Behavioral Contagion of Psychological Problems


Behavioral Contagion of Psychological Problems

Brice Petgen wrote:

I have been studying quite a bit about personality disorders this semester. It is rather fortuitous that your blog entries have been what they have been recently. The more I learn the more I come to the realization that personality disorders are really disorders based on, and developed from, interpersonal relations. There is no pill that can alleviate these disorders. They only “fix” I see is a therapeutic approach with a strong relational basis. We, as therapists, must gain the trust of our client. We must create the environment in which the client can display these deficits in interpersonal relations. At that point we must address the deficits or distortions. CBT and behavioral techniques can be quite useful then to challenge the views and meanings that underlie the issue. Plus quite a bit of insight from the client is required. But that becomes the most difficult, due to the fact that the client generally does not see a problem. In essence we are attempting to help the client change who they are as a person. Now that is quite a bit of heavy lifting.

VTM wrote:

Yes, Brice, the concept of behavioral contagion is nicely illustrated using the personality disorders. You are correct that therapy with those who suffer from Personality Disorders is “heavy lifting” for both the therapist and the client. In fact, the message of behavioral contagion is that the only winning way to deal with the increasing spread of behavioral/emotional problems within a population is through prevention. Perhaps you recall the ol’ nursery rhyme, “All of the kings men and all of the kings horses couldn’t put poor Humpty Dumpty together again”. That is to say, all of the therapists that we could possibly field cannot stem the flow of Americans with psychological problems. The name of the game must be the prevention of psychological disorders…When it comes to “people raising”, doing it right the first time around is what must be done. That will require some major changes in our American socioculture. And that really is some “heavy lifting”!

Thanks for your thoughtful reply Brice.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.   4/6/10

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