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Suffering Transforming Ourselves and Others

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Suffering: Transforming Ourselves and Others through Mindfulness in Psychology and Buddhism A few weeks ago I posted an article I wrote entitled “Mindful Innovations In Psychology And Medicine” (from 03/12/2015) which was a variation from an earlier blog post from my own website (http://www.drdavidzuniga.com). Mindfulness is arguably the leading paradigm in contemporary psychology. Research has been generated supporting mindfulness for a wide range of challenges. In the aforementioned post I wrote on mindfulness-based interventions such as mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and how these clinical interventions were rooted in these innovators’ personal interests. So I thought I’d continue with that idea and discuss how two other leading, mindfulness-based interventions in mental health were also highly influenced by the personal spiritual interests of leading researchers in psychology. Dr. Marsha Linehan created Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT; Linehan, 1993). DBT isnow considered the therapy of choice for Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT is alsobeing used successfully for other concerns, such as substance addiction. Borderline Personality Disorder is a very challenging situation characterized by a history of intense, unstable relationships and life choices. Not long ago, Marsha Linehan, the “guru” of DBT had the courage to share that she herself had struggled for years with Borderline Personality Disorder and was hospitalized due to numerous suicide attempts and self-injurious behavior that included cutting herself, head banging, and burning herself (Carey, 2011). Linehan credits her Roman Catholic religious faith, prayer, and personal interest in Buddhism with enabling her to survive and create DBT (Carey, 2011; Robins, 2002). Dr. Steven Hayes was a widely published, successful professor and researcher. But at the same time Dr. Hayes also suffered debilitating panic attacks that threatened his academic career. Hayes has stated publicly that an interest in Buddhist philosophy, meditation, and other forms of religion and spirituality helped him overcome his Panic Disorder and create Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Cloud, 2006). ACT was initially designed to primarily address anxiety-related symptoms and disorders. ACT has emerged to be used successfully for a range of diverse problems including chronic pain, substance abuse, obesity, cancer management, schizophrenia, psychosis, and PTSD (Bach & Hayes, 2002; Bach, Hayes, & Gallop, 2012; Gundy, Woidneck, Pratt, Christian, & Twohig, 2011; Walser & Westrup, 2007). Drs. Linehan, and Hayes each endured profound suffering. And each transformed their suffering to create influential therapeutic approaches. Their work demonstrates that out of profound suffering we can find ways to help other people. And sometimes, by helping ourselves, we can help others as well. References Bach, P., & Hayes, S. C. (2002). The use of acceptance and commitment therapy to prevent the rehospitalization of psychotic patients: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(5), 1129-1139. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.70.5.1129 Bach, P., Hayes, S. C., & Gallop, R. (2012). Long-term effects of brief acceptance and commitment therapy for psychosis. Behavior Modification, 36(2), 165-181. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0145445511427193. Carey, B. (2011, June 23). Expert on mental illness reveals her own fight. [Electronic Version]. The New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2011, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/health/23lives.html?_r=1&pagewanted;=all Cloud, D. (2006, February 13). The third wave of therapy. [Electronic Version]. Time. Retrieved July 29, 2011, from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1156613,00.html Gundy, J. M., Woidneck, M. R., Pratt, K. M., Christian, A. W., & Twohig, M. P. (2011). Acceptance and commitment therapy: State of evidence in the field of health psychology. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice: Objective Investigations of Controversial and Unorthodox Claims in Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry, and Social Work, 8(2), 23-35. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/928984322?accountid=10868 Linehan, M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press. Robins, C. (2002). Zen principles and mindfulness practice in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9, 50-57. Walser, R. D., & Westrup, D. (2007). Acceptance and commitment therapy for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma-related problems: A practitioner's guide to using mindfulness and acceptance strategies. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.