Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

Uninformed Consent

uninformedUninformed patients: It is clear that we are just one of the creatures in the animal kingdom that defines ourselves by what we create.

Life is fairly meaningless unless we have a purpose, goal, direction, motivation and determination to accomplish.

When someone is ill or injured, his/her immediate purpose becomes that of recovery, and it is often many months before some realize that “recovery does not mean returning to how things once were.” Indeed, some health crises result in permanent changes with which one will live forever.

Some would have you believe that this means that the individual’s goal then becomes that of being financially remunerated for limitations. Our society, and, indeed, the world, does not operate in this fashion.

Poor health is a barrier, but it is not a terminal endpoint. A person poorly serves him/herself by assuming a role of total disability and ending all attempts at productivity.

Living a disability role is not only a burden upon your family but upon those (children, grandchildren, etc) who look to you as a role model. If you care, it is also a burden upon society.

Thus, your philosophy of American life and of your role in family and society determines what you ultimately do with a physical challenge.

I have had many severely ill patients who attempted to assume the stance that, because they had appreciable limitations and no training for alternate work, they would never work again. However, following up on these patients has almost always demonstrated that they found some form of remunerated productivity to fill their days.

The problem has been is that the patient is placed in a role governed by two opposing forces, one which attempts to minimize their limitations and the other attempts to exaggerate it. What almost every patient needs is someone who helps them recognize that there are productive things that they can do with their remaining years…even with pain.


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