Understanding my patients
Updated: Mar 14, 2020
In order to help my patients to the best of my ability, my approach is guided by a basic thought: I need to understand this person as a human being.
How do I do this? Not only through many years of education and training, but by truly listening to my patients with deep compassion and objectivity. Certainly, I do keep track of the description of the patient's symptoms and behaviors, but the lens through which I view these phenomena is in terms of ways that the person has learned to cope with their struggles. Some ways of coping are more adaptive than others. Some people may cope by bottling up all their feelings inside, eating too little or too much, hurting themselves or attempting suicide, using drugs or alcohol, or lashing out at others. Some may go to another realm, where they form a different reality and unusual thought patterns.
Genetics, biochemistry, environments, and life experiences come together to influence the development of these behavioral patterns, emotional reactions, and thought patterns. In addition, sometimes there are mysterious factors ("the unconscious") that drive us to repeat the same behavioral patterns over and over again. This often contributes to patterns that continue from one generation to another within the same family. Some people may have arrived at the point where they have the awareness that they are repeating the same patterns, but feel stuck, frustrated, and unable to change. Other people have not yet had these realizations, but it is quite possible that they may, particularly if something happens which leads to a light bulb moment.
Every person is on their own path in life, and it may take a long time for that person to make self-discoveries that will lead to change, and that is okay. Everyone is different, and yet, we are all the same. I believe that most people want to live a fulfilling and productive lives, but oftentimes we get in our own way. Or, the circumstances in our lives -- be it poverty, dysfunctional family dynamics, illness, discrimination, competition and envy, fear of success or failure, etc. -- get in our way or challenge us (maybe too much!).
To sum it up: striving for meaningful, compassionate, and objective understanding of my patients is my golden rule.