Psychological treatment

Re-education the faculty of willpower completes the functional, mechanical part of the process of retraining the brain. Patients now have the tools to heal themselves. They know how to modify an abnormal vibration. They can concentrate, and they can exercise their willpower. All they have to do now is create new mental habits by keeping an eye on their level of control. And they can be assured that they will regain their mental equilibrium simply by applying the procedures they have already learned.

In many simple cases, treatment can be limited to the functional level. In more complicated cases, it is sometimes necessary to compliment functional re-education with a more psychologically oriented training process.

This second part of the training is concerned with ideas, with the way thoughts are conceived, and with the various modifications patients make in their minds which distort ordinary facts, thoughts and feelings.

We are not going to talk about generalities here, but instead maintain a therapeutic point of view, and we must remind the reader of our stated intention to keep this work as simple and practical as possible, so that it can be used by patients as well as doctors. We will therefore limit ourselves to mentioning certain facts, certain anomalies which are useful to know about, since they arise in almost all cases of psychasthenia.

These modifications can be easily detected by physicians and patients during the functional treatment stage, by analyzing the various determining causes of recurring symptoms. For example, fear of a certain kind of pain can immediately bring on the pain. Patients can usually understand that the thought precedes and determines the symptom, but are often completely ignorant of the psychological cause of the thought. It is this search for the psychological origin of symptoms that physicians must carefully help patients carry out, since once they become aware of the psychological causes, they can defend themselves and prevent symptoms from developing before they actually appear.

As we have said, the various psychological causes are not difficult to determine. However, therapists must sometimes look to the past, to their patients' memories, for answers.

In the next chapter we'll be looking at some of these causes in order to emphasize their importance.

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