Many critics of our diagnostic manuals complain that our DSM focuses on pathology but is not underpinned by any definition of psychological health. While the diagnostic manuals are necessary, I heartily agree with the critics on this point. When we are suffering with psychological ‘symptoms,’ (e.g. -depression, agitation, etc) of course we want relief. But most of us, deep down, want more for our lives than plain symptom relief. We yearn for greater wholeness and the sense of a more fulfilling life. To that end, I’m sharing a list of signs of psychological wellness from the renowned psychologist, Nancy McWilliams.
According to McWilliams, a person with a healthy psyche shows:
- The ability to love
- The capacity to work
- ” ” ” play
- ” ” to form & sustain meaningful relationships
- A sense of autonomy
- Passion, vitality & purpose
- The felt ability to reach some of your goals (aka- sense of agency)
- An internal set of guiding values
- Flexible coping skills/ defenses.
- The ability to ‘get back up’ when knocked down (aka- resilience)
- The ability to feel, tolerate and express a wide range of emotions.
- Insight/ reality testing.
- A good balance between self-definition & self-in-relationships
- Acceptance of inevitable suffering & the ability to mourn.
Nancy McWilliams is an engaging speaker. If you’d like to hear her speak about this, here’s the link: