Accurately defining mental illness is crucial for treatment providers and researchers, because it fosters a comprehensive understanding and optimizes therapeutic interventions. In addition, it frees psychopathology from political and financial influences that weaken its scientific integrity.
In combination, continuums, regulation, and defense, robustly define mental illness.
Continuums: Psychopathology embodied by major diagnostic systems (DSM and ICD) emphasizes discrete conditions, in line with our psychological preference for discreteness. However, nature almost universally gravitates to continuums. Naturally occurring mental illness continuums are identified, based on neuroscience and other relevant data.
Regulation: Despite how biological systems rely on regulation, it is largely neglected when it comes to mental illness. Psychopathology frequently arises from impaired regulation, fostering a shift from milder expressions on continuums to extreme manifestations. A diverse collection of therapeutic techniques, under the umbrella of cognitive regulatory control therapies, is presented that restore effective regulation.
Defense: The surprising role of psychological defense, understood in terms of compensation for stressors, is described for the various mental illness continuums, and techniques are provided to augment healthy defensive functioning.
The model of psychopathology proposed aligns with its natural organization, thereby placing mental illness on a more scientific foundation.
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