The "goal is the what; the ideal is the why." ("The Edgar Cayce Primer," Bantam Books, New York 1982.) The ideal attitude gives people a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life, making them look at illness as more of a challenge than a tragedy. Those bereft of such a lofty ideal are prone to depression and self-condemnation in the face of disease which provokes fear in them and a feeling of being victimized by something outside and beyond their control. This attitude of weakness and surrender stunts a person's psychological initiative and weakens his/her will power to render healing more difficult and painful. Our thoughts, feelings, behavior and purpose in life contribute a great deal to health or illness, Edgar Cayce declares.
To develop the ideal attitude for combating disease, we have to take some degree of responsibility for our situation by defining a course of action that takes all aspects of our experience - spiritual, mental and physical - into consideration. People who are able to make such an attitude adjustment feel more empowered to deal with their illness. ("Meditation and the Mind of Man," H.B. Puryear & M.A. Thurston, A.R.E. Press, Virginia Beach 1987.)
Functionalists believe that atti...
People who are able to make such an attitude adjustment feel more empowered to deal with their illness. ("Meditation and the Mind of Man," H.B. Puryear & M.A. Thurston, A.R.E. Press, Virginia Beach 1987.)
Functionalists believe that attitudes are "enduring systems." Once attitude is acquired, it becomes virtually impervious to change. The reason is, attitudes serve a particular motivational function related to the ego and to change them you need to change what motivates the individual as well. This school of thought moreover holds the view that an attitude change is made more difficult by the fact that what lies behind motivation is usually unknown even to the individual as it often exists in the subconscious level.
If attitudes toward health and illness are difficult to change, and both ailing person and the one entrusted with his care and treatment fall short of the spiritual and mental ideals, this puts the patient's chances for recovery all the more at risk. But it is believed that one tasked to nurse a diseased person back to health can influence the latter in a positive way if the former has the ideal attitude for healing. This brings us to the topic at hand, which is how attitudes toward health and illness affect the work of a practicing nurse.
Nursing, we must remember, is the "therapeutic interpersonal relationship which facilitates the growth and development of both patient and healer." This nurse-patient relationship is considered vital to medicine as applying mechanical techniques or other procedures. The unique function of the nurse "is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities which contribute to