Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Role of Positive Approaches towards Illness in Coping with a Terminal Illness Such as Cancer and AIDS

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Role of Positive Approaches towards Illness in Coping with a Terminal Illness Such as Cancer and AIDS

Article excerpt

During our life, we all experience various kinds of illnesses. Some of these are often remain temporarily and get cured shortly but sometimes illness may be of very serious nature. In contemporary life, these illnesses of the various kinds bring a lot of sufferings for people, however the experience of suffering and well-being do not remain same or similar to everyone. There are some people who easily succumb to the illness, while others give a thought fight and often succeed in overcoming the illness or reducing its adverse effects (Such as Yuvraj Sigh- A famous cricketer). Such patients are resilient and show positive attitude towards life. Maintaining a positive approach in the crisis (like cancer, AIDS, coronary heart diseases, depression), and an optimistic approach to future are the qualities that add to well-being.

Terminal Illness

"Terminal illness/disease is that which persists over a long period of time and affects the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual functioning of the patients (Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 2009). It lasts for a long time or recurs frequently and can be treated but not eradicated opposite of acute illness such as diabetes, cancer, AIDS etc. which characterizes by a stressful experience both for the patient and for his family. These illness strikes all ages like young adults and older persons and threatens almost every aspect of an individual's life. It is important for the medical and psychological professionals as well as for patients and their families to understand the psychological outcome of terminal illness and injury in order to help patients to cope with the problems.

For many years, there has been interest in how people cope with cancer and other such diseases. Coping is an important moderator of stress in patients with chronic disease (Maes, Leventhal, & De Ridder, 1996). Therefore coping skills training may also help patients to adjust to the stresses of illness and treatment.

Lazarus and Folkman (1984) defined "Coping as the process of managing demands (external or internal) that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person and it also consists of efforts, both action oriented and intrapsychic, to manage (i.e., master, tolerate, reduce, minimize) environmental & internal demands and conflicts among them" (Lazarus & Launier, 1978).

Coping mechanisms

Psychological coping mechanisms are commonly termed coping strategies or coping skills. The term coping generally refers to adaptive or constructive coping strategies, the strategies reduce stress levels. Coping mechanisms can also be described as 'survival skills'. They are strategies that people use in order to deal with stresses, pain, andnatural changes that we experience in our life.

Coping mechanisms are learned behavioural patterns used to cope. We leam from others ways to manage our stresses. There are negative coping mechanisms and positive coping mechanisms. Many people use their coping mechanisms to benefit them in a positive way. However, we are not always able to cope with the difficulties that we face. We experience a range of emotions throughout our lives, some good, some not so good. Our behaviours are usually a result of how we handle our emotions. If we are able to handle our emotions positively, our behaviour will likely be positive. If we do not handle our emotions in a positive way, our behaviour will likely be negative.

An individual will use of a wide variety of positive coping strategies in managing a single stressful events. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) suggested there are two types of coping responses emotion focused and problem focused. One will be problem-focused and other will be oriented towards emotional regulation (Weiten, 2008). Has provided a useful summary of three broad types of coping strategies:

Appraisal focused strategies occur when the person modifies the way they think, employing denial, or distancing oneself from the problem. …

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