Spokane Naturopathic Medicine | Doctor Lindsay Donahue
July 23rd, 2017
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The Importance of Hope

Hope2

Hope is one of the most precious beliefs we have. Hope instills within us the drive to continue on, press forward, and live despite any circumstances.

There are documented cases of people dying quickly once hope is dissolved. Dr. Alexandra M. Levine, M.D. writes for the Los Angles Times in 1989, about her experience as a medical student on the general medicine ward:

“. . .A 55 year old woman was admitted to my service with a coin lesion in the right upper lobe of the lung. She was basically well and asymptomatic and spend the next week undergoing diagnostic studies . . . . During that time, I got to know her and like her. She was a real dynamo, vigorous and friendly. She became the extra pair of hands on the ward, helping to pass the meal trays, running minor errands. We all came to love her. When the diagnostic tests [returned] nondiagnostic, [she] was transferred to the surgery service and underwent an open thoracotomy. At operation, she was found to have a squamous cell carcinoma that had already invaded the mediastinal nodes, such that the tumor was not resectable. A biopsy was taken, and the incision was closed. . .”

“ . . .I went into her room for the first time [after the diagnosis] with the residents and interns. The resident stood at the side of her bed-think at that moment-stood there, looking down at her. . . .taking down . . .he stood there and said, “Well, it’s cancer, and we couldn’t really resect it, so we just opened and closed.” She asked, “Opened and closed?” He said, “Yes, well, it couldn’t be removed, so we just closed.” She kept repeating the words to him, and he kept nodding his head and confirming what he had said. “You mean you just left the cancer there?” “Yes.” She closed her eyes, said that she was tired, and the team walked out of the room.

“When I went back to see her, she gave me a little small talk, but basically, she was just not the same person, and I was too young and inexperienced to know what to do. When I came in the next morning, I learned that she had died during the night. She was taken to autopsy, but there was no actual specific cause of her death- just the cancer, which most certainly had been there for many months.”

In this paper Dr. Levine theorizes how the resident had effectively removed all hope without suggesting any other treatment options.

A 2003 research article which uses information conducted long-term came to the conclusion that people diagnosed with schizophrenia fully recover with relationships, psychotherapy being more important than medication. The “research conducted at National Empowerment Center emphasized the importance of hope, self-determination, and assistance from people who believe in you.”

Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp prisoner and world-respected author and psychotherapist in his lifetime discovered the importance of hope. “Even in the degradation and abject misery of a concentration camp, Frankl was able to exercise the most important freedom of all- the freedom to determine one’s own attitude and spiritual well-being. No sadistic Nazi SS guard was able to take that away from him or control the inner-life of Frankl’s soul. One of the ways he found the strength to fight to stay alive and not lose hope was to think of his wife. Frankl clearly saw that it was those who had nothing to live for who died the quickest in the concentration camp.”

The void of hopelessness is damaging and essentially destructive to life. People perish quickly without much cause or reason when all hope is removed.

Some things cannot be measured, such as: hope, love, and life. How much hope is needed to allow someone to press forward in their life? To allow them to live an extra week . . . or extra year.

[Sources: “People are more important than pills in recovery from mental disorder” http://jhp.sagepub.com/content/43/2/65.abstract & “The Importance of Hope” Alexandra Levine, M.D. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1026693/ & Man’s Search for Hope, Viktor Frankl http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/frankl/frankl.html ]