How to Achieve
Positive and Constructive Life Changes
The Philosophy and Practice of Natural Therapy from an Anti-Psychiatry Viewpoint
- Part 1: Specific Prescriptions for Positive Changes:
Making Constructive Life Choices and Changes
- Part 2: The Practice of Natural Therapy and the
Influence of Anti-Psychiatry
- Part 3: Philosophical Foundations and the Anti-Psychiatric View
- Part 4: A Case History and Example: How the natural therapy of
"schizophrenia" actually works
*( For more general information on what natural
psychotherapy is all about,
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1: Specific Prescriptions for
How You Can Make Positive Life Choices
and Achieve Constructive Changes in Yourself
Become involved in specific ways to relieve psychological
suffering by learning how to make positive life choices outlined
As the left side of the flow chart
indicates (see below), it will help you to give up the "tyranny of your
IMPULSIVITY AND your AUTOMATIC ways" to
the right side indicates, it also will help you to give up being under the
"tyranny of the SHOULDS" - the feeling that others expect
you to do something, not because you really want to, but because you
Once one has learned how to accomplish both
(give up on blindly following impulsive and "automatic urges" or "shoulds") it becomes
truly possible to choose a life on the basis of
something entirely different:
what YOU mostly want and what makes
the most sense to YOU !
learn to make life choices in the way the chart outlines, life
becomes more flowing and joyful. YOUR life.
And as on
YOU develop further self-growth
and constructive self-change YOU becomes able to eliminate YOUR psychological
suffering and pain.
Since for some people the experience of joy has been
taboo and regarded as forbidden, a whole new perspective must be
learned: a perspective in which one strives to restore one's inner
harmony as well as one's harmony with nature
and the cosmos.
Once you develop such balance and harmony through
natural psychotherapy, it will become
possible to experience joy and balance in your everyday
For some, the
acquisition of a new, positive perspective may be the most difficult
part of the therapeutic process.
Many people may feel it is frightening,
strange, or even impossible to have joy and "flow" as natural
their everyday life.
Too many people, in fact, may doubt that a real change
which results in a better life is ever
attainable. They may actually have this doubt until they actually
achieve a better life, and until they continue to achieve
it on a regular basis.
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The nature of Natural Psychotherapy and the Influence of Anti-Psychiatry
Let me first clarify what is meant by the word psychotherapy,
as it is used on this Web site.
The first part of the word psychotherapy, derives from
psyche - the Greek word for soul.
The soul can be considered as that
aspect of a person that has an integrated, bio-psycho-social holistic way of experiencing life.
It's really a mix of
acts, thoughts, moods and emotions that characterize a particular
The second part of the word psychotherapy
has to do with healing:
The word therapy which now mainly means healing
and treatment, derives from the Greek therapeia, service, from
therapeuein, to be an attendant.
The word therapy thus is used both in the sense of
healing, i.e. making whole, and in the sense of attending to
and being of service to another human being.
* * *
In practice, natural psychotherapy can be considered a
two step collaborative process of making constructive changes.
2. a) The First Step of Self-Change - Lessening one's psychological anguish:
The first part of the process is generally the
one's psychological anguish, fear, depression and confusion.
of the therapeutic process often happens rather quickly - a matter of
weeks or months.
It involves becoming aware of one's blocks to
independent, loving and creative living, and then looking at one's problems from a new
perspective: being willing to see one's emotional suffering and conflicts as
problems in living rather than as "mental diseases," "mental illnesses,"
or mythical "chemical imbalances."
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2. b) The Second Step of Self-Change -
Learning really new and better ways:
The second part of the process involves learning to
unlearn patterns of passivity as well as self-destructive patterns that may have become
part of one's way of life.
Other psychological patterns that
need to be given up if one decides to focus on attaining a better
quality of life are: False assumptions, destructive
emotional attachments, learned helplessness, just plain ignorance and a
reluctance to acquire new knowledge, automatic passive withdrawal, excessive and
inappropriate pessimism or optimism, insufficient assertiveness and
insufficient constructive planning.
The second part of the therapeutic process involves
making significant cognitive changes and letting one's natural
creative self develop.
And as one makes these significant cognitive
therapeutic changes one
learns to look honestly at oppressive or destructive patterns
in oneself and one's environment.
Natural Psychotherapy is thus an
integrated educational, scientific and thoroughly humanistic enterprise
of constructive mental and emotional changes.
is not a medical enterprise nor a practice of psychiatry, but
a process that is thoroughly
contextual and bio-psycho-social.
In fact, it is really anti-psychiatric!
It is anti-psychiatric in that
it recognizes the following important fact: human beings cannot be reduced to mindless
Humans, from infancy on, are complex bio-psycho-social beings.
They are beings who grow and learn, who change over
time, whose spiritual, emotional and intellectual experiences, intentions,
and choices give them powerful
means to choose, and then, to learn how to maintain the kind of life style
that makes sense to them.
In natural psychotherapy human beings are therefore
not falsely labeled (the so-called psychiatric
They are not assaulted with forced hospitalization and
with harmful drugs (the so-called psychiatric medications).
They are not damaged with electroshock or with laser
surgery or regular brain surgery, or with dangerous magnetic
"treatments" or other
"treatments" or various implants.
All of these risky and potentially
damaging psychiatric "treatments"
supported by natural psychotherapy.
And the evidence is that these harmful methods are absolutely not needed!
But despite not being necessary, these destructive ways are
perpetrated in most "psychiatric treatments" on upset and helpless persons in the guise of help.
In actuality, they are assaults
- physically, emotionally and spiritually!
They are assaults conducted by an unholy alliance of
and most of the powerful multinational pharmaceutical corporations.
* * *
What psychologically troubled persons do need is to learn how
to give up passivity and how to actively change and actively make a better life for
And at the same time, they need to unlearn the self damaging
and self-defeating ways they learned in the past and may be still be repeating in
* * *
Once the self destructive patterns have been unlearned one
can learn to substitute those attitudes and patterns of behavior that
bring love, joy and real satisfaction to oneself and others.
And that is what may take
if, in the past, one has not habitually made productive and positive life choices.
Although it takes time and focus to make positive life choices
and changes, it can be done. Even if one has never thought that one can.
Actually, it is more possible, easier and more pleasant to
make positive changes while one is in natural
therapy than most people may think - and that is always a welcome
surprise to many.
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for the Relief and Elimination of Psychological Suffering: An
Philosophically, natural psychotherapy is based on a
naturalistic psychology designed to relieve psychological suffering and
foster natural well-being.
Philosophically, natural therapy is rooted in critical realism, with a
positivist, dialectical and relational approach.
The philosophical slogan of this naturalistic and
eclectic psychotherapy is: "A unified holism and positivism with
natural science methods appropriate to the subject matter!"
The main aim of natural therapy is the
achievement of drug-free conditions and experiences of natural happiness and
The subject matter of such a
psychology is always: "the creative, unique and existentially free
bio-psycho-social individual within the context of and in relation to society, culture, nature and the cosmos."
Especially relevant are some of the concepts developed by R.D. Laing,
Thomas Szasz and
the anti-psychiatry movement.
Anti-psychiatry, as a
world-wide movement, and anti-psychiatry groups representing "survivors of
psychiatry" are both still alive and well despite rumors to the
From an anti-psychiatric viewpoint many psychiatrists
can be said to function either as "bartenders" or "drug pushers" touting
the benefits of the many so-called "psychiatric medications."
These of course just mask the real problems a person may have.
Or, even worse, they can be seen as "inquisitorial
torturers" administering severe punishment to people who don't abide by
the psychiatric pronouncements of how one should live.
In a way, the inquisition of the middle ages has been
brought into the 21st century by organized psychiatry in its sinful
alliance with the giant pharmaceutical corporations.
If certain people, for example, dare to live in ways the
psychiatric profession declares to be behaviors of the "mentally ill",
psychiatrists in the U.S.can
incarcerate them in "prisons" called "mental hospitals".
In the United States and some other countries, people
labeled "mental patients" can then be subject to the forced use of drugs (the so-called "psychiatric
medications"). And these drugs often have harmful and dangerous
Or these so-called "patients" can be forced to undergo
brain damaging electro-shocking, brain surgery, magnetic radiation,
chemical implants, etc.
Many of Dr. Peter Breggin's books and articles, and
those by Dr. Thomas Szasz, describe, with clarity and depth,
these scientifically unsound, dangerous and harmful
(Please click on Readings and References
in the side bar on the left of this page)
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An Example of Effective, Natural Psychotherapy of "Schizophrenia" -
EFFECTIVE THERAPY OF "SCHIZOPHRENIA"
- AN EVENT WITH THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONS
This incident happened some years ago during a psychotherapy
session with an in-patient in a major hospital in New York
A 25 year old patient had been admitted to the
psychiatric ward about two weeks prior to this incident, and "diagnosed"
as having "paranoid schizophrenia."
During this therapy session he told me in a frightened and agitated
voice after the session had been underway for about half an hour
that we better stop the session since someone was yelling, "You're gonna
die." When I began questioning him about the voice, he
became more agitated and insisted that we stop the session at
I asked him to tell me more. "There's a fire!" he said. "Don't you see the
smoke coming from the basement? I've got to get out!"
I didn't say that I did not see any smoke and agreed that we stop. He hurried out and went to his room.
At our next session, the following morning, he
somewhat calmer, though still tense and on-guard. I told him I had
inquired about the smoke coming from the hospital basement, and that I
had discovered that the problem was far more serious than even he had
He looked relieved. He smiled.
I told him that I had learned that at the very time we
were having the first session, his parents were in the hospital and consulting the
medical director, whose office was in the basement. During that
consultation, they had attempted to have him committed to a state
hospital, since they were sure "from what the doctors had told" them
that their son suffered from a major mental illness and that their son's "mental illness was incurable." When I mentioned this, he said
that he had suspected his parent's intentions, in fact, had overheard
them whispering about his fate before the consultation.
As we discussed his fear of being sent to "die a slow
death" in a state hospital we agreed that the "smoke" he had "smelled"
was quite real to him (as a symbol and metaphor of his predicament), and that the "fire" he had feared was
(again, as a symbol) truly substantial.
gradually came to realize that he had some serious, "burning" issues to deal with.
It became clear to him over the next several therapy sessions that as long as he could
remember, his relationship to his parents had always been enveloped in
"fog and smoke" and punctuated by "fiery confrontations." He had always
felt totally helpless in his parents' presence, he said. Not dependent.
Helpless. He doubted that he could ever function without them.
The intrusive voices he experienced seemed to confirm this doubt.
Though he was able to avoid being sent to a state
hospital, and he was discharged from the present hospital after several
weeks, it took months of therapy in my office (therapy that gradually
shifted from regular psychotherapy to natural psychotherapy sessions -
three to four times a week) to become completely
medication-free, and to gain sufficient
confidence to start taking charge of his own life.
And then, learning
and practicing how to lead an active, independent and constructive
existence took four years of natural psychotherapy sessions - initially
three times a week, and in the last year twice a week.
IMPLICATIONS for Natural Therapy:
The fact that no one had actually yelled at
him, "You're gonna die," and the fact that there had been no actual fire or smoke
gradually got to be considered by him as a possibility. He also
gradually was able to consider the possibility that certain
significant truths could be revealed by
the metaphors of smoke, fire and the voice.
But for these symbolic truths, these metaphors of
the truth, to be
clearly understood as very meaningful illusions (and not
hidden by him in cryptic metaphors anymore) he had to learn how to get to feel less frightened.
And in order to feel less frightened, he had to learn how to become empowered
so he could actually be
in charge of his own life.
And most important, he had to become free of
the false and extremely debilitating and toxic psychiatric view that
he was a "patient" with a "mental disease." He had
to get free of the ideas that he was "sick" and a "patient" who needed "treatment" by a
psychiatrist in order to "become healthy."
He had to learn
to become responsible for himself, to take charge of his life
so that he himself could figure out during natural therapy how to
increase his own well-being.
It was, however, very difficult for him to actually and truly
get to be in charge of his own life. It was difficult because wanted his parent's approval and love.
had never developed and
nurtured the habit of fully directing his own life. He had not yet learned
the habit of thinking through and choosing, slowly, calmly, constructively, what
what made sense to him what
wanted out of life, what his priorities were.
It took him many months to become fully aware
of the nature of his relations to others and the world, especially of the role of helplessness he had learned
in childhood. And then it took four
years of intensive (and often stormy) natural psychotherapy to learn to take
charge of his life, to truly avoid being oppressed by anyone, and to respect his own desires, reasoning powers, and will.
Once he learned to respect his complexity,
uniqueness and creativity he became able to resolve his inner
conflicts about individuation.
He started to practice living
He did so well that no one (even a psychiatrist)
could say that he had a major "mental illness," and needed psychiatric drugging or hospitalization again.
became "weller" than he had ever been!
In addition to
having developed and maintained a productive and satisfying love and work life,
he became creatively active in the
He had learned and continued to learn how to
attain and maintain a state of natural happiness and well-being!
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Part 4 B: THEORY: (For discussion)
What are the main theoretical issues involved in this
event? What are the implications for practice, for research?
Why is it that powerful feelings of trust develop hand
in hand with the growth of healthy skepticism?
Learn how that is related to
confidence in one's own reasoning powers and the capacity to
differentiate between what Erich Fromm has called rational and
The brutal ways some parents suppress a child's
reasoning, skepticism and powerful desires for individuality (e.g. the
Schreber case) result in "insane" experiences and behavior that have
their roots in the severe, mostly unconscious conflicts between these
desires individuality and independence, and the equally powerful desires for passivity and dependence
that are generally present in these individuals.
Also, we need to explain why it is that very upset,
frightened, or angry people do not see while they are in emotional
turmoil that, as Donald Davidson has emphasized, "most metaphorical
statements are patently false... (and that) absurdity or contradiction
in a metaphorical sentence guarantees we won't believe it and invites
us, under proper circumstances, to take it as metaphor." This part of
the theory must specify what happens psychologically and physiologically
to result in the constriction of consciousness that disables the ability
to recognize metaphor.
Of course, also needing explanation (as those in the
anti-psychiatry movement point out) is the
contemporary biological psychiatrists' loss of observational and
reasoning capacities to recognize what the so-called "mentally ill
patient" is doing - expressing metaphor and symbol of emotional
turmoil literally - in feelings, words and
acts that are then falsely labeled "psychiatric disorders."
There indeed is
sadness, despair, anger, madness, disorder in the lives of many people, just as there is
much ignorance, prejudice, superstition, lying and deception in this
But being aware and upset by these sad facts is not
a medical illness!
Of course, distressing life conditions may upset
people sufficiently to cause physiological disturbances, and eventually
chemical imbalances and physical illness.
Worry enough and you can produce an ulcer, fatigue or
worse. Deny enough and you may become what others label a drunk, drug addict, con-artist,
criminal, hysteric or psychotic.
People acquire such labels as a consequence of psychosocial,
not physical problems.
Physical problems may follow the psychosocial problems, or, they may
not. But one's physical problems are always related to and always
involve significant psychosocial factors.
(For more general information on what natural
psychotherapy is all about,
please click here for