As a licensed clinical health psychologist, I’ve had a lot of practice in diagnosing what’s wrong with people. I’ve spent many years studying psychopathology, learning about the wide variety of diagnosable psychiatric disorders.
I’ve meticulously studied the specific symptoms, diagnostic criteria, typical course, natural history, and range of treatment interventions for dozens of disorders. I previously taught Abnormal Psychology, at a private university, when I was living in Illinois; I’m teaching Abnormal Psychology again this semester, at a local state university.
I’ve published scholarly articles about the accurate diagnosis of depressive disorders in female medical patients. So much experience in detecting what is wrong can lead to a skewed perspective.
My subspecialty as a clinical health psychologist is the facilitation of enhanced psychosocial adaptation to chronic illness. In trying to assist individuals to better cope with their chronic illnesses, I’ve learned that detection of abnormalities is only a partially effective response.
It disproportionately focuses on what is wrong with people, as opposed to highlighting their assets, strengths, and pockets of resiliency. I think that we truly need a paradigm shift. We need to ask what is right with an individual who is facing the diagnosis of a chronic illness, as opposed to exclusively focusing on what is wrong with him or her.
Coping with chronic illness requires unbelievable degrees of stamina, endurance, and patience. Consequently, at the very onset of dealing with chronic illness individuals need to highlight their specific areas of strength. They will especially need to rely upon those core strengths if their conditions should progress over time.