Mindful Medicine for the Terminally Ill – NYTimes.com

Good piece on oncologist and doctor stress, and how mindfulness meditation can help cope and provide better care:

“It’s like pressing an internal pause button,” Dr. [Michael] Kearney said. “The doctor is able to recognize he’s being stressed, and it prevents him from invoking the survival defense mechanisms of fight (‘Let’s do another course of chemotherapy’), flight (‘There’s nothing more I can do for you — I’ll go get the chaplain’) and freeze (the doctor goes blank and does nothing).” Such reactions can be highly distressing to a dying patient.

When a patient asks for the impossible, like “Promise me I’m not going to die,” the mindful doctor is more likely to step back and say, “I can promise you I’ll do everything I can to help you. I’m going to continue to care for you and support you as best as I can. I’ll be back to see you later today and again tomorrow,” Dr. Kearney said.

I used similar techniques at work when in stressful situations to take a short ‘reset’ before moving on to the next issue. It also, to use Kahneman’s language, forces us into slow thinking, and being less trapped by our instincts. Others may have different mechanisms (e.g., prayer) with similar positive effects.

Helpful in a wide variety of situations.

Mindful Medicine for the Terminally Ill – NYTimes.com.


2 thoughts on “Mindful Medicine for the Terminally Ill – NYTimes.com

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s