Interior Integration for Catholics

Join us as we review how philosophers and modern secular psychologists understand mental health and well-being. In this episode, we look at the attempts to define what makes us happy, from the 4th century BC to the present day. We cover the thinking of Aristippus, Aristotle, Descartes, Freud, Seligman, Porges, Schwartz, and two diagnostic systems. We take a special look at how positive psychology and Internal Family Systems see well-being.

Show Notes

  1. Summary:  Join us as we review how philosophers and modern secular psychologists understand mental health and well-being.  In this episode, we look at the attempts to define what make us happy, from the 4th century BC to the present day.  Arristipus, Aristotle, Descartes, Freud, Seligman, Porges, Schwartz, and two diagnostic systems.  We take a special look at how positive psychology and Internal Family Systems see well-being.  
  2. Lead in
    1. In  June of 1991 I was really traumatized
      1. Just left a spiritually and psychologically abusive group and I was struggling
      1. How could this have happened
      1. I thought I was giving my life to God -- and then I find out the community I was in was like this -- 

      1. Had to confront my own behaviors in the community -- manipulation, deception, betrayals of trust -- things like that.  

      1. I knew I had to recover.  And so I went on a quest
      1. I was still Catholic, I never lost my faith, but I felt really burned by the Catholic Church
      1. I wanted to learn everything I could about social influence, about group dynamics, about psychological manipulation -- in part so what happened before would never happen again, and also to tap into wisdom that I didn't have access to in my very sheltered community. 

      1. In short, I was on a quest to find out the best of what secular psychology had to offer.  

      1. I would have gone to a Catholic Graduate 

    1. What I was looking for
    1. What I found
  5. Introduction
    1. Question may arise, "Why Dr. Peter, since you are a Catholic psychologist, why are you even looking at these secular sources? Why even bother with them?  Don't we have everything we need in Scripture, in the traditions of the Church, in the writings of the Church Fathers and the saints, and in magisterial teaching?  I thought this was a Catholic podcast here.  
      1. Let me ask you question in return then -- Let's say you're experiencing serious physical symptoms -- something is wrong medically.  You have intense abdominal pain, right around your navel, your belly is starting to swell, you have a low-grade fever, you've lost your appetite and you're nauseous and you have diarrhea.  How would you react if I were to say to you: "Why are you considering consulting secular medical experts?  What need have you of doctors and a hospital?  Don't you have everything you need in Scripture, in the traditions of the Church, in the writings of the Church Fathers and the saints, and in magisterial teaching?  
        1. If I responded to you like that, you might think I'm a crackpot or that I believe in faith healing alone or that I just don't get what you are experiencing.
        2. Those are the symptoms of an appendicitis, and that infected appendix could burst 48-72 hours after your first symptoms.  If that happens, bacteria spread infection throughout your abdomen, and that is potentially life-threatening.  You would need surgery to remove the appendix and clean out your abdomen.  
      2. Remember that we are embodied beings -- we are composites of a soul and a body. The 17th Century Philosopher Rene Descartes' gave us a lot of great things, including analytic geometry,  but he was wrong splitting the body from the mind in his dualism.   Descartes' mind-body dualism, the idea that the body and the mind operate in separate spheres, and neither can be assimilated into the other which has been so influential in our modern era.
        1. In the last several years we are realizing just how much of our mental life and our psychological well-being is linked in various ways to our neurobiology -- the ways that our nervous systems function.  And the relationship between our embodied brain and our minds is reciprocal -- each affects the other in complex ways that we are just beginning to understand.  In other words, brain chemistry affects our emotional states.  And our emotional states and our behaviors affect brain chemistry.  It's not just our minds and it's not just our bodies and it's not just our souls -- it's all of those, all of what makes me who I am, body, mind, soul, spirit, all of it.  

        1. And since Scripture, the Early Church Fathers, the Catechism and so on are silent on neurobiology, neurochemistry, neurophysiology and so many other areas that impact our minds and our well-being, as a Catholic psychologist I am going to look elsewhere, I'm going to look into secular sources.  I just don't think it's reasonable to expect the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican to be experts in these areas -- it's not their calling.  I just don't think anyone is going to find an effective treatment for bulimia by consulting the writings of the Early Church Fathers or in St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica.  That is unreasonable .  And it's just as unreasonable, in my opinion, to ignore the body and just try to work with the mind.  

      3. I also believe that God works through non-Catholics in many ways -- many non-Catholic researchers and clinicians and theorists are using the light of natural reason to discover important realities that help us understanding well-being, and they are inspired to seek what can be known with good motivations, with good hearts and sharp minds to help and love others.   I am a Catholic with upper-case C, a big C and I am catholic with a lower-case C -- a little C.  Catholic with a little C.  According to my Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus, Third Edition, which I rely on for wordfinding, according to this thesaurus, the synonyms for Catholic with a small c include the following terms:  universal, diverse, broad-based, eclectic, comprehensive, all-encompassing, all-embracing and all-inclusive.  That's what catholic with a small c means.  So I am Catholic with a big C and catholic with a small c.  
      4. And a final point about why I look to secular sources -- The Church herself encourages us to look to all branches of knowledge and glean what is best from them.  
        1. From the CCC, paragraph 159  "Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth." "Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are."
        2. And from the Vatican II document, the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, paragraph 62 reads:  In pastoral care, sufficient use must be made not only of theological principles, but also of the findings of the secular sciences, especially of psychology and sociology, so that the faithful may be brought to a more adequate and mature life of faith.
      5. Finally, I will say that considering the whole person -- Soul, spirit, mind and body -- all of the person is so much more helpful in the process of recovery that just splitting off the mind and working with it alone, or just trying to work with the mind and the soul but not the body.  So there are pragmatic considerations, practical aspects to this.  I like to practice psychology in ways that actually work.  The fruit that comes from considering the body and working with the body as well the mind and soul is just so much better.  And so we want to work in an integrative way.  That what this podcast Interior Integration for Catholics is all about -- this is episode 90 released on March 7. 2022, titled Your Well-Being:  The Secular Experts Speak and I am  I am clinical psychologist Peter Malinoski, your host and companion today, and also president and Co-Founder of Souls and Hearts at -- our mission in Souls and Hearts is to bring the best of psychology and human formation grounded in a Catholic understanding of the human person to help wounded Catholics rise above our psychological issues and human formation problems which hold us back from embracing love from Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God our Father and Mary our Mother and loving them back with our whole souls and hearts, with all our parts.   

  6. Secular Sources
    1. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 -- DSM-5 for short.  
      1. From the American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the DSM-5 The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. It provides a common language for clinicians to communicate about their patients and establishes consistent and reliable diagnoses that can be used in the research of mental disorders. It also provides a common language for researchers to study the criteria for potential future revisions and to aid in the development of medications and other interventions.
      2. So you would think, given that glowing description of its prowess and authority that it would tell us what psychological well-being is, it would let us know what mental health is.  But if you thought that, you'd be wrong.  
      3. Nowhere in the nearly 1000 pages of this tome is there are definition.  You can't find it.  No definition of mental health or psychological wellbeing.  You get a definition of mental disorder and a couple of descriptions of what is not a mental disorder.  This is a quote from page 20.  
      4. Definition of a mental disorder:  A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.
      5. But no definition of what optimal functioning, or happiness or well-being or psychological health would look like. 
      6. That's a real problem.  How are we supposed to know what psychological disorder is when we don't know what psychological health should entail?
        1. Canadian Blogger, author and Christian pastor Tim Challies published a blog titled "Counterfeit Detection" in which he describes how Canadian federal agents are trained to detect counterfeit bills -- they first get very familiar with the real money.  Real bills.  Those Canadian follow what John MacArthur wrote in his book Reckless Faith. "Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see the bogus money they recognize it."  Only then are they equipped to spot the forgeries.  

        1. So we need a standard, we need to know what well-being looks like so we can use it as a reference point for contrasting anything which is out of order in our psyches.  We're not going to get that reference point from the DSM-5, so let's turn to history.  Let's go back in time to the philosophers of ancient Greece who wrote about well-being and start there.  Let's see if we can find out from our secular sources what the good life is.  What psychological well-being is, what mental health is.  

    1.  Hedonic wellbeing -- basically this is about feeling good:    
      1. Aristippus, a Greek philosopher in the fourth century BC argued that the primary and ultimate goal in life should be to maximize pleasure.  English philosophers  Thomas Hobbes 17th century and Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century, crossing into the 19th century also embraced Hedonic well being.  
      2. Definition:  Hedonic wellbeing "focuses on happiness and defines well-being in terms of pleasure attainment and pain avoidance” Ryan and Deci, 2001 On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology
        1. How much pleasure can I get?
        1. How much pain can I avoid -- Hedonic wellbeing. 

        1. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy The term “hedonism,” from the Greek word ἡδονή (hēdonē) for pleasure, refers to several related theories about what is good for us, how we should behave, and what motivates us to behave in the way that we do. All hedonistic theories identify pleasure and pain as the only important elements of whatever phenomena they are designed to describe.  

      4. Back to Ryan and Deci “the predominant view among hedonic psychologists is that well-being consists of subjective happiness and concerns the experience of pleasure versus displeasure broadly construed to include all judgments about the good/bad elements of life. Happiness is thus not reducible to physical hedonism, for it can be derived from attainment of goals or valued outcomes in varied realms  Ryan and Deci, 2001 On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology
      5. Summary statement:  Hedonic well-being -- maximize the pleasure, minimize the pain.  
      6. And that makes sense to us -- we all have some innate attraction to pleasure and some innate avoidance of pain.  

    1. Eudaimonic wellbeing
      1. "producing happiness," 1856, from Greek eudaimonikos "conducive to happiness," from eudaimonia "happiness," from eu "good" (see eu-) + daimōn "guardian, genius" (see daimon).
      1. In contrast to hedonic wellbeing's focus on pleasure, we have eudaimonic well-being, which focuses on meaning and purpose in life.  

      1. Trace this back to Aristotle also in the 4th Century BC, contemporary of Aristippus.  Aristotle argued, especially in his Nichomachean Ethics -- 
        1. Aristotle argued that the best things are the ones who perform their function to the highest degree.  My son John Malinoski used this example in his senior thesis for Wyoming Catholic college. His thesis was titled Into the Jung-le: Exploring How Modern Psychological Methodology Relates to and Transforms the Classical Understanding of Man’s Psyche  and it has this passage which precisely describes how Aristotle saw well-being, using an illustrative  example of a squirrel and then describing what well-being is for us as human persons:  

Aristotle begins his quest for the happy man with one of these endoxa: the generally held, plausible truth that the best things are the ones who perform their function to the highest degree. It seems self-evident that we would judge the worth of a squirrel based on how fast that squirrel can run, how high it can leap, or how much food it can find. In other words, the best squirrel is the one that best fulfills its squirrel nature. Correspondingly, the best man must be the man who excels at being a man; he performs the functions of man to the highest degree. While man has many functions which he shares in common with plants and animals--life, growth, sensation, and so on--he has one particular ability which is unique to him: the ability to reason. Since this higher faculty distinguishes and elevates man above the lesser beings below him, Aristotle claims that it must be the most important aspect of his soul, the characteristic function of man: “We posit the work of a human being as a certain life, and this is an activity of soul and actions accompanied by reason.”6 Since “each thing is brought to completion well in accord with the work proper to it,” it follows that “the human good becomes an activity of the soul in accord with virtue, and if there are several virtues, then in accord with the best and most complete one.”7  This is Aristotle’s brief summation of the human good, or happiness.
In short, the truly virtuous man has ordered his soul to the fullest extent: not only are all his actions ordered towards reason and the good, but all his inclinations point him toward these properly ordered actions as well.
  1. Gale and colleagues 2009 article in the Journal of Personality  The eudaimonic perspective of wellbeing – based on Aristotle’s view that true happiness comes from doing what is worth doing – focuses on meaning and self-realization, and defines wellbeing largely in terms of ways of thought and behavior that provide fulfillment.
  2. Freud
    1. Let's fast forward 2400 years now to Freud.  From the 4th century BC to the 20th Century AD.  To Freud
    1. A lot of people believe that Freud was really a hedonist -- in part because of his pleasure principle.  In Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the pleasure principle is that driving impulse of the id -- the id is the most basic, primitive part of the personality driven by instincts, mostly buried deep in the unconscious.  The pleasure principle describes how the id seeks immediate gratification of all its needs, wants, and urges, seeking with force to satiate hunger, quench thirst, discharge anger, and experience sexual pleasure.  

    1. "To Love and to Work" -- summarizing in one pithy statement what a healthy man or woman should be able to do well.  

    1. “Love and work…work and love, that's all there is…love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” -- Civilization and its Discontents
    1. Play:  Freud believed and taught that play was important -- play is a creative activity, play is an adaptive activity, and play is also a therapeutic activity because play generates pleasure through the release of  tension. 

    1. Summarize Freud's position on happiness -- the ability to Love, work and play.  

    1. Freud in his 1895 book "Studies on Hysteria" coauthored with Josef Breuer.  But you will see for yourself that much has been gained if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into common unhappiness. With a mental life that has been restored to health, you will be better armed against that unhappiness.”
      1. Freud did not promise that his psychoanalytic method would remove "common unhappiness."  He taught that psychoanalysis had its limits.  

      1. Which leads us to fast forward 100 years to the late 1990's and the advent of Positive Psychology, which is not satisfied by just accepting common unhappiness.  Positive psychology posits that we can do something about that common unhappiness and make it better -- so it is more ambitious in its goals and promises than Freud ever was.  

  5. Positive Psychology:  
    1. Definitions:  
      1. Peterson 2008
        1.  “Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living” 

        1. positive psychology is a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behavior, with a focus on strengths instead of weaknesses, building the good in life instead of repairing the bad, and taking the lives of average people up to “great” instead of focusing solely on moving those who are struggling up to “normal” 

      2. the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing  -- flourishing really is the focus of positive psychology, it's a critical word.  And there's a focus on flourishing in three primary domains.  
        1. Flourishing  intrapersonally -- which means within one's own person, within one's own being -- intrapersonally (e.g. biologically, emotionally, cognitively)
        2. Flourishing interpersonally (e.g. relationally), in our personal relationships
        3. And flourishing collectively (e.g. institutionally, culturally and globally) -- in our culture and society -- flourishing collectively
        4. So flourishing is the key word, and the focus is on flourishing intrapersonally, interpersonally, and collectively
    2. So what makes the good life according to positive psychologists, according to Martin Seligman?
      1. Seligman in his 2002 book Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment details four different forms of what he calls "the good life."  Four different forms or ways of living well, four kinds of well-being.    These are the 1) the pleasant life; 2) a good life; 3) a meaningful life; and 4) a full life.  Repeat them.   We'll go through each one of these starting with the pleasant life.  

      1. The pleasant life: according to Martin Seligman, the pleasant life is a simple life, he says "a life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the present, past and future"  He elaborates, "The pleasant life is wrapped up in the successful pursuit of the positive feelings, supplemented by the skills of amplifying those emotions."  This takes us back to the hedonic wellbeing we discussed earlier, as originally posited by Aristippus, our Greek philosopher in the fourth century BC.  All about the pursuit of good feelings, maximizing positive emotions. 

      1. The good life: The good life, according to positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman means  "using your signature strengths to obtain abundant gratification in the main realms of one’s life"  So in this good life, you are able to use your particular talents and unique skills, your special strengths, being true to your own character, being true to your values and virtues, so this sense of "authenticity" is very important in the good life.  So we have the pleasant life, all about positive emotions; and now the good life, in which you have abundant gratification by you doing you, by you being authentic through using your signature qualities in in the world.  The good life is not a permanent state -- we are not always going to be able to use our special talents and qualities in a way that is gratifying to us -- rather, the good life has to be a process of ongoing growth, a process of development.  It's all about continuing to grow.  

      1. Then we have the  meaningful life, that's the third form, the meaningful life.  Seligman describes this as "using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are" In this way of living well, you have a strong bond to "something larger than yourself."  In this way of well-being, it's up to each individual what that "something larger than yourself" is going to be.  So at this point we've covered three of the four kinds of well-being:  we have the pleasant life, all about maximizing your pleasant emotions, we have the good life, which is all about using your signature strength and virtues to be gratified, and we have the third form, the meaningful life, in which we use our signature strengths and virtues in the service of something larger than us.  This level of well-being brings us back to Aristotle and his eudaimonic well-being, which focuses on pursuing meaning and purpose in life.  

      1. That leaves us with the fourth way, the full life.  Seligman describes the full life as follows: «Finally, a full life consists in experiencing positive emotions about the past and future, savoring positive feelings from pleasures, deriving abundant gratification from your signature strengths, and using these strengths in the service of something larger to obtain meaning»  So what is added to the first three ways of well-being in this last way, the fourth way, the full life is the concept of service.  Here's where he starts to sound a little like Bob Dylan's 1979 song "Gotta Serve Somebody."  In the full life, a  man uses his strengths and abilities in the most optimized way to serve something larger than himself." In the full life, a woman gets outside herself and brings her talents and virtues to serve a greater good in a way that shines.  The full life reflects optimal human functioning.  Seligman thus is very Aristotleian in how  he argues that a person has the best experience of life, the greatest sense of well-being when that person is functioning  optimally, bringing all the particular talents, skills, strengths and virtues to bear in the services of the greater good. 

    3. Effort to refocus psychology on wholeness and wellness -- not on illness or disorder or weaknesses or problems
      1. Focus on positive aspects A to Z list from Chapter 2 of the book Well-Being, Recovery, and Mental Health by Lindsay Oades and Lara Mossman:  altruism, accomplishment, appreciation of beauty and excellence, authenticity, best possible selves, character strengths, coaching, compassion, courage, coping, creativity, curiosity, emotional intelligence, empathy, flow, forgiveness, goal setting, gratitude, grit, happiness, hope, humor, kindness, leadership, love, meaning, meditation, mindfulness, motivation, optimism, performance, perseverance, positive emotions, positive relationships, post-traumatic growth, psychological capital, purpose, resilience, savoring, self-efficacy, self-regulation, spirituality, the good life, virtues, wisdom and zest. 

    4. Origin of Positive Psychology is often attributed to Abraham Maslow's 1954 book "Motivation and Personality."  
    5. Really took off in the late 1990's when positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman became president of the American Psychological Society and was able to effectively popularize positive psychology
      1. Increase human strength -- make people more "productive"
      1. Nurturing of genius and fostering greater human potential
      1. Calling for research on human strength and virtue.  

      1. How do human being flourish at the individual level, the community level, and at the societal level?
    9. Emphasis on Different interventions that have been found to improve levels of happiness and well-being.  
      1. Best possible self -- writing about yourself at your best, remembering yourself at your best
      2. Working on forgiveness -- I find this really interesting that forgiveness  -- Robert Enright has done a lot of research in this area, with a focus on letting go of anger, resentment and bitterness toward those who have caused me pain.
        1. Getting a more balanced view of the offender
        1. Reducing negative feelings toward the offender and possibly increasing compassion
        1. Relinquishing the right to punish the offender or demand restitution.    

      5. Increasing gratitude -- finding things to be thankful for, reflecting on blessings, expressing gratitude in a variety of ways -- Gratitude is the expression of appreciate for what I have.  Research shows many positive psychological benefits to deliberately practicing gratitude
      6. Fostering optimism -- the tendency to anticipate favorable outcomes.  Things are going to work out.  The glass is half full.  The idea is that optimism can be learned.  It can be practiced and developed and when it is, people feel better.  
      7. Cultivating Mindfulness the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment“ (Kabat-Zinn, Reference Kabat-Zinn2003, p. 2)
      8. Listening to uplifting music
      9. Positive Psychotherapy
      10. Savoring (savoring can be past-focused (reminiscing about positive experiences), present-focused (savoring the moment) or future-focused (anticipating positive experiences yet to come) (Smith et al., 2014)
      11. Self-compassionate writing -- being gentle with yourself in your journal
  6. PDM 2 -- Now completely revised (over 90% new), this is the authoritative diagnostic manual grounded in psychodynamic clinical models and theories. Explicitly oriented toward case formulation and treatment planning, PDM-2 offers practitioners an empirically based, clinically useful alternative or supplement to DSM and ICD categorical diagnoses. 
    1. A clinically useful classification of mental disorders must begin with a concept of healthy psychology. Mental health is more than simply the absence of symptoms. Just as healthy cardiac functioning cannot be defined as an absence of chest pain, healthy mental functioning is more than the absence of observable symptoms of psychopathology. p.3
    2. Three major axes: Personality Organization, Mental Functioning, and Symptom Patterns
    3. Personality Organization P Axis
      1. What level of personality organization does the person have?   4 major categories -- psychotic, borderline, neurotic, and healthy.  

      1. What style personality or pattern does one have -- e.g. depressive, hypomanic, masochistic, dependent, anxious-avoidant (aka phobic), obsessive-compulsive, schizoid, somatizing, hysteric/histrionic, narcissistic, paranoid, psychopathic, sadistic, and borderline.  You've got one of these styles.  

    4. Mental Functioning -- overall description of mental functioning -- the capacities involved in psychological health or pathology -- looking at the inner mental life of the person
    5. Symptom Patterns -- S axis -- looks at emotional states, cognitive processes, bodily experiences, and relational patterns -- looks at the person's personal experience of his or her difficulties
    6. Psychodiagnostic Chart-2 by Robert Gordon and Robert Bornstein -- downloadable
      1. Use
      1. Breaking it down
        1. Personality Organization P Axis -- What level of personality organization does the person have.  4 major categories -- psychotic, borderline, neurotic, and healthy.  What style personality or pattern does one have -- e.g. depressive, hypomanic, masochistic, dependent, anxious-avoidant (aka phobic), obsessive-compulsive, schizoid, somatizing, hysteric/histrionic, narcissistic, paranoid, psychopathic, sadistic, and borderline.  You've got one of these styles.  
          1. To be able to understand oneself in complex, stable, and accurate ways
          2. To maintain intimate, stable, and satisfying relationships
          3. To use more healthy defenses and copings strategies -- anticipation, self-assertion, sublimation, suppression, altruism and humor
          4. To appreciate, if not necessarily conform to, conventional notions of what is realistic
          5. Life problems rarely get out of hand
          6. There is enough flexibility to accommodate to challenging realities

        1. Mental Functioning M axis
          1. Cognitive processes
            1. capacity to regulate thinking, attention, learning
            1. Capacity to communicate one's thoughts to others

          1. Emotional processes
            1. to be able to experience a full range of emotions
            1. To regulate emotions well
            1. To understand one's own emotions
            1. To be able to communicate one's emotions

          1. Identity -- deals with the question, who am I?
            1. Capacity for differentiation -- a solid sense of being psychological separate from others -- not fused, or enmeshed or co-dependent
            1. Regulation of self-esteem
            1. Awareness of internal experience

          1. Relationships
            1. Capacity for relationships
            1. Capacity for intimacy

          1. Defenses and coping
            1. Impulse control -- regulation of impulses
            1. Defensive functioning -- able to use effective coping strategies
              1. e.g. extreme denial  vs. humor

            1. Adaptation -- this is a state, reflecting how an individual deals with specific stressors going on in life right now
            1. Resilience -- this is a trait -- general ability 
              1. Check out episodes 20, 21, 22, and 23 of this podcast for a four part series on resilience
              2. American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress— such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences.” 
              3. So resilience is a trait. 

            1. Strength

          1. Self-awareness
            1. Self-observing capacities -- psychological mindfulness
            1. Self-direction

          1. Capacity to construct and use internal standards and ideal
            1. A sense of meaning and purpose in life

        1. Symptom patterns -- S Axis the severity of psychological symptoms

  7. Polyvagal theory -- we spent the last episode, episode 89 titled "Your Body, Your Trauma: Protection vs. Connection discussing Stephen Porges' Polyvagal Theory.  
    1. Deb Dana: Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection The ventral vagal system truly powers the journey to well-being
    2. Now remember, the ventral vagal system corresponds to  the ventral branch of the vagal nerve-- and the ventral vagal system serves the social engagement system -- remember -- that's the relational connection system. The ventral vagal nerve dampens the body’s regularly active state. The ventral vagal nerve allows activation of the autonomic nervous system in a nuanced way, thus offering a different quality than sympathetic activation -- that's how you can being excited and celebrate your favorite sports team score again against their rivals without becoming overwhelmed by a fight or flight response. 
    3. What is it like to be in a ventral vagal state?  It's a positive state -- it's not just the absence of being in sympathetic hyperarousal when you are in fight or flight.  It's also not just the absence of being in a dorsal vagal hypoarousal shutdown or freeze state.  It's more than just those two systems being downregulated.  It's the ventral vagal system being activated.  It's an active state with these properties
      1. Physical responses
        1. Reduced heart rate
        1. Steady breathing
        1. Relaxed digestion 

        1. Rest and recuperation
        1. Vitality
        1. Circulation to extremities
        1. Stress reduction

      1. Psychological responses
        1. A sense of calm
        1. A sense of safety
        1. Feeling grounded
        1. Joy
        1. Mindfulness
        1. An ability to be very much in the present moment

      1. Relational responses
        1. Desire for connection with others.
        1. A genuine interest in others
        1. Openness and receptivity in relationship
        1. Acceptance and embracing of vulnerability
        1. Empathy and compassion for others
          1. Oxytocin is released that stimulates social bonding
          1. Ability to related and to connect with others without anxiety

        1. This state changes the way we look and sound to others -- the tone and rhythm of your voice is more inviting

      1. Story -- I'm in a good place, I can be loved and love, I can connect with others, there is good in the world.  Live is so worth living, and I want to share joy and peace and even sorrow and challenges with other people.  
    4. So polyvagal theory is going to focus specifically on the regulation of your nervous system in assessing your well-being.  The more you can be in a ventral vagal state, whether you are resting or excited, the better.  So for those therapists who use polyvagal theory, there is a focus on resetting the autonomic nervous system, helping us in a bodily way to get back to a ventral vagal state.  And we contrast that to the sympathetic fight or flight response and the dorsal vagal shutdown response.  
    5. Danger activates the sympathetic system, we are all about survival now
      1. Physical responses
        1. Body is mobilized for action.  Ready to run / Efforts to escape
        1. Hypervigilance -- body goes on high alert, pupils dilating, letting more light
        1. Very high levels of energy in this state, adrenaline rush
        1. Muscles get tense
        1. Blood pressure rises
        1. Heart rate accelerates
        1. Adrenaline releases
        1. Extra oxygen is circulated to vital organs
        1. Digestion decreases
        1. Immune response is suppressed

      1. Psychological responses
        1. Emotional Overwhelm
          1. usually worry moving to anxiety to fear to panic 

          1. Or frustration to irritation to anger to rage
            1. confrontational, aggressive

        1. Scanning for threats
        1. Capacity for complex, flexible reasoning is very much reduced -- leads to confusion
        1. No sense of safety, you start missing signs of safety and misreading signs of safety

      1. Relational responses
        1. Sense of separation, isolation from others-- cut off from others, no sense of relational connection anymore -- the connection is sacrificed in order to seek greater protection
        1. Disconnection from self, others, world, disconnected spiritually.-- you can't see others, really, except through the lens of danger and safety  

        1. If we don't feel safe, there's no way we can provide a sense of safety to others.

      1. Story: The world is unsafe and people are dangerous, unfriendly, scary, falling apart
    7. When the mobilization doesn't bring a resolution to the distress -- then the ANS takes the final step, and shoots the last arrow it has in its quiver.  This is the freeze response. When there is a deep sense that my life is threatened and the sympathetic activation doesn't resolve the perceived threat, then the dorsal vagal system kicks in.  That's the freeze response, that's the collapse into "dorsal vagal lifelessness"
      1. Physical response
        1. Heart rate decreases, slows way down
        1. Blood pressure drops
        1. Body temperature decreases
        1. Muscle tone relaxes
        1. Breathing becomes shallow 

        1. Immune response drops
        1. Pain threshold increases -- greater pain tolerance because of endorphin release that numbs pain.  

        1. Immobilization response -- appearing physically dead
        1. Digestion and metabolism slows way down -- going into conservation mode, like hibernating until the life threat passes.  

      1. Psychological response
        1. Sense of helplessness
        1. Depression, despondency, lethargy
        1. Numbing out
        1. Disconnection
        1. Thinking become very foggy, fuzzy, unclear
        1. Dissociation, Spacing out, feeling disconnect from the present, untethered, floating, derealization
        1. Feeling trapped
        2. Preparing for death
        3. Feeling hopeless
        4. Shutting down and feeling psychologically inert, paralyzed
        5. Feeling a deep sense of shame

      1. Relational response
        1. Very isolated
        1. Can't listen to others, don't notice them very well, because of how shut down and self-absorbed you are in this state
        1. Can't share very well, difficulty with words
        1. Very little agency
        1. Can't focus

      1. Story:  A story of despair.  I am unlovable, invisible, lost, alone, in desperate straits, about to die.  

    8. So polyvagal theory is going to focus specifically on the regulation of your nervous system in assessing your well-being.  
      1. According to polyvagal theory if we are in sympathetic arousal, the fight or flight mode, we are focused on the perceived dangers around us and we focus on self-protection.  This leads us to sacrifice connection with others.  
      2. If we are in the dorsal vagal shutdown, the freeze response, we hiding from the prospect of imminent death, shutting down into a conservation mode, hoping to survive the perceived imminent lethal danger by becoming immobile.  
      3. So for those therapists informed by polyvagal theory, there is a focus on resetting the autonomic nervous system, helping us in a bodily way to get back to a ventral vagal state, to leave the dorsal vagal shutdown state, to leave the sympathetic fight-or-flight state and get back to a peaceful bodily state.  These therapists start with the body, not so much the mind.  
  8. Internal Family Systems or IFS-- developed by Richard Schwartz, described in the first edition of Internal Family System Therapy which was published in 1995
    1. IFS brings systems thinking inside -- it conceptualized the human person as a living system.  Richard Schwartz is a family therapist who was trained in family systems work.  He recognized that the inner life of a person mirrored family life, from a systems perspective.  But before we go much further, let's ask the question --
      1. What is a system:  Definition from Ben Lutkevich at Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system's constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. The systems thinking approach contrasts with traditional analysis, which studies systems by breaking them down into their separate elements. 

      1. Wellbeing according to IFS is when inner system of the person shows certain qualities
        1. Balance  -- the degree of influence that each member has in the system on decisions making is appropriate and that the boundaries are balanced and appropriate within the system.  

        1. Harmony -- an effort is made to find the role each member desires and and for which he is best suited.  Members of the system work together, cooperatively.  The harmony of the system allows each member to find and pursue his own vision while fitting that member's vision into the broader vision of the system as a whole.  There is cooperation and collaboration among the members of the system.  

        1. Leadership --One or more members of the system must have the ability and respect to do the following:
          1. Mediate polarizations
          1. Facilitate the flow of information withing the system
          1. Ensure that all members of the system are protected and cared for and that they feel valued and encouraged to pursue their individual vision within the limits of the system's needs
          1. Allocate resources, responsibilities, and influence fairly
          1. Provide a broad perspective and vision for the system as a whole
          1. Represent the system in interaction with other systems
          1. And interpret feedback from other systems honestly

        1. Development -- the members of the system and the system itself can grow -- developing the skills and relationships needed to carry out the vision of the system.  

      1. IFS model of the person
        1. Person is composed of a body, plus his parts, plus his self -- that's the internal system of a person -- body, parts, and self
        1. This will be a review for many of you who listen to the podcast
        1. Self:  The core of the person, the center of the person.  This is who we sense ourselves to be in our best moments, and when our self is free, and unblended with any of our parts, it governs our whole being as an active, compassionate leader, with a deep sense of recollection on the natural level.  You can also experience being in self as an expansive state of mind  
          1. We want to be recollected, we want the self governing all of our parts
          2. Like the conductor -- leading the musicians in an orchestra
          3. Like the captain -- leading and governing all the sailors on a ship.  
          4. When we are recollected, in self, 8 C's -- this is the ideal state
            1. Calm  -agitation, frustration, anxious, stressed, angry
            1. Curiosity -- indifferent, disinterested, seeing other parts and seeing other people in two dimensions, one dimension, or no dimensions -- Episode 72 -Y- nuanced vs. reductionistic understandings of ourselves and others.  
            2. Compassion -- cold, uncaring, unfriendly, hard, reserved, unsympathetic
            3. Confidence -- timid, pessimistic, doubtful and insecure
            4. Courage -- fearful, shy, faint-hearted, irresolute
            5. Clarity -- confused, muddled inside, things are obscured, dark inside, foggy, sees vague forms moving in a shadow world.  
            6. Connectedness  -- internal fragmentation, disjointed, distant, aloof
            7. Creativity  -- uninspired, inept, very conventional, repetitive futility, doing the same thing over and over again, with no different results
        2. Parts:  Separate, independently operating personalities within us, each with own unique prominent needs, roles in our lives, emotions, body sensations, guiding beliefs and assumptions, typical thoughts, intentions, desires, attitudes, impulses, interpersonal style, and world view.  Each part also has an image of God and also its own approach to sexuality.  Robert Falconer calls them insiders.  

    1. IFS has two states
      1. Unblended -- this is when one is in a state of self
      1. Unburdened -- this is when our parts are freed from their burndens.  

  9. Interpersonal Neurobiology -- pioneered by Daniel Siegel 
    1. Definition -- Interpersonal Neurobiology is not a separate discipline -- it's not something that would have its own academic department within a university, for example.  Rather, it is an interdisciplinary framework -- and that means that Interpersonal Neurobiology or IPNB for short, draws from many different disciplines -- many different approaches that have their own individual and unique rigorous approaches to studying phenomena relevant to well-being.  
    2. I'm very into IPNB -- taking a Master Class with Daniel Siegel right now.  
    3. We're going to get into Interpersonal Neurobiology and it's views on mental health and well being in Episode 92 of this podcast
  10. Closing
    1. Weekly emails
    1. Special bonus podcast will be coming to you on Friday, March 25, 2022 -- the feast of the Annunciation, with an exciting announcement, this is just an extra podcast about a major effort that we are involved in at Souls and Hearts.  Dr. Gerry Crete will be joining me to discuss this with you.  So tune in then for all the new happenings at Souls and Hearts
    1. Catholic Therapists and Grad Students --  I will be doing a free Zoom webinar at from 7:30 PM to 8:45 PM Eastern time on Saturday March 26, 2022 on Internal Family Systems and loving your neighbor  -- it's all about how understanding myself and others from an IFS perspective can help us love each other  -- any Catholic therapist or grad student in a mental health field is free to attend.  Email Patty Ellenberger, our office manager at for a registration link.  

    1. Dr. Gerry's Catholic Journeymen Community has relaunched within Souls and Hearts.  Men -- you are welcome to join a group of faithful Catholic men seeking restoration, wholeness, and integrity in areas of sexuality and relationship with God, self, and others. Catholic Journeymen is a safe space for men to share burdens, receive support, and be nourished by a distinctive program combining behavioral health science and Catholic spirituality. Check that out at  

    1. Conversation Hours You are a listener to this podcast, and in that sense, you are with me.  I am also with you!  Remember, can call me on my cell any Tuesday or Thursday from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM Eastern Time for our regular conversation hours.  I've set that time aside for you.  317.567.9594.  (repeat) or email me at 

    1. Waiting list is open for The Resilient Catholics Community at for our June 2022  So much information there and videos. 

    1. Patron and Patroness

What is Interior Integration for Catholics?

In the Interior Integration for Catholics podcast, together, we seek fundamental transformation in our lives through human formation, via Internal Family Systems approaches grounded in a Catholic worldview. Join us as we sail through uncharted waters, seizing the opportunities for psychological and spiritual growth and increasing resilience in the natural and spiritual realms. With a clear takeaway message and one action in each weekly episode, you can move from dreading what is happening to you to rising above it. Join us on Mondays for new episodes. You can also check out the Resilient Catholics Community which grew up around this podcast at