Agency, autonomy-connectedness, alexithymia, existentialism, and theistic-existentialism


Agency and mental illness are hypothesized to be related. Agency may contribute to mental illness (specifically, anxiety and depression) by impacting the amount of choices in one’s life (LeMoyne & Buchanan, 2011; Schwartz, 2004). Effective treatment for the mentally ill targets causes of mental disorders, so if agency is related to mental illnesses, then it logically should be incorporated in treatment. Agentic treatment, which consists of any form of treatment that explicitly acknowledges the importance and the reality of agency, has been shown to be effective (Myers, 2016; Patterson et al., 2016; Slife, 2004). Effective agentic treatment includes autonomy groups (to support and strengthen the autonomy of an individual), treatment of alexithymia (a subgroup of autonomy), existentialism (with an emphasis on agency), and theistic existentialism (with an emphasis on agency and spirituality) (Bartz, 2009; Bekker & Croon, 2010; Craig, Vos, Cooper, & Correia, 2016; Eick, 2014; Hungr, Ogrodniczuk, & Sochting, 2016; Piltch, 2016; Rutten et al., 2016). As the effectiveness of these approaches is better explored, utilizing them in treatment for the mentally ill will likely be beneficial.

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