0828: "Positive Attitude"

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LucasBrown
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0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby LucasBrown » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:00 am UTC

Image
Alt text: "Having a positive attitude is almost tautologically good for your mental health, and extreme stress can hurt your immune system, but that doesn't mean you should feel like shit for feeling like shit."

I've gotten wrapped up in these situations a lot (*CoughGuiltTripsCough*) but the ending has got to be the best view of pessimism ever.

Although I have a feeling this is actually related to that family illness...

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby mowdownjoe » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:03 am UTC

Randall's getting into his own head? I can only imagine this being drawn while visiting his family over the last two weeks.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby hthall » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:05 am UTC

Nice deconstruction of positive-attitude sales.
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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby unawakeneddreamer » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:06 am UTC

Do I detect a character sheet on the screen that monitors his vital signs?

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby JustMe » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:11 am UTC

THIS!!!!!
I'm so sick of all the people who go lay guilt trips on folks for being sick. When you're ill, and it hurts everywhere, sometimes a bad attitude is totally justified.
I don't generally hold with violence, but anyone who says crap like that deserves to be slapped!

OK, I'll calm down now....
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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby syko_lozz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:12 am UTC

has anyone thought about/discussed the possibility of it being Randall thats sick?
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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby xkcdfan » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:15 am UTC

Yessss, this is amazing.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby xeroxorex » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:23 am UTC

How is that patient's vital signs on the monitor when I don't see any bp cuff, spo2, or electrodes attached to the patient?
Image

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby rpgamer » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:25 am UTC

I don't think they need electrodes to monitor charisma.
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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby black_hat_guy » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:25 am UTC

syko_lozz wrote:has anyone thought about/discussed the possibility of it being Randall thats sick?

That's certainly possible. If he is sick, he probably just wants to keep that to himself and not have us invading his privacy.
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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby xnick » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:50 am UTC

I love this strip. Very well constructed and elaborated.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby BlueNight » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:54 am UTC

JustMe wrote:THIS!!!!!
I'm so sick of all the people who go lay guilt trips on folks for being sick. When you're ill, and it hurts everywhere, sometimes a bad attitude is totally justified.
I don't generally hold with violence, but anyone who says crap like that deserves to be slapped!

OK, I'll calm down now....


It's even worse when mental health is involved. People who have never been depressed tell you to just cheer up and do what you're supposed to do. People who have never been abused tell you that life goes on. People who have never been bullied tell you just to ignore it. People who have never been manipulated tell you just to forget about it. And when it's mental health, it's the easiest thing in the world to tell you to suck it up and soldier on, even when all good that exists is crumbling and leaving only the rotten and horrible.

And then someone goes and makes that stupid joke: at least it's all in your head.

AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!
---------
BlueNight

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby dustyshouri » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:57 am UTC

Nice job with the rpg stats on the monitor.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Ghandi 2 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:05 am UTC

Are they in a hospital for ghosts?

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TekServer
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Positive Resonance

Postby TekServer » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:13 am UTC

I've been reading xkcd for about a year now. I've never come in here before because I'm not normally one for forums, but this page was sufficient motivation for me to register, just so I could post this.

This page totally resonated with me. I had my gall bladder out a couple of years ago, followed closely by a nasty bout of pancreatitis that left some painful and lasting after-effects. I'm still suffering, and with little money (just enough to put most of the government handout stuff out of reach) and no insurance, getting help has been slow and difficult.
So, yeah, positive attitude gets a tad challenging sometimes.

Thank you for this, Randall! Actually, I should thank you more generally for a unique and mentally stimulating webcomic. I'm quite proud to say that I understand most of your jokes, though the math sometimes escapes me. My calculus has more than a decade of rust on it ... :wink:

Like some of the posters above me, I have suspicions that you are dealing with health issues of your own. Whatever you are facing, I wish you the best; I have little to offer besides thoughts and prayers, but those you can have from me in plenty!

:mrgreen:

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby sje46 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:18 am UTC

BlueNight wrote:
JustMe wrote:THIS!!!!!
I'm so sick of all the people who go lay guilt trips on folks for being sick. When you're ill, and it hurts everywhere, sometimes a bad attitude is totally justified.
I don't generally hold with violence, but anyone who says crap like that deserves to be slapped!

OK, I'll calm down now....


It's even worse when mental health is involved. People who have never been depressed tell you to just cheer up and do what you're supposed to do. People who have never been abused tell you that life goes on. People who have never been bullied tell you just to ignore it. People who have never been manipulated tell you just to forget about it. And when it's mental health, it's the easiest thing in the world to tell you to suck it up and soldier on, even when all good that exists is crumbling and leaving only the rotten and horrible.

And then someone goes and makes that stupid joke: at least it's all in your head.

AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

Reminds me of this comic:
Spoiler:
Image

http://www.akimbocomics.com/?p=573
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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby solobutterfly » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:29 am UTC

I definitely believe in the power of positive thought after my fiancé was told by three different doctors he'd never walk again and in a year was back to playing capture the flag and running around like a 5 year old on candy. It was before I met him, but be it positive thought or stubbornness he made it through. Hoping my mom is equally stubborn while she recovers from a broken leg and her surgery that occurred yesterday. But like the comic says, if you're in pain, that doesn't mean you have to be all sunshine and rainbows to be positive. Hope things are going well for Randall and family.

Also, well spotted on the character sheet! Wouldn't have noticed it myself.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Velict » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:30 am UTC

xeroxorex wrote:How is that patient's vital signs on the monitor when I don't see any bp cuff, spo2, or electrodes attached to the patient?

The "vitals signs" that it's monitoring include Int, Con, and Chr.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Aic » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:31 am UTC

Nice. Though you don't find that kind of attitude around here much. Not for physical illnesses, at least. Also, nice detail on the monitor.
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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby nico » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:38 am UTC

BlueNight wrote:It's even worse when mental health is involved. People who have never been depressed tell you to just cheer up and do what you're supposed to do. People who have never been abused tell you that life goes on. People who have never been bullied tell you just to ignore it. People who have never been manipulated tell you just to forget about it. And when it's mental health, it's the easiest thing in the world to tell you to suck it up and soldier on, even when all good that exists is crumbling and leaving only the rotten and horrible.

And then someone goes and makes that stupid joke: at least it's all in your head.

AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!


What about all the people that go through all that shit and still have positive attitude? To be honest, if you can't take a simple joke like this then you should probably get a more positive attitude towards life.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Uninfinity » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:38 am UTC

The doctor isn't wearing his lab coat. Don't listen to him, Randal! He's an impostor! :O
(I mean, I know anyone can wear lab coats, but this guy obviously isn't even trying)

Just a tip, Randal: you should get some energy drinks to help with your stats there. I know someone who has some coupons. (they might be expired though; I don't remember) I think they made a movie about him recently, actually.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby sje46 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:39 am UTC

xeroxorex wrote:How is that patient's vital signs on the monitor when I don't see any bp cuff, spo2, or electrodes attached to the patient?

He's attached to the macine. I don't know about bp cuff, spo2, or electrodes, but..yeah.


Also, what's this about a character sheet?
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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby enderverse » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:44 am UTC

My great uncle had horrible cancer and still managed to stay in a great mood almost all of the time, always asked everyone else how they were and just all of the general positive attitude stuff. He died anyways last month :( , having a positive attitude didn't change anything besides the happiness of himself and everyone around him.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby guale » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:07 am UTC

Am I the only one that finds it odd just how many good comics are coming from Randall at such a bad time?

Uninfinity wrote:Just a tip, Randal: you should get some energy drinks to help with your stats there. I know someone who has some coupons. (they might be expired though; I don't remember) I think they made a movie about him recently, actually.

They're probably only good in Canada.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby cyanyoshi » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:14 am UTC

Well, I think we are all grateful that Randall's creative juices are still flowing. A most excellent strip today! Oh, and I just realized that it is December! Double super special awesome! :mrgreen:

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Snoink » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:54 am UTC

Personally, I think the patient would feel a lot better if his head were attached correctly. But that's just me. ;)

Neat comic! :)

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby BAReFOOt » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:04 am UTC

<tl;dr>It’s actually not quite as simple as described in the comic. There is scientific proof that something called “self-fulfilling prophecy” really exists.</tl;dr>

Of course that doesn’t mean that whatever you say will then happen. (There are some crazy people out there who dogmatically believe that you can control your fate with your thoughts. So I just wanted to say that that’s not what I mean.)

But <tl;dr>what it means, is that your mindset has much stronger control over your body and behavior than was previously assumed</tl;dr>. Experiments include a woman getting a swelling on her back, just because she thought she was stung by a hornet, and many many psychosomatic symptoms. People losing their epilepsy after finally having processed having been raped in their childhood. Etc.

<tl;dr>And, you can actually improve the effect of a treatment by up to 30% trough this alone. It’s how placebos work.</tl;dr>
Of course for smart people, this is all shit, since it’s nearly impossible for them, to lie to themselves in a way that makes them really believe it. Which is required for most of the effect. Luckily, if someone else tricks you – e.g. with placebo pills – it still works.

The biggest impact this has on our society, actually is that people become what they believe they are. How come some children become the bullies and cool guys, and some the losers and emos? Turns out it’s mostly socially conditioned from how people tell you you are.
But from personal experience (re-checking everything I thought I knew, to see if it’s wrong social conditioning, and if I really do know it, or just was told), I know that most of what we think we are, is just made up. So you can freely change it, just by changing your mindset. Of course genetic stuff and actual physical effects like a toxin & co will stay. Duh. But your immune system can work better/worse. Things like that.

<tl;dr>Like in any task, your success is also dependent on if you see it as a challenge and you assume you can succeed, or if you think you’ll fail anyway. If you think you will fail anyway, you’ll do everything with less motivation and give up quickly. Weird as it sounds, but this is also true for your body’s functions. At least up to 30%. ;)</tl;dr>
And of course you can always change things like: You’re good/bad at sports. You like/hate some food. You always forget/remember names.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Tass » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:05 am UTC

Everyone always gave my ex girlfriend this. True a real depression is serious business, but there are also a lot of people who just like to whine about their lives. When she tried to give advice she was dismissed like this. Everyone just thought she was this happy sunshine girl who had never had any problems. I think only her mother and me knew that she had been through things ten times worse than most of these people, it still came back but with my help she fought through it.

So I feel a bit on both sides in this discussion.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Essah » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:06 am UTC

BlueNight wrote:
JustMe wrote:THIS!!!!!
I'm so sick of all the people who go lay guilt trips on folks for being sick. When you're ill, and it hurts everywhere, sometimes a bad attitude is totally justified.
I don't generally hold with violence, but anyone who says crap like that deserves to be slapped!

OK, I'll calm down now....


It's even worse when mental health is involved. People who have never been depressed tell you to just cheer up and do what you're supposed to do. People who have never been abused tell you that life goes on. People who have never been bullied tell you just to ignore it. People who have never been manipulated tell you just to forget about it. And when it's mental health, it's the easiest thing in the world to tell you to suck it up and soldier on, even when all good that exists is crumbling and leaving only the rotten and horrible.

And then someone goes and makes that stupid joke: at least it's all in your head.

AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!



Thank you. I agree 110%
It's never as easy as people tell you.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby tphish » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:28 am UTC

Todays comic reminded me of an interview I heard with this Barbara Ehrenreich, who recently wrote books about this subject: "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (2009)" or in paperback "Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World"

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby pegasos989 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:37 am UTC

I really recommend this David Rakoff interview on The Daily Show. It's about Rakoff's new book "Half-Empty". It's entertaining and relevant to this comic and generally a good way to spend 7 minutes of your life (And it isn't political in any way).

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Plasma Man » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:44 am UTC

I work with cancer patients and there are quite a few that believe in the whole "keep a positive mental attitude, keep fighting" thing. My hypothesis is that it's partly social conditioning (anyone that has a serious illness and makes it into the papers is always reported as "fighting" or "battling" it), and partly that they want to feel like they have some control over the outcome, instead of having to passively wait for their treatment to have an effect (or not).
The irony is that, IIRC, there was a study a while back that showed that patients who thought they had to keep a positive attitude and keep fighting actually had higher levels of stress than those who just accepted that they simply had to have the treatment and hope for the best.
Please note that despite the lovely avatar Sungura gave me, I am not a medical doctor.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Softfoot » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:13 am UTC

Yep, this.
Quite frankly, I don't want to be told things'll work out for the best. I don't want to be told that things will be better someday.
Because, right now, whatever pile of junk you're going through, it sucks. I don't want to have to pretend it doesn't suck. I want to be honest, and to know I'm being listened to. Sure, I can go out and have fun in the middle of the really sucky stuff, but you know how I manage to do that? Because I let myself be down in the dumps sometimes.
It's realistic to look at horrible stuff and acknowledge it is horrible. Having seen the situation for what it is, then I can deal.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby drazen » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:43 am UTC

Panel 2 is a nice slap in the face for all those folks to tell you to "just have a positive attitude." I despise those people. That advice just doesn't work for me, not when I'm down. Look at the black all around the person in panel 2; that can't be a coincidence, having that character drawn as completely isolated in darkness.

I've tried antidepressants before, but the side effects are just as bad and damaging as the depression, if not worse. Panel 4 sounds the most like my attitude, which is... you just have to grind it out, it takes time, and it takes energy and effort, and when there's a lot of crap to deal with it is incredibly draining to try to keep yourself engaged on a regular basis.

Example: I'm only six weeks into a bad breakup (two from last communication) and it still cuts deep, as I lost someone I thought I was on track to end up marrying one day. I'd never gotten that far in my own heart before (previous times were more "hope" than "expectation"), and having to go back to the grind of looking for someone is painful and agonizing and something I didn't ever want to have to face again. And the bad luck and rejection and adversity I've come across in limited attempts has sucked. Maybe it's too soon but I don't want to sit around my house alone anymore, or end up single and 40-something like some people I know, and I'm doing everything I can to avoid it, but it's really, really exhausting.

Barefoot got it right: if you're smart enough, you can't lie to yourself. Maybe a little, but not perfectly and not permanently. And then when reality sets in, wham! - you're right back where you started.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby nobody28 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:54 am UTC

This is one of the best comics in a while, keep it up Randall!

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Nexxo » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:57 am UTC

As a clinical psychologist working in cancer, I want to punch the air and say: "YES!!!" Cancer is not a personal growth experience --it is a crisis. It sucks. Some things simply cannot be given a positive spin.

Cancer is also frightening to those who don't (yet) have it. One in four, remember? So they project their fears and expectations on the cancer patient. "You have to stay positive", "You are so brave"... you know all the platitudes. It is basically the: "C'mon, stop crying... Cheer up" line. Because if the cancer patient goes to pieces, what are they going to do about it? Moreover, how will they cope if it ever happens to them? Best to keep the myth going: that a positive attitude can defeat the worst of events like a magic spell. In my experience, it is such expectations by friends, family and health care professionals alike that add significantly to the stress of cancer; because it conveys the message that feeling miserable and distressed is a sign of weakness or bad attitude, that it will harm your chances of recovery and that basically, your misery and distress are out of proportion to what you are going through. At worst, it conveys the message that if you are dying it is because you didn't want to get better badly enough.

The result? Cancer patients are bad at telling us when they are in pain, when they are scared or depressed, and worried about losing their jobs, their homes, their relationships, or ending up disfigured or disabled --all stuff we could help them with. And health care professionals are equally bad at spotting those concerns.

Stress is bad: research has shown that cancer patients who are depressed are more likely to struggle and (recently suggested) may be more at risk of recurrence. But depression was never successfully treated by telling people the infamous Three Words which summarise counselling to those who, basically, know nothing about counselling: "Get A Grip". "Pull Yourself Together". In my years in mental health I've never found it helpful to tell someone to buck up. What does help is empathy and validation of their fears and struggles and supporting them in those. If someone is afraid of monsters, you don't tell them that there are no monsters or to stop being afraid of them. You give them a chair to stand on and a big stick.
Last edited by Nexxo on Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:06 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby flamewise » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:05 am UTC

Just saying, that cheered me up no ends.

I thought the second but last panel was being a great conclusion when the guy told himself to get better in spite of feeling glum, but the last panel made it awesome.

Also, that monitor display on the first panel is hilarious.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby nobody28 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:06 am UTC

Nexxo wrote:As a clinical psychologist working in cancer, I want to punch the air and say: "YES!!!" Cancer is not a personal growth experience --it is a crisis. It sucks. Some things simply cannot be given a positive spin.

Cancer is also frightening to those who don't (yet) have it. One in four, remember? So they project their fears and expectations on the cancer patient. "You have to stay positive", "You are so brave"... you know all the platitudes. It is basically the: "C'mon, stop crying... Cheer up" line. Because if the cancer patient goes to pieces, what are they going to do about it? Moreover, how will they cope if it ever happens to them? Best to keep the myth going: that a positive attitude can defeat the worst of events like a magic spell. In my experience, it is such expectations by friends, family and health care professionals alike that add significantly to the stress of cancer.

And stress is bad: research has shown that cancer patients who are depressed are more likely to struggle and (recently suggested) may be more at risk of recurrence. But depression was never successfully treated by telling people the infamous Three Words which summarise counselling to those who, basically, know nothing about counselling: "Get A Grip". "Pull Yourself Together". In my years in mental health I've never found it helpful to tell someone to buck up. What does help is empathy and validation of their fears and struggles and supporting them in those. If someone is afraid of monsters, you don't tell them that there are no monsters or to stop being afraid of them. You give them a chair to stand on and a big stick.


How would a patient react to a family member/friend who is actually positive instead of telling the patient to be positive? What if said positive friend actually tries to convey his positivity with phrases like: "You are young and fit, you will definitely heal." or "Many people survived cancer, you can survive as well."? Would that help the patient to recover? Or at least help him feel better(emotionally)?

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby Nexxo » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:20 am UTC

nobody28 wrote:How would a patient react to a family member/friend who is actually positive instead of telling the patient to be positive? What if said positive friend actually tries to convey his positivity with phrases like: "You are young and fit, you will definitely heal." or "Many people survived cancer, you can survive as well."? Would that help the patient to recover? Or at least help him feel better(emotionally)?

It can, but not necessarily so. It is all about how you do it. The big mistake that health professionals make is that once the concerns are elicited or confirmed ("I'm afraid that you have cancer"), they move straight to reassurance giving before exploring what the elicited/confirmed concerns are. As such reassurance completely misses its target and can actually generate more ("Chemotherapy will mop up any stray cancer cells left in your body..." -- "Whoa, wait-- There are stray cancer cells!?!").

Friends and family make the same mistake. We rush in to reassure before knowing whether that is what the cancer patient wants or needs right now. Perhaps they just want a validation of their feelings ("Yeah, it sucks man... you must feel so angry...") or a recognition of and empathy with their distress ("You seem really frightened right now... do you want to talk about it?"). Note that there is no "Stay positive" message here, just an acceptance of their thoughts and feelings. In feeling accepted, safe, contained (as in giving them space to freak out in, knowing that we can cope with it and keep them safe) and understood, they can explore the implications of what it means to have cancer. It helps them understand what they are dealing with and find ways to cope better. It helps us understand what their fears and worries actually are, which we then can address in the right way that hits the right target.

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Re: 0828: "Positive Attitude"

Postby MissConglomeration » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:32 pm UTC

Okay, so this is the thing so many treatments for anxiety seem to miss: meta-anxiety links back into all your other anxiety, and sends you RIGHT BACK IN. It's especially critical to look out for in the serious illness arena. Look into any of the behavioral therapies-- they keep in mind how anxiety works, cognitively, and otherwise, and how to actual keep yourself from hitting on anxiety inducing thoughts. Basically the strategy is: don't think about it. (Repression! \o/ We've come a long way since Freud, huh?). Distract yourself as much as possible. Which is SO DIFFICULT to do in a hospital bed. And metathoughts telling yourself not to think about it fail, because the very act is priming you to think about it. You have to get yourself on some other neurons, and stay there.

I would suggest an endless supply of games to play and things to do. Things that are really addictive. And a variety.


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