The Fear of the Unexpected and Unexplainable
…a visit to the doctor not for a scheduled routine physical but for the unexpected, unexplainable new symptom. This time the initial handshake by the patient is tentative and questioning: “Does this doctor have the strength, the grip on knowledge and experience to find out what is the matter with me?” And then the question: “But also do I have the strength to accept the doctor’s diagnosis and outcome of my illness?”
Behind these questions, the patient holds the emotional burdens of uncertainty, apprehension, anxiety and anguish. It is all about the fear of the unknown and, whether realistically based or not, the unknown is anticipated by the patient as life threatening or impairing their quality of life.
The duty of the physician is to not only make the diagnosis and establish the treatment but also to treat the patient’s emotional burdens. There is a need for the doctor first to recognize that these burdens exist within the patient. Part of the approach would be to make the diagnosis quickly, if that is possible, but beyond that, what else should the doctor do? I look to my visitors to give us their personal experience and insight of how their physician dealt with the issue of the unknown diagnosis and the anxious patient. ..Maurice.
(The photograph, taken by me today, is from the statuaries within the garden of the Getty Villa, Malibu, California.)