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Calling, Recalling, and Restoring the Signal Function of Emotions

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Among the huge accumulation of psychological books offered in libraries and book stores, a relative few volumes stand out in an otherwise deluge of self-help exhortations, and discuss the psychotherapeutic process itself. Of that small portion, most consist of self-congratulatory case histories from professional therapists. Few volumes come from patients. The author, a long-term psychotherapy patient, briefly summarizes lessons gained in one of the most difficult processes a human can endure. The essay criticizes the current emphasis on psychotropic medication and equates anesthetizing unpleasant emotions, particulary depression, to shooting the messenger. Unpleasant emotions, like physiological pain, act as the body's signals that something needs attention. Drugging them into insensitivity in the belief that they stem from unbalanced chemistry cures nothing. The argument offers an admittedly more difficult alternative that preserves the natural signal functions of depression, anxiety, and fear.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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