Psychology of Breaking Bad News
Excerpt (via Inteligent Life)
Breaking bad news might seem straightforward. “It’s not rocket science,” said one surgeon I spoke to, “you’ve just got to be a half-decent person and give them the facts.” But common sense tells us that those facts are an emotional bomb waiting to go off. And medical thinking now recognises this: receiving bad news, according to the Western Journal of Medicine, “results in cognitive, behavioural, or emotional deficit in the person receiving the news that persists for some time after the news is received.” News of a sudden death can prompt intense crying, anger or guilt. Some people appear calm and controlled; others are seized by a need to be busy—faced with overwhelming pain, some of us block it by going and doing the washing-up. But no one in such a predicament can be considered normal. We go into shock, which means we are unbalanced mentally and physically. Distress impairs circulation, makes us cold, disrupts the endocrine, immune and cardiovascular systems, upsets rational thought, disturbs sleep.