Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

Social Isolation and Obsessive Preoccupation

When someone is out of work, has a physical complaint for which recovery is slow and/or for which recovery will never be complete, there is excessive time for _obsessive rumination and bodily checking._

Checking behavior is an obsessive-compulsive trend that many, who are injured, develop rapidly. They begin to examine their daily and varying somatic (bodily) complaints, trying to determine how they are today versus how they were the day before_and how they will be tomorrow. They ruminate regarding that of which they were once capable. They process their, sometimes rapid, economic decline. They become irritable with their family. They are relegated to household chores which are either demeaning and/or which hold little interest for them.

Whether returning to full or alternate/light duty, the individual has a daily agenda that differs from that of a continual focus upon their bodily complaints.

Additionally, while at home, and their only social contact being other patients they meet in doctors_ offices, their social capacity decreases. They feel estranged seeing others departing to, and returning from, work. Weekends, holidays and vacations take on a vacuous quality.

Within the limits of the objective limitations, the patient_s best interests are always served by having social contact and some sense of occupational productivity.

Do not forget that we punish prisoners by isolating them. Perhaps nothing is more punitive to the injured worker than their being isolated as a result of an injury.

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