Applying Buddhist principles to mode deactivation theory and practice

Swart, Joan
April 2014
International Journal of Behavioral Consultation & Therapy;2014, Vol. 9 Issue 2, p26
Academic Journal
The use of “secular” or ‘”Westernized’” Buddhism concepts and principles is becoming increasingly prevalent in Western psychological theories and therapy approaches. Systems such as Mode Deactivation Therapy (MDT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) incorporate mindfulness practices into the methodology to affect cognitive and emotional processes. However, there remains a need for understanding the mechanisms how emotions are dealt with in Buddhism and whether that knowledge and insight can be fruitfully applied in modern psychology. Already, beyond mindfulness, there are similarities in the Buddhist understanding of the human condition of suffering and psychological efforts to alleviate emotional distress. As such, there is a strong resemblance between the Buddhist idea of uh-attachment and the principle of emotional and cognitive defusion in psychology. Both systems concede that unsatisfactoriness is caused by clinging to a perception of the self, others, and the world that is probably outdated and inaccurate. Often, based on uncontrolled emotions, these perceptions ultimately activate behavior that is unhelpful and inappropriate in the real situation--compared to how it is automatically perceived based on past experiences. In order to examine the compatibility of Buddhist concepts and practices with psychotherapy and specifically Mode Deactivation Therapy (MDT), this article engages the literature and tests that assumption.


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