Human Suffering, Psychotherapy and Behavior Change

Assumptions about the Origins of Psychopathology

Human suffering is unpleasant pain or uncomfortable feeling that human being experiences. These pains or unpleasant aversions may be associated with threats of harm or perceptions of injury in an individual. The significant characteristic of suffering is either a physical damage or mental liability in an individual. The form of suffering that human beings face can range from mild to intolerable, compounded by frequency and duration. Attitudes towards suffering vary widely depending on whether the sufferer or other people regard it as useful or useless, deserved or undeserved, avoidable or unavoidable. Since suffering occurs in human beings in different manners, many human beings have concerns about the aspects of suffering. The elements include its meaning and significance, origin, nature of suffering, or cultural behaviors and remedies.

Various aspects cause human suffering, but the highest cause of human frustrations and pain is desires. Occasionally, people want to accumulate material things for their comfort in the future. Whether people are rich or poor, most of the time, humans think about money. The majority of people will never be satisfied, and desire for money and greed have more control over their lives. People often find themselves clinging to self-indulgence, pleasure, and comfort without realizing that when passions are manifested in greed, the desire for material wealth leads to suffering (Mohtadi, 2019). However, people need to understand that all human wants and physical possessions are impermanent and unresolved, and they lead to suffering in the end. Because of the sneaky nature of human desires, instead of giving people happiness, they bring pain and agony. Lack of happiness while pursuing desires leads to anger, frustrations, and restlessness. The tension created in mind due to the desire to fulfill one’s wishes is what results in suffering. In an actual sense, people initiate their suffering by letting passions run into greed, leading to despair. Besides, many people destroy their interrelations with other people in the urge to satisfy their desires. They will fight, lie, steal, or even harm each other, while trying to reach their happiness. Their actions result in agony because of their behaviors, selfish acts, disgrace, or the punishment that upshot from their actions. Since human wants are endless, human beings get no satisfaction, and in the road of seeking fulfillment to these desires, they get dissatisfaction and disappointments hence end up suffering.

In essence, a mind that is full of unfulfilled wishes causes human misery. Desires are diseases, they are bondages, and they mean that a person will not be at ease in the present while seeking something to be fulfilled in the future to bring happiness and peace. Since such needs will cause a person to be obsessed with the subject of their wants, they cause feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction. This theory is similar to the desire theory that holds that ignorance and desire are the roots of suffering (He & Su, 2018). Through aspirations, Buddhists refer to material goods, immortality, and craving pleasure as things that can never be satisfied, and hence desiring them always leads to suffering.

Mechanisms of Behavior Change

Since wishes are the number one cause of human suffering, behavior change can reduce the suffering the humans go through in the cravings to fulfill their wishes. Some of the mechanisms for initiating this behavior change include prevention, protection, assistance, and cooperation. In prevention, human wants organizations and practitioners need to develop educative forums to teach people on issues of desire and how they can never be satisfied. In addition, they need to protect people against things that increase human desires, such as the need for money that leads to severe choices, and provide alternative sources to get their demands. Through assistance in understanding desires and choices, cooperation from people, and attempts to address these desires, practitioners can initiate a behavior change and minimize human suffering. An example involves twelve-step mutual-help organizations (TSMHOs) to help people change their behaviors hence minimizing human suffering.

Due to human sufferings that human beings were undergoing, pathology came into existence to deal with the diagnosis and management of disease through laboratory analyses and diagnostic conditions to relieve humans from suffering. People would suffer from diseases caused by issues like drugs, trauma, allergens, or genetic mutations. Due to a lack of means to establish what they were suffering from, they would die. To verify the cause of human suffering, Rudolf Virchow discovered microscopic pathology. Pathologists employ a microscopic analysis of the human samples such as the body fluids, sometimes an autopsy of an entire body, or uses tissue organs (Barisnikov & Straccia, 2019). Pathologists examine factors such as anatomical makeup, cell appearance, and chemical signatures within the cell to establish the cause of suffering.

Choice Theory of Psychopathology

As a result of continuous human miseries, scientists developed the psychopathology theory to study and address behavior and experiences that differ from the social norms and abnormal cognition and rest upon several constructs that are considered the social norms of a particular area. Psychopathology theory seeks to understand individual mental experiences and their long history of varied attempts of finding meaning out of abnormal life. The theory is particularly interested in describing the syndromes and symptoms of mental illness and deals with diagnosing the individual patient to establish whether their experience fits any pre-existing classifications. The field also seeks to create a diagnostic system such as a statistical manual of mental disorders or diagnostic to develop the exact signs and symptoms for diagnosis and how to group experience and behaviors in a particular diagnosis. Through such diagnosis, psychopathology is able to address various mental disorders and emotional disorders such as depression, psychotic behaviors, and personality disorder. Psychopathology diagnosis applies to people of all ages and genders since it involves the diagnosis of people whether they are young or old.

Strengths of Choice Theory

In addressing psychopathology, a significant strength of the choice theory is that fulfillment of one’s desires results in happiness regardless of the amount of pleasure or the pain that one goes through. It holds that happiness is a matter of getting what a person wants no matter the pain or suffering they go through. This scenario is true and makes sense for Wittgenstein. He chose struggle and purity, truth, and illumination, which is different from other people’s choices. In the end, he achieved more of his passions despite the adverse effects of experiencing less pleasure and pain than other people. Psychopathology will not attribute such a diagnosis as a negative cause of suffering since that was what the patient chose. However, the desire theory also has some weaknesses when it comes to addressing psychopathology.

Weakness of Choice Theory

A significant weakness of the theory is that despite wishing someone to have a happy life due to fulfilling their cravings, it does not want a person to accumulate a tidy sum of pleasures regardless of how they distribute them in their lives. People who choose to go for their desires are filled with a short form of pleasantness but experience a gradual decline due to suffering (He& Su, 2018). Even after experiencing happiness, they later experience another life of downside misery and negative emotions leading to psychopathology interventions. A significant weakness of the theory is that feelings lead to disorders that need to be addressed by psychopathology, which is a considerable weakness.

Desire theories are many; they include attention-based theories of desire, learning-based theories of desire, pleasure, and action theories of desire. All the ideas in the desire theories tell us that desires are all about feelings and actions. If the views were eclectic, considering all the approaches here, the learning-based theory of desire is the most incompatible with others (Sapien, 2018). A learning-based desire theory holds that desire is based on a creature that cannot feel or move by nature as long as it can learn and move in a certain way. This theory holds that a creature can desire sunny days without feeling the pleasure brought by the sun and does not even feel bad about the cloudy days. In addition, it explains a creature with no feelings or action can desire the sun without feeling motivated to do anything that might bring up the sun and without showing signs of fulfillment when the sun turns out. From an eclectic point of view on all theories of desire, the idea of the learning-based theory is outlandish since passions are all about actions and feelings, and creatures which have no feelings and actions do not fulfill desires in any way.

Change in View of Psychopathology

My view of psychopathology has significantly changed over the semester. Understanding the role of psychopathology in alleviating human suffering has been critical. This understanding has made me change how I viewed human desires since they result in no good but suffering even after fulfilling the wishes. Since the passions are the ones that lead to mental disorders, which eventually need a psychopathologist to address, my theory has weakened. I cannot advocate for an approach that seeks to fulfill desires only to result in eternal suffering. In directing clinical work and interactions with others who evidence psychopathology in the future, there is a need to incorporate desire theory teachings in that field to educate people on the sufferings that come with the struggle to fulfill their desires. Psychopathologists should engage in active instructions to let people know what they deal with in the field and their significant causes. Such teachings will enable people to live moderate lives with the understanding that desires are insatiable and hence reduce the cases of psychopathology.

Generally, human suffering is the most unpleasant experience in people’s lives. It brings undesirable pain that no one would wish to have. Since desire is the ultimate cause of human suffering, people need to understand that desires are insatiable and fulfillment of one desire leads to the urge to satisfy another. In the long run, this urge to fulfill desires and achieve happiness leads to other conditions like personality disorders, depressions, and mental disorders that require psychopathologists’ attention. A change of behavior is desirable through teachings and assisting people in understanding the nature of desires to avoid adverse conditions. People can only find happiness when their minds are at peace.


Barisnikov, K., &Straccia, C. (2019). Social adaptive skills and psychopathology in adults with intellectual disabilities of non-specific origin and those with Down syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 87, 31-42.

He, H., & Su, R. (2018). Exploring the nature and cause of human suffering: A comparison between the book of Job and Flannery O’Connor’s short novels. In 4th International Conference on Arts, Design and Contemporary Education (ICADCE 2018) (pp. 293-297). Atlantis Press.

Mohtadi, H. (2019). Examining the nature and concept of suffering and pain in the poetry of Fahad al-Askar. Journal of Lyrical Literature Researches, 17(32), 217-236.

Sapien, A. (2018). The evolutionary explanation: The limits of the desire theories of unpleasantness. International Journal of Philosophy,23 (3), 121-140. Web.

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