HomeWellscriptsHarry L. Mills, Ph.D.Joyce R. Mills, M.S.StressMindfulnessWisdomPositivityOptimismJoyHumorMusicTimingSelf-regulation

The Anxiety Factor in Health and Performance
Harry L. Mills, Ph.D. and Joyce Mills, M.S.,M.Ed.


Fear and anxiety play a major role in our lives and significantly influence our health and well-being. This site is devoted to the development of optimums in resiliency for you and your family. All aspects are created by Dr. Harry L Mills and Joyce R. Mills who have been life partners and professional collaborators for over 40 years. Fear and anxiety serve as alarm systems that have allowed survival of the species for thousands of years. But those biological and psychological systems evolved well before the industrial age and while they may still serve us they can also lead to tragedy. The key is wisdom, deep wisdom, that must be developed, protected and sustained if we are to remain healthy and to achieve and then sustain personal well-being.
Both Joyce and I started our interest in fear and anxiety during graduate studies. Joyce conducted research on the resolution of fears and the role of counter conditioning in recovery from phobias. I was interested in the physiology of fear and the anticipatory process that is characterized as anxiety. Joyce's interest morphed into the use of yoga to build resiliency.
A lot has happened in the 50 years since I first started studying fear as an undergraduate in psychology. My first interests were of the role of fear in combat situations. But I quickly began to explore in other areas and found fear one of the most pervasive of our emotions. The science available to us that long ago was very limiting to say the least. We knew very little about the brain and Skinner, the virtual God of psychology at the time, strongly discouraged putting the brain into the equation. My students are amazed when I tell them that the only way we had of studying the brain that time was to destroy part of it or to do as Luria did in Russia and that was to travel over Russia evaluating the impact of bullet wounds to the head. We now know much more about the brain and the science continues to increase giving us much more of a scientific foundation for the study of fear.

Early theories were based on a metaphor. The metaphor was classical conditioning. Even though the metaphor was of limited use, for decades it formed the foundation of our understanding of fear. With the cognitive revolution in psychology new doors opened and new approaches to study became available. Neuroscience and its applications to psychology made great strides in the 1990s into the first part of this century. The availability of brain imaging made a big difference. In 2002 two psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky won the Nobel prize, for the first time, with an application of brain science that formulated System One and System Two and applied it to decision-making in economics. It also provided for explanations of when and why various behavioral interventions succeed or fail. It now is the core concept in our approach. We will explore that further on this site.
Some of my early articles are available through Mental Help Net online. These articles are available free of charge to mental health centers that subscribe. If you think you may have an anxiety disorder you can learn more at the web site for the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

Go to the OPTIMUMS video site.

Your email address:

 You may visit past postings to our three archives below:
The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being. It seems increasingly clear that the naive notion that a germ automatically leads to illness is no longer acceptable, although much of the lay public subscribes to the theory. Today we know that the idea of a single external cause, such as a germ, is oversimplified. The presence of the germ does not always cause the illness. The vulnerability of the person or the host animal is a major factor and that vulnerability is influenced by such factors as immunity and stress levels. So the cause of illness is not quite as simple as we once thought. Workplace-related stress is a growing concern. Preview Wellscripts, our health and well-being BLOG.

The new millennium finds us with ever-increasing workloads, a decreasing workforce, and a climate of rapid change. Employees are being asked to do more than ever before in less time for less money. Job security doesn’t exist anymore, and increasingly jobs themselves are hard to come by. These and other pressures add up to increasing stress and strain being placed on employees, supervisors and leaders alike, which takes a toll on moral and functioning. Companies that take a proactive approach towards minimizing employee’s stress experience reap many rewards. Some workplace stress is inevitable while other sources of workplace stress are avoidable. Stress management in the workplace is about helping employees to better cope with stress. Preview Workscripts, our workplace BLOG.

Most seniors have one or more chronic illnesses and yet our healthcare system is based on an acute care model. One germ and one cure. The doctor and technology are in control and the patient is the passive recipient of pharmacological miracles and technology triumphs. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of all deaths in the US are due to chronic disease and the top four are cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer and COPD. Of those over the age of 65 it is estimated 85% have one or more chronic diseases. If you are a psychologist working with geriatrics you are working in the context of chronic conditions. Geriatric services is no place for the Cartesian myth that the mind and body are separate. Rather clinical success depends on en embodied mind.
There is growing evidence that stress is a major factor in maintaining health and well-being.  Health means more than the absence of illness.  In China and in ancient Greece health was thought of as being in balance with nature.  The vital task was seen as maintaining equilibrium in the face of extensive demands.  Preview Agescripts, our aging BLOG.