Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

Hiding Out – Avoidant Behaviors

The concept of secondary gain means that the injured worker gets a lot of attention and money and this influences his symptoms. but even with all this attention, why would someone cling to apparently miserable symptoms?

Many of them are simply “hiding out.” An injury can be a very effective excuse for all of the failures of life, and the lack of creativity to find new options for the future.

Most of us wonder `what would we do if we lost our job’ or had a disability that prevented us from doing our current job.

What would most people do? Most would seek a new path in life whether with or without new education. We would find something to do…some way of surviving because ultimately we must all take care of ourselves and our families.

When you pay someone not to work, you complicate the situation, you reduce some (and in some cases all) of the urgency. You allow the person to hide from their own lackings:

low motivation

low education

low creativity

Many people need fear as a motivator, fear of survival. For others, there is the fear of having no work identity…no answer to the question “what do you do (for a living)?”

An injury (and often an illness) can become a means of hiding out from our responsibilities for our own future and the wellbeing of the family.

It is imperative to determine whether or not this is occurring. Is the injured worker using the symptoms from the injury as a means of hiding from the greater fear…the future and potential failure.

Once we know from what the injured worker is hiding, we are better equipped to direct him/her toward a functional future rather than chasing down physical complaints which appear to have little or no basis.

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