Negative stress and the interventions of functional psychology on stress
Functional psychology is a branch of psychology that developed in the late 19th century, focusing on both the function of consciousness and how consciousness influences behavior. Functional psychology sprang up in opposition to the prevailing Stucturalists who strived to determine the structure of the adult mind.
Functionalists believed that psychology could be practical and not just the exploration of consciousness and the mind.
Today New-Functionalism provides us with a general Theory of Stress, able to explain, in a multidimensional vision, how stress works, what makes stress chronic and where stress settles in (in addition to the neuroendocrine level).
In fact, chronic and irreversible modifications were discovered in basic muscle tension, in breathing mode, in posture, movements and sensations. These are alterations that people don’t perceive.
What does transform temporary and useful stress (the eu-stress) into a dangerous, chronic and permanent stress (called di-stress)?
Today we can look at Functions on which stress is anchored. We talk about the impact of a stressful event (stressor) on a person pre-existent condition; not only a cognitive impact but also a sensitive, motor and emotional impact. It’s a global perceptual psycho-corporeal valuation (Functional filter) that depends on how some Basic Functionings (Basic Experiences in childhood) are altered or not. So, if this filter is altered, organism activation persists even when it isn’t necessary: stress becomes chronic, dangerous; organism wears out and produces a variety of stress disorders and, in the long term, real stress-related diseases.
Chronic and negative stress condition can’t be really dealt with a “training” to manage stress, neither with limited and fragmentary methods nor with techniques that may give a temporary relief. Instead, it’s necessary to get to the roots on which stress is settled, to invert the conditions of chronicity. It’s essential to recover altered Basic Functionings as much as possible on all psycho-corporeal levels, acting on different systems that represent “The Self” (the whole person): cognitive, emotional, but also endocrine, “neurogenerative”, sensorial, motor.
Therefore, it’s not enough to learn or increase mental capacity of awareness (with mindfulness techniques), though it has a positive effect. The sensorial, physiologic, motor, autonomic nervous and postural systems are almost always altered, in a “short-circuit” condition (they remain altered regardless of external conditions), and they don’t change only on the awareness level but only by acting directly on them.
On these systems and psycho-corporeal levels, New-Functionalism is able to intervene in an increasingly effective way, with specific techniques, that are the result of years of research and clinical experience, to obtain an important and deep effect on basic wellness of human body, that represent an important way to overcome diseases and to achieve a full health.
A new challenge
Only integrating psychology with medicine will allow to win the challenge of the new millennium for health and wellness. Psychophysiology, endocrinology, neuroscience, studies on movements, posture, sensations and on breathing and autonomic nervous system: all is part of a Theoretical Integrated System.
For many years, body-mind reconnection is a reality for New-Functionalism that has faced this challenge to the future.
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Rispoli, Functional Psychology and the Basic Experience of the Self, in Heller M. (edited by) “The Flesh of the Soul: The Body we Work with” – Peter Lang, Bern 2001
- Rispoli, Funktionalismus und per-psychotherapie, G. Marlock, H. Weiss (edited by Handbuch der perpsychotherapie Schattauer GmbH, Germany 2006.
- Rispoli The Basic Experiences and the Development of the Self – Development from the point of view of Functional Psychotherapy, Peter Lang Publishing Group, Bern 2008.
- Rispoli, Foreword to the book “Introduction la communication” by Cl. Balestra, E. Bouancheaux-Zuckermandl, Co. Balestra. Ed. la Charte/B&E Brugge (Belgio) 2008.