Thursday, June 24, 2010
Coping mechanisms defy logic

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

People deal with issues in many different ways by using psychological defense mechanisms. The most common is denial. A classic situation is the alcoholic who denies that there is a problem. Another defense mechanism is rationalization which refers to someone who uses excuses to justify behavior. The excuses are not valid and the person just needs to come up with something to justify the behavior. For example, a cigarette smoker might use rationalization to justify smoking. The response might be that they know someone who is a smoker and lived until age 80. Just because that person managed to survive until 80 does not mean that all smokers will do the same. The smoker does not want to quit so he or she has to come up with a reason why smoking is not harmful. There is not much logic in this behavior. There are many other medical examples of this kind of behavior. Some people might not want to take medication. They express concern about the side effects which are possible but do not always occur. What these people fail to understand is that the effects of the disease itself are probably worse than any of the potential side effects of the medication. There is not much logic in this behavior. Some people will complain that safety devices such as seat belts, bicycle helmets and motorcycle helmets are not comfortable. These devices are not there to protect others. They are there to protect individuals. Their complaint about comfort is nothing more than an excuse to not be bothered using the device. There is no logical reason for their behavior. I have written many times in the past about individuals who think immunizations are bad. They were certainly not bad for the people who no longer die of smallpox, the children who no longer die of meningitis or the people no longer become crippled by polio. The problem is that you don't know who these people are because they have never gotten the actual disease. These individuals are not thinking logically. The one thing in common about people who use rationalization is the lack of logic in their decisions. They make an illogical decision in the first place and come up with some made up reason to justify that illogical decision. For that reason, you cannot convince them that they are wrong. They have stopped thinking logically while you are trying to appeal to their sense of logic. They have turned that sense off so they will never hear you. It is unfortunate that rationalization is so common. It is unfortunate that there are so many medical situations in which individuals refuse to think of the logical consequences.

Take precautions when the weather is hot to avoid injury

As we move into the heart and heat of the summer, Delawareans are reminded to take precautions to help keep themselves, their loved ones, neighbors, and their pets safe. Heat illness occurs whenever the body cannot compensate for excessive heat. When humidity is high, sweat ceases to evaporate and the body's natural cooling system slows down, in some cases shutting down completely. Those at risk include the elderly, young children, individuals with obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn and those using prescription drugs or alcohol. It's important to stay in contact with elderly relatives and neighbors to make sure they're dealing safely with the summer heat. Delawareans should heed the following warnings signs and preventive actions:

  • Heat cramps occur in the muscles of the limbs or abdomen occurring during or after physical activity in high heat. Sweating results in loss of fluids and salts that cause muscle cramps. Address heat cramps by resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water.
  • Heat exhaustion is more severe, occurring when a person is overheated along with reduced or unbalanced intake of fluids. Symptoms may include: dehydration, fatigue, weakness, clammy skin, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, hyperventilation (rapid breathing), irritability and fainting.

Steps to take: move person indoors or into shade, loosen or remove clothing, encourage the person to eat and drink, get person to a cool shower or bath and call your doctor for further advice.
  • Heatstroke occurs when the body can no longer cool itself and can be life threatening. Prompt medical treatment is required.
  • Overdressing and time spent in hot vehicles can lead to heatstroke. Symptoms may include: flushed, hot, dry skin with no sweating; high body temperature (above 103¡F, orally); severe, throbbing headache; weakness, dizziness or confusion; sluggishness or fatigue; decreased responsiveness; and loss of consciousness. Steps to take: Call 911, get the person indoors or into shade, get person to a cool shower or bath, give fluids. Residents who do not have access to air conditioning can avoid overheating by seeking out public places which do have air conditioning, such as stores, malls, theatres and libraries. The Division of Public Health also recommends drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated and wearing light colored, loose fitting clothing. People should also remember that temperatures in cars can climb dangerously high very quickly in the summertime heat. Never leave another person or a pet in a car for an extended period of time. Animals are not able to sweat like humans do. Dogs cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paws. If they have only overheated air to breathe, animals can collapse, suffer brain damage and possibly die of heatstroke. Just 15 minutes can be enough for an animal's body temperature to climb to deadly levels that will damage the nervous and cardiovascular systems, often leaving the animal comatose, dehydrated and at risk of permanent impairment or death.

    Autism Delaware tournament Sign up for Go Fish, a bass fishing tournament to benefit Autism Delaware's southern location and the advocacy, education and support services they provide to improve the lives of people with autism and their families. Go Fish will be held on Sunday, Sept. 19, at eight ponds throughout Kent and Sussex counties, and will be followed by a celebration at Milford's Bicentennial Park. Anglers of all ages and abilities are welcome. Each team of two can register for $40 and will receive an information and fundraising packet. Prizes, including a grand prize of $500 and special youth prizes, will be awarded at the celebration. The public is welcome to attend the celebration which will include fun for all ages with music by Code Blue, food from Go Fish of Rehoboth and kids games. Nominal fees will be charged for games and food for those not participating on a fishing team. Pro bass fisherman Mike DelVisco will fish in the tournament Sunday and participate in the celebration. There are 160 slots for fishing so register today by visiting or calling 422-2255.

    Nanticoke Imaging extends hours More than 184,450 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the U.S. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital has advanced its fight against this pervasive disease by installing a cutting edge digital mammography system and expanding service hours at Mears Diagnostic Imaging, 200 Health Services Dr., Seaford. Expanded hours for scheduling mammography appointments at Mears Diagnostic Imaging are now available Monday through Friday, during the day and evening. For more information, call 628-1507.

    Dr. Ngaiza joins NMH Nanticoke Memorial Hospital welcomes Justinian Ngaiza, MD, PhD to its medical staff as a specialist in medical oncology and hematology. Dr. Ngaiza has been providing medical oncology and hematology services in the Salisbury area since 2007. He completed his clinical fellowship in hematology/oncology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and served as a hematology/oncology specialist in Alexandria, Va., from 2001-2007. He is a member of the Bioethics Committee at Inova Alexandria Hospital and received the AACR-Pharmacia "Scholar in Training" award in 2001. To schedule an appointment, call 628-6289.