News Blog

Smart Therapy: Overcoming the anxiety disorders by redirecting prefrontal voluntary selective attention (PVSA)


Anxiety is a serious social problem. Some biomedical researchers identify anxiety as an internal pathological disorder, driven by genetic predisposition and chemical imbalance requiring medication to correct. More behaviourally orientated researchers (ACT and BT) claim anxiety to be caused by dysfunctional avoidance that requires exposure and submersion in anxiety phenomena to habituate and recover. Other more cognitively orientated researchers (CBT) argue that anxiety sufferers have dysfunctional thinking patterns maintaining their anxiety.

Sure, we need to talk – but more importantly – we need to argue

Talking is a crucially important life strategy. People who are bullied to shut their mouths early on in life pay a huge price for being silenced. This is even though quiet people are often not aware of the cost; instead frequently thinking of themselves as the strong-silent-type, or being proud of their quiet stubbornness, or seeing themselves as easy-going, laid back, not bothered by anything – so no need to engage, step up and participate in conversations. As time passes, and verbal skills fall further and further behind other peoples’ verbal skills, then non-talkers often give up altogether on any real participation in life – it is easier to just withdraw into their own heads. Leave others to do the talking.

Smartherapy iphone / ipad application is available at the Apple store

Good news!!!! My iphone / ipad application is finally finished and is for sale for $1.99 through the Apple iTunes store – it is titled ‘Smartherapy’ and yes, I know it is spelt incorrectly and lacks a space – but the title is only allowed to be 11 characters! You can search for it under ‘anxiety’ as well. It is a fairly comprehensive and systematic approach to recovery, and has a nice 20 minute deep-relaxation and hypnosis exercise on it – to help you feel more calm, self-directed and in control. More Good News!!! The Android version of my app, called ‘Smart…

Distress Intolerance

Today I want to talk about distress intolerance. This is another type of thinking that you may like to understand a bit more about, so you can remove it from your mental repertoire along with all the other ones I have talked about over the last several weeks.

This is a bit similar to collapse thinking (last blog). However, where collapse thinking tends to lead to feelings of powerlessness and then collapse-type behaviours (like going passive and not being instrumental or verbally proactive in changing outcomes), distress intolerance arises from feeling unable to bear or tolerate certain feelings and therefore needing to exit the situation.

More types of thoughts to take off your mental repertoire

Right – so last time I talked about removing certain thoughts from your mental repertoire, particularly anticipatory thoughts (where you anticipate bad outcomes if you take minor risks like getting in a lift or going to the supermarket or talking at a meeting). I also talked about removing catastrophic thoughts (where you add catastrophic words, like ‘OMG!!! wouldn’t that be just the worst thing that could ever happen’ when talking about something fairly trivial like blushing or feeling slightly anxious. There are also inflexions that then often go on top of the catastrophic words, like a really exagerated tone (often high-pitched terror) that is played out either in your own head or verbally conveyed to another person.

Even more on mental control

OK – last blog I talked about how according to Smart Therapy – if you want to strengthen some aspect of your mental experience, you pay lots of attention to it. So if you would like to build a stronger identity (for both yourself and others) as someone who is smart at mathematics then you pay heaps of attention to maths: you sit there and study algebra for hours on end, you do maths puzzles, you enrol in maths courses, you talk endlessly about maths equations, and you read tonnes of maths books. Very soon you become a unmitigated nerd and feel extremely proud of being so!

More on Mental Control

OK – last blog I talked about how we have the capacity to have exactly the same amount of control over a ‘body’ event (like lifting a finger) as over a ‘mental’ event (like a scary thought, feeling, memory or image). Now I want to go some way towards explaining how we can achieve the high levels of mental control that I am describing.

The first thing to note, is that none of us is born with a ‘perfect’ brain. All brains are limited. We are all born into imperfect environments and we build our brains exactly in accordance with that environment.

Developing Mental Control Over Psychological Symptoms

Learning mental control is going to take quite a few blogs – so that you fully understand it and how to achieve it. I cannot get everything written in one posting, so stick with it.

Just to humour me – I’d like you to do a little exercise:

Put both your hands flat on a table and then just lift up the index finger of your dominant hand while you keep all your other fingers flat on the table. Now, stop lifting up that finger and place it flat again. Then lift up that same finger one more time, and then stop lifting it and place it flat again.

Some neurological aspects of anxiety

At the end of my last blog, I talked about how taking charge and taking control are at the very heart of recovery of almost all ‘clinical’ problems. The most essential way of taking charge and ensuring strong mental health throughout life is through exercising mental control.

To help you exert the level of mental control you need for recovery, it is important to understand how your brain works at a physiological level.