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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.

The 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.

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Previous: The Obsessed Patient

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