Get Your Butter Knife Out and Spread Your Biopsychosocial Self Together

Grape Jelly is Spread Over Peanut Butter

Image by Old Shoe Woman via Flickr

Probably when you have thought about psychiatry in the past, before this blog, you weren’t thinking about self-care.

What do you think of psychiatry?  Would any of you shout out a word, can I have a word, give me a word, any word that shoots to the front of your thoughts?

Psychiatry has changed.

There is a progression of how we view mental health now vs. even thirty years ago.

Back in the day, things went along the lines of poisonous medicines, close the window because sunshine is unhealthy for you, surgery without anesthesia, maggots… drilling holes in people’s heads to let evil spirits out and offering cigarettes to calm the nerves – or cigars as I wonder if any of u would argue.

Truth be told, I’m still learning about psychiatry.  I imagine I will be forever, because I think it is a science that flattens the universe and is unhinged from Time.  I don’t know how big or involved that is, but I’m thinking more than my sum of years can master.

For now, we understand that there is interplay between biological, psychological, and social issues that make us who we are.  We call this the Biopsychosocial Model.  Pretty cool word – biopsychosocial.  It hit me last night when I was working over these thoughts that self-care can also be organized, framed, conceptualized and all that to help it make more sense to us.

What is self-care?  Self-care is a philosophy that everything starts and ends with Me.  And that Me is all of me.  My biological, psychological and social self.

Self-Care is teaming up with our biology.  So where do behaviors and emotions come from?  This to me is one of the most challenging questions to answer from a cultural and moral level.  Can you tall me your gestalt?  Where do our emotions and behaviors come from?  What do they mean about who we are?

Self-Care is Empowerment and not victimization.  This is part of our “psychological” selves.  No one is responsible for our emotions but “Me.”

Self-Care is knowing our Essence. This is part of our “social” selves.  Our Essence is what we find after we get sick, after we change in every way but one, it is our identity, who or what we are.

To understand our essence, knowing our connections helps:


  1. God/Love
  2. People
  3. knowledge

When we get sick, our identity, who or what we are – our essence might feel threatened.  Some people call this our “soul” instead of essence.  I found it interesting to think of the soul or essence as part of our “social” selves but it is and it helps me bring it all together better.  My soul is created for connections.  With you in fact.  And my soul has been more connected to the rest of me since you came.

Self-Care is Freedom.  This is another part of our “social” selves.  You may remember that phrase, “To love someone, you have to let them go.”  Freedom brings connection.  Lovely, no?

Now get out our butter knife and let’s smear all this together in a sandwich.  That is who we are.  Without dividers.  That is important if we plan on getting friendly with ourselves.

Self-Care Tip #211 – Whatever is tripping you up when you go, blend it in with the rest of you and things will get more friendly (smoother.)

19 thoughts on “Get Your Butter Knife Out and Spread Your Biopsychosocial Self Together

  1. Having fought depression for a very long time one of the things I find interesting is this use of the word victim. In the end people have a choice. They can call themselves victims or try and deal with the issues in their lives.


  2. No, I Kant tell you my gestalt theory, but here are some Perls of wisdom 😉

    “I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you and I am I and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.” Frederick Perls

    Have a fab weekend, Doc.
    Now, let me go and find that butter knife, I feel like some toast …


  3. I love this entry. It has SO much in it! There’s so much to think about and spread around in my head. But it’s late, and all I have for now is the words from Horatio G. Spafford’s 1873 hymn, “…Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.” Psychiatry, through this blog, has become a huge part of making it well with my soul. Thank you, Sana…and blog-mates.


  4. Not to be rude but…

    As someone who has been there, I still see the same thing that bothered me thirty years ago … medical speak. It hasn’t changed.

    “Biopsychosocial” may sound great to a doctor, but it means nothing to me as a patient.

    I can relate better to the term “comfortable with myself” than, “knowing my essence.”


    • ah maxi, u don’t have to worry w us. medical speak is irritating. we’ve all thought it and felt it and heard it and had to act like we know what it means when we felt like doing anything but that. thanks for putting it out there. keep on.


  5. This week’s TIME did a big report about baby depression and anxiety treatment. “Small Child,Big Worries” Scientists are discovering that infants and toddlers can develop some very adult mental illnesses. 10% kids from birth to 3 years have psychiatric impairment. So with respect to psychiatry is changing, I don’t know whether to applaud or lament the changes. I am now inventing the phrase “Diagnosis/Syndrome Society” It seems everyone fits into some niche of treatable mental illness. Notice I said everyone. I understand that pharmaceutical companies are inventing syndromes for which their drugs may be able to treat to increase marketing and profits. Where are we going with all this?


    • i can’t say. but i believe from my perspective that much of it is good. in re: to that article, it reminds me of the stats that when mom is depressed – it takes less than 2wk for the kids to develop a major depressive disorder. important info. depression as a contagion. contagious emotions. self-care comes to the front.
      i hear your fear though and it is natural.


  6. I really like how you take a bigger medical concept (like “Biopscyhosocial Model”) and break it down into parts that are easily understood by those of us not in your field. You are “cracking the medical code” for us, and parsing it into more user friendly words. That is part of giving us, as readers and as patients, equal footing with the medical field. Equality leads to a sense of empowerment which leads to confidence in taking over our care, self-care.


    • ah sarah. just in time, here u r. i am starting to feel like u r spying on me. your timing is ever good. thank u for breaking this down for me. i am one of those flowers that blooms w your direction.
      the empowerment part was a great little treasure. let’s go towards that together.


  7. If everyone would smoke a weekly cigar, do nice things for dogs, and take out their frustrations on cats…. they would have better biopsychosocials. Also… congruent paradigms!


  8. Connection can be everything if it is allowed…unfortunately some people choose negativity which feeds sickness…it’s all related. Victim or victor – the choice is up to us.


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