The positive psychology of mental disorders
Psychologie en Gezondheid , Volume 37 - Issue 3 p. 152- 161
Rates of mental disorder are high in western countries and numbers of people seeking treatment for depressions are rising. This trend is commonly attributed to the perils of modern individualistic society. We argue that the fact that more people seek help for mental disorders, is not indicative for a harmful trend in society. Happiness is rising and is more evenly distributed. Even most people with a mental disorder are in a good mood. They profit from the favorable living conditions. However, it is also clear that a minority of the people with mental disorders are responsible for 85 % percent of the lowest levels of happiness of all citizens. The burden of the disorders in terms of lost happy life years is enormous, and this calls for continued focus on treatment and prevention. In this context it would be wise if positive psychologists would specifically dedicate themselves to raising happiness of people with mental disorders, a task that may be neglected if positive psychologists distance themselves from the old 'negative' psychology. Positive psychologists better not limit themselves to study the flourishing of mentally healthy people.