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PSYC*3690 Article 27.pdf

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PSYC 3690
Benjamin Gottlieb

Article #: 27 Title: A Friend in Need... - “a friend in need is a friend indeed” - this saying suggests two very different concepts of friendship - if the friend indeed is the one who is in need, then friendship entails dependence: no friend is more tenacious than one who is needy - if the friend is one who responds to that need, however, then the friendship is a form of altruism - nearly everyone talked to about the effect of illness on friendship fears slipping from a reasonable, short-term reliance or an abject, lifelong dependence - as one friend becomes increasingly needy, the mutuality of love and concern that friends presumably share is thrown off balance - the prospect of resolving this ambiguity and sustaining truly mutual friendships in spite of unequal need is the theme of this chapter - a friend who responds to need is a friend indeed. A personal crisis that reduces your capacity to care for yourself works as a test, sorting the true, genres friends from the fair-weather acquaintances - showing that the victim could laugh at themselves (one of the traits that wins their friends) remained unchanged in spite of serious illness - there is a common assumptions that tragedy changes your character in profound ways, giving you insight into cosmic truth that puts cliched expressions of sympathy and shame - most often, when friends disappear, it is simply because they donʼt know how to respond - friends want not only to be correct but to be helpful, to contribute to your well-being, not upset it - one of the “advantages” of chronic illness is that friends who shy away in the beginning have plane of time to make up for it later on - those of us who experience intermittent crises find that it is not always the same friends who respond to our need each time - out friendsʼ availability varies with the conditions of their own lives - we tend to think of our “best” friends as the ones who can be counted on consistently, who take responsibility for seeing that we are cared for even if they canʼt be there themselves - people who are part of the structure of your life become more visible and significant as they offer help in times of illness - a friend indeed is one who sticks around even when need ceases, as it at least appears to do in times of remission - the kind of friendship that can be maintained “in sickness and in health” is in fact more dependable altruism - it requires genuine empathy, an ability to see you as an individual, not just as a sick person - rather than merely giving, true friends give on terms appropriate to your unique character - they know you - distinguish between kind gestures and especially valuable forms of support - of all the people who call on the telephone to show their concern, the friends are the ones who take time for conversation about subjects other than illness - friends are the ones who can still see and affirm the healthy aspects of our personalities despite the overlay of illness, who recognize our need for diversion and normalcy and are not afraid of humour in the face of tragedy. Yet they also respect our right to solitude, when that is what serves us best - “my biggest resource is my friends” “the kind that wonʼt let me be down on myself, so I get a kick in the butt, which is good for me” - different moments call for different degrees of frankness, and friends are the ones who can tell the difference - practical help is nearly always appreciated, but certain kinds stand out for the empathy shown - small gestures that show genuine understanding and a willingness to share in our distress are just as welcome as major commitments of time and energy - illness scares of just a few friends and usually only temporarily - it calls forth the generosity of the rest and brings new friends closer - the lengths to which friends will go to help is convincing evidence of the essential goodness of human nature - the initial feeling of buoyancy does not last forever - this is interminable illness and invisible illness - the need never ends - it only subsides from time to time - when it recurs, the signs may be too subtle even for close friends to read, especially if you work hard at passing as healthy - there are times when help does not come spontaneously but must be solicited - it is at these times that the awful spectrum of dependence intrudes - asking for help is an admission of helplessness - when illness reduces the self to helplessness, self-esteem is diminished - the reluctance to “bother” people is very common - it may have as much to do with feeling unworthy of special attention - both men and women show a horror of being regarded as the sort of person who needs to bother other people - when you rely too heavily on other people for practical support and emotional sustenance, you run the risk of becoming burdensome - common sense has it that sharing burdens lightens the load - the larger the circle of friends you have to draw on, the less you risk wearing any one of them out - people who belong to closely-knit, easily identifiable groups of friends find extra solace in that - quick access to fiends makes the task of finding help easier, and being regarded as an integral part of a group boosts morale - when friends have borne your burdens t
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