Monday, August 15, 2016

Cognitive Disorders

Medical training and life in general is overflowing with cognitive mistakes. I've been meaning to blog about them since fourth year of medical school. Here are ten common cognitive mistakes; look how close to the truth each one is. (This is reprinted from some handout I got some time in med school. If I'm plagiarizing, let me know and I'll take it down.)
  1. All-or-nothing thinking: you see things in black-and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
  2. Overgeneralization: you see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  3. Mental filter: you pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
  4. Disqualifying the positive: you reject positive experiences by insisting that they "don't count" for some reason. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  5. Jumping to conclusions: you make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
    1. Mind reading: you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don't bother to check this out.
    2. The fortuneteller error: you can anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  6. Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization (also called "the binocular trick"): you exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else's achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or another person's imperfections).
  7. Emotional reasoning: you assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are.
  8. Should statements: you try to motivate yourself with "should" and "shouldn't," as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. "Musts" and "oughts" are also offenders. the emotional consequences are guilt. When you direct "should" statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  9. Labeling and mislabeling: this is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself. "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him. "He's a louse." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotional labeled.
  10. Personalization: you see yourself as the cause of some negative external event, for which in fact you were not primarily responsible.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Three Quick Takes

ICU and STEP 3 and ACOG, oh my! Abstracts are due in August for ACOG, which means I am trying to accomplish too many things this month. Therefore, short posts on topics that I've been meaning to blog about forever. (There are only two of them, it's not even that exciting.)

1: Nursing is Cooler than You Think

Seriously, how cool is it to be a nurse? Doctors are kind of like prima ballerinas: they come onstage when everything else is ready and everyone is waiting for them. Then they do their thing and let everyone else wrap up and finish everything. (This is especially true of surgeons in the OR. They're paged when the patient is asleep and positioned and they gown/glove, do their thing, and leave afterwards and let the staff +/- resident take care of everything from closing to recovery.) Nurses, on the other hand, are with the patient, advocating for them. 

And the profession of nursing more closely resembles what we are meant to do in salvation history. God is the physician: He alone has the knowledge that heals us. But He lets us assist: he lets us nourish and spread His gifts, in our own souls and in others'. Nursing is an image of what saints and angels do for sinners.

I know I am in the right vocation. But now that I am working with nurses and that I know someone in nursing school, I'm thinking so much more about this. Nursing is so cool.

2: Awesome! The Linacre is On Pub Med! And a Dilemma

I seem to be able to make a dilemma out of anything. It's really good news that the Linacre Quarterly, the journal that has been published by the Catholic Medical Association since 1934, is now archived in PubMed. It's a mark of legitimacy, and research that gets archived there is shared with the general scientific community. I'm much more attracted to publishing there, since any articles that appear will have a PMID and a real DOI.

Linacre is also growing more professional, with a new format (as of like eleven months ago, I'm super late blogging this) and more scientific research to balance its many essays, book reviews, and philosophical and theological reflections.

But the dilemma is: do I publish new research in the Linacre or do I publish it in a professional journal? (I'm a little embarassed as a I write this, because it's all hypothetical...I haven't got a single abstract to speak of.) It'd be so awesome if some big important paper put Linacre on the map. But I don't want to hid all my findings in the Catholic corner--today, who would take a paper published in a Catholic journal seriously? Am I being career-centered or just practical? Gah.

3: Why I Don't Have Pets

Some consecrated virgins have pets, both to keep them company and to keep them from thinking about themselves all the time if they live at home. I currently have no pets. I'm not allergic to them and I think they're adorable. And my parents' house has seen all kinds of pets: birds, fish, gerbils, mice, chinchillas, cats, and a dog (not simultaneously).

But now is not the time for pets. Let me explain. I dog-sit for friends occasionally. Their adorable terriers are affectionate, well-behaved, and clean. But last night while dog sitting I burned the midnight oil researching the ethics of emergency contraception. The dogs snoozed while I stayed up with my laptop. But then, five and a half hours into my sleep, they woke up and needed a walk. Dogs don't understand fides quarens intellectum. They just need to lick your face and chase some squirrels.

So, for now, while I burn many midnights studying OB/GYN and medical ethics, no pets. (Also, I don't really want to become the old cat lady. I'm on my way to becoming the old church lady already.)