Buffering: A Good Plan or Not?
Although I don't like to admit it, I know that I don't always keep up with the mental health literature (partly because I am also trying to keep up with the breast cancer literature, and that alone is a FT job). When my friend Marc Silver (the author of Breast Cancer Husband) and a frequent contributor of excellent articles about cancer to many magazines, called me for a quote about "buffering", I didn't know what he was talking about. "Buffering" sounded like something you would do for a headache. Marc explained, quite patiently and kindly, that this is a term used to describe the ways we often try to edit ourselves and protect our loved ones. As in, a husband may well not want to say to his newly diagnosed wife: "I am scared to death that you will die." We talked for a while, and he eventually wrote this excellent article for Cure magazine. Here is a short excerpt and then a link to read the whole things (which you should do):
"An emerging body of research argues for full disclosure during a health crisis. In studies of couples dealing with cancer, bufferers don't fare as well as nonbufferers, says Shelby Langer, a research assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work. A study led by Langer and published last year in the journal Cancer found that among cancer patients and their caregiver spouse or partner, bufferers, both patients and caregivers, reported less satisfaction with their relationship and rated their mental health on a lower level than nonbufferers. Even in happy marriages, zipped lips can lead to bad results, notes Sharon Manne, PhD, a professor at Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center who studies buffering.
"I would rather have an authentic conversation," observes Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, chief of oncology social work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and a breast cancer survivor. "I would assume my husband is scared. If he said he weren't, I wouldn't believe him." In studies of cancer patients and their spouses, following guidelines for sharing feelings can help facilitate a conversation and have a positive impact."
See the Article on curetoday.com or: http://tinyurl.com/2cvz9s8