11 Psychological Phenomenon that Arise in Patient Care Flashcards Preview

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Sigmund Freud

Doctor at University of Vienna in 1881

  • Researched cerebral palsy, aphasia, and microscopic neuroanatomy
  • Lectured in neuropathology
  • Created psychosexual theory of development postulating that personality is mostly established by age 5


Freud’s Structural Model of the Psyche

Composed of 3 components: 

  • Id

  • Ego 

  • Superego



biological urges, instincts

maximizes pleasure; acts according to pleasure principle





realistic thinking 

postpone pleasure until appropriate  

mediates between desires of id and superego; acts according to reality principle




values, conscience ego-ideal

how the ego should behave


Psychological Defense Mechanisms

Unconscious ways by which the ego wards of anxiety and controls unacceptable instinctual urges and unpleasant affects or emotions by manipulating, distorting, or denying reality

The purpose of defense mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety and/or social sanctions and/or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope

  • A defense mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behavior such that the physical or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. 



Primitive defense to avoid pain or anxiety, prevents recognition of external reality

  • Reality is refused in favor of internally generated, wish-fulfilling fantasies
  • Commonly seen in general medical practice 
    • denial of test results
    • avoiding medical care



falsely attributing to someone else your own unacceptable feelings, impulses, or thoughts

  • Plays a role in prejudicial attitudes: bigots project attributes that they disavow in themselves (lazy, cheap, dirty, immoral, etc)



 Pts escape anxiety by returning to earlier level of adjustment during which gratification was ensured 

  • Person returns to an earlier stage of development and to more childish and childlike forms of behavior
  • Common response to severe chronic illness and to hospitalization
    • Patients make insatiable demands, complain insistently, demand medication, request special privileges,



some traits or attributes of another person are taken as your own 


  • Attending physician mistreats resident, who in turn is abusive toward medical students 



  • Memories, feelings, and drives associated with painful and unacceptable impulses are excluded from consciousness
  • Struggle with internal stimuli 


Reaction Formation

thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that are opposite to your own unacceptable thoughts or feelings

  • Person who is unconsciously very needy lives a life of exaggerated independence 
  • Person who is unconsciously very needy lives a life of exaggerated independence 


Isolation of Affect 

One deals with emotional conflict, internal or external stresses by the separation of ideas from the feelings originally associated with them

  • The emotional component of an idea is repressed while the cognitive component remains conscious




  • Shift of emphasis from immediate interpersonal conflict to abstract ideas and esoteric topics
  • Think about wishes in bland terms to avoid experiencing strong emotions



  •  redirecting an emotion from its original object to a more acceptable substitute
    •  Most commonly involves anger
      • anger at work directed towards pts family 



Say or do something to negate or symbolically make amends for unacceptable thoughts, feelings, or actions


  • Neglectful parent showers presents on his/her children 



Divert unacceptable drives into socially acceptable channels

  • A person experiencing extreme anger takes up kick-boxing






Adaptive defense mechanism against feelings of inferiority, lack of fulfillment

  • Helps alleviate feelings of emotional isolation, lack of significance 
    • (voulneteering)



nConscious decision to postpone paying attention to an unpleasant subject, impulse or conflict

Only conscious defense mechanism

Example: college student comes home from school and finds many bills that need paid in the mail. The student consciously ignores the bills until after she has studied for the next day’s exam. 





Unconscious or forbidden feelings are expressed via a socially acceptable outlet

  • Making a joke in an effort to lighten and defuse a tense or sad situation
  • self-deprecating humor


Adaptability of Defense Mechanisms 

(The psychiatrist George Eman Valliant introduced a four-level classification of defense mechanisms based on their effectiveness)

List all 4

  1. Level I - pathological defenses (psychotic denial, delusional projection)  
  2. Level II - immature defenses (fantasy, projection, passive aggression, acting out)
  3. Level III - neurotic defenses (intellectualization, reaction formation, dissociation, displacement, repression)
  4. Level IV - mature defenses (humor, sublimation, suppression, altruism, anticipation)



People view one another through distorted lenses that have to do with past experience and early encounters

  • Patient “transfers” feelings toward others  in their life onto the physician 
  • Example: If patient has grown up perceiving others as unhelpful or even harmful, he/she will likely view the physician the same way 



Physician transfers feelings toward others in their life on to the patient



“I want to and I don’t want to”

People often feel two ways about behavioral change. They weighing the discomfort/disruption of changing their behavior (short term) with their hope for desirable outcomes (long term) 

  • Empathic, non confrontational styles can facilitate change
  • Controlling, confrontational styles can make patients regress and become resistant to change.


5 Strategies for Managing Ambivalence 

1.Express empathy through listening, not telling

2.Identify discrepancies between where patient is now, and where he/she wants to be

3.Avoid arguing (trying to convince/persuade)

4.Roll with resistance, don’t challenge it head on

5.Support self-efficacy, instill hope, encourage person’s belief he/she can change


Change Talk 

A tool used by providers to communicate in a way that gets the invididual to list the reasons why they should change their behavior 

Four Categories of Change Talk

1.Disadvantage of the status quo 

2.Advantages of change

3.Optimism for change

4.Intention to change 


Patient Shame 

Patients are at high risk for experiencing shame and humiliation in medical encounters.  They commonly perceive diseases as defects, inadequacies, or shortcomings. Their health behaviors may be attributed to weakness, stupidity, immorality, or personal failure.

  • physically manifest in blushing, sweating, burning, freezing, fainting, sense of weakness 
  • Common responses to shame: anxious laughter, withdrawal, avoiding the physician, withholding information complaining, suing 


How can doctors avoid pt shame?

  • Minimize delays 
  • Refer to patients by proper titles and last names
  • Support patients’ identity
  • Be mindful of privacy
  • Self-disclose when possible and appropriate
  • Avoid using shame and humiliation as motivational tools
  • provide empathy for physiological manifestations of shame
  • Validate/praise the patient for seeking help managing disease
  • Inquire about patient’s attributions, clarify misconceptions
  • Recommend support groups
  • Establish the patient’s goals/concerns; don’t force your agenda
  • Be mindful of your emotional reactions 



Informs a person that you understand the reason for his/her emotion 


Function of Emotions

Emotions have a purpose

–Prepare us for action

–Communicate to others

–Communicate to ourselves

Emotions serve an evolutionary function


    Fear, Anger, Shame, Guilt 

 It is difficult to change or stop feeling emotions until their function is served