Jak být se smrtí, a přitom plně žít: Jak pracovat s vlastní konečností, když naši pacienti umírají

Title in English How to be with death and yet live fully: How to work with our own finitude when our patients are dying

SVĚTLÁK Miroslav

Year of publication 2023
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Medicine

Description Rationale: A demanding medical school education may foster an unintentional idea among health professionals in the context of health psychology that they know everything that is needed, that they are the ones to give advice, that the main method of prevention is kindly maternal or paternal advice, and that the mind and body are two separate entities. Moreover, they are reinforced in the idea that they must always know, know how and endure. The opposite is often seen as weakness, immaturity and failure. Perhaps because of this, or perhaps because of it, research shows that the prevalence of symptoms of burnout syndrome, depression (including suicide) and mental distress is many times higher among male and female doctors than among groups of people in other professions. It also shows that they are up to six times more likely to divorce compared to the general population and that they are also significantly more likely to be addicted to alcohol, drugs and other psychoactive substances. The same applies to a similar extent to nurses. Also alarming are the numerous findings that doctors are more reluctant or unwilling to seek help in a crisis than those in other professions. Aim: And so we can ask ourselves, are we the proverbial blacksmith's mare, or are we professionals who do what they teach their patients and what also reflects the scientific knowledge of contemporary medicine? We can also ask ourselves what we actually know about mental health promotion and how we think about life satisfaction. What paths to unhappiness do we use ourselves, and what paths do we choose in turn to make our lives better? While a large number of people avoid the topic of death and often quickly end any discussion about it, health professionals are exposed to death and its trajectories every day. Despite the fact that they usually expect (and society expects) that they are not afraid of blood or death itself, this exposure can be traumatic for many. Exposing themselves to the suffering of patients presents them with the daily challenge of dealing with the fact that they will one day walk similar paths themselves. At all levels of medical education, we learn how to talk to patients about death, how to communicate a serious message, and how to respond to end-of-life issues. But rarely do we learn in faculties and secondary medical schools how to manage the subject of our own death and dying in all of this. How to work with that human part of ourselves that speaks up when we as experts have done all that is necessary and go home from work, when we fall asleep, when we see our children and parents. Yes, we can forget, not see, deny everything and pretend it doesn't concern us. And it's actually not wrong. Without partial denial of the pain and finality of life, we would have a hard time living. But denial does not make the subject disappear. Paradoxically, its complete neglect increases its urgency, and the unprocessed and unintegrated theme of death claims its attention in our dreams, fantasies, and sometimes even an exuberant longing for security. Thus, unconscious and unprocessed finality does not make life safer and happier; on the contrary, its postponement deadens life, depriving it of the energy and courage to make decisions.
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