Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Emotional Hemophilia

It's just a papercut, but if you're a hemophiliac, your blood does not clot correctly. And thus, it's not that you're bleeding with more intensity. It's just that you're bleeding for longer. Days. Weeks. Potentially, your cut might never heal. It depends what kind of hemophiliac you are.

Perhaps lesser known, but also true, is the fact that some people suffer from emotional hemophilia. They get cut. Maybe it's just a papercut. But they don't get over being cut. They hurt. They hurt badly. And the hurt continues on.

If you would go to a doctor to buy blood-clotting drugs so your papercut doesn't prove fatal, why wouldn't you go to a doctor to ensure that your emotional hemophilia doesn't hurt you, either?

That, my friends, is the million dollar question.


Malka said...

Because for some foolish, foolish reason, there is a stigma attached to receiving psychologic therapy.

Another really good metaphor I heard was that of sunburnt. Think of someone who is emotionally sensitive to certain things as having a sunburn: a light pat that would not begin to injure healthy skin causes them intense agony.

EJB said...

I don't think going to a psychologist can "ensure" your emotional hemophilia doesn't become fatal.
My intuition tells me that a doctor's blood-clotting treatments are more effective than a psychologist's counseling treatments.
Not to say, chas vishalom, that someone suffering from emotional hemophilia shouldn't visit a therapist. Just, I understand why fewer people do.

Anonymous said...

tional problems are, at their core, rooted in the individual. Unlike physical illnesses, you can't be fixed. The person has to work it out on his or her own. Even counseling is just a way to guide the person in the self-healing process.

Anonymous said...

because you are a masochist

Anonymous said...

Many people are in absolute denial of their emotional hemophilia. And some are so used to it that they are not able to see it as a hindrance .

Great post!

ZTS said...

A. I am not sure why one needs 'insurence' that his emotional state will be cured, to me it sounds like a way of avoiding help and thus falling deeper in to "Emotional Hemophilia."
B. Nobody can ever "Ensure" anything, ever Medical Doctors can not always help, which brings me to C: I totally agree with Malka. Because Psychology originated to treat the severely mentally ill, for "normal people" there is a strong stigma attached to seeking psychological help.
Personally, I maintain that everyone has what to gain from therapy.
Lastly, Chana, you rock. I really enjoy your stuff.

Aaron said...

Anon #1 on March 03, 2010 3:33 PM
(unless you are the same Anon who made a statement about being a masochist ,too) said:
"Emotional problems are, at their core, rooted in the individual. Unlike physical illnesses, you can't be fixed."

Hey Anon, it's not about FIXING. It's about acquiring coping mechanisms, processing and functioning @ a productive level.

Anonymous said...

Dito Aaaron!
Chana, great post!

wish it were that straightforward said...

because you go and aren't treated well because things are hard to explain and no one cares and it costs money and you leave "bleeding" even more than when you went and nothing helps

Ezzie said...

Possibly because the likelihood of it helping you is about the same as if you don't go, except far more expensive: Click.

That's not to say people shouldn't go or that it doesn't help some or even most; but there's a LOT of work to be done in the field of psychiatry, and psychology is only debate-ably better.

Stubborn and Strong said...

speaking from my personal and professional experiencing. I am a social worker intern and I had a lot of problems on my plate and did seek therapy twice but they didn't 'help' me.

There is a problem in this american society. Everybody wants quick fix but psychological there is no quick fix. The treatment takes months, years depend on what kind of therapist and what kind of clients is.

Have you heard transference and counter-transference? it is between client and therapist. While client telling/not telling their problems to therapist who happen to be human will might get evoked from clients' story from their own personal history.

For example, if client (mom) complaining about her husband who love her daughter more than mom. That will might evoke to therapist because maybe therapist's mom was same way so how could therapist could help this client who therpist hate her/his mom because they were treated badly. That will slow the process to get cure for clients.

In olden days history of social work profession they don't believe but now they raising the awareness of transference and counter-transference.

That is why it is very important that clients should be comfortable with therepist. As they said you need to find right therepist who will help you out. Like friendship, you wouldn't tell everybody about your problems more like to people who you know they won't judge you or willing to help you out objectively same with therapists....

It takes a time...

Maybe that person who went therapy claimed it didn' work might be client's fault.... it is called 'differcult' client but again it could be therapist's fault.

you can't compare psychologist/social worker to medical doctor you just can't...

Anonymous said...

Dear Stubborn and Strong,
For those who have the patients, stubbornness and strength to wait out the full therapy process it will no doubt prevail. I think however, that the post is not just referring to acquiring professional mental help, but also to a general attitude. Research has shown that one of the most powerful indications of whether one will succeed in therapy (there are those who suggest this to be true with regards to physical sickness as well) is the patients eagerness to actually change. We are talking about an attitude. An attitude which to many lack of, causing them "Emotional Hemophilia..."

jonah@israel said...

good point. coz soul is not that physical and when it suffers we accept it less serious, and the second point is-its scary to go to psychologist, coz many people would rather insist that they are normal then to face that they have some true depression.

Anonymous said...

This wouls seem an even stronger case for pharmological treatment, especially in tandem with therapy.

Anonymous said...

Did you have someone in mind?

Anonymous said...


It would seem to me that even medical doctors are very limited with what they can and cannot help with.

Secondly, there is little or no guarantee that a cut on the soul can be bettered or rectified through hellenistic phsycological approaches.

Thirdly, If we believe in G-d then we know that Tanach has the healing we seek. It is a matter of humbling ourselves unto the medicine, Torah and unto the Healer, G-d.

Let's not waste our lives seeking out those who cannot help.


JG said...

A few people here seem to have a conception of psychological and emotional help that is still stuck in the Freudian psychoanalytic world. While there are those who practice psychoanalysis and swear by it, psychology as a science and as a clinical practice has progressed very far and encompasses so much more than this.

To keep the analogy of "emotionally bleeding": we know a good amount about the emotion regulation strategies that people normally use to move on from emotional "injuries". And, researchers like Susan Nolen-Hoeksmat have done extensive work on bad emotion regulation strategies linked to depression. I'd highly recommend checking out her work to see examples of "emotional hemophilia."

Meanwhile, therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy focus on teaching healthier emotion regulation strategies (like reappraisal). There is lots of research on these different strategies, and there is research on the effectiveness of therapies like CBT.

This is not to downplay the worth of psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, or counseling approaches, which are very helpful to many people. The point is, there are also other things out there, and those who do not care for the psychodynamic approach or have more specific needs should learn what else is out there, not denigrate a broad and vital field. I agree that one reason people don't seek help is probably because of the stigma on mental illness.

Anonymous said...

the book about borderline personality disorders "i hate you-don't leave me" coins this terms and explains it in more depth

Mike S. said...

Because modern psychology is about where physical medicine was in 1850. There were some good things that they knew how to do empirically, but also lots of things they did that were either irrelevant or harmful but occasionally worked because of the placebo effect. And it was hard to tell which was which. it is only as the understanding of the causes of physical disease in infection, nutritional deficiency and genetic anomaly became (becomes, we still don't know it all) known that medicine could become really effective.

Anonymous said...

I understand the metaphorical aspect of this post. You are absolutely right that "emotional hemophila" is very serious.

However, I just thought I would point out some misinformation in the first portion of your post. I have hemophilia and I think "lay people" highly misinformed about what hemophilia is.

A papercut will not gush blood and with time, the blood will indeed clot. The belief that a hemophiliac can bleed to death from a papercut is widely untrue. Hemophiliacs also do not have wounds that won't "heal". Hemophilia is the blood's inability to clot effectively. Clotting and healing is quite possible with time (depending on the severity of the bleed) and/or infusion of the missing factor or fresh frozen plasma (which contain clotting factors). The most life threatening thing about hemophilia is the potential for spontaneous bleeding in the CNS or GI system.

There are 19 people that commented on your very well written post. @0 if you include yourself. If I can dispell myths and create ripple effects, then I feel like I've done my good deed for the day.

Thanks for listening.

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