Bioethics Blogs

How Minimization Hurts Society

guest post by Christina Sisti

Doctors and nurses are becoming more accustomed to those who are seeking a confirmation of their home diagnosis but how do they know when a patient isn’t telling them everything? Every day we put on our game face or our poker face which minimizes our emotions. Our poker faces are costing us our health. Minimization reduces the chances of a proper diagnosis and the ability for a doctor to treat an illness. Minimization doesn’t begin in the doctor’s office though; it begins in society. For some, not telling or to downgrade a symptom is the socially acceptable thing to do amongst family and friends. Minimization may take three different forms when a person is facing pain, fear or illness: 1. Cognitive distortion 2) Understatements and 3) Social minimization. In each of these forms self-esteem/depression may also suffer from the effects of minimization. I believe minimization creates more harm than good for a person’s physical and emotional health.

Cognitive distortion occurs when the person or others avoid acknowledging and dealing with negative emotions by reducing the importance and the impact of actions which cause the emotions. Some may protect or try to divert attention/confrontation by reducing the negative impact of one’s actions upon another by minimizing the perception or feelings of the person who feels pain. By reducing the behavior and its impact it creates a false feeling of safety for one person while creating a feeling of betrayal or hurt for another. Once feelings, fears or pain has been reduced it is hard for the person who feels pain or fear to speak up and explain how they may feel because their feelings have been minimalized by another.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.