Illustrations: James Daw

Inside the Revolutionary Treatment That Could Change Psychotherapy Forever

IFS therapy is upending the thinking around schizophrenia, depression, OCD, and more

All too often, patients in today’s U.S. mental health system fall into a downward spiral of increasing diagnoses and increasing medication.

It was based on a novel theory of the mind so profoundly at odds with the biomedical model of mental illness that, if true, called decades of clinical orthodoxy into question.

In IFS, mental health symptoms like anxiety, depression, paranoia, and even psychosis were regarded not as impassive biochemical phenomena but as emotional events under the control of unconscious “parts” of the patient.

Was it possible that parts were just a normal part of conscious experience — that everyone had parts?

It almost felt to Schwartz as if he had hacked into the mind’s built-in layer for psychological self-repair.

The idea of internal multiplicity is at least as old as Plato, who argued in The Republic that just like a city is divided into different social classes, the soul too is divided into parts.

“For me, the most amazing thing was learning about a part of me that was suicidal and knowing that that was just a single part of me. It wasn’t my entire being. That changed my world.”

Author of "Ranger Games: A True Story of Soldiers, Family, and an Inexplicable Crime" (Doubleday, 2017); Ph.D. in AI. Follow my writing at benblumauthor.com.

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