When the Cure Becomes the Disease
There are times when misguided efforts to cure cause more harm than good. In the above picture a woman is treating herself by having leeches drink her blood. Medieval doctors tried to cure people by bloodletting, a practice which they had inherited from classical medicine and pursued until the nineteenth century, when the operation was finally dropped from general treatment. Bloodletting was used to keep a man's body cool and to relieve it of sickness. It was thought to be good for the prevention of disease, for the cooling of passion: in short,for all those whose illnesses were caused by too much blood.
Like medical treatments making things worse our efforts to solve our emotional problems can make things worse if they are misguided. Unhappiness and psychological problems escalate when one's efforts to solve one's problems actually fuel's one's problems and create self feeding cycles. For example an anorexic who believes her problems will be solved if she just eats less will make an effort to solve her problems by eating less and will thereby exacerbate them. An example of a self destructive defense mechanism leading to a self feeding cycle is withdrawal in response to rejection. A classic example of a self feeding cycle is one that results when one reacts with hostility to constructive criticism. Such a reaction is likely to lead to more criticism and thus create a vicious cycle.
Table of Contents