Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

Injury and Intimacy

Injury and intimacy: After injury, with a combination of pain (often mechanical), medication and depression, libido is largely absent and physical contact is avoided.

There can bepsa_15 a problem with intimacy in the marriages of injured workers. This may have existed to some extent prior to injury, but it was managed within the marriage/relationship.

Then arises the differences between the way males and females see their injury and the issue of intimacy:

  1. The injured female: Is certain that her partner is disappointed in her physical inaccessibility, lack of interest, and avoidance of contact. She is equally certain that he is either heroic for “tolerating all of this” and/or a burden since he is inappreciative of her level of discomfort. She is certain that “he will not tolerate this much longer” and that he will seek companionship elsewhere. Some of these concerns may be well-founded and have roots from the nature of their pre-injury relationship.
  1. The injured male: Is convinced that his partner cannot endure his being disinterested in her at this time. He is certain that she suffers and longs for him although she has not verbalized such concerns. He can simply “tell.” Infidelity is not his immediate concern, merely that he is certain that she could not thrive without intimate contact with him.

While this is quite often a strong concern, it is not shared with those involved in her care. It is deemed too private (female) or too embarrassing (male). And even though not shared, it becomes a preoccupying concern. Physical symptoms arising from injury become measured in terms of their impact upon intimacy. Medications used to treat pain and to treat depression quite often have a side effect profile that further disrupts intimacy.

This common preoccupying sidebar to injury can become a cornerstone to depressed mood, weight gain, and focus upon pain.

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