(In case you are unaware of the context of this I suggest this background piece.
From ‘An idea in practice-using the human givens approach’. One of a series of books I’m ploughing through at the moment.
I’m currently wading my way through another book on Neuro-linguistic programming albeit one of the ‘dummies guide to’ variety.
It’s fairly well laid out and compared to some tomes on the subject it is pretty light in tone.
I’ve spent a few years flirting with NLP and even attended an evening course at a local adult education outlet in order to find out more.
I have to declare that I’m a natural sceptic with an open mind on most things. Having studied psychology in the past and as someone who unsuccessfully tried psychotherapy I am prone to cherry pick the elements of NLP that I feel should work and why I feel it should be more effective than elements of psychotherapy that can become bogged down in what I see as the dubious merits of a more Freudian approach to people and their perceived problems.
Don’t Normalize Me
In that respect I’ve always been more drawn slightly more to a Jungian way of thinking together with a humanistic view of people and problem solving. I’ve never been a great fan of psychotherapy. My forrays into psychology and counselling seemed to me to show that too many disciplines saw human beings in very narrow mechanistic ways and revealed very little about human nature as it was experienced. Putting people into boxes may be what we all do to some extent but it also fosters the notion that people themselves need to be ‘normalized’ when it may be that people are just reacting to an environment that is forcing them the behave in a very un-human way and hence an internal conflict results. Normalizing people to fit into an unhealthy environment seems, to me anyway, a less than noble goal.
That’s not to say that I don’t pick holes in NLP. The class I attended was a serious let down in that I took an instant dislike to the tutor (sorry but the words ‘self important dickhead’ were never far from my mind) and my feeling was that many of those attending the course were not especially interesting in NLP per se as more just looking for a ‘gravy train’ escape route from their current jobs in order to become NLP therapists themselves. I was honestly (guv) just there because the subject intrigued me. I had no delusions regarding myself going forth and ‘healing the sick’ with my new found powers at a high hourly rate if you please.
Indeed one of the things that leaves a bad taste in my mouth around NLP is that it can easily focus too much on what I see as quite narrow minded goals whilst ignoring the reality of the world and the social problems within it. Like much counselling ad psychotherapy it can become distorted by our societies narrow individualistic approaches to solving problems whilst ignoring the impact an environment or culture has on an individual. OK so you get what you want or you train you mind to feel that you get what you want whilst feeling better about those that are kicking you metaphorically in the face everyday because the system we live in rewards that?
Yet Another Way That Doesn’t Work
My worries over the positive mental attitude aspects of NLP over and above the need to extricate oneself from unhealthy environments is perhaps summed up by a quote in an article on the BBC news site that looked at how mental health professionals were now being employed by the government to deal with people who were long term unemployed with depression.
It’s that aspect of continually papering over what may be a hopelessly bad situation by re-framing an appalling environment with better feelings that still has me concerned over some aspects of NLP. At what point do we throw in critical thinking and standing up for yourself come into play if at all. Or are we saying that a different mental attitude will melt away other ‘bad thinking’ that we may randomly encounter in the world?
Maybe I’m just too riddled with British cynicism to fully delude myself enough to give NLP a chance.
The World Health Organisation has said that depression has the largest effect on worsening health conditions. The implication is that the condition is not given the priority it deserves in terms of funding and addressing its treatment.
Britain’s department of health says that around 7 million adults in the UK suffer from mental health issues that encompass anxiety, eating disorders and depression. The government has again mouthed platitudes concerning access to talking therapies within the NHS.
Talking Therapy Effective?
When I was at my lowest and was asking for help I was unable to get access to a counsellor on the NHS and was referred to a very well qualified but expensive private psychotherapist who once urged me to remember that “suicide was always an option”. I stuck with it as much as possible but I don’t think it was very effective in my case and for me ( and I can only speak from personal experience) was largely counter productive.
My personal feeling is that there is a long way to go to tackling the rise of depression in our society and from personal experience I remain sceptical of the effectiveness of talking therapies as a suitable treatment in all cases with its unproven track record and wide disagreement of which methods work best in which cases if at all.
Depression is natural?
There is even a school of though in psychology that argues that depression is a very human response to very unnatural conditions and that the clamour for people feeling depressed to be made “normal again” so that they can function again in the same unnatural conditions is really a way of asking the medical profession to suppress our natural responses in order to function in an abnormal system.
I’ve found my own way of coping the best ways I can and over the years have spoken to many GP’s, many of whom felt that depression was rife because “so many people had a crap life”. That sounds a bit blunt but if that’s the belief of many in the medical profession then it’s going to be hard to get a better life on an NHS prescription.
A study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has declared that mental illness is the second highest reason for UK workers taking time off work. Only muscle related illness such as bad backs was shown to have a higher incidence with depression accounting on average for 30 days a year taken off work and with stress accounting for 21 days.This incidence was higher amongst public sector and older staff.As has been pointed out before figures like these are worrying coming at a time when the government is looking to get those on incapacity benefit due to mental illness back to work as the situation may become a little like painting the Forth bridge. The whole problem management then starts to grow as underfunded mental health services struggle to supply any meaningful help and no doubt employers , managers and human resources will come under pressure to tackle workplace stress and depression in situ (and I’m not holding my breath on that one). It has been suggested that the government supplies tax incentives for employers that offer occupational health schemes.
Further reading (via CIPD website):
I was interested to hear that around (*corrected*)31 million prescriptions were issued last year for antidepressants, I’ve read that that could break down to 1 in 5 of the population are felt to be in need of the normalisation effects of mood altering drugs. It’s no doubt an indication of the sorry state of Britain’s mental health services and the low possibility of access to help other than anti depressants. Around 50,000 children, some as young as six are also on some kind of anti depressant. Recently approval was given regarding an anti depressant for dogs.
Depression is now the most serious illness that our doctors face and costs the UK £8billion a year in medication, benefits and lost working days.
Symptoms for depression are often varied which makes it a condition that is hard to diagnose but it is thought that some people may actually be prone to depression due to certain life experiences, body chemistry or inherited genetic conditions.
One of the most well known anti depressants is Prozac, a drug which is thought to stimulate the growth of brain cells in an area of the brain called the dentate gyrus (stress is thought to destroy some brain cells). It’s usage is now so common that traces of the drug can now be found in most drinking water with further traces now building in rivers and groundwater.
Mental health problems still seem to be something that people either don’t want to admit to or conversely if someone has not experienced depression then may not consider it a serious and debilitating illness and choose to assign a “snap out of it” attitude towards.
As someone who has and still does deal with their own depression and anxiety I have a fair amount of personal insight into the various aspects of living with the condition. For me anti depressants did not help and in the case of Prozac significantly made the condition worse and my own experience of the talking therapies was not an especially good one. I do have a certain amount of sympathy with the view that the rise in depression and anxiety levels is directly linked to the difficulties of living in the world today and a natural response for some to not being able to fit so easily into that world and its expectations of work, relationships , living conditions and everyday experiences. If anti depressants work for someone then great but many of us have found that we’ve had to take a bit more control of our lives in order to help ease the effects of putting ourselves in certain work and life situations. That’s not an easy thing to achieve as many of us can feel a considerable lack of control over much of our own lives.
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Half of the UK is on anti depressants « Stuffem-Up the hill backwards