Chronically Ill Patients Might Be Happier if They Give Up Hope

Reported on Reuters:

Holding on to hope may not make patients happier as they deal with chronic illness or diseases, according to a new study by University of Michigan Health System researchers.

“Hope is an important part of happiness,” said Peter A. Ubel, M.D., director of the U-M Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine and one of the authors of the happily hopeless study, “but there’s a dark side of hope. Sometimes, if hope makes people put off getting on with their life, it can get in the way of happiness.”

The results showed that people do not adapt well to situations if they are believed to be short-term. Ubel and his co-authors — both from U-M and Carnegie Mellon University — studied patients who had new colostomies: their colons were removed and they had to have bowel movements in a pouch that lies outside their body.

At the time they received their colostomy, some patients were told that the colostomy was reversible — that they would undergo a second operation to reconnect their bowels after several months. Others were told that the colostomy was permanent and that they would never have normal bowel function again. The second group — the one without hope — reported being happier over the next six months than those with reversible colostomies.

“We think they were happier because they got on with their lives. They realized the cards they were dealt, and recognized that they had no choice but to play with those cards,” says Ubel, who is also a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine. (Read More)

This is sort of like what Morgan Freeman’s character told Tim Robbin’s in The Shawshank Redemption, even going so far to describe hope as “dangerous.” But Andy Dufresne didn’t take Red’s advice…

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  • Anonymous

    I gave up hope years ago, now it is nearly impossible to be disappointed with life. If you just lower your expectations you will see that life can be pretty simple. Unless you are terminally ill, then I would not have any advice for you. Maybe you could sue a major corporation. Lie and say that something they did made you sick.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PDDVWRQVUPMKRGHURIEQVNYWHQ Sean

    Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

    hardly a new concept

  • tonyviner

    I gave up hope years ago, now it is nearly impossible to be disappointed with life. If you just lower your expectations you will see that life can be pretty simple. Unless you are terminally ill, then I would not have any advice for you. Maybe you could sue a major corporation. Lie and say that something they did made you sick.

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