U-M research shows chronically ill patients might be happier if they give up hope

U-M research shows chronically ill patients might be happier if they give up hope


(bright, techno music) – [Narrator] Most of us have been told at one time or another to never lose hope. This plea is particularly common when dealing with medical problems, but new University of Michigan
Health System research indicates that there may
be a dark side to hope when dealing with disease or
chronic medical conditions. – In our current research at
the University of Michigan, we studied patients who
had brand new colostomies. They had their colons removed and they had to have
bowel movements in a pouch that lays outside of the body. We wanted to know how happy people were, how they emotionally adapted
to this new colostomy. One of the groups was given hope that this colostomy would be reversible. The other group? Hope was taken away. They knew they had to
live with this forever. All-outs equal, should be better to have
hope than to not have hope. And yet, when we followed
people over about six months, we found that the group with
the permanent colostomy, no hope of having normal bowel
function again, were happier. We think that the people with
the permanent colostomies, therefore, had no hope
of normal bowel function. We think they were happier because they got on with their lives. They realized these were
the cards that were dealt, so they had to play with those cards. Whereas the other group who were waiting for the
colostomy to get reversed, waiting to have normal bowels
again, they were waiting. They had their lives on hold. We do look at hope as an
important part of happiness, and I am not saying we should
be taking all hope away from all people in all situations. But we do have to be aware that there’s a dark side
of hope, that sometimes, if hope makes you put off
getting on with your life, it can get in the way of happiness. Patients of mine with
chronic pain, for example, some of them are, they’re not applying for jobs because they wanna get their
pain under control first. And if it takes months, months, maybe years to get their
pain under control, they’re not out in the workforce and they’re miserable because of it. I don’t think it’s ever
good to take hope away. I think we have to be careful about building up people’s hope, so much so that they put
off living their lives.