Life with Chronic Illness: Social and Psychological Dimensions

By Ariela Royer | Go to book overview

Part II
Managing Chronic Illness: Adaptation

If you haven't the strength to impose your own terms upon life, you must accept the terms it offers you.

-- T. S. Eliot

The act of living itself is an adaptive process. By adulthood, everyone achieves a certain level of life adaptation, but chronic illness disrupts this achievement, because the additional burdens in dealing with the many problems of chronic illness diminish the capacity of individuals to respond in satisfactory ways.

Adaptation implies a balance between demands and expectations of a given situation and the capacities of an individual to respond to those demands. Failure to adapt, then, means that there is a discrepancy between demands and capabilities (Mechanic 1977). According to Dimond and Jones ( 1983), it is difficult to define and operationalize the concept of adaptation for several reasons. First of all, adaptation is dynamic; it changes as the environment changes. With respect to chronic illness, there are periods of progress and regress, depending on changes in the illness conditions, and chronically ill individuals must respond to those changes.

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