The pursuit of illness for secondary gains

Secondary gains is defined as the advantage that occurs secondary to stated or real illness.

Secondary gains are the “benefits” people get from not overcoming a problem. For many people who are stuck, secondary gains are an important mechanism in why they stay stuck. Secondary gain is usually not something people are consciously aware of. Transition into the sick role may have some incidental secondary gains for person, using illness for personal advantage and consciously using symptoms for financial or other benefits.These symptoms may contribute to social breakdown and the patient’s choice to remain in the sick role.

THIS Person finds the pressure of their work and/or achieving overwhelming. If they get “unsick” they will need to return to work and fulfill their own or others’ high expectations. Staying sick is reinforced.

It is common for symptoms of chronic pain and illness to be connected to early childhood attachment trauma. In these cases, physical symptoms may be related to emotional material that is connected to a young part of self. Here, we must recognize that we all have parts of ourselves that can sometimes be at odds with each other. For example, an adult part might be working toward self-care and symptom reduction; however, a young part might be sabotaging these efforts or unwilling to let go of pain symptoms. To work with this process, we aim to bring in support for the young part of self in the form of allies and resources.

The point of understanding secondary gain is that all the people involved are trapped by it. 

Secondary gains can be defined as any positive advantages that accompanies physical or psychological symptoms. Often, the reasons for secondary gains are deep and psychologically complex (Dersh, et al., 2004; Fishbain, 1994). As a result, people may be unaware of the psychological causes of the chronic physical pain or illness.

Secondary gains may be so reinforcing to the patient that the original depression cannot be affected by treatment and reveal narcissistic gratification because of their disorder.  Despite having a seemingly strong personality, narcissists lack a core self. Their self-image and thinking and behavior are other-oriented in order to stabilize and validate their self-esteem and fragile, fragmented self. They may exploit the kindness and attentiveness of others, shirk responsibility, and avoid the demands of interpersonal interaction.

It’s hard not to judge. Some say their natural development was arrested, often due to faulty, early parenting. Some believe the cause lies in parental harshness or criticalness.

Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut observed that his narcissistic clients suffered from profound alienation, emptiness, powerlessness, and lack of meaning. Beneath a narcissistic façade, they lacked the sufficient internal structures to maintain cohesiveness, stability, and a positive self-image to provide a stable identity.


Sleep contributes to overall happiness!

Sleep contributes to overall happiness!  Is chronic sleep problems adding to you being tired, crabby, irritable and not productive, contributing to your mood disorder.  Sleep problems are especially common in individuals who have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.

According to a Harvard Health Publication, chronic sleep problems affect 50 percent to 80 percent of patients in a mental health practice and only 10 percent to 18 percent of adults in the general public.  Sleep problems are especially common in individuals who have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Did you know?

• 65 percent to 90 percent of Individuals clinically diagnosed with major depressive disorder have sleep problems.

• 90 percent of children diagnosed with depression experience a sleep problem.

• Evidence suggest that individuals with depression and sleep problems are less likely to respond to treatment than those who have no sleep problems.

• Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder are 69 percent to 99 percent more likely to experience insomnia while experiencing a manic episode. However, when an individual experiences a depressive episode (bipolar depression) 23 percent to 78 percent of those same individuals sleep excessively.

• 50 percent of individuals clinically diagnosed with anxiety experience difficulty falling asleep.

Treating sleep problems may alleviate or reduce mental health symptoms. An overtired adult is no different than an overtired child — tired and crabby, irritable and not productive, which contributes to mood and behaviors. What does sleep do? Every 90 minutes a normal sleeper changes between two categories; “quiet” sleep and REM (rapid eye movement sleep). During quiet sleep, an individual’s body temperature drops, muscles relax and breathing slows down. This stage of sleep actually boost an individual’s immune system. This is where the body truly rests and rejuvenates.

Following a few behavioral changes that can be implemented to benefit your overall happiness and well-being.

• Restrict or limit alcohol and nicotine. Did you know that alcohol and nicotine contributes to sleeplessness? Alcohol initially depresses the nervous system, which helps some people fall asleep, but the effects wear off in a few hours and people wake up. Nicotine is a stimulant, which speeds heart rate and thinking. Avoiding these substances is best, but not using them before bedtime is another option.

• Start moving. Exercising regularly can help with sleep patterns. People who exercise fall asleep faster and spend more time in deep sleep.

• Create good sleep habits. Many experts believe that people learn insomnia and can learn how to sleep better. Having good “sleep hygiene” includes maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex, and keeping the bedroom dark and free of electronics.

• Get into a state of relaxation. Using relaxation techniques such as meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation (alternately tensing and releasing muscles) can help reduce anxiety and slow down your thought process as you prepare for sleep.

• Changing negative expectations. If a person has insomnia, they may have a tendency to focus on the fact they can’t fall asleep. By using cognitive behavioral techniques, individuals can try to change negative expectations and build more confidence that they can have a good night’s sleep.

Eight hours of sleep, especially if taking medication is recommended. Sleep is vital to healthy growth and development. It also is necessary to maintain mood and stress level.


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