False hope, rather than hearing the truth and getting on with one’s life, leaves patients unhappier. There are so many houses out there now worth, say, $1.6 million but owing $2.1 and the borrowers are stuck. You call their broker to see if you can get permission to cut a deal with the bank and are told, “well, they’re still hoping to figure out a way to keep the house.” They can’t, and won’t, but the house will sit for another year or more while the bank foreclosure process wends its slow way to conclusion. This is not necessarily the best approach, as these medical researchers learned:
Study shows that colostomy patients who believed their condition was irreversible reported better quality of life than those with faith that they would be cured ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Holding on to hope may not make patients happier as they deal with chronic illness or diseases, according to a new study by University of Michigan Health System researchers. "Hope is an important part of happiness," said Peter A. Ubel, M.D., director of the U-M Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine and one of the authors of the happily hopeless study, "but there's a dark side of hope. Sometimes, if hope makes people put off getting on with their life, it can get in the way of happiness." The results showed that people do not adapt well to situations if they are believed to be short-term. Ubel and his co-authors -- both from U-M and Carnegie Mellon University -- studied patients who had new colostomies: their colons were removed and they had to have bowel movements in a pouch that lies outside their body. At the time they received their colostomy, some patients were told that the colostomy was reversible -- that they would undergo a second operation to reconnect their bowels after several months. Others were told that the colostomy was permanent and that they would never have normal bowel function again. The second group -- the one without hope -- reported being happier over the next six months than those with reversible colostomies. "We think they were happier because they got on with their lives. They realized the cards they were dealt, and recognized that they had no choice but to play with those cards," says Ubel, who is also a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine.