Tag Archives: psychology

Mindful Living: A Proposed Relapse Prevention Project

Substance abuse prevention is generally thought to involve primary and secondary prevention strategies which target populations that have either not yet engaged in use of alcohol and drugs (though they may be at risk to do so), or those who are in the very early stages of alcohol and drug use (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). Though efforts to prevent the onset of addiction are important, of equal concern is substance use relapse prevention wherein the stabilization brought about during treatment is preserved, and long-term abstinence is promoted.

Unfortunately, it appears that relapse prevention is often viewed as an afterthought of treatment wherein patients are discharged with little meaningful guidance nor provision of resources to aid them moving forward in recovery (McClellan, Lewis, O’Brien, & Kleber, 2000). As experts in the field continue to acknowledge that addiction is a chronic rather than acute condition, the provision of continuing care for those who have completed treatment must likewise adapt to meet this emerging awareness. To this end, the following substance use relapse prevention project, Mindful Living, is proposed.
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Taking Steps 6 & 7

In the final scene of the epic film, The Wizard of Oz, the heroine Dorothy learns a surprising truth from Glinda the Good Witch — that the elusive power to get back home had actually been right there within Dorothy’s reach all along her journey through the Land of Oz. Ultimately, Dorothy never really needed the assistance of the Wizard, nor of anyone else, to return to her beloved Kansas.  When the Scarecrow angrily asked why this critical information had not been revealed to Dorothy sooner, the wise witch laughed and stated:

“Because she wouldn’t have believed me; she had to learn it for herself.”

As I look back on my own life journey, now in the light of Steps 6 and 7, I am certain that many of the problems that I have faced persisted because, like Dorothy, I too was ignorant of the solution which was within my reach all along.  Far astray from home, I looked outside of myself for quick fixes and for roads leading away from the despair.  I was told, but I did not believe, that my method of attempting to align people and circumstances to my liking would prove fruitless.  I was duped by the illusion of control created by me in my own Oz-like fantasy world in which I was the absolute center of attention.  The fact that I did not end up flattened by a falling house as did the Wicked Witch of the East, nor ravaged by her sister’s winged monkeys, is an indication of true grace.

Fortunately, my honest surrender came before my certain demise.  It was only then that it became possible for me to learn — and more importantly, for me to believe — that the elusive power which I had sought for so long was always right there inside of me.  This I could not be told, but had to learn from my own experiences along the Yellow Brick Road.

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The Philosophy of Unconditional Acceptance

Dr. Albert Ellis (1913 – 2007)

The Greek Stoic Philosopher, Epictetus, wisely observed that

“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them.” 

Though the statement itself may be short and simple, the philosophy behind it is profound.  It is a philosophy that was not lost on Dr. Albert Ellis who, as a result of his own neurotic self-disturbing, learned at an early age what Stoics like Epictetus had known long before — we are, with few exceptions, responsible for our own psychological well-being and that, for the most part, we create our own neurotic tendencies.  It is upon the foundation of this simple philosophy that Ellis created the forerunner of all cognitive-behavior therapies — Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).  It is a therapeutic approach which empowers the individual by exposing the myth of self-esteem, and by offering instead the philosophical approach of unconditional acceptance.

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The Obituary of Albert Ellis

(originally published in the Obituary Section of The Guardian on August 10, 2007)

Albert Ellis (1913-2007)

Shyness was among the many problems successfully treated by the American psychotherapist Albert Ellis, who has died aged 93. But it was not an affliction that it was wise to bring along to his legendary Friday night workshops, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side: there, patients were hauled up on stage in front of an audience of hundreds, to be rigorously cross-questioned by Ellis, usually with plenty of swearing. “Let me tell you why people are always making you so angry,” he informed a troubled young woman, one warm evening in 2005. “Because they’re screwed up! They’re out of their fucking minds! We’re all out of our fucking minds!”

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A Brief Survey of Step Four

Step 4:  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

In the essay, On Human Nature, three basic human instincts — the survival instinct, the social instinct, and the happiness instinct — are described as the foundation of all cognition, behavior and emotion.  Though the means by which we endeavor to satisfy these innate end objectives vary greatly by individual and by society, the most common manifestations thereof were first noted by the renowned psychologist, Andrew Maslow.  In a 1943 article entitled A Theory of Human Motivation, Maslow proposed a universal hierarchy of instrumental needs which exist as means to satisfy instinctual end objectives.

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On Human Nature

Discourse on human nature tends to focus on those natural characteristics which appear to distinguish humans from other forms of life. The general theme is usually anthropocentric and goes something like “that which makes us different is that which defines our humanity.”  While comparing differences is informative in some contexts, it is an exercise that is too often undertaken as a means to demonstrate a special, preordained standing in nature for mankind and moral supremacy.  In fact, the essence of human nature is not that which sets us apart from or above other forms of life, but those characteristics which we share in a common evolutionary history.

It is along this continuum that core human operational modules — such as survival, socialization, and the pursuit of happiness — have developed by natural selection.  Thus, it is from the broad perspective of unity and inclusion that human nature is best described and from which an understanding of morality may be gained.

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Believing Again

Aristotle and Plato engage in philosophical discussion.

To say that the human mind is complex is a vast understatement.  Cognitive functions such as believing, hoping, and desiring are intertwined and interrelated to such an extent that each resists reduction to simple explanation.  The relationships between these processes are at times unilateral, and at times multilateral; parallel at times and perpindicular at others.

Further complicating matters is the nexus which forms between multiple disciplines when  studying the workings of the human mind.  The principles of philosophy, psychology, sociology, logic, and linguistics all come to bear with equally convincing force upon the subject.  Notwithstanding these and other limiting factors, the concept of belief is explored.

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