JOHN TAYLOR KENT, PH.D.
Positive Projective Psychology
Positive Projective Psychology is the term I invented after years of service in community mental health centers & hospitals in Alaska, Mississippi and Arizona; while I was licensed as a psychologist practicing in Arizona's prisons.
Positive Projective Psychology is a "perspective." It is not a formal school of psychology, at least not yet. It is my hope others coming after me will develop Positive Projective Psychology into a well-formed and accepted school of psychological thought and give this new discipline superior form.
I developed the perspective of Positive Projective Psychology when all other schools of thought and disciplines failed me & my clients. While I found myself following the strict traditional approaches, I soon reached an impasse. I was faced with a decision:
"Do I stick to the script provided by the model, by my discipline, be it cognitive, behavioral or gestalt, or do I serve the client?"
Choosing to serve my client meant crossing over disciplines and schools of thought. While this was deemed "eclectic," I discovered that what I was persistently fighting were the ill-conceived archaic notions from the history & systems of psychology and all roads leading to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
Certainly, much of the nomenclature developed across time in the field remains helpful. After all, if each generation had to rediscover the previous generation's inventions, mankind's progress would indeed be frightfully slow. Imagine if each generation had to re-invent the wheel and discover everything all over again.
But the fact is, often the jargon and the historical terms were foiling my attempts to help my clients. The historical terms and developments seemed to have resulted in ill pre-conceived notions that were not helping my clients but actually impeding my way in helping my clients help themselves.
For the most part, all of the traditional schools of psychotherapy seem to have been usurped and drafted into service for the DSM of psychiatry. All previous schools of psychological thought, including cognitive behavioral therapy, have been required to bow down to the worship of genetics and the hegemony of The Medical Model in order to continue to hold credibility. Otherwise, the discipline which fails to endorse the supremacy of genetics and The Medical Model risks excommunication from the scientific community and diminished access to the market for professional practice and to research funding.
The same group or spell holds access to all avenues of higher education, continued education and licensure. Without its "blessing" one cannot gain access to education and training, one cannot obtain a license to practice. In a very real sense, today we are playing out a version of my favorite movie, the original (1968) starring Charlton Heston: Planet of the Apes.
Mankind remains in The Dark Ages.
While it is not my place to challenge and recreate some of the great controversies in psychology, I find it is my place to issue a call to revive American psychology. Hence, I coined the term "Positive Projective Psychology" to separate my school of thought from all others and to draw attention to what the current practice of psychology has become:
A Negative Projective Process doing more harm than good.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) series was developed by psychiatry and I found it often falling short of helping anyone. Certainly, I had followed all of the advice given me by mentors, teachers and colleagues. I read everything I could. I was advised early in my training to "memorize" the DSM. This I practically did but eventually, like a musician practicing scales I ultimately began making "real music" and found that the building blocks of music were not equivalent to the real art of making music.
Nonetheless, the practicing and study of all those years and schools of thought led me to become adept in the art of helping people. Functional analysis in music worked well in preparing me for functional analysis in psychology.
When I began to study music composition I learned much of the greatest music in the world, namely by Bach, seemingly broke the rules he established himself. Ultimately, I learned, the more random sounding the music, the higher the level of organization.
Perhaps the best way to describe Positive Projective Psychology is to describe what it is not. It is not the current standard practice of projecting diagnoses upon unwitting clients and then spending time trying to convince clients they have or even are that diagnosis.
What modern psychological practice has become is tantamount to practicing witchcraft. We have checklists and from those we "diagnose" our clients. The problem with those "diagnostic" checklists is they are inaccurate. They are not discrete categories and the categories overlap so much that they quickly become meaningless. They make no sense.
More importantly, the problem is modern mental health practitioners end up projecting these negative labels and "disease" states upon helplessly naïve clients. We are approached as "the experts," yet the fact remains there is more to a human being than any practitioner can fathom. A human being is deeper than any of us can possibly fully understand.
Instead of helping someone, what we end up doing is "classifying" them according to the DSM in order to qualify our services for third party reimbursement, from insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. DSM diagnosis is required by insurance companies and by our government.
Because we are "so—well" trained to find mental illness, we search for it until we find it—even when it is not there. Any normal but momentarily innocuous "sign" or "symptom" suddenly becomes exaggeratedly important. Once we finally arrive at our client's place in the DSM, we cast them conceptually in cement shoes—and no matter how much the client progresses; we are forever seeing them stuck in that label. We have invested ourselves in that diagnosis with our years of training & experience and memorizing the DSM.
This creates a dilemma:
Why? For one, our income depends upon "qualifying" them for our professional services. For another, we have invested so much of ourselves in arriving at the "right" diagnosis that we fail our clients. We fail to help them. We even fail to recognize when they get better. Heavens forbid, should they do that, we lose our income!
What Positive Projective Psychology does is first recognize the Negative Projective Practice that has become so prevalent. Then in Positive Projective Psychology the practitioner seeks to "normalize" the client's behavior. We search the client and ourselves out so that we might understand under what circumstances might this behavior or these signs & symptoms in question be considered normal? Under what circumstances might this be a normal response?
This helps us to accept the client and identify (empathize) with our clients. When we match up with them and can place ourselves in their shoes, we understand their value systems and hopefully how the client might have gotten there. With that knowledge we build rapport and can base our selection of strategic, well-focused paths for intervention that best suit what the client wants.
We immediately shift from sources of "pathology" to paths of growth & development. We show the client where they might have overdeveloped and underdeveloped parts. We help the client to recognize imbalances in skills and skill sets. We seek to build upon strengths while recognizing and revealing weaknesses. We encourage our clients to develop new skills and grow. We seek to reinforce clients about how well they are doing and encourage independence. We help them achieve the "mental flexibility" necessary in order to try new behaviors and find out how to get desired results.
The DSM series was developed by psychiatry NOT by psychology. Sadly, psychologists facilitated the making of the DSM. Psychologists have made the entire field of mental health subservient to psychiatry and psychiatrists!
As the field of (negative) mental health (projective) practice grows, so does the pathology of our country.
Please understand that as the field of mental health has expanded, rather than helping people, we have witnessed an explosion in the incidence
Therefore, I conclude we aren't helping and we are doing more harm than good. As a profession, psychology is almost dead and psychology as generally practiced today is bankrupt!
Psychologists today have forgotten what the word means. Psychology means:
The study of the soul.
DSM diagnoses rely upon checklists; if one meets the minimum criteria (for instance, six out of nine criteria), then one gets the diagnosis. More importantly, that diagnosis is for life. It matters not how well one does later in life nor does it much matter how accurate the early diagnosis may have been. All that matters is the label and the paperwork. The "medical" record gives (stigmatizes) that person with that diagnosis for life!
Certain DSM diagnoses ban one from purchasing life insurance, health insurance and entering particular professions. Receiving a mental health diagnosis and having a mental health record effects how a person is placed in a nursing home or other long term care facility, towards the end of life, when they are quite vulnerable. Having a mental health history bans the elderly from placement in better homes for long term care and sentences them to placement in inferior facilities.
The DSM is based upon the hegemony of The Medical Model. The DSM contains no prescribed treatments, neither behavioral nor medical. Nonetheless, the DSM implies all disorders are treatable only with medications. All other forms of treatment are considered inferior.
More importantly, the DSM relies upon the mental health practitioner to "sell" the diagnosis and the expertise of the DSM to an unwitting population. Think about it. It is not much different than advertising on television, radio and other media.
When one hears and sees an advertisement for food or drink, one often experiences hunger and thirst. Advertising tries to induce the need for their product. Consider weight loss advertisements. Consider products marketed for headaches.
Merely being exposed to the stimulus of the advertisement often induces or at least suggests one consider the possibility of having the state for which that product is designed to alleviate. Only, in the mental health field this becomes a Negative Projective Practice tantamount to witchcraft!
Since its inception in 1952, the DSM series has continually expanded. The first DSM was 130 pages and contained 106 disorders. The current DSM-IV-TR is 886 pages long and comprised of 297 disorders.
Some of the DSM is useful but it is about as useful as playing a musical scale and calling it music: It may be musical but it is not music. It is not art. Nor is it science. Certainly not good science. In fact, there is more validity in any of the major religions in comparison to the "science" and "research" that has gone into the making of the DSM .
With the issuance of the DSM-V scheduled for release in May 2012, the American Psychiatric Association may be letting the cat out of the bag. For one, it will continue the not-so-subtle practice begun in the DSM-IV-TR: "Denial of having a mental disorder" is a new criterion for affirming diagnosis of a major mental disorder.
With this type of practice, there is no winning. There is no escaping. One must admit to having a major mental disorder and one must submit for treatment or . . . that affirms one is most definitively mentally ill.
Moreover, some of the more useful parts of the DSM are being discarded. Whether this is to avoid embarrassment because the consensus is personality disorders can not be treated successfully with psychotropic medications or to withdraw support from the nosology that contains the best hope for intervention and successful treatment and for absolutely curing major mental disorders, I do not know.
The personality disorders section, like most of the DSM, has been in flux as the manual is designed in committee, or rather, in a series of committees. The DSM is designed to conform to political correctness and the social engineering of those establishing a New World Order. If a diagnosis is offensive, it must be removed. For example, Masochistic Personality Disorder and Sadistic Personality Disorder were removed because those offended feminists even though the categories were useful in helping treat women successfully since the time of Freud.
Likewise, the term "neurotic" has been removed. Moreover, there are recent publications seeking to destroy the original meaning of neurotic and neuroticism. It appears there may be an effort to help psychologists and other mental health practitioners forget the real meaning of those terms!
Neurotic was a general term that meant that an individual (mistakenly) believed they had a mental disorder when they did not. I hope you will understand how important this term is to the fields of psychology and psychiatry:
It is important that one not think they might not have a mental health problem to those practicing the current Negative Projective Psychology.
After all, should the client leave us, how would we get our bills paid?
Many falsehoods & myths have become prevalent; obscuring good psychological practice and good treatment. For one, the ideas that personality does not change and that one is stuck with a personality disorder for life are false. We know personality changes across the individual's lifetime. Denying that is like saying people never grow, never mature.
It is precisely in working in the area of personality disorders in which the greatest hope lies for the science of psychology. But, as a profession, we are being steered by the APA and the DSM away from that because in the DSM-V it is likely that all of the 10 personality disorders in the DSM-IV will be further reduced into five categories. Those personality disorders in previous editions and in the appendices continue to receive less than the attention merited.
Theodore Millon was a genius in teasing out various personality subtypes (Millon & Davis, 1996). Millon predicted that the future for the practice of psychology lay in the treatment of various personality disorders (Millon & Klerman, 1986). Psychologists should be expanding this area. Sadly, we are losing ground by adhering to the DSM .
Even more sadly, the field of psychology has capitulated to The Medical Model and the field of psychiatry. Rather than seeing less mental distress and less mental disorder as more practitioners enter the field of mental health, we see significantly more suffering and more mental disorder.
Modern psychologists have thrown in the towel completely as they press on seeking prescriptive privileges in their rush for third party payment.
In the rush for the gold, American Behavioral Psychology has been
America had the best psychology in the world until about 1983. At that time, the DSM-III became dominant. Also, the American Psychological Association (APA) became so powerful that the APA began to set the criteria for education and licensure as a psychologist in the United States. With the advent of the growth and dominance of the APA, many institutions that offered doctoral degrees were forced to downgrade their doctorates and curriculums from the Ph.D. to the Psy.D.—which is (wrongly) considered a "practitioner's" degree.
The Psy.D. lacks the requirement of a dissertation which was the doctoral student's contribution to the body of scientific knowledge. This was what all budding psychologists gave to the community. It was an original contribution to the body of scientific knowledge. It was "giving" to the field; paying one's dues. We each contributed before we were allowed to practice. It was "Giving Psychology Away."
Now we have a field flooded with practitioners with Psy.D.'s rather than Ph.D.'s. Because the Psy.D. lacks a doctoral dissertation and has incomplete training in the scientific method, I do not consider the Psy.D. any kind of a doctorate. I do not think a Psy.D. prepares one adequately to become a competent psychologist.
An astute reader may notice there are two different APA's. Much like the confusion about the differences between psychologists and psychiatrists, there is confusion between the two APA's. The original APA is the American Psychological Association. And the other APA is the American Psychiatric Association. The American Psychiatric Association publishes the DSM . The American Psychological Association seeks to ensconce itself as the accreditor of institutions of higher education for psychology and the arbiter for requirements for licensure as a psychologist.
American psychology was the best in the world during the first half of the 20th century; thereafter, it appears the Soviets surpassed us. I remember well as a child the Soviet psychiatric gulags and their persecution of political dissidents in the 1950's & 60's.
Now, we in the United States of America have witnessed the rise of one huge Gulag as psychiatry has mainstreamed its psychotropic medications across America. Had we kept psychiatrists limited to the asylums, we would be better off today. Certainly, we would be healthier as a people and a country.
Psychology has lost its crown and rightfully so.
Today, most people do not know that there are differences between psychologists and psychiatrists, and as a result society is paying a stiff price. We are losing lives at a very high rate as an inferior "science" dominates the field and the practice of mental health treatment.
Prior to 1984, M.D. medical doctor students were not allowed to graduate in the same ceremonies with Ph.D. doctoral (doctor of philosophy) students because the M.D. degree was considered inferior. The M.D. degree has been around for only 100 years while the Ph.D. has more than four centuries of tradition behind it. The M.D. is a "technical degree" and M.D.'s are mere technicians. In contrast the Ph.D. is a degree of science. The holder of a doctoral degree understands the philosophies undergirding their discipline.
Remember: All medications work by principles of toxicity and disabling.
And this is what we are doing rather than helping people: poisoning and incapacitating. Theories of chemical imbalances are just that—merely theories. And they are not very good theories at that.
Moreover, psychiatric medications cause permanent chemical imbalances.
For most patients these play out as addictions—witness the horrible "withdrawal" effects and suffering as one tries to discontinue any of the psychiatric medications used to treat the major mental disorders. Psychiatry utilizes the strangest alchemy resultant in terrible drug addictions across the land.
Those wonderful beautiful color images we are taking of
I am not claiming that medications are not treatment. Clearly, medications are treatment, but psychotropic medications are over prescribed. It is overkill. Psychiatric drugs pollute our bodies, our waters and even our land. Psychotropics kill spirit, body and soul alike.
Using psychopharmaceuticals is tantamount to
Yet, there is hope.
Do you know behavior changes body chemistry, including chemical imbalances?
Psychologists have lost faith in themselves and have forgotten their skills. They have lost their roots and have forgotten the basic interventions that have worked for decades. That is why psychologists seek prescriptive authority.
I abhor efforts to obtain prescriptive privileges for psychologists. Any psychologist who wants prescriptive privileges should have become a psychiatrist to start with. Let him go back to school and become a medical doctor.
The DSM-V may contain a confession about specific damages psychiatric drugs do to their unwitting patients. In committee for the DSM-V it was proposed to adopt a new category of bipolar disorder—Bipolar Disorder Type III to delineate those patients who have developed manic or mixed (manic and depressive) mood disorders as a result of taking psychiatric medications. More importantly, it is considered persistent—lasting for life.
This type of adverse reaction to anti-depressants is so common that it may finally merit a category unto itself. Rather than call it Medically-Induced Bipolar Disorder (which might remit), it is given as a diagnosis for life. Like all of the major disorders in the DSM , according to psychiatry and psychology, Bipolar III Disorder requires constant psychiatric care. It mandates psychiatric medications for the duration of that individual's life!
Now, who does that serve? The drug companies. It also serves to keep the professions' clients and patients. Actually, in my view, it serves to provide the field with victims, and the "professionals" get paid handsomely for this. Everyone in the loop gets paid, the pharmaceutical companies, pharmacists, lab companies, hospitals, physicians, psychologists and all those mental health workers below them.
Psychologists today have become merely "mini-psychiatrists."
The standard of care today is: psychologists send their clients to psychiatrists or medical doctors who prescribe medications—whether indicated or not because that is what they are trained to do and that is what makes the dollar go round so all reap undue rewards on this merry-go-round of medical torture for patients in which patients' organs are compromised and patients' lives are shortened, not to mention the birth defects psychotropic medications cause.
All for the sake of worshipping The Medical Model & big pharmaceutical companies and worshipping profits & health insurance while sacrificing our children—the children of America, actually, the children of the world as inferior mental health treatment is spread around the world by programs through the United Nations.
All psychiatric drugs are teratogenic.
Psychotherapy is not necessarily benign.
Talk therapy can be dangerous. It is invasive and poses great risk. Talk and ideas are important. Ideas can be dangerous, especially those engaged in Negative Projective Process.
While we might diagnose in order to defend our work before the prevailing Negative Projective Process practitioners and licensure boards, in Positive Projective Psychology we immediately change gears and move to conceptualizations based upon normalcy and development. The client's independence is respected in contrast to those who seek to control others and abuse their power.
Positive Projective Psychologists realize they have no power to change anyone. They only have the power to help people change themselves and all power lies with and in their clients. Positive Projective Psychologists witness more change and more profound change than is considered currently possible in our modern textbooks. After all, the map is not the territory.
You are invited to join me in developing Positive Projective Psychology.
In my blog, Dr Kent's Blog, one will find book reviews and essays. Dr Kent's Blog was written to be provocative and attention getting. I hope you will avail yourself of my work, eschew the prevailing Negative Projective Practice dominant in psychology & the hegemony of The Medical Model and, more importantly, take Positive Projective Psychology to a new level. I am excited. Our journey has just begun.
Millon & Davis (1996). Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV and Beyond, 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: New York.
Millon & Klerman (1986) eds. Contemporary Directions in Psychopathology: Toward the DSM-IV. Guilford Press: New York.
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