A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF REFLEXIVE ATTENTION DIVERSION (RAD) AND A METHOD OF ATTENTION TRAINING
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Over the past twenty years I have worked to find a single cause for psychological symptoms and a method to alleviate the pain that they produce. To do this, I took an opposite approach to tradition. Instead of looking for differences among symptoms, I searched for similarities.
What I found is that just before an individual experiences anxiety, depression, or another symptom, attention or focus toward their surroundings literally decreases. This decrease in awareness causes a slight discomfort in the body. The individual’s intelligence, in an effort to problem solve the cause of the discomfort, becomes confused since a source cannot be found in the environment. The intelligence leaves the present and fabricates a justification in the future, the past, or in what others think. With a fabricated justification for the source of discomfort, confusion reduces. However, since discomfort is negative in quality, any justification fabricated by the intelligence will also be negative. It is these negative thoughts that trigger a sequence of symptoms that I call Reflexive Attention Diversion (RAD). Fear responses or anxiety prompt the individual to avoid expression in the situation associated with the anxiety. Although avoidance reduces the discomfort of the anxiety, depression is generated since the individual does not behave as they would like. Depression triggers anger over feeling trapped and controlled not to do as they would like or want and the individual frequently ventilates the anger usually over a trivial situation stimulating guilt for offending those for whom they care and a cycle develops that may follow the individual throughout life.
This “bad” habit may often be traced to the process of socialization in childhood. Frequently, guilt and fear are employed to force compliance in a child. Over time, the pairing of expression with criticism generates anxiety in situations to express.
In some other cases, the individuals who have not experienced anxiety or other symptoms to any significant degree may develop RAD as a result of a perceived life-threatening event as in the case of PTSD. In these instances, the individual’s mind and body are impressed with the information that potentially catastrophic events may occur seemingly out of the blue and without warning. As a result, the fight/flight mechanism is triggered and never really shuts down and symptoms are experienced.
I refer to the technique that I developed to eliminate psychological discomfort as Attention Training. Through the intelligence, the individual is literally taught to increase awareness of events in the moment. With repetition, pleasure is generated and a new habit of awareness is formed quickly. The idea of Attention Training is simple, if attention that should be directed toward the environment is not allowed to decrease, then that attention cannot be automatically converted into the negative thoughts that trigger RAD and the resulting sequence of symptoms.
RAD and Attention Training is important for the following reasons:
1. RAD and Attention Training are simple and easily understood. The simpler a technique is, the wider the scope of individuals that may employ and benefit from it.
2. Attention Training is a biological technique that employs the Pleasure Principal so that individual differences and background information is irrelevant except in cases of potential physical harm.
3. Attention Training is quick. Without the time required to search for a cause for present discomfort in the past, an individual may learn of a logical source for their discomfort and the tools to begin fighting back from the first session and feel immediate relief.
4. Attention Training is reliable and replicable. The technique may be taught to and administered by other mental health professionals, teachers, parents and others.
5. Attention Training is economical and cost effective. Because personal information and individual differences are largely irreverent, Attention Training may be administered in large groups with significant financial savings to the health care industry.
6. Attention Training has been so effective that I have converted the system to one for children and to one for relationships.
7. Attention Training offers an alternative way to view the origin of psychological discomfort and a logical intervention method that may offer a new direction for research.