Posted - 05/18/2012 : 09:58:40
| THE SYMPTOMATIC IDIOM
If the patients are to help and teach one another they must be instructed to use a language which is not confusing. This is particularly important because language, if used glibly, tends to be alarmist and defeatist. By dint of its defeatist insinuations, language frequently engenders tenseness which reinforces and perpetuates symptoms. To avoid the fatalistic implications of the language used by the patient the physician must supply a terminology of his own in matters of health. There are many languages. Features and gestures speak. So do symptoms. Their language is a one word idiom: DANGER. This is called the
"symptomatic idiom." Accepting the suggestions of the symptomatic idiom the patient considers the violent palpitations as presaging sudden death. The pressure in the head is viewed as due to a brain tumor. The tenseness is experienced as so "terrific* that the patient fears he is going to "burst." His fatigue does not let up "one single minute," and "how long can the body stand it?" In these instances, the implications of the symptomatic idiom are those of an impending physical collapse. If phobias, compulsions and obsessions dominate the symptomatic scene the resulting fear is that of the mental collapse. After months and
years of sustained suffering the twin fears of physical and mental collapse may recede, giving way to apprehensions about the impossibility of a final cure. This is the fear of the permanent handicap. The three basic fears of the physical collapse, mental collapse and permanent handicap are variations of the danger theme suggested by the symptomatic idiom.