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27 December 2002

Psychosocial factors in chronic disability.

JMS Pearce

Med Sci Monit 2002; 8(12): RA275-281 :: ID: 4800

Abstract

If adopted without adequate cause, the lifestyle of an invalid is a grave misfortune for the patient and for its reflection on current social attitudes that foster such states. Psychological illnesses are frequently invoked and are often a genuine source of suffering and disability. However, patients who may be rewarded by large financial settlements in courts, may also on occasion exaggerate their claims. Modern society has established systems of support, and rulings in court proceedings that conduce to illness behaviour. To some extent the portentous diagnostic labels given to these patients fosters rather than alleviates illness. It is probable that biological factors deriving from the primary event initiate the process. In medical terms, the symptoms and disabilities are often discrepant with the initial illness or injury. The patients' behaviour arises out of a desire to attain the sick role for secondary gain. If society eliminated the stigma of psychological illness, and opposed exaggeration and simulation of illness, then such chronic disability with 'retreat into illness' might disappear. Sometimes an assumed illness becomes an adopted way of life. The unfortunate patients may come to believe they are ill; symptoms then persist after settlement. It is wrong to blame everything on society and to deny the free choice of the individual. Nevertheless, the pressures of society can be difficult to withstand for those not gifted with resilience. We should also recognise and try to eliminate the contribution made by doctors and health workers who mistakenly aid and abet a 'culture' that promotes this state of chronic disability. If adopted without adequate cause, the lifestyle of an invalid is a grave misfortune for the patient and for its reflection on current social attitudes that foster such states. Psychological illnesses are frequently invoked and are often a genuine source of suffering and disability. However, patients who may be rewarded by large financial settlements in courts, may also on occasion exaggerate their claims. Modern society has established systems of support, and rulings in court proceedings that conduce to illness behaviour. To some extent the portentous diagnostic labels given to these patients fosters rather than alleviates illness. It is probable that biological factors deriving from the primary event initiate the process. In medical terms, the symptoms and disabilities are often discrepant with the initial illness or injury. The patients' behaviour arises out of a desire to attain the sick role for secondary gain. If society eliminated the stigma of psychological illness, and opposed exaggeration and simulation of illness, then such chronic disability with 'retreat into illness' might disappear. Sometimes an assumed illness becomes an adopted way of life. The unfortunate patients may come to believe they are ill; symptoms then persist after settlement. It is wrong to blame everything on society and to deny the free choice of the individual. Nevertheless, the pressures of society can be difficult to withstand for those not gifted with resilience. We should also recognise and try to eliminate the contribution made by doctors and health workers who mistakenly aid and abet a 'culture' that promotes this state of chronic disability

Keywords: Disabled Persons - psychology

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
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