We psychologists tend to be a negative lot. We spend more of our time focusing on what is wrong with people than on what is right with them. And I think there is a good reason for this. As this is being written, near the end of 1999, the surgeon general issued a report that 22 percent of us can expect to experience a psychological disorder (some impairment in one's ability to function) during any given year and that 50 percent of us can expect to experience such a disorder at some time during our life. By definition, psychological disorders have a profound effect. They make it difficult, sometimes impossible, to get through our dayto-day routines. They can eat away at the foundation of our relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. And even if those who are suffering from a disorder manage to put on a good enough front to fool others, they do so while experiencing nearly unbearable levels of anxiety, depression, or loneliness.
For mental health professionals perhaps the most distressing element of the surgeon general's report was that a substantial majority of those who do experience a mental disorder never receive treatment for it, despite the fact that effective treatments do exist. Even though it is not necessary for them to suffer alone, millions of people live with their painful emotions, struggling to make it through each day. It is for people such as these, perhaps people like you, that I wrote this book. My hope is that this book will help you to begin the process of recognizing and overcoming your barriers to having a more satisfying and effective life.