Something that I admire about the modern treatment of many psychiatric disorders is the fact that even with all of the psychopharmaceutical advances in antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, drugs used to treat severe mental illnesses, a technique used in the treatment of such conditions that is still often employed is cognitive behavioral therapy. In this form of therapy, the patient’s thoughts are challenged and newer ways of thinking are introduced by the therapist in order to conquer the negative and harmful thoughts that the patient is experiencing. This form of therapy is often used in patients who have conditions like mild depression in which the patient is generally sane and aware and simply needs to challenge his or her pessimistic attitudes. However, using such therapy in a situation in which one’s thinking is severely impaired by a biochemically malfunctioning brain is something that I think is quite impressive.
Take schizophrenia. A schizophrenic patient will often experience hallucinations and delusions regardless, because that is what the biological problem in his or her brain is causing him or her to do. But such therapy can help a patient take control over his or her cognition and perception of the world by questioning the delusions and hallucinations. Whereas many times a patient with schizophrenia will automatically see an image that isn’t there, after he or she successfully undergoes this type of therapy, he or she may still see the images in these hallucinations but will be able to cognitively dismiss these images as unreal. I like this approach because oftentimes, society tends to view individuals with psychotic disorders as completely inept at controlling their thoughts. This form of therapy refutes that principle, showing that many patients with psychosis are potentially capable of guiding their thoughts in the same way that people without such a condition are. I also think that this form of treating psychosis is inspiring, because it allows an individual to overcome some of the debilitating effects of his or her illness through personal effort and hard work, and thus to surpass seemingly unconquerable limitations.