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Category Archives: communication

Words Were Originally Magic – Why Trump Needs to Read de Shazer

Words can be black magic

Words can be black magic…

Words Were Originally Magic is the title of an acclaimed book on solution-focused brief therapy, written by psychotherapist Steve de Shazer.

De Shazer’s solution-focused approach believes that the solutions to most problems can often be found in the words we use. This may, at first, appear naive.

In essence, to develop a more positive life, we each need to closely examine the words we use daily: we need a new story or narrative. Words offer the magic that is needed.

This belief system maintains that our problems persist because we keep on using the same old solutions; solutions that never worked in the past to solve our issues. Put even more simply, we usually try to solve our problems by putting the same wrong key in the front door and then wonder why it doesn’t open.

By using different ‘words’ or ‘change’ talk about the future, by visioning or thinking about it differently, we are on the way to changing a situation. This is where the magic of words comes into play.

The words we use, or do not use, are central to future outcomes.

This mode of thinking is also central to the belief of many seminal thinkers and the founders of existential psychology, such as Husserl, Morleau Ponte, Heidegger and Foucault.

Essentially, we create our future reality and eventual fate, good or bad, through the narrative we use.

But what if the narrative we use is wholly negative? It could be a narrative filled with threats, and driven by megalomania and narcissism. This, then, suggests that words may also have the potential to become ‘black magic’. In such cases, we need to use a great deal of awareness and cognition to examine what is about to leave the lips.

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, is spewing very frightening words directed at North Korea. The words are becoming darker.

In this blackening of words, there is an even bleaker construction taking place: a construction that threatens much of humanity. Words have the potential to become reality.

Now, more than ever, it is time words were thought about with just pause and contemplation.

All humanity holds its breath.

De Shazer, Steve (1994) Words Were Originally Magic, Norton, London.

Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, PsychD, BSc, MSc, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPS. Dr Tizzard is the Clinical Director of Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk). 

communication Psychology0 comments

Rare Disease and Not Being Heard by Your GP

Facing ignorant GP described using Ignorance sign on white wall

Are you struggling to explain your illness to your GP?

Living with a rare illness is a struggle, but dealing with an ignorant GP increases that struggle.

Those feelings of not being listened to increase the isolation, ramp up the stress and contribute to disease progression.

I do not use the term ‘ignorant’ as an insult, rather I chose it to reflect the true meaning of the word. Ignorant means ‘destitute of knowledge’: in this case, a GP who doesn’t know what it means to live with your rare illness day in, day out, and doesn’t know how debilitating its symptoms can be.

Rare Diseases and GP Treatment

A GP’s case load normally consists of the everyday ailments of living, plus a few rarer ones.  GPs are not trained to know about the rare diseases that patients present with, and this is where the problems can start.

Trying to inform your GP about your rare disease and the tests you currently need is often akin to tip-toeing through a volcanic minefield. Why is this? It’s rather simple. The majority of GPs have been conditioned to believe they know most things about our health. Repeated consultations with grateful patients reinforce this belief.

GP’s can occasionally become omnipotent. Faced with a patient who knows more than them about a certain condition (as we rarities must do in order to survive) can be threatening to their self-perception. They do not like to feel small, and may immediately and unconsciously deflect or project on to us.

When this happens, the patient comes away feeling a hypochondriac, or a time-waster. The patient shuffles away feeling awful and the normal power inequality is restored. What has just happened is rarely questioned, except perhaps in a therapist’s room.

How to Assert Yourself With Your GP

It can be very helpful to take a second when you feel talked down to and patronised. This is your moment to regroup and have another go. Remember these three simple steps – you could even write them down and read them before your consultation.

1. Hold your ground.

2. Repeat your requests slowly and clearly, in a non-defensive tone.

3. Remain measured and stay in adult mode.

Your GP will feel less threatened and reduce the superior tone. He or she will have no choice but to operate in ‘adult mode’ as well. This normally produces a win-win situation. You, I and our families lose when we walk away feeling stupid.

It is also critically important to research as much as you are able to, and make sure your information is correct, to help yourself. Fortunately, there are many great blogs available online, where people with a rare illness have described the same symptoms and GP frustrations as you. Try typing the name of your illness, plus the word ‘blog’, into a search engine: for example, ‘chronic fatigue syndrome + blog’.

Lastly, I recommend getting a book on assertion if it is hard for you to stay in control in difficult situations; alternatively, you can find some great internet resources on how to be more assertive in general.

Written by a guest blogger for Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk).

chronic illness management communication wellbeing0 comments