One-Minute Book Reviews

November 13, 2007

The ‘Tyranny of Positive Thinking’ and Cancer Patients — A Physician-Author Says That It’s Not Always Best to Tell People to ‘Be Optimistic’

Can you give too much encouragement to people who are ill?

By Janice Harayda

Not long ago, I reviewed Betty Rollin’s Here’s the Bright Side and objected to its theme that all human suffering holds “a hidden prize waiting to be found.” I argued that some losses are so sad — the death of a child, say — that urging people to find their “bright side” is cruel.

Later I read some interesting, related comments by Jimmie Holland, chair of Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. They appeared in an article Leslie Brody wrote about caring for her husband, who has pancreatic cancer, for the New Jersey daily, The Record, on May 20, 2007.

“Think twice before telling the patient to ‘be positive,’” Brody wrote. She added:

“Dr. Jimmie C. Holland, author of The Human Side of Cancer and a pioneer in the psychological aspects of the illness, has written about the ‘tyranny of positive thinking.’ When people insist patients should ‘be optimistic,’ they imply that those who get sicker may be to blame for not trying hard enough to stay upbeat and conquer the disease.

“Holland says a patient’s mind-set might help him stick to a grueling chemo regimen, but it’s less clear whether attitudes and emotions in themselves can affect tumor growth or the body’s response. Patients — and their families — should feel free to vent depressing and anxious thoughts without being judged.

“Instead of saying ‘Chin up,’ or, ‘You’ll be fine,’ it’s better to say, ‘Hang in there,’ or ‘We’re thinking of you,’ or ‘We’re hoping for the best.’”

Links: To read the original review of Here’s the Bright Side, click here www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/08/21/. To read about The Human Side of Cancer, click here www.humansideofcancer.com.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

April 27, 2007

Janis Silverman’s ‘Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies’

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:44 pm
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Exercises that can help when a young child loses a parent, grandparent or other close relative or friend

Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies. By Janis Silverman. Fairview Press, 32 pp., $9.95, paperback. Ages 5–9.

By Janice Harayda

Normally, I don’t review children’s books that offer only bibliotherapy or help with problems. But Help Me Say Goodbye has so much to offer grief-stricken 5-to-9-year-olds that I’ve decided to break my self-imposed rule.

Teacher Janis Silverman designed this activity book for families with young children who will be visiting a friend or relative who is dying. But the book could also help children who have recently lost someone important. Each page describes something a child could do to “say goodbye” and provides space for it. One page says: “When you visit your friend or relative, what can you bring? Draw or write about your ideas.” Other pages suggest ways children can express their feelings after a loss. One says that when someone dies, people may feel angry: “Draw or write what you can do when you feel angry. Circle the things that won’t hurt anyone else.” And while the book is designed for children in grades kindergarten through three, it describes a few activities for younger ones, such as, “Use a toy phone to talk about what happened.”

Recommended … for children who are coping with the death of a parent, grandparent, sibling, teacher or friend. The exercise in this book could be adapted for children whose pets have died.

Published: January 1999.

Furthermore: At this writing, this book is in stock on Amazon www.amazon.com. Many libraries also have it.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

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