There was a time in psychology when therapists were held in low esteem for passing any type of judgment on the beliefs or attitudes their patients held. But in the age of character disturbance, no self-respecting therapist can avoid not only recognizing but also confronting the dysfunctional beliefs that inevitably damage relationships.

It’s an unfortunate reality that when character disturbances either fail to be recognized or are improperly labeled as something else, the problems associated with those disturbances can be “enabled” to continue or even worsen.

If someone’s behavior and impulse control problems are truly a problem of chemistry, then appropriate medication (and supportive counseling) is what’s indicated. But if the problem is primarily one of character, then the person’s way of looking at the world – the various ways they think about things, the attitudes they hold, etc. – all need to be confronted and corrected in within a highly specialized treatment framework.

Whether or not we choose to ignore or discount the fact, character always has and always will matter. It matters in every aspect of our lives, from our relationships, to our work endeavors, to our civic duties. So let’s do our best to make it “cool” to talk about, focus on, and especially promote character once again.

As I first suggested is true of conditions like character disturbance, we have recently come to realize that many conditions, especially autism, exist along a continuum of intensity and severity.

Many of us depart from our daily Scrooge-like ways to love just a little better over the holidays, and doing so inevitably brings us joy and for a time makes the world a better place. But it doesn’t take long for us to get back to business as usual.

Upon hearing the term “disorder,” many folks infer that a genuine disease process is at work that in some measure relieves a person from full culpability. But in fact only a handful of clinical illnesses can potentially render a person not fully responsible for their behavior.

Because we live in the age of entitlement, there are far too many among us who think that respect is a fundamental right as opposed to something that rightfully need be earned. Folks with an entitlement mentality often demand respect, even when they’ve habitually conducted themselves in a manner that doesn’t merit it.