Secondary Gains

Back in the dark ages when I worked in mental health, we didn’t have all the pharmaceuticals we have today, and relied a lot more on inpatient hospitalization and psychotherapy of various kinds.  One of the rather interesting concepts was the concept of “secondary gain”.  Some people, unconsciously, or perhaps consciously had something to gain by being “a mental patient”.  Sometimes the psychiatrists could weed out people who were “playing crazy”.  What were the secondary gains?  Oftentimes it was a release from some intolerable living situation.  It might be huge expectations on a person they felt they could never meet.  It might be a career they had spent many years preparing for and then found they hated.  It might be a wildly dysfunctional family.  It might just be that the expectations for the person’s success in life, (their own or their family’s) was more than they ever felt they could live up to.  It might be the marriage from hell.  In all these cases, being “mentally ill” released the person from the burden of the expectations.  They couldn’t be expected to continue what they were doing, and it wasn’t their fault—they were ill.  I think its still a useful concept in some situations.  When somebody you love is doing something “crazy” or dysfunctional, something that makes no sense, or seems to be self defeating, ask yourself whether there is a secondary gain.  It may help you understand the person better, and perhaps eventually help them find a more rewarding way to deal with life.

 

Nonni

Advertisements

Tags: , , ,

One Response to “Secondary Gains”

  1. jonathan Says:

    The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace..
    – Psalms 29:11

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: