The Three Spheres

Wellness is not the absence of disease. It is the presence of something -- the question is of what?

As I actively interacted with my patients, I observed over and over again that despite their infinitely varied and unique symptoms and personal backgrounds, the elements that determined their well-being or distress were strikingly predictable. This lead to the hypothesis that there may be certain psychological spheres which when fulfilled built successful psychological adjustment, and when unfulfilled or repeatedly neglected, caused distress and made one vulnerable to distress.

By 1975, I realized that the three spheres critical to building health in our daily lives were quite simple. These three spheres --self, intimacy, and achievement -- remain broad enough to encompass nearly all psychological events. None of the spheres exist in isolation. They are overlapping and inter-related. These three spheres together dynamically interact and constitute a person's personality.

Self : To be "in touch," "at peace," and "in control" of self requires the capacity to recognize and accept both positives and negatives in life, integrating them into a balanced perspective. It also includes the flexibility to initiate, modify, and control thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Intimacy : To extend one's thoughts, feelings, and actions beyond the self and become close to another human being. Many different types of intimate relationships such as those with a parent, spouse, significant other, children, friends, or God can bolster the psyche. The couple relationship, however, enables human beings to experience fullest union of personality, in all three dimensions of human intimacy - Intellectual/Social, Emotional, and Physical/Sexual.

Achievement : To reach beyond the self through the productive, creative, and the constructive expression of one's capacities. It is an indirect way of finding an intimate union or relationship with the world in which one lives. Behind one's work, career, athletics, hobbies or other intellectual and productive activities is the desire not only to subsist, but also to find meaning and achieve value, acceptance, respect, admiration and deep down love. A person who is either unable or unwilling to build a relationship with the world through his or her constructive capacities may turn in desperation to destruction - an attempt to be noticed and counted and freed from total insignificance by a forced relationship of dominance.

To learn more about the three spheres and how they may apply to building health in your life, see "Introduction to Lifetrack" chapter in my eManual, "Breakthrough Intimacy - Sad to Happy through Closeness".

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