Meanwhile, we have attempted to alleviate psychological disorders with a bewildering variety of methods, harsh and gentle: by cutting holes in the head and by giving warm baths and massages) by restraining, bleeding, or « beating the devil « out of people and by placing them in sunny, serene environments; by administrating drugs and electric shocks and by talking-talking about childhood experiences, about current feelings, about maladaptive thoughts and behaviors.
One can now state with certainty the chemical composition of Jupiter’s atmosphere, but when it comes to understanding and treating what is much closer to home we are only beginning to make progress. The therapies clinicians favour depends on the most persuasive explanations of the disorder. A catalogue of all the therapies that have been tried at one time or another can, however, be organized with only two main sections: the psychological therapies (therapies that involve verbal interaction between a trained professional and a client with a problem) and the biomedical therapies (therapies that alter the structure or functioning of the nervous system).
The major psychotherapies are derived from familiar psychoanalytic, humanistic, behavioral, and cognitive perspectives on psychology.
The goal of psychoanalysis is to help people gain insight into the unconscious origins of their disorders and to work through the accompanying feelings. To do so, analysts draw on techniques such as free association and the interpretation of dreams, resistances, and the transference to the therapists of long-repressed feelings. Like psychoanalytic theory, psychoanalysis is criticized for its after-the-fact interpretation and for being time-consuming and costly. Although traditional psychoanalysis is not practiced widely, its influence can be seen in therapists who explore childhood experiences, who assume that defense mechanisms repress emotion-laden information, and who seek to help their clients achieve insight into the root of their problems.
Unlike psychoanalysts, humanistic therapies tend to focus on clients’ current conscious feelings and on their taking responsibility for their own growth. Carl Rogers, in his person-centered therapy, used active listening to express genuiness, acceptance, and empathy. With Gestall therapy, Fritz Perls sought to break down people’s defenses and to make them accept responsibility for their feelings. Many therapeutic techniques can also be applied in group therapy. Behavior therapists worry less about promoting self-awareness and more about directly modifying problem behaviors. Thus they may countercondition behaviors through systematic desensitization or aversive conditioning. Or they may apply operant conditioning principles with behavior modification techniques such as token economies.
The new cognitive therapies, such as Ellis’s rational-emotive therapy, Beck’s cognitive therapy for depression, and Meichenbaum’s stress-inoculation training, all aim to change self-defeating thinking by training people to look at themselves in new, more positive ways.
The Biomedical therapies include psychosurgery, elecroconvulsive therapy and drug therapies. Although controversial, a growing body of evidence indicates that ECT is an effective treatment for many severely depressed people who do not respond to drug therapies which is the most widely used of biomedical therapies. Drug therapies include the antipsychotic, antianxiety, and antidepressant drugs.
Psychotherapies and biomedical therapies tend to locate psychological disorders within people and thus seek to remedy the disorder by changing the person. Another way to view many psychological disorders is an understandable response to a disturbed and stressful society. According to this view, it is not just the individual who needs treatment, but also the social context in which the individual acts. Better to prevent the problem by reforming a sick situation than to await and treat the problem
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