There once was a doctor who was very popular with insurance companies and insurance lawyers.

In his reports,  this doctor liked to conclude that the pain people were experiencing was not a danger to their health. Even if these people returned to work and suffered from escalations of pain, there would be no danger to their health.

Insurance adjusters and their lawyers liked this approach. If people did not return to work, they could be blamed for not trying hard enough. According to this approach, even severe uncontrollable pain was not a valid reason or not returning to work.  This approach, based on this doctor’s report, became a tool for cutting off peoples’ disability benefits and attacking their credibility  in court.

Fortunately, for the many people already suffering serious losses, this approach was not very convincing – for many reasons.

First of all, chronic or long-term pain is very stressful, for a person’s physical and psychological health. And it doesn’t really make much sense to argue that stress is not a danger to peoples’ health, especially uncontrolled stress (or uncontrolled pain).

I don’t think many cardiologists would say that uncontrolled stress is not a danger to their patients’ hearts. I don’t think many specialists, in diabetes care, would say that uncontrolled stress is not a danger to their patients. Although I am not a medical doctor, it is not hard to think of many similar examples.

In my field of rehabilitation psychology, uncontrolled pain and uncontrolled stress ( especially from escalating losses) are very serious dangers.

When patients experience high levels of pain and loss, serious risks for depression are the result. Not many doctors would argue that depression is not a danger to their patients’ health. High levels of depression cause serious levels of suffering, diminished motivation, low  tolerances for pain and stress and heightened risks for suicide. How can these symptoms of depression not be dangerous?

This is a serious topic that I will come back to over and over again. Please stay tuned.

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