Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

The Role of the Spouse in Disability

It would initially appear that an unmarried patient fares more poorly than the married injured worker. It would seem that the availability of a husband or wife insures that the patient recovers more quickly.

Quite often this is not true. The husband or wife of an injured worker may place oppressive financial pressure upon the patient. He/she may continue to spend and demand that the injured worker support such spending even though income is drastically reduced.

The spouse may have long harbored resentment and use the timeframe of the injury as a convenient opportunity to emotionally and physically abandon the patient.

There are several things to consider:

1. If the injured worker states he/she is depressed, is the spouse’s demands or emotional abandonment the chief source of the depression

2. Has the spouse made the financial shortfall that much more difficult to tolerate

3. Is the spouse using guilt as a means of punishing and controlling the injured mate

4. Does the spouse foster disability as a means of now becoming the strength of the family

I have frequently seen a husband or wife use the time period of an injury as a convenient time to activate an ongoing extramarital affair and actually abandon the patient when he/she is most vulnerable…or remain with the patient only to insure their split of any cash settlement.

This is a complex issue that needs to be fully understood for its uniqueness in each case of work-related injury.”

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