I have a couple of issues today. First of all -- catastrophizing is not a word. I am normally not against adverbializing, gerunding, adjectivization, participlization, izing, ising and generally expanding the language. But some of it just comes out as lazy language. Prime example: "Are you disrespecting me?"
No, I am not! I am, however, showing disrespect towards your behavior because you have not made the effort to learn how to speak. Back to catastrophizing, according to some lame brain academics. Catastrophizing is an irrational thought wherein we believe something is far worse than it actually is. This is apparently treatable and therefore can be billed to your HMO.
Now I don't want to be a cynic here, nor do I want to dismiss what for some individuals might be a disrupting influence in their life. Mental health issues comes in a wide variety of shapes, forms, sizes and phobias; just about as many as there are mental beings walking the planet. Here is my real issue.
You might have heard the term: catastrophizing in the last month or so, as it relates to U.S. combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It seems that some of our soldiers are having thoughts that they are really in danger and that nothing good will come of their service in these foreign lands. Or what some mental health professionals would label -- rational thinking.
But, as far as the military is concerned, not correct thinking. These soldiers apparently do not have their heads on straight, so the U.S. Department of Defense has turned to psychology to combat this less than optimal mindset of its minions. The U.S. Army is planning to require that all 1.1 million of its soldiers take intensive training in positive psychology and emotional resiliency. Or what psychology professionals call Positive Psychology.
You should know that Positive Psychology is very controversial within the world of professional psychology. In particular, the idea that clearly dangerous or negative life situations should somehow be given a positive spin is viewed as the equivalent of brainwashing by some highly respected mental health professionals; particularly when such wisdom is dispenses along with psychiatric medication as is apparently the case for over one in six serving members of the U.S. Army.
Adding flavor to this mish-mash of military policy, the army has suggested that they have "40,000 teachers" able to train or retrain their 1.1 million soldiers. Those teachers would be the drill sergeants, always known for taking a deep interest in their students and imbuing them with a positive outlook on life and their future prospects. I am reminded of Jerry Della Femina's book -- From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor.
To read the full article on this bit of military brilliance, go here. And remember, it is always darkest before the dawn, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and catastrophizing circumstances may cause carbuncles, cankers, consumption and constipation; however, it is often also a sign of sanity and therefore something apparently to be avoided.