Five Mind Model

The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental health disorders offers standard criteria for the classification of disorders. This information is essential for providing a toolbox of coping skills to treat mental health concerns. Personalising treatment for precision goes beyond challenging thinking and treating avoidance behaviours to allow people to embrace their authentic self.

The Functional Legacy Mindset™ approach educates people on how different minds function (to embrace their strengths) and the legacy of such minds in terms of the benefits to society. The different minds that will be briefly discussed includes; The Focused Mind, The Awe of the Autistic Mind, The Problem-Solving Mind, The Existential Mind, and The Entrepreneurial Mind.

The theory of the Functional Legacy Mindset™ approach is grounded by the therapeutic benefits of integrating a healthy sense of self, in which your cognitive capacity and emotional energy is directed towards growth and allows you to immerse yourself in what provides you with meaning, connection and creativity. Blocking your emotions and masking (repression of emotion and camouflaging) can lead to burn out. You don’t grow out the way your mind works, rather you grown into it. A great tragedy is going through life disconnected from our brilliant minds, because we see the self as broken. The theory of a Functional Legacy Mindset™ approach is grounded by the therapeutic benefits of embracing the authentic self, to promote a sense of purpose, in which clients feel empowered to embrace their unique strengths and abilities to contribute to society in ways that feel authentic and meaningful to them. The assumptions and narratives that dominate different minds play an important role in the mental health and wellbeing of our clients.

The Focused Mind

The focused mind leads to distress when intrusive thoughts are centred around death anxiety, health anxiety, and/or thoughts do not align with the persons values (e.g., not being able to control a distressing thought and thinking this will lead to terrible consequences).

Fusing with an intrusive thought is when the person considers the thought to be important, dangerous or saying something about them as a person. When the focused mind is under high levels of distress, there is an intolerance to uncertainty, perfectionism, excess sense of responsibility and an overestimation of danger. Intrusive thoughts are catastrophic, in which a person may imagine the worst feared possible outcome and feel traumatised as if it is happening. The strength of judgement is overused and obsessive thinking about feared outcomes develops. Subjugating (pleasing at the expense of the self) can lead to exhaustion and guilt. Self-esteem fluctuates in relation to if the person is achieving, pleasing or gaining reassurance.

Alternatively, when the focused mind directs cognitive capacity and emotional energy in a healthy way, the person exhibits strengths of emotional intelligence and an insurmountable passion leads to self-motivation, self-discipline and perseverance. The focused mind allows people greater attention to detail and organisational abilities that drive societies functional systems and helping professions. People with a focused mind are highly conscientious (wishing to do one’s work well) and empathic (an ability to understand and share the feelings of another).
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The Awe of the Autistic Mind

The key to wonder is an ability to focus to the point in which all else falls away. An ability to observe the finer details for long periods of time. When the Autistic mind is overwhelmed, flooding may present as heightened hypersensitivities, rigidity in thinking, intolerance to uncertainty, routines, rituals, and perfectionism. In these instances it is important to focus on two things; self-care (e.g., reducing the physiological sensations) and what will happen next. The GPS method is to navigate the self towards focusing on what needs to happen next (e.g., a sensory break), whilst ensuring not to focus on the wrong turn. When the Autistic individual is tired and overwhelmed it may feel like they pre-set and practice for what could happen at any given moment. Recognition that some of the difficulties experienced by Autistic individuals, stems from a society that is not yet inclusive or sensitive to the needs of Autistic individuals, is important. Masking is physically and emotionally exhausting (which can lead to social fatigue or burnout), and is particularly adverse for mental health (anxiety, depression), self-perception and self-esteem. Acceptance, understanding, hope and perseverance from others is crucial in supporting people who feel the weight of symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder as they work incredibly hard to centre the mind and body. Autistic individuals are acutely aware of their differences energetically, physically, emotionally and mentally, and their acute sensitivity to sensory experiences and stimuli gives them a remarkable view of the world.
Hyper-focus, a common trait of Autistic individuals allows them to focus on one thing for a long period of time. Surrendering is the strength of detaching from what life must look like (fixed outcomes), and the science of finding something thanks to an observant mind. The energy of people aspiring to create, teamed with the surrender of the Autistic mind, is powerful and creative. There is a natural love of learning, fascination with facts, ability to listen without judgement or assumption, maintenance of order and accuracy, a pursuit of personal theory despite conflicting evidence, and a heightened awareness of details which leads to great insights. There is a pure intention to be your best self, the way you know how. Connections (as distinct from socialising which is internalising social norms) provide meaning in relationships with people (sincerity, loyalty, authenticity), objects or stimuli (special interests). By, offering respect, support, and flexibility (accommodations in the workplace and education systems), we will encourage self-determination, empowerment and innovations for the good of all. A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder can allow Autistic individuals to stand with pride and connect to their tribe.
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The Problem-Solving Mind

The Problem-solving mind can lead to inattention, impulsivity, and hyper-activity. Adults who present with ADHD often describe their frustration of the mind leading them towards new topics of discussion and questions of great importance (which presents as the mind wandering, tangential thinking and disengaging), and a sense of not feeling satisfied (a craving for stimulation). Rejection Sensitivity and emotional hyper arousal precipitates clinically significant symptoms of distress. The ADHD mind has an interest based nervous system that is not motivated by rewards and consequences and this can eventuate in motivational and time challenges, and achieving below potential (e.g., not finishing what one starts). A strength-based perspective does not deny that ADHD carries potentially life threatening risks and deficiencies, however it also seeks to acknowledge the talents, interests and skills upon which the person can build a life of success and joy. If a person is genuinely proud of who they are, it helps them to navigate the world better. In this way expectations become more realistic, and do not require the person to meet standards that are unreasonable. Flexibility allows people to minimize the negative and leverage on the positive.

Dr Edward Hallowell delivers a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to a child in a way that emphasizes strengths and builds a healthy sense of self. Dr Hallowell advises a twelve-year old child “I have great news for you. We’ve learned a lot about you, Jeremy, and guess what? You have an amazing brain. Your brain is incredible”. Dr Hallowell uses the analogy of a Ferrari engine outfitted with bicycle brakes. Dr Hallowell states, “your brakes are not strong enough to control the powerful brain you’ve got. So, sometimes, you race past places where you mean to stop, or you ignore instructions you mean to hear. But don’t worry. I am a brake specialist. I will help you strengthen your brakes, so you can become the champion you are.” Dr Hallowell argues that leveraging on a child’s strengths leads to overall success and wellbeing as the child believes that they will excel, despite disappointment and defeat. Furthermore this approach encourages a growth mindset that promotes resilience. There are many strengths of the Problem-Solving Mind, including; increased energy, creativity, innovative thinking, high motivation and the ability to hyper-focus. Many celebrated innovators of past and present are known or thought to have had ADHD. People with ADHD tend to thrive in situations of rapid change, variety and environments that reward creativity and out of the box thinking.
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The Existential Mind

When existential thoughts are directed towards the self in a punitive-way they have nothing encouraging to say and there is a sense of overwhelm. When your mind wanders to an existential headspace (what is the meaning of life, where do I fit in) it is difficult to focus on the present moment and challenge unhelpful thinking. Existential thoughts directed on a macro level evaluate the way human beings act towards one another, nature, and/or the cruelty of animals. This may be particularly detrimental to a person’s mental health when they believe that they have used up their responses in their coping repertoire and develop maladaptive thinking about their plight. This may be further perpetuated by avoidance behaviours such as disengaging and isolating one-self and/or self-medicating. The values people hold (authenticity, integrity, fairness, kindness) tend to match peoples triggers of anger. One of the strongest factors in fuelling anger and keeping it going is when attitudes and expectations clash with the real world (I need the world to be fair and just).

In clinical practice I have often treated symptoms of clinical depression by helping the client to problem solve how they can find meaning, connection and creativity in their individual lives. Clients often report that their day to day functioning (concentration, mood, appetite, sleep etc.) returns to their authentic way of being once this resolution is achieved. Existential thinkers report a distinct difference in which the mind continues to obsessively return to an existential head-space to question the overall meaning of life (beyond the individual self) and they report not being able to find peace and fulfilment without pondering this question. Existential thinkers acknowledge suffering in the world and imagine a better way. The character strength of transcending provides existential thinkers with meaning, connection and creativity.

The Entrepreneurial Mind

The creativity, energy, productivity, charm and euphoria of the Entrepreneurial Mind can create businesses (in a variety of industries) that have a positive impact on society. Innovations that may improve our standard of living may include alternative energy, health awareness and education. Entrepreneurial ventures can also create jobs and conditions for a prosperous society. Unfortunately, these perceived advantages are only temporary and, for most people, progress to increasing mania, disruptive lifestyle choices, poor impulse control, and increased substance abuse and can lead to psychosis. Bi Polar Disorder requires ongoing management with the right medical support (psychiatric care), to achieve an overall sense of balance and prevent symptoms from exacerbating. Increased optimism and grandiosity can lead people to underestimate/dismiss the potential negative consequences of their behaviour, rush into an activity or make decisions without carefully considering the pros and cons, and/or only focus on information that confirms their beliefs whilst ignoring evidence to the contrary.

Whilst it is important to achieve self-care and balance, it is also important to follow your heart and trust that you will do great things. A fear of fostering strengths, talents and interests can leave people feeling disconnected and not valuing themselves. Embracing your authentic self is an effective formula for success. Entrepreneurial minds are not afraid to make mistakes or give things a go, and often their creativity is stifled by other people imposing their limits upon others. Entrepreneurial minds have a wealth of new ideas and are productive. When you build a healthy self-concept, clients are eager to learn and are more likely to develop a self-compassionate mindset that acknowledges that support is vital and needed. Neurodivergent clients have an admirable level of psychological grit.
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To all, of the beautiful minds I have had the privilege of working with, I acknowledge the valuable contribution you bring to this world with the upmost respect. The ripple effect of these beautiful minds benefits many people for years to come. What each of these minds share in common is an altruistic concern for the wellbeing of the collective. Jung quotes – “If you are a gifted person, it doesn’t mean that you gained something. It means you have something to give back.” Greatness can be achieved through diversity.

Please find below videos of professionals and celebrities who embrace neurodiversity.

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The Functional Legacy Mindset™ approach is not proposed to replace the important work of the dominant psychological therapeutic interventions. Schema therapy is a powerful therapeutic intervention that allows clients to identify psychological defences and self-defeating patterns that begin early in life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy educates clients on how to challenge problematic cognitions (thoughts and core beliefs) and behaviours that can amplify distress. Acceptance Commitment Therapy encourages people to be mindful of their emotions in a curious and non-judgmental manner, which allows them to change how they pay attention to an emotion and sets the framework for managing distress in a healthy way.

Please note DSM-V diagnosis, psychological and psychiatric (appropriate use of medication and psychiatric care) treatment provides the key to understanding, resources and support. The Functional Legacy Mindset™ Five Mind Model should not be used to replace a face to face clinical interview to assess diagnosis of mental health concerns and material on this website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing significant emotional difficulties, you should contact your GP to obtain a referral to see a qualified professional.

The Functional Legacy Mindset™ approach was designed by Dr Kerry Chillemi (Clinical Psychologist) to

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