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@Clues 2024

Benefits of knowing the various models

Let me explain a few more of the specific benefits that stem from a high-level understanding of the various models of the mind:

  1. Feeling in control: Understanding how different models explain thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can help you make sense of what you're going through and feel more in control.
  2. Simplifying the complex: Different models can offer different ways of looking at mental health and illness, and by doing so take a complex topic and break it down into easily understood components.
  3. Knowing your options: Understanding the different models can also help you learn about different treatment options. This can help you and your mental health provider work together to find what's best for you.
  4. Better communication: If you and your mental health provider are on the same page about the models you're using to understand your mental health, it can make it easier to talk about things and come up with a plan that works for you.
  5. Reducing self-criticism: Knowing about the brain's models can take away some of the blame. If you understand that your struggles are due to some factors beyond your control, and not just because of personal flaws, you’re likely feel less shame and guilt. This understanding can even help you feel more motivated to get help and work on your overall wellness.

One thing this NOT intended to do is to assign diagnostic labels of mental differences or mental illness. I’d like to share with you a quote from the psychoanalyst Nancy McWilliams in the article Diagnosis and Its Discontents: Reflections on Our Current Dilemma (2021). I’ve put some of it in bold for extra emphasis on what I believe is the key point:

Mental health conditions are listed in the DSM and similar classifications as if there is no narrative that holds together the kinds of difficulties a person reports. Experienced therapists tend to see connections between someone’s “having,” simultaneously, a personality disorder, a depression, an addiction, a post-traumatic symptom, and a self-harming behavior. Since we know from clinical experience and research on self-reflective function (e.g., Fonagy et al., 1991; Gabbard, 2005; Jurist & Slade, 2008; Müller et al., 2006) that the development of a personal narrative about the connections between one’s unique life experiences and one’s idiosyncratic psychology is a key element of mental health – so evident in its absence from the shattered mental life of many survivors of trauma – it is not hard to view our current psychiatric nomenclature as contributing to self-fragmentation rather than providing a means to heal it.”

As Nancy McWilliams elegantly stated, it’s essential that you’re able to connect the dots between your unique life experiences and how they contributed to who you are as a person. “Normal” is a myth. of the ideal person that we believe we should be. But that's a false idol. What’s important is that you understand who you are as a result of the life experiences you’ve had, and any other factors that have contributed to your story. You must find a way to "make sense of it all" that works for you. An exploration of the different models of the mind is one way in which you may arrive at a better understanding of yourself, and find the strings that attach to form the narrative of your life.

It’s your life. I want to help you understand it at least a bit better than you did prior to this brief course. That said, let’s jump into the single-factor models of the mind.