representations diverge for the person in question. Each attribute in one of the self-state representations (actual/own) is compared to each attribute in the other self-state representation (ideal/own). Each pair of attributes is either a match or a mismatch. The larger variance between the number of matches and the number of nonmatches (i.e. the greater the divergence of attributes between the two self-state representations), the larger the magnitude of that type of self-discrepancy that is available. Furthermore, the greater the magnitude of a particular discrepancy produces more intense feelings of discomfort accompanying the discrepancy when activated.

The availability of the self-discrepancy is not enough to influence emotions. In order to do so, the self-discrepancy must also be activated. The variable that influences the probability of activation is its accessibility.

Accessibility

The accessibility of a self-discrepancy depends on the same factors that determine the accessibility of any stored construct. One factor is how recently the construct has been activated. The more often a construct is activated, the more likely it will be used later on to understand social events. The accessibility or likelihood of activation, of a stored construct also depends on the relation between its “meaning” and the properties of the stimulus event. A stored construct will not be used to interpret an event unless it is applicable to the event. Thus the negative psychological situation represented in a self-discrepancy (i.e. the “meaning” of the discrepancy) will not be activated by an explicitly positive event. In sum, the accessibility of self-discrepancy is determined by its recency of activation, its frequency of activation, and its applicability to the stimulus event. The theory posits that the greater the accessibility of a self-discrepancy, the more powerfully the person will experience the emotion accompanying that discrepancy.

The theory does not propose that individuals are aware of the accessibility or availability of their self-discrepancies. However, it is obvious that both the availability and accessibility can influence social information processing automatically and without awareness. Thus, self-discrepancy theory simulates that the available and accessible negative psychological situations embodied in one’s self-discrepancies can be used to provide meaning to events without being aware of either the discrepancies or their impact on processing. The measure of self-discrepancies requires only that one be able to retrieve attributes of specific self-state representations when asked to do so. It does not require that one be aware of the relations among these attributes of their significance.

Self-discrepancy theory hypothesizes that the greater the magnitude of a particular type of self-discrepancy possessed by a person, the more strongly the person will experience the emotion associated with that type of discrepancy.

Application and Use

Self-discrepancy theory becomes applicable when addressing some of the psychological problems individuals face with undesired self-image. The theory has been applied to psychological problems faced by college students compromising their career choice, understanding clinically depressed students, eating disorders, mental health and depression in chronically ill women and even developing self-confidence in athletes. Self-Discrepancy Theory inherently provides a means to systematically lessen negative affect associated with self-discrepancies by reducing the discrepancies between the self domains in conflict of one another. Not only has it been applied to psychological health, but also to other research and understanding to human emotions such as shame and guilt. The self-guided pressure society and ourselves induce throw an individual into turmoil. The theory finds many of its uses geared toward mental health, anxiety, and depression. Understanding what emotions are being aroused and the reasoning is important to reinstate psychological health.

Procrastination

Studies have correlated the theory and procrastination. Specifically, discrepancies in the actual/ought domain from the own perspective, are the strongest predictor of procrastination. Avoidance is the common theme. The actual/ought self-regulatory system responds through avoidance. Procrastinators also have an avoidance relationship with their goals.

Depression

Depression is associated with conflict between a person’s perceived actual self, and some standard, goal or aspiration. An actual/ought discrepancy triggers agitated depression (characterised by feelings of guilt, apprehension, anxiety or fear). An actual/ideal discrepancy triggers dejected depression (characterised by feelings of failure, disappointment, devaluation or shame).

Emotions

Higgins measured how individuals experienced self-discrepancies by having individuals reminisce and remember about “negative events or personal self-guides, including hopes, goals, duties, and obligations, and measure what will help increase the kind of discomfort that the individual experiences. The study found the “absence of an actual/own and ideal/own discrepancy” is associated with the emotions “happy” and “satisfied” and the “absence of an actual/own and ought/other discrepancy” is associated with the emotions “calm” and “secure”.

New Findings

Since its original conception in 1987, there have been a number of studies that have tested the legitimacy of self-discrepancy theory. Some of their findings do in fact contradict certain aspects of the theory, while another finds further evidence of its validly. These studies give insight into the research that has been done regarding self-discrepancy theory since its original conception in 1987.

Conducted in 1998, “Are Shame and Guilt Related to Distinct Self-Discrepancies? A Test of Higgins’s (1987) Hypotheses”, brought into question the correlations between specific discrepancy and emotional discomforts laid out by self-discrepancy theory. Researches believed that there was no way to tie a unique emotional discomfort to one internal discrepancy, but rather that various internal discrepancies result in a variety of discomforts. The study was carried out and the hypothesis was confirmed based on the results. The findings displayed no evidence suggesting a direct tie between specific discomforts and type of internal discrepancy.

“Self-discrepancies: Measurement and Relation to Various Negative Affective States”, also brought into question the core aspect of self-discrepancy theory – The correlation between specific discrepancies and the emotional discomforts that result. This study went one step further, also testing the validity of two methods used to observe internal discrepancies; “The Selves Questionnaire” or “SQ” along with the “Adjective Rating List” or “ARL”. The study found a strong relationship in results from both methods, speaking to their validly. The results, though, did bring into question the original research done by Higgins, as there were no ties found between specific internal discrepancies and unique emotional discomforts. One of the researchers in this study wrote “Overall, these findings raise significant concerns about the relevance of self-discrepancies as measured by the SQ and ARL and fail to support the main contentions of self-discrepancy theory”.

“Self-discrepancy: Long-term test–retest reliability and test–criterion predictive validity”, published in 2016, tested the long-term validity of self-discrepancy theory. Researchers found evidence to support the long-term validity of the self-discrepancy personality construct along with anxiety and depression having a direct relationship with internal discrepancies.

Book: Communication and Mental Health Disorders: Developing Theory, Growing Practice

Book Title:

Communication and Mental Health Disorders: Developing Theory, Growing Practice.

Author(s): Caroline Jagoe and Irene P. Walsh (Editor).

Year: 2019.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: J & R Press Ltd.

Type(s): Paperback.

Synopsis:

Communication and Mental Health Disorders: Developing Theory, Growing Practice brings together academics and expert clinicians to share their research, clinical expertise and insights in the presentation of current theory and evolving practice of language and communication work with children and adults with mental health disorders. The book presents recent developments in the field against a background of ‘recovery model’ principles and practices, moving beyond introductory texts published previously.

This book is a highly comprehensive text drawing on multidisciplinary perspectives in the care of people with communication difficulties and mental health disorders. It covers a broad range of areas, providing an extensive exploration of the unique and complex relationship between mental health and disorder, and language and communication, with specific emphasis on the application of theoretical developments to clinical practice. The focus is on recent and cutting-edge developments in the field, whilst acknowledging historical constructs and contexts. Service users’ perceptions are incorporated throughout alongside those of mental healthcare professionals (e.g., psychiatrists and speech and language therapists). A full section on advances in approaches to communication intervention presents the strides taken in the practical applications of innovative thinking in the area.

Book: Contemporary Psychotherapies for a Diverse World

Book Title:

Contemporary Psychotherapies for a Diverse World.

Author(s): Jon Frew and Michael D. Spiegler.

Year: 2012.

Edition: First (1ed).

Publisher: Routledge.

Type(s): Hardcover.

Synopsis:

This unique text is the first to provide an introduction to the theory and practice of the major theories of psychotherapy and, at the same time, illustrate how these approaches are dealing with the ever-increasing diversity of today’s clients. Frew and Spiegler have assembled the leading contemporary authorities on each theory to offer an insider’s perspective that includes exposure to the style and language used by adherents of the approach, which is not available in any other text. The history of each approach and the latest, cutting-edge theory and practice are integrated with an emphasis on an awareness of the needs of diverse non-majority clients, creating a comprehensive, practical, and invaluable text for any counselling theories course.

The major psychotherapeutic approaches are presented in roughly the chronological order in which they were developed, and each chapter follows the same basic format to ensure consistency throughout the text. Along with traditional theories, there are chapters on reality therapy, feminist therapy, and narrative therapy, and the chapter on ethics includes multicultural and feminist perspectives. Each chapter includes:

  • The origin and evolution of the theory.
  • Theoretical foundations and how the theory is manifested in practice.
  • An evaluation of the evidence for the theory’s success, limitations, blind spots, and challenges.
  • “The Author’s Journey,” in which authors describe what lead them to adopt their approach and how their own practice has evolved over time.
  • Multicultural competencies and their importance in the context of the theory.

Resources are available online for instructors to supplement the material in the text and include a test bank and PowerPoint lecture slides.

What is Integrative Psychotherapy?

Introduction

Integrative psychotherapy is the integration of elements from different schools of psychotherapy in the treatment of a client.

Integrative psychotherapy may also refer to the psychotherapeutic process of integrating the personality: uniting the “affective, cognitive, behavioural, and physiological systems within a person”.

Background

Initially, Sigmund Freud developed a talking cure called psychoanalysis; then he wrote about his therapy and popularised psychoanalysis. After Freud, many different disciplines splintered off. Some of the more common therapies include: psychodynamic psychotherapy, transactional analysis, cognitive behavioural therapy, gestalt therapy, body psychotherapy, family systems therapy, person-centred psychotherapy, and existential therapy. Hundreds of different theories of psychotherapy are practiced (Norcross, 2005, p.5).

A new therapy is born in several stages. After being trained in an existing school of psychotherapy, the therapist begins to practice. Then, after follow up training in other schools, the therapist may combine the different theories as a basis of a new practice. Then, some practitioners write about their new approach and label this approach with a new name.

A pragmatic or a theoretical approach can be taken when fusing schools of psychotherapy. Pragmatic practitioners blend a few strands of theory from a few schools as well as various techniques; such practitioners are sometimes called eclectic psychotherapists and are primarily concerned with what works. Alternatively, other therapists consider themselves to be more theoretically grounded as they blend their theories; they are called integrative psychotherapists and are not only concerned with what works, but why it works (Norcross, 2005, p.8).

For example, an eclectic therapist might experience a change in their client after administering a particular technique and be satisfied with a positive result. In contrast, an integrative therapist is curious about the “why and how” of the change as well. A theoretical emphasis is important: for example, the client may only have been trying to please the therapist and was adapting to the therapist rather than becoming more fully empowered in themselves.

Different Routes to Integration

The most recent edition of the Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (Norcross & Goldfried, 2005) recognized four general routes to integration: common factors, technical eclecticism, theoretical integration, and assimilative integration (Norcross, 2005).

Common Factors

The first route to integration is called common factors and “seeks to determine the core ingredients that different therapies share in common” (Norcross, 2005, p.9). The advantage of a common factors approach is the emphasis on therapeutic actions that have been demonstrated to be effective. The disadvantage is that common factors may overlook specific techniques that have been developed within particular theories. Common factors have been described by Jerome Frank (Frank & Frank, 1991), Bruce Wampold (Wampold & Imel, 2015), and Miller, Duncan and Hubble (2005). Common factors theory asserts it is precisely the factors common to the most psychotherapies that make any psychotherapy successful.

Some psychologists have converged on the conclusion that a wide variety of different psychotherapies can be integrated via their common ability to trigger the neurobiological mechanism of memory reconsolidation in such a way as to lead to deconsolidation (Ecker, Ticic & Hulley 2012; Lane et al. 2015; Welling 2012 – but for a more hesitant view of the role of memory reconsolidation in psychotherapy see the objections in some of the invited comments in: Lane et al. 2015).

Technical Eclecticism

The second route to integration is technical eclecticism which is designed “to improve our ability to select the best treatment for the person and the problem…guided primarily by data on what has worked best for others in the past” (Norcross, 2005, p.8). The advantage of technical eclecticism is that it encourages the use of diverse strategies without being hindered by theoretical differences. A disadvantage is that there may not be a clear conceptual framework describing how techniques drawn from divergent theories might fit together. The most well known model of technical eclectic psychotherapy is Arnold Lazarus’ (2005) multimodal therapy. Another model of technical eclecticism is Larry E. Beutler and colleagues’ systematic treatment selection (Beutler, Consoli, & Lane, 2005).

Theoretical Integration

The third route to integration commonly recognised in the literature is theoretical integration in which “two or more therapies are integrated in the hope that the result will be better than the constituent therapies alone” (Norcross, 2005, p.8). Some models of theoretical integration focus on combining and synthesizing a small number of theories at a deep level, whereas others describe the relationship between several systems of psychotherapy. One prominent example of theoretical synthesis is Paul Wachtel’s model of cyclical psychodynamics that integrates psychodynamic, behavioural, and family systems theories (Wachtel, Kruk, & McKinney, 2005). Another example of synthesis is Anthony Ryle’s model of cognitive analytic therapy, integrating ideas from psychoanalytic object relations theory and cognitive psychotherapy (Ryle, 2005). Another model of theoretical integration is specifically called integral psychotherapy (Forman, 2010; Ingersoll & Zeitler, 2010). The most notable model describing the relationship between several different theories is the transtheoretical model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 2005).

Assimilative Integration

Assimilative integration is the fourth route and acknowledges that most psychotherapists select a theoretical orientation that serves as their foundation but, with experience, incorporate ideas and strategies from other sources into their practice. “This mode of integration favours a firm grounding in any one system of psychotherapy, but with a willingness to incorporate or assimilate, in a considered fashion, perspectives or practices from other schools” (Messer, 1992, p.151). Some counsellors may prefer the security of one foundational theory as they begin the process of integrative exploration. Formal models of assimilative integration have been described based on a psychodynamic foundation (Frank, 1999; Stricker & Gold, 2005) and based on cognitive behavioural therapy (Castonguay, Newman, Borkovec, Holtforth, & Maramba, 2005).

Govrin (2015) pointed out a form of integration, which he called “integration by conversion”, whereby theorists import into their own system of psychotherapy a foreign and quite alien concept, but they give the concept a new meaning that allows them to claim that the newly imported concept was really an integral part of their original system of psychotherapy, even if the imported concept significantly changes the original system. Govrin gave as two examples Heinz Kohut’s novel emphasis on empathy in psychoanalysis in the 1970s and the novel emphasis on mindfulness and acceptance in “third-wave” cognitive behavioural therapy in the 1990s to 2000s.

Other Models that Combine Routes

In addition to well-established approaches that fit into the five routes mentioned above, there are newer models that combine aspects of the traditional routes.

Clara E. Hill’s (2014) three-stage model of helping skills encourages counsellors to emphasize skills from different theories during different stages of helping. Hill’s model might be considered a combination of theoretical integration and technical eclecticism. The first stage is the exploration stage. This is based on client-centred therapy. The second stage is entitled insight. Interventions used in this stage are based on psychoanalytic therapy. The last stage, the action stage, is based on behavioural therapy.

Good and Beitman (2006) described an integrative approach highlighting both core components of effective therapy and specific techniques designed to target clients’ particular areas of concern. This approach can be described as an integration of common factors and technical eclecticism.

Multitheoretical psychotherapy (Brooks-Harris, 2008) is an integrative model that combines elements of technical eclecticism and theoretical integration. Therapists are encouraged to make intentional choices about combining theories and intervention strategies.

An approach called integral psychotherapy (Forman, 2010; Ingersoll & Zeitler, 2010) is grounded in the work of theoretical psychologist and philosopher Ken Wilber (2000), who integrates insights from contemplative and meditative traditions. Integral theory is a meta-theory that recognises that reality can be organised from four major perspectives: subjective, intersubjective, objective, and interobjective. Various psychotherapies typically ground themselves in one these four foundational perspectives, often minimising the others. Integral psychotherapy includes all four. For example, psychotherapeutic integration using this model would include subjective approaches (cognitive, existential), intersubjective approaches (interpersonal, object relations, multicultural), objective approaches (behavioural, pharmacological), and interobjective approaches (systems science). By understanding that each of these four basic perspectives all simultaneously co-occur, each can be seen as essential to a comprehensive view of the life of the client. Integral theory also includes a stage model that suggests that various psychotherapies seek to address issues arising from different stages of psychological development (Wilber, 2000).

The generic term, integrative psychotherapy, can be used to describe any multi-modal approach which combines therapies. For example, an effective form of treatment for some clients is psychodynamic psychotherapy combined with hypnotherapy. Kraft & Kraft (2007) gave a detailed account of this treatment with a 54-year-old female client with refractory IBS in a setting of a phobic anxiety state. The client made a full recovery and this was maintained at the follow-up a year later.

Comparison with Eclecticism

In Integrative and Eclectic Counselling and Psychotherapy (Woolfe & Palmer, 2000, pp.55 & 256), the authors make clear the distinction between integrative and eclectic psychotherapy approaches: “Integration suggests that the elements are part of one combined approach to theory and practice, as opposed to eclecticism which draws ad hoc from several approaches in the approach to a particular case.” Psychotherapy’s eclectic practitioners are not bound by the theories, dogma, conventions or methodology of any one particular school. Instead, they may use what they believe or feel or experience tells them will work best, either in general or suiting the often immediate needs of individual clients; and working within their own preferences and capabilities as practitioners (Norcross & Goldfried, 2005, pp.3-23).

References

  • Beutler, L.E., Consoli, A.J. & Lane, G. (2005). Systematic treatment selection and prescriptive psychotherapy: an integrative eclectic approach. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.121-143). New York: Oxford.
  • Brooks-Harris, J.E. (2008). Integrative Multitheoretical Psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.
  • Castonguay, L.G., Newman, M.G., Borkovec, T.D., Holtforth, M.G. & Maramba, G.G. (2005). Cognitive-behavioral assimilative integration. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.241-260). New York: Oxford.
  • Ecker, B., Ticic, R. & Hulley, L. (2012). Unlocking the Emotional Brain: Eliminating Symptoms at Their Roots Using Memory Reconsolidation. New York: Routledge.
  • Forman, M.D. (2010). A Guide to Integral Psychotherapy: Complexity, Integration, and Spirituality in Practice. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Frank, J.D. & Frank, J.B. (1991). Persuasion and Healing: A Comparative Study of Psychotherapy (3rd Ed). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University.
  • Frank, K.A. (1999). Psychoanalytic Participation: Action, Interaction, and Integration. Mahwah, NJ: Analytic Press.
  • Good, G.E. & Beitman, B.D. (2006). Counseling and Psychotherapy Essentials: Integrating Theories, Skills, and Practices. New York: W.W. Norton.
  • Govrin, A. (2015). Blurring the threat of ‘otherness’: integration by conversion in psychoanalysis and CBT. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. 26(1), pp.78-90.
  • Hill, C.E. (2014). Helping Skills: Facilitating Exploration, Insight, and Action. 4th Ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Ingersoll, E. & Zeitler, D. (2010). Integral Psychotherapy: Inside Out/Outside In. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Kraft T. & Kraft D. (2007). Irritable bowel syndrome: symptomatic treatment approaches versus integrative psychotherapy. Contemporary Hypnosis, 24(4), pp.161-177.
  • Lane, R.D., Ryan, L., Nadel, L. & Greenberg, L.S. (2015). Memory reconsolidation, emotional arousal and the process of change in psychotherapy: new insights from brain science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38, pp.e1.
  • Lazarus, A.A. (2005). Multimodal therapy. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration. 2nd Ed. pp.105-120). New York: Oxford.
  • Messer, S.B. (1992). A critical examination of belief structures in integrative and eclectic psychotherapy. In J.C. Norcross, & M. R. Goldfried, (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (pp.130-165). New York: Basic Books.
  • Miller, S.D., Duncan, B.L. & Hubble, M.A. (2005). Outcome-informed clinical work. In J.C. Norcross, & M.R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp. 84-102). New York: Oxford.
  • Norcross, J.C. (2005). A primer on psychotherapy integration. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.3-23). New York: Oxford.
  • Norcross, J.C. & Goldfried, M.R. (Eds) (2005). Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed). New York: Oxford.
  • Prochaska, J.O. & DiClemente, C.C. (2005). The transtheoretical approach. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.147-171). New York: Oxford.
  • Ryle, A. (2005). Cognitive analytic therapy. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.196-217). New York: Oxford.
  • Stricker, G. & Gold, J. (2005). Assimilative psychodynamic psychotherapy. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.221-240). New York: Oxford.
  • Wachtel, P.L., Kruk, J.C. & McKinney, M.K. (2005). Cyclical psychodynamics and integrative relational psychotherapy. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.172-195). New York: Oxford.
  • Wampold, B.E. & Imel Z.E. (2015). The Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work (2nd Ed). New York: Routledge.
  • Welling, H. (June 2012). Transformative emotional sequence: towards a common principle of change. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 22(2), pp.109-136.
  • Wilber, K. (2000). Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy. Boston: Shambhala.
  • Woolfe, R. & Palmer, S. (2000). Integrative and Eclectic Counselling and Psychotherapy. London; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Theoretical Assumptions & Mental Disorders

Research Paper Title

Should definitions for mental disorders include explicit theoretical elements?

Background

In this article the researchers argue that mental disorders have come to be defined according to a descriptive theory of meaning. In other words, mental disorders are defined according to superficial descriptive criteria that count as necessary and sufficient criteria for the inclusion of a particular instance under its corresponding class.

These descriptive criteria are allegedly theory independent, leading to the assumption that psychiatric symptoms are directly identified in an object-like fashion.

Against this view, the researchers hold that a descriptive theory of meaning is unable to offer a proper account of the meaning of mental disorders both due to its own internal limitations and to the specific nature of psychiatric phenomena.

Due to the hermeneutic structure of psychiatric practice, they argue that the identification and description of mental symptoms and disorders unavoidably depends on (frequently unacknowledged) theoretical assumptions.

Since there is no global consensus regarding these theoretical commitments, and due to the fact that these significantly affect the final picture the researchers hold with respect to each mental disorder, they believe that these commitments should be explicitly stated both in diagnostic argumentation and in theoretical discussions in order to maximise self- and mutual understanding.

Reference

Adan-Manes, J. & Ramos-Gorostiza, P. (2020) Should definitions for mental disorders include explicit theoretical elements? Psychopathology. 47(3), pp.158-166. doi: 10.1159/000351741. Epub 2013 Aug 30.

On This Day … 09 November

People (Births)

  • 1939 – Paul Cameron, American psychologist and academic.

People (Deaths)

  • 2002 – William Schutz, American psychologist and academic (b. 1925).

Paul Cameron

Paul Drummond Cameron (born 09 November, 1939) is an American psychologist. Cameron has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as an anti-gay extremist.

While employed at various institutions, including the University of Nebraska, he conducted research on passive smoking, but he is best known today for his claims about homosexuality. After a successful 1982 campaign against a gay rights proposal in Lincoln, Nebraska, he established the Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality (ISIS), now known as the Family Research Institute (FRI). As FRI’s chairman, Cameron has written contentious papers asserting associations between homosexuality and the perpetration of child sexual abuse and reduced life expectancy. These have been heavily criticised by others in the field.

In 1983, the American Psychological Association expelled Cameron for non-cooperation with an ethics investigation. Position statements issued by the American Sociological Association, Canadian Psychological Association, and the Nebraska Psychological Association accuse Cameron of misrepresenting social science research.

William Schutz

William Schutz (19 December 1925 to 09 November 2002) was an American psychologist.

Schutz was born in Chicago, Illinois. He practiced at the Esalen Institute in the 1960s. He later became the president of BConWSA International. He received his PhD from UCLA. In the 1950s, he was part of the peer-group at the University of Chicago’s Counselling Centre that included Carl Rogers, Thomas Gordon, Abraham Maslow and Elias Porter. He taught at Tufts University, Harvard University, University of California, Berkeley and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and was chairman of the holistic studies department at Antioch University until 1983.

In 1958, Schutz introduced a theory of interpersonal relations he called Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO). According to the theory three dimensions of interpersonal relations were deemed to be necessary and sufficient to explain most human interaction: Inclusion, Control and Affection. These dimensions have been used to assess group dynamics.

Schutz also created FIRO-B, a measurement instrument with scales that assess the behavioural aspects of the three dimensions. His advancement of FIRO Theory beyond the FIRO-B tool was most obvious in the change of the “Affection” scale to the “Openness” scale in the “FIRO Element-B”. This change highlighted his newer theory that behaviour comes from feelings (“FIRO Element-F”) and the self-concept (“FIRO Element-S”). “Underlying the behaviour of openness is the feeling of being likable or unlikeable, lovable or unlovable. I find you likable if I like myself in your presence, if you create an atmosphere within which I like myself.”

W. Schutz authored more than ten books and many articles. His work was influenced by Alexander Lowen, Ida Pauline Rolf and Moshe Feldenkrais. As a body therapist he led encounter group workshops focussing on the underlying causes of illnesses and developing alternative body-centred cures. His books, “Profound Simplicity” and “The Truth Option,” address this theme. He brought new approaches to body therapy that integrated truth, choice (freedom), (self) responsibility, self-esteem, self-regard and honesty into his approach.

In his books one encounters the concept of energy cycles (e.g. Schutz 1979) which a person goes through or call for completion. The single steps of the energy cycles are: motivation – prepare – act – feel.

Schutz died at his home in Muir Beach, California in 2002.

A New Definition of Mental Health!

Research Paper Title

A proposed new definition of mental health.

Background

The authors propose a new approach to the definition of mental health, different than the definition proposed by the World Health Organisation, which is established around issues of person’s well-being and productivity.

It is supposed to reflect the complexity of human life experience.

Introduction

The definition of mental health proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) is organised around a hedonic and eudaimonic perspective, in which a key role is assigned to person’s well-being and productivity. While regarding well-being as a desirable goal for many people, its inclusion in the definition of mental health raises concerns. According to Keyes, well-being includes emotional, psychological and social well-being, and involves positive feelings (e.g., happiness, satisfaction), positive attitudes towards own responsibilities and towards others, and positive functioning
(e.g., social integration, actualisation and coherence).

However, people in good mental health experience a wide range of emotions, such as sadness, anger or unhappiness; most adolescents are often unsatisfied, unhappy about present social organisation and may lack social coherence. Does this mean that they are not in good mental health? A person responsible for her/his family might feel desperate after being fired from his/her job, especially in a situation characterised by scarce occupational opportunities; should we question her/his mental health? Actually, raising the bar of mental health may create unrealistic expectations, encourage people
to mask most of their emotions while pretending constant happiness, and even favour their isolation when they feel sad, angry or worried.

Also the concept of positive functioning (“can work productively and fruitfully”), in line with the eudaimonic tradition, raises concerns, as it implies that a person at an age or in a physical or even political condition preventing her/him from working productively is not by definition in good mental health.

The definition of mental health is clearly influenced by the culture that defines it. However, as also advocated by Vaillant, an effort can be made to identify elements that have a universal importance for mental health, as for example, vitamins and the four basic food groups are universally given a key role in eating habits, in spite of cultural differences.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Reference

Galderisi, S., Heinz, A., Kastrup, M., Beezhold, J. & Sartorius, N. (2020) A proposed new definition of mental health. Psychiatria Polska. 51(3), pp.407-411. doi: 10.12740/PP/74145. Epub 2017 Jun 18.

Book: Psychiatry Disrupted

Book Title:

Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorising Resistance and Crafting the (R)evolution.

Author(s): Bonnie Burstow, Brenda A LeFrancois, and Shaindl Diamond.

Year: 2014.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Type(s): Paperback and EPUB.

Synopsis:

There is growing international resistance to the oppressiveness of psychiatry. While previous studies have critiqued psychiatry, Psychiatry Disrupted goes beyond theorising what is wrong with it to theorizing how we might stop it. Introducing readers to the arguments and rationale for opposing psychiatry, the book combines perspectives from anti-psychiatry and critical psychiatry activism, mad activism, antiracist, critical, and radical disability studies, as well as feminist, Marxist, and anarchist thought.

The editors and contributors are activists and academics – adult education and social work professors, psychologists, prominent leaders in the psychiatric survivor movement, and artists – from across Canada, England, and the United States.

From chapters discussing feminist opposition to the medicalisation of human experience, to the links between psychiatry and neo-liberalism, to internal tensions within the various movements and different identities from which people organise, the collection theorises psychiatry while contributing to a range of scholarship and presenting a comprehensive overview of resistance to psychiatry in the academy and in the community.

A courageous anthology, Psychiatry Disrupted is a timely work that asks compelling activist questions that no other book in the field touches.

Book: Decolonising Global Mental Health

Book Title:

Decolonizing Global Mental Health: The Psychiatrisation of the Majority World.

Author(s): China Mills.

Year: 2014.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Routledge.

Type(s): Paperback.

Synopsis:

Decolonising Global Mental Health is a book that maps a strange irony.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Movement for Global Mental Health are calling to ‘scale up’ access to psychological and psychiatric treatments globally, particularly within the global South. Simultaneously, in the global North, psychiatry and its often chemical treatments are coming under increased criticism (from both those who take the medication and those in the position to prescribe it).

The book argues that it is imperative to explore what counts as evidence within Global Mental Health, and seeks to de-familiarise current ‘Western’ conceptions of psychology and psychiatry using postcolonial theory. It leads us to wonder whether we should call for equality in global access to psychiatry, whether everyone should have the right to a psychotropic citizenship and whether mental health can, or should, be global.

As such, it is ideal reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as researchers in the fields of critical psychology and psychiatry, social and health psychology, cultural studies, public health and social work.