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Thread: The uses of magical thinking

  1. #1

    The uses of magical thinking

    I'm using magical thinking as a synonym for denial.

    Lying on my back in the sandy soil gasping for air I realized immediately I was paralyzed. One of my 1st thoughts quickly thereafter was that Teddy Kennedy had been in a small, private plane crash, was temporarily paralyzed but recovered completely.

    Later in acute care at Jersey Shore Medical Center I told visitors that as soon as I got "return" and could walk again I planned to walk the full length of the Appalachian Trail. I looked forward to getting to Rusk Institute for rehab where I pictured an array of sophisticated machines that would speed my recovery.

    After a month and change in acute care I was shuttled to Rusk Institute in NYC. The ambulance crew wheeled me into the lobby and left my wheeled stretcher in a hallway while necessary paperwork was done. I had made it this far, now the miracles could start.

    I looked up and noticed a plaque above my head on the wall. I read the following.

    The Creed for the Disabled

    I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
    I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
    I asked for health that I might do greater things.
    I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
    I asked for riches that I might be happy.
    I was given poverty that I might be wise.
    I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
    I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
    I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
    I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
    I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
    Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
    I am among all men, most richly blessed.

    My 1st impression, OH SHIT!

    Arrival at Rusk marked the beginning of the end of my magical thing/denial. It helped me limp along until I could at least begin to accept that life in a chair was my likely fate. I often think about that corny plaque and my reaction. Howard Rusk renamed the original poem called, "The Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier" after receiving it in a Christmas card from Adlai Stevenson. It hung at Rusk Institute for decades and probably sobered up many others suffering from deep denial.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Sometimes I think people confuse positive thinking with the magical variety. Striving for a positive result in any of life's endeavors is commendable. A positive attitude is most necessary when overcoming adversity--all those things life seems to throw at us to keep us down or lead us astray. If you can remain unswerving within all your convictions in the face of something as foul as a spinal cord injury, then bully for you. You're doing life the right way.

    However, there are those among us here on Earth who believe that anything that even smacks of failure is defeatism. People fail all the time. It's in our nature. It's a large part of how we learn.

    There are people who refuse to acknowledge that we may not live long enough to achieve our goals or that those goals are simply out of human reach. Achievements that even God and science cannot, or will not, provide. And those people will shout down anyone that challenges their resolve. They will label those dissenters as obstacles, deniers, or even traitors to be punished. "You're with us or you're against us," is their battle cry. But unachieved goals are a hallmark of humanity's struggle though time. They litter our timeline like the flags we raise in conquest; flags that later fall to other conquerors.

    Believing that we can always achieve anything? That's magical thinking. Refusing to accept that we might receive a negative result for all our work? That's blocking out reality; and reality is truth. And nothing good or lasting under God or science can be achieved without truth. We fight, each in our own way, to make our way in this world. That may be the best we can do. That's the journey we call life. Live that life in truth.
    Last edited by ala; 10-11-2014 at 08:22 PM. Reason: wrong spelling

  3. #3
    You can see how denial can happen, we go directly in a instant from a body that functions as it should to dragging our lifeless legs out of bed in the mourning and relying on whatever we have left. I think I had a lot of denial too, but I was constantly told that "you will never walk again, you will be in a wheelchair the rest of your life" looking back on it, I think it was a good thing it was done that way otherwise I would have continued on the denial course and it would have only lead to greater depression when things remained the same. I hated the Dr. at the time who would constantly tell me when he came in for rounds while I was laid up for 6 weeks letting the bone heal in my back that I would never walk again. When questioned more deeply he would say "Central nerves are dead inside your spinal cord and there is nothing on heaven or earth that will ever bring them back again". Anyhow, this tough approach allowed me to go on and go back to College in a wheelchair and get my engineering degree and become a engineer and later a successful small business owner. At least with my personality had I been told I would walk again in five years because of some medical miracle I probably would have lost motivation and just waited and not done as much with my life as I did in the early years post SCI. I think this same approach should be used with new injuries to this day 33 years later because there is still nothing set in stone that says we will ever be able to cure or reverse SCI and to tell a new patient otherwise would be a lie.
    "Life is about how you
    respond to not only the
    challenges you're dealt but
    the challenges you seek...If
    you have no goals, no
    mountains to climb, your
    soul dies".~Liz Fordred

  4. #4
    I do not recall ever being in denial. It might have helped. I was both a mental and physical mess following my injury. Hope of recovering quickly evaporated as I began to see and feel the limits of medicine. For a while I tried to bargain with God. Eventually I came to accept the truism that I had been exposed to prior to injury: "God helps those who help themselves." No dependence on the mystical or magical thinking here.
    Last edited by SCIfor55+yrs.; 10-12-2014 at 09:39 AM.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @
    http://www.rstce.pitt.edu/RSTCE_Reso...imb_Injury.pdf

    See my personal webpage @
    http://cccforum55.freehostia.com/

  5. #5
    I began to realize the limits of medicine when I read that plaque. The place I thought would be a science lab to get me walking was proclaiming that they would just provide an attitude adjustment and I hadn't even reached my room yet. SCI, I had a choice between Kessler (your alma mater?) and Rusk, at the time Rusk was rated very high, turns out that was just because Ed Sullivan emceed the Rusk Christmas show (lol).

  6. #6
    That Plaque does make a lot of sense for the reality of SCI and obviously written by somebody SCI themselves as they knew life as it had become. Thanks for posting that. Now back to watching the walking dead series on Netflix for me. On a lighter note, for anybody who has seen that show, why no rolling dead? I mean there must have been paraplegics? Or does when one come back from the dead and turn into a walking zombie is their SCI cured, lol, if so, that show rocks, haha.
    "Life is about how you
    respond to not only the
    challenges you're dealt but
    the challenges you seek...If
    you have no goals, no
    mountains to climb, your
    soul dies".~Liz Fordred

  7. #7
    Re: "Or does when one come back from the dead and turn into a walking zombie is their SCI cured, lol, if so, that show rocks, haha."


    No such "good" news. On TWD, when you come back as a Zombie, you have whatever wounds /loss of parts you had in life.

    There was a female paraplegic Zombie in one of the earlier seasons. She was pulling herself across the ground with her arms/ no leg movement.

    Getting pumped for the season premier tomorrow.

    Apologies for jumping onto this much more serious topic thread.



  8. #8
    I guess the main reason I jumped in with the joke was because this more serious topic is depressing and I felt the need to break up the sorrow with some humor. I'm not real happy with the way I and many others have had to live our lives due to SCI, but I guess you just do what you gotta do.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2drwhofans View Post
    Re: "Or does when one come back from the dead and turn into a walking zombie is their SCI cured, lol, if so, that show rocks, haha."


    No such "good" news. On TWD, when you come back as a Zombie, you have whatever wounds /loss of parts you had in life.

    There was a female paraplegic Zombie in one of the earlier seasons. She was pulling herself across the ground with her arms/ no leg movement.

    Getting pumped for the season premier tomorrow.

    Apologies for jumping onto this much more serious topic thread.


    "Life is about how you
    respond to not only the
    challenges you're dealt but
    the challenges you seek...If
    you have no goals, no
    mountains to climb, your
    soul dies".~Liz Fordred

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    new zealand
    Posts
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    You guys are lucky to have drs who don't magically think. I'm stuck with an ABI Nureo who for crazy reason thinks CBIs react the same way to drugs. He admits he's the pill, jab guy but his face falls when his patients don't magically get their hand function back thanks to one round of Botox. ATM I'm hoping that a more expensive than normal(socialist medicine) drug(artane) will magically take away my dystonia but I'm also aware that's it's magically thinking.

  10. #10
    Maybe you have a common case of hope.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @
    http://www.rstce.pitt.edu/RSTCE_Reso...imb_Injury.pdf

    See my personal webpage @
    http://cccforum55.freehostia.com/

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