I’m a board-certified psychiatrist who has spent the majority of my career awakening mental health, and sharing the understanding that there is just one cause — and one cure — for mental illness.
About Dr. Bill Pettit
Personal Impact of the Three Principles
It was the weekend of April Fools’ day in 1983 and in lieu of experiencing the pranks this day is known for, I was listening to a man called Sydney Banks talk about the spiritual nature of the human mind. Sitting in San Francisco that afternoon, I had hope awaken in me — hope that I could find a better level of mental health — and it lightened my heart and mind more than any practical joke could have.
I was a practicing psychiatrist at the time, and, truth be told, I wasn’t a particularly happy one. I had struggled with depression, negative thoughts, anger and frustration for years. What I heard that day awoke a new awareness — an insight that significantly changed the course of my mental wellbeing, and forever altered my approach to clinical practice.
As I spent more time in conversation with Syd, l started to see incremental changes in how I navigated my closest relationships, and responded to troublesome emotions. I started listening to others with more respect and less judgment. I reacted less to anger and negative feelings. I began to trust that leaving my thinking alone when upset, allowed my mind to quiet and more often brought me to the feeling, and solution that I desired.
In short, I was beginning to see that my mental health was not something that needed constant monitoring and repairing, but rather, something that was always innate and whole.
I returned to the clinical practice of psychiatry, experiencing a renewed level of personal wellbeing and a previously unappreciated awareness of the spiritual nature of life. I also began to see this very same fundamental wellbeing at the essence of EVERY client who came to my practice.
For over 35 years now, I have seen people’s innate mental wellbeing reawakened, despite the labels, and diagnoses, given to them. I have witnessed countless stories of hope and change, inspired by individuals who found understanding and peace of mind where they (and others) previously thought it impossible.
These stories of hope — and the important message that they convey about the true nature of mental health — are what move me to continue joyfully sharing the Three Principles, long after most clinicians would have retired!
Dr. Bill Pettit
Bill Pettit has shared the Three Principles within his psychiatric practice for more than 35 years. Bill was mentored personally for over 26 years by Sydney Banks, and his direct experience with Syd’s teaching closely informs his work. His most recent speaking and coaching work has focused on overcoming trauma, and the understanding that there is just one cause—and one cure—for mental illness. Bill is board-certified in psychiatry and holds an M.D. from University of Illinois College of Medicine and a B.A. from Creighton University, and has been previously board-certified in mind-body medicine, and twice certified in addiction medicine. He presently holds an appointment as Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Creighton University School of Medicine. Bill also served as a physician in the United States Navy for more than 9 years, including 3 years as a Navy Flight Surgeon and 3 years as Chief of Psychiatry of the Navy Nuclear Submarine base at Groton, Connecticut.
Since 1983 Dr. Pettit has been a student and sharer of the Three Principles, presenting at many national and international programs and conferences, and consulting clients, individuals and organizations both locally and abroad.
Bill and his wife, Linda, now live in Phoenix, Arizona, where Bill continues to practice psychiatry two mornings a week, and devoting the rest of his time and energy sharing the Three Principles through as many avenues as possible.
Dr. Bill’s Approach to Mental Health
One Cause. One Cure.
“Whatever we have been doing for five decades, it ain’t working. And when I look at the numbers – the numbers of suicides, the number of disabilities, the mortality data – it’s abysmal, and it’s not getting any better. All the ways in which we’ve approached these illnesses, and with a lot of people working very hard, the outcomes we’ve got to point to are pretty bleak.” — 2012, Thomas Insel, MD, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health USA (from 2005 to 2017)
In a recent study of mental wellbeing throughout the United States, reasearcher and Positive Psychologist, Corey Keyes PhD, found that:
- Only 18% of people are Thriving (high degree of mental well-being and resilience)
- 50% of people are Stressed (coping daily, while experiencing considerable stress in response to life’s challenge)
- A whopping 32% are Languishing (struggling daily with feelings of overwhelm, lostness, and despair).
“Problems will never be solved at the same level of Thinking and Understanding that they were created.” — Albert Einstein
In the spirit of offering a new level of thinking, I’m proposing an understanding that could simplify our approach to mental health, and bring hope to a field that is struggling to create significant positive change.
In the 35+ years of clinical and life experience since meeting Sydney Banks, it has become crystal clear to me that there is only one cause of mental suffering, Chronic Mental Stress and the resulting chronic activation of the emergency stress response.
One Mental Illness. One Road to Peace.
“All human psyches are rooted in universal truth and no person’s psyche is better than any others. Only to the degree of the individual’s psychological and spiritual understanding does it appear to vary” — Sydney Banks, The Missing Link
Rather than focusing on the wide range of possible mental illnesses, and the many separate clinical treatments that exist for each, I propose that there is just one cause of mental distress, and one road to peace.
This approach is founded on the following :
- There is one mental illness and its name is Chronic Mental Stress (CMS)
- There is one solution and its name is Love and Understanding (they fly together)
- There is one state of mind all people seek and its name is Peace. (It is a byproduct of living in Love and Understanding)
- There are many paths to Love and Understanding
- Understanding through insight, the spiritual (formless) truth pointed to via the Three Principles is a reliable, logical, and joyful path to Love and Understanding.
Over the past 35 years I have seen this approach bring a reawakening of innate mental well-being in thousands of people labeled with mental illness diagnoses, who had been told that they were broken and/or lacking, and may never be able to find peace.
I propose that an incremental understanding of the spiritual nature of life via the Three Principles, results in increases in both ‘stress resistance’ (not taking on undue mental stress in response to life’s challenges) and ‘resilience’ (bouncing back quickly and fully after an initial reaction to a life challenge).
In this mental/spiritual state, our physiology has its best chance to serve us with physical health and vitality. It also naturally leads to an increased ability to maintain a lighthearted, loving and peaceful state of mind, regardless of past painful experiences, present life challenges, or future uncertainties.
Utilizing the same research survey as Dr. Corey Keyes (mentioned above), Three Principles researcher and psychologist, Dr. Tom Kelley, evaluated a cohort of people with significant exposure to the Three Principles. He found that 88% of them were Thriving, 9% were Stressed and 3% were Languishing. Imagine what our families, our cities, our country, our world, would be like if this were the norm, rather than the exception.
If there is indeed only one cause — and one cure — to mental distress, this offers a story of great hope and possibility. One that is worth exploring.
Who I Work With
I feel blessed to support adolescents and adults who have struggled with Chronic Mental Stress — with diagnostic labels such as, Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Addiction disorders, PTSD, and Schizophrenia — discover their true nature as whole, healthy beings. I also find great joy working with psychiatrists, physicians, other health professionals, educators, Three Principles practitioners, and clergy, who are dedicated to having a loving and contented experience of life, and better helping those they serve.
How I Can Help You
When working with you, I have three goals that will guide our time together. First, I will always encourage you to tell me anything you feel is important for me to know. Second, I want you to understand, at a deep level, why you experience the difficulties you have, both now and in the past. Third, that together, we will awaken hope that you can live considerably more of your life in a peaceful, loving state of mind.
Dr. Bill’s Blog
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