How do I help my patient get better? It may depend on many things, the disease, injury, co-morbidities, etc. And in many cases it can be hard to ignore big factors that “stand in the way” of recovery. Some patient’s are just tough. Complex. Hopeless.
Of course, we make sure to keep a mask on. We attempt to prevent our patients from seeing
our true feelings and thoughts about their potential for recovery. We may be intentionally transparent at times and decide to give some “straight talk,” letting special patients of whom we deem appropriate to know that we may not have great hope for their ability to recover. But for most patients, it’s just easier to put on the good face and encourage them…even though we may not think the same way we act towards them.
This seems to work, right? Maybe…maybe not. Turns out the way we think is pretty innately connected to our outward physical actions and — for the verbally capable fauna on this planet — to our words as well.
This American Life recently aired a thoroughly thought provoking piece centered on a man named Daniel Kish, who became blind at a young age. Despite Mr. Kish’s “disability” he is functionally independent. He travels alone, walks alone, rides a bicycle. All of this because a unique set of circumstances that encompassed his childhood, but most importantly his mother didn’t hinder him from doing what he wanted. As a result, he climbed. Climbed trees, fences, bookshelves, etc. He mastered his own fear of his absence of vision, and eventually found a remarkable way to see without sight.
But that’s not why I’m sharing this show with you. There is an extremely important narrative that is laid out through the program — our perception and thought can affect those around us. Even if we don’t intend them to.
To avoid spoiling an exceptionally good story, I will simply suggest you listen to it. And I’ll leave you with this thought, next time you have that hopelessly complex patient…think about your thoughts about him or her. Think about it. “Don’t make your patient a slave to your perception.”
Listen to the story here.