Physician empathy is a powerful healthcare intervention

Empathy not optionalAs a trauma survivor who has studied Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) for five years, I have learned that empathy is vital to human well-being, especially after trauma, and that, neurophysiologically, I need empathy. It helps integrate the brain, which helps the brain and nervous system to function better, which reduces chronic symptoms.

Four days ago I gave my pain specialist the gist of what I wrote below. He listened attentively, and immediately created an opportunity for me to share a little about the FGM betrayal trauma, which so deeply affects every aspect of my life.

My doctor, who naturally expresses empathy, came through. His face and eyes softened as he reflected on what it must be like for me and how challenging it is to deal with unauthorized permanent changes to my body. It was such a relatively big dose of empathy that I could not take it all in at once. I needed to titrate it over days. My system is unused to such empathy from anyone, especially doctors. Yet, their empathy is potentiated by their status, which, to our nervous systems, makes them alloparents, substitute parents.

By the time I saw my pain specialist, I had been in bad condition for 5 days. My symptoms were up, I was sleeping poorly, had little energy, and just wanted to quit life. But his dose of empathy was even more potent than I expected. Since that appointment on Tuesday afternoon, my pain levels have been lower, I’ve slept better, and my mood has lifted. I feel able to engage more with life and have hope for improvement once again.

My doctor’s empathy is a powerful intervention. I intend to keep asking for it, and help all my healthcare practitioners to grow their understanding of the great importance of empathy as an intervention that improves patient outcomes and reduces physician burnout, while also positively affecting the bottom line. Win-win-win! It seems like magic, but it’s Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB). We are the healing wave.

“Need Your Help with Brain Integration- Trauma damages the nervous system and disrupts brain integration. Safety serves as therapy, but finding it in a culture where the powerful exploit the vulnerable for dominance and acquisition is daunting. Safety, necessitating both the absence of threat and the presence of connection, is greatly absent in my life due to medical and psychiatric abuse following my plea for help with severe complex PTSD from extreme developmental trauma.

“Lacking essential connections for basic functioning, a harmonized brain, and a regulated nervous system, all disrupted by medical abuses, I rely on my physicians to aid in brain integration for a chance at achieving homeostasis before it’s too late.

“Safety is the therapy. Connection is safety, and empathy is the safest connection. I need a lot of kindness, compassion, understanding, and empathy from everyone. Especially empathy. Especially from my doctors. Especially from my male doctors. This is what my nervous system tells me in multiple ways.

“I need 40 seconds of compassion and 10 seconds of empathy in every appointment with any healthcare practitioner, along with the Patel Pause during consultations and twice during procedures. Seeking approximately a million instances of this support.

“This ‘Treat Me Well’ intervention is integral to my neuroscience-based, somatically-oriented dynamic healing framework, particularly within the Exposure Therapy aspect of the Medical PTSD (MPTSD) treatment plan. This approach replaces old, negative memories of negligent, abusive, and malicious healthcare encounters with new positive experiences, fostering healing one compassionate and empathetic visit at a time.

“Resolving Medical PTSD Requres Making a Safe Space in Medicine- Studying interpersonal neurobiology has underscored the crucial role all my providers play in addressing Medical PTSD. The focus is on altering my brain’s predictive coding, a task lacking established protocols in a system overlooking MPTSD. Safety in the medical environment is the only remedy, achieved by enhancing my ability to communicate needs, set boundaries, and secure the necessary Empathy Level care for my nervous system. Building relationships and trust become pivotal for healing, requiring providers who understand and connect. These connections aim to support my nervous system in reclaiming the safety and agency stolen by psychiatric and surgical abuses.”

#TraumaAwareAmerica #doctors #HealthcareExcellence #healthcare #medicine #physicianempathy #interpersonalneurobiology #Empathy #ptsdrecovery #brainhealth

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