Human beings are social beings that require meeting both social and psychological needs in order to remain healthy (Spielberger, 2013). Failure to meet one of these needs may lead to serious effects to the life of an individual and it may pre-dispose one to worse conditions of emotional stress that may lead to more effects on the body. Despite the fact that Mary communicates with her relatives on social media, there is more than just communication that an individual needs from others such as social and moral support. This paper focuses on the several adverse conditions that are likely to result from her condition and several defense mechanisms that the body will adopt in order to cope with the situation.
The fact that Mary doesn’t get to meet and have time with people who mean so much to her may raise her feelings of loneliness which may predispose her to even more serious conditions especially with the then diagnosis of breast cancer. Perceptions of loneliness may increase feelings of one being vulnerable and accelerate the desire to connect with people. While solitude has no known problems, increased loneliness has been known to alter the physiological functioning of the body due to psychological pressure and tension. Loneliness has been known to threaten the quality of sleep that one has, increase mortality and also accelerate psychological ageing. Loneliness may not only refer to the state of being alone. The definition of loneliness stretches to address loneliness as a state where one feels that their social needs are not being met accordingly.
According to Buhle, et al (2014) loneliness is known to cause emotional pain such as distress which is an equivalence of physical pain. It may also constitute a person feeling weak and it may affect their health even when the individual is maintaining a good diet. Just like other health conditions, loneliness effects are likely to accrue over time and lead to serious effects to organs and organ systems of the body. Some of the associated health risks associated with loneliness includes; cardiovascular conditions such as systolic blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Loneliness may not cause many health problems but it may accelerate other serious chronic conditions.
Emotional stress will accelerate her cancerous condition. Folkman, (2013) have arguable discussed that cancer has emotional roots. This may provide a platform to try and discuss how the cancer condition may have developed as a result of emotional stress that Mary has been going through. These scientists have hypothesized that suppressed emotions such as anger, hatred, strife and grief may cause cancer. This happens as a result of increased stress hormones that suppress the immune system. The immune system once suppressed reduces the ability of the body to fight cancer. Researchers have thus concluded that when stress suppresses the immunity, one is most likely to suffer from immune related infections such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancers.
More emotional stress has far more reaching consequences. Research has proved that women who repress negative feeling have less control of the stress hormone and are more likely to die earlier of breast cancer than women who don’t handle stress. Release of the hormones is harmful since it impairs the healing of the DNA and it also leads to an inability of the body to control cell growth. For the case of Mary, her condition is even more likely to worsen since she has to repress the stress and loneliness alongside fighting the cancerous infection (Schore, (2015).
Mary is also likely to develop several defense mechanisms in order to deal with stress and depression caused by her condition. Defense mechanisms refer to ways in which human beings deal with emotional difficulties in order to make them less threatening. Some of the defense mechanisms that Mary is likely to adopt include; regression, acting out and projection.
Parkes and Prigerson (2013) explain that projection refers to attribution of suffering and stress to less threatening objects or people. People tend to attribute their suffering to other unrelated features in their surrounding and they may end up harming or engaging in conflict with the surrounding. For instance, Mary may develop negative feelings towards her house, her neighbors or even towards her kids. She may use abusive language to other people in the surrounding and she might even appear aggressive even to her kids.
According to Compas, et al (2014) regression refers to a state where an individual resoles tension by reverting to an earlier stage of development. In the case of an adolescent for instance, they may start bedwetting due to inability to rise up and face their challenges in the real life. For the case of Mary, she may revert to regressive behaviors such as crying, she may also fail to complete her normal duties such as cleaning her house or washing clothes and end up dressing in dirty and soiled linen or staying in a dirty environment.
Acting out refers to performing an extreme action or behavior as a consequence of inability to completely express oneself in the prevailing circumstances. One may engage in self harming activities such as suicidal attempts or battling a wall or piercing oneself with a knife. Acting out makes one feel some sort of relief from the tension but it may also lead to even worse conditions. A behavior that Mary is likely to engage in is probably committing suicide. She may also leave her husband’s house for her home (Thornton, et al 2014).
The condition of Mary may also predispose her to several antisocial behaviors such as excessive drinking, and drug use, prostitution, conflict with friends and other people, appetite and sleep problems which may change her routine of activities, mistreating her children and she may also develop mood swings which in turn influence her overall behavior and how she relates with others these antisocial behaviors may quell up to destroy her overall personality which may add more bitterness to her condition.
Stress and emotional pain if not controlled may lead to more effects than physical challenges since it affects almost all parts of the body through rise in cortisol levels in the blood. It is therefore necessary that individuals observe ways in which it is possible to reduce stress and to have better social life in order to have a secure attachment to the world. Suppressed emotions not only cause harm to the individual but also to the society (Hong, et al 2014), it is therefore necessary to ensure that individuals meet both their physiological and social requirements in order for the body to function effectively.
Buhle, J. T., Silvers, J. A., Wager, T. D., Lopez, R., Onyemekwu, C., Kober, H., ... & Ochsner, K. N. (2014). Cognitive reappraisal of emotion: a meta-analysis of human neuroimaging studies. Cerebral Cortex, 24(11), 2981-2990.
Compas, B. E., Jaser, S. S., Dunbar, J. P., Watson, K. H., Bettis, A. H., Gruhn, M. A., & Williams, E. K. (2014). Coping and emotion regulation from childhood to early adulthood: Points of convergence and divergence. Australian journal of psychology, 66(2), 71-81.
Folkman, S. (2013). Stress: appraisal and coping (pp. 1913-1915). Springer New York.
Hong, J. S., Tian, J., & Wu, L. H. (2014). The influence of chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity on psychological distress and sleep disturbance in cancer patients. Current oncology (Toronto, Ont.), 21(4), 174-180.
Parkes, C. M., & Prigerson, H. G. (2013). Bereavement: Studies of grief in adult life. Routledge.
Schore, A. N. (2015). Affect regulation and the origin of the self: The neurobiology of emotional development. Routledge.
Spielberger, C. D. (Ed.). (2013). Anxiety and behavior. Academic Press.
Thornton, L. M., Cheavens, J. S., Heitzmann, C. A., Dorfman, C. S., Wu, S. M., & Andersen, B. L. (2014). Test of mindfulness and hope components in a psychological intervention for women with cancer recurrence. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 82(6), 1087.
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