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[IP] Re: feelings and diabetes - publication quote about feelings related to breast cancer group "therapy"

As a follow up to my previous post I am posting a few paragraphs from 
"Brief Supportive-Expressive Group Therapy For Women With Primary Breast 
Cancer: A Treatment Manual by David Spiegel (and others), 1993.

Though not about diabetes but think the content does also apply to 
diabetes. I have put parenthesis around cancer specific contents.

"Expression and exploration of emotions and thoughts"

..."diagnosis evokes a multitude of issues and feelings, many of which are 
experienced as difficult and therefore actively avoided. The avoidance or 
denial of threatening thoughts and feelings has deleterious consequences. 
Foremost is that it reinforces the sense of isolation. It also underscores 
the feeling that these particular issues are unmanageable. Consequently, it 
encourages feelings of despair, helplessness and hopelessness."

"There are a variety of reasons why patients try to suppress and control 
their troublesome thoughts and feelings. One reason stems fro the popular 
belief that a consistently positive attitude is necessary to promote 
healing. Many (cancer) patients have come to fear experiencing any negative 
or painful feelings or expressing negative thoughts, (thinking it will 
cause the cancer to recur or in some way interfere with healing.) There are 
two problems with this viewpoint. One is that in the (cancer) patient's 
desperation to promote healing, there is a tendency to repress negative 
feelings; repression feelings, however, does not make them go away and, in 
fact, is likely to make them worse. The second problem is that if and when 
there is (a recurrence or) some kind of disease progression, the (cancer) 
patient feels blamed and responsible, a clearly counter-productive outcome."

"Another common rear that leads to (cancer) patients' attempts to control 
thoughts and feelings is a fear of being overwhelmed, or of overwhelming 
others, with their intensity. The group provides and ideal environment for 
testing these beliefs. One of the more important lessons for (breast 
cancer) patients is to learn that they can tolerate their own emotions. The 
role of the therapist is critical here. The leaders must convey a sense 
that they can tolerate any thoughts of feelings that arise in the group. 
This is a prerequisite to group members taking the risk of exploring their 
own frightening feelings and thoughts. The therapist's implicit message 
that he or she will not be overwhelmed gives the patient the courage to 
believe that her thoughts and feelings are tolerable to both herself and to 

"Expressing and exploring troubling thoughts and feelings requires the 
patient to enter into a disturbing aspect of her experience. But, what if 
she becomes engulfed by that experience?-It is such fantasizing that 
frightens patients. As important as entering into the experience is being 
able to separate from it. The therapist's role is to help the patient 
modulate the extent to which she enters into her troubling experience. To 
some extent this is done by helping her tolerate the strong emotion it 
elicits while stepping back in order to view it from a more objective 
vantage point. Similar to dealing with any extremely painful material, such 
as occurs in grieving someone's someone's death, it can only be done in 
doses.There is a natural and adaptive tendency to allow oneself to 
experience only as much as can be tolerated. Thus, for the normal 
individual, both she and the facilitator can count on this built-in defense 
mechanism to protect the patient from being engulfed by terrifying thoughts 
and feelings. The patient will naturally pull back if it becomes too 
threatening. In addition to protecting the self, stepping back is also 
essential for viewing her experience more objectively and thereby 
developing a more adaptive perspective on this aspect of herself."

"The expression and exploration of all emotional states and thoughts fives 
the patient the sense that no thought of feeling is too frightening to 
face. It can also be immeasurably validating to discover that one's 
negative feelings and disturbing thoughts are often shared by others. 
Through open and honest sharing of feelings, concerns, thoughts, and ideas 
with others is a safe and supportive environment, patients come to 
recognize that they are not alone and in fact have a forum in which to 
express their full experience. Thoughts and emotions that are potentially 
overwhelming are detoxified as their experience begins to feel more 
normalized. Patients war left with an enhanced sense of control and 
well-being, as well as expanded resources for mastery."

On a personal level, it's taken a lot of years (at least 40) to be able 
see, let alone experience many of my feelings. Numbness was a survival tool 
that lost its effectiveness once the feelings became "real".

Not sure I would have made the conscious choice to start the "feeling" 
journey, BUT life didn't give me a choice.  And there is no way I would 
want to go back..........

Take what you like and leave the rest.

Jim S.
email @ redacted 
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