We use the term “personality” to refer to the sum total of the characteristics that make each of us unique. It refers to how we think, feel, behave and manage work and relationships. When that personality type becomes counterproductive and negatively affects social and occupational functioning, we refer to it as a “personality disorder.”
Individuals with complex development, compromised education, problematic interpersonal and often recurrent legal problems, are able to set aside these difficulties in order to enlist your assistance after injury. However, those problems have not been resolved, they are merely held at bay while the physical complaints are addressed.
As their physical problems begin to resolve and/or as they learn to accept that some of their problems will be permanent limitations, the patient’s underlying dysfunctional characteristics and problems begin to resurface. It is much like the chronically unfaithful husband who becomes dedicated only while his wife is severely ill, but when she recovers, he begins to behave as he always had.
The retreat to past behaviors should always be anticipated. The problems carried into the physical trauma are waiting to express themselves once again. It is important to realize that your investment in the patient may not be equal to his ability to continue to invest in you. While you may see this injury as a chance for him to turn their life around, he may see the injury as a temporary roadblock to his old existence. This, as some would say, is an occupational hazard and does not reflect poorly on the work you have done.”