The Mind A Prey To False Associations

Sometimes a nurse reminds a patient of some one in the past who has

complicated her life in an unhappy way, so she distrusts or dreads her

or is made constantly uncomfortable in her presence. In such a case, if

the nurse reports her patient as resistive, or fearful or cringing, or

distrustful, she is really misrepresenting her; for under another's care

that patient may show an entirely opposite reaction.

he nurse can only sense the strength of the influence of heredity and

environment and habit of thought, which would give the explanation of

many things in her patient's attitude. Nor can she realize just what

shade of meaning certain phrases and words have for her charge. To the

nervously overwrought person the most innocent reference--father,

sister, wife, home--may bring concepts that are unbearable. The

association of the word may make for deep unhappiness, of which the

nurse knows nothing. But she can learn that all these things do

influence attitude, can appreciate the difficulty of her patient's

effort at adjustment, and do all in her power to make that adjustment

possible. If the patient is reasonable she can appeal to her reason. If

she is too sick for that, the nurse can use happy suggestions. If the

mind is deluded and obsessed she can use firm kindness. She can learn

what loss of privileges will affect the rude and unco-operative patient,

and may be allowed to try that. She can sometimes help the patient to

self-control by making her realize that after each outburst she will be

constructively ignored.

But the point we wish to make is this: There are some sick reactions

which the nurse, if she recognizes as such, can help the patient to

transform into wholesome ones. At the very least the wise nurse can

learn to simplify her own difficulties by accepting the unpleasant

patient as possibly the result of her illness, and refusing to allow her

trying attitude to get on her nerves. The patient may be reacting

normally to the stimulus her untrained and toxic brain received. And

when the nurse can see into the other's mental workings, get her point

of view, she is ready to give fundamental help.