From bad prognosis to good news
25. Accessing inner strengths
Critical incidents and treatments can trigger a sense of powerlessness and panic, leading to depression and lower immune function that may take away the appetite for social engagement. Sleep and exercise patterns may be disrupted and other damaging behaviours manifest, just at the time a person needs immune function to be strongest in order to optimise recovery programme elements. Because people are different, a synthesis of customised approaches, adjusted according to response, produces synergistic results greater than the sum of their parts.
In the 1970s, over 600 stressed individuals trained by Drs Selye and Earle in various stress management techniques suited to their situations demonstrated remarkable all-over improvements, including reduced weight, sickness and biological age. The focus on personal relevance works. Having a clear-headed advocate, probably an untrained but caring friend or relative, to bring to appointments in institutional set-ups, has numerous vital advantages beyond communicating needs. Not only does it boost judicious decision-making but it also evokes a more respectful and attentive attitude from professionals, which can be invaluable. While professionals may predict the future through prognoses, a will to change for healing, to heed feedback and use failure as experience, is up to clients. Extensive scientific studies show that potential for positive traits can be activated.
Gary Schwartz described how better coping and healing mechanisms teach participants to be more mindful of their own sensations.
David Spiegel established the dramatic difference to survival levels that can be made by psychosocial interventions that provide support and opportunities for expression in group settings.
Susanne Ouellette attributed personal hardiness to three C’s: a sense of personal Control, external Commitments, and an ability to see problems as Challenges.
George F. Solomon credited healthy balance to learning the facility to assert and communicate needs and feelings.
David McLelland noted reduced incidence of illness in those exhibiting the most unconditional trust in their relationships.
Patricia Linville cited evidence for the value of comprehensive self-examination to resilient rebound from all kinds of threats.
Alan Luks discovered that altruistic helping types withstand stresses better than others.
Healthcare administrators need to be open-minded, positive and modest about their own powers. Move on from those who thoughtlessly impose death sentences by not choosing their words responsibly. See that they welcome equal participation and decision-making in any care program. It seems astonishing to actually have to point this out, but common experience calls for it. Equally, beware of over-interpreting comments, relying only on lay opinion or of not reporting symptoms or other treatments being tried, as a good doctor works best with full disclosure.
To ensure they’re heard, patients should prepare to assert themselves. Writing questions down, up to six at a time, beforehand, and either handing them over in paper or verbalising them, is reasonable, as required; questions about the condition, progress, tests, medication, side-effects as desired, whatever is of concern. Expect respect and understanding about anything communicated and feel free to seek at least a second opinion any time. There are always other valid approaches to consider than the first tried when shifting lifestyle in the direction of expanded goals for well-being.
Tags: 3 cs, alan luks altruism self-examination, care programme, challenges, commitment, communicate, control, critical incidents, david McLelland, David Spiegel, death sentence, diagnoses, disclosure, doctors, drugs, Gary Schwartz, George f. Solomon, healthcare advocate, immune function, mindful, participation, patricia linville, positive traits, psychosocial intervention, relationships, resilience, selye and earle, stress management, Susanne Ouellette, synergy, synthesis, trust