Danger and use of advice.
When is giving advice effective and when is it dangerous? If I am obsessed with an issue, it is so easy to give advice. Am I really hearing what the patient means when I jump to giving advice? But the advice about an issue that is an expression of natural instinct or addiction is not easily heard by patients. They cannot integrate advice that is outside what they are feeling and experiencing at the moment. Advice can drive patients away. However, living your advice with patients is very effective.
When is giving advice dangerous and why?
Five men have talked to me about their sex lives in the last 10 years. I know very little about the sexual lives of others and hesitate to make other uncomfortable. So, I am surprised and flattered when this flood of insight appears in the clinic.
The first was in his 40's. He had many of emotional problems related to anger which seems to be associated with sexual issues in men. Then, a mentally handicapped man who told me all the details of visiting brothels with absolutely no sense of shame. Then, a schizophrenic. Finally, a young man who I was interviewing with the thought of introducing him to a friend as a potential marriage partner. Am I hearing these tid bites of real male life because I am near 70? I do not need this information to do most cases, but it certainly brings the life of my patients into vivid perspective.
To the mentally handicapped patient, I did not give advice. But the others first 3 got advice: about AIDs etc. They all took it negatively like they were being judged. On hindsight, I would react the same way. Furthermore, they are talking about the expression of natural impulse so chastizing them can only feel bad. So for doing homeopathy, advice was definitely a stupid move. Perhaps I could have expressed myself in another way. But, that would miss the point. Sexual expression is natural and necessary to most people.
Another patient told me all about his sexual fantasies and extramarital sex. He was a long-term patient with lots of genital issues. I managed to stay clear of advice until it was clear that daily masturbation was driving some of his hormonal problems. I think if I were a male, I would not have been surprised and I would have understood that daily, or more, masturbation as totally normal. But his remedy (Nux) really seem to have quieted him down. Nux is known for being highly sexual. The right remedy was much more effective than advice.
So, advice to my Nux patient was no help and could have made me lose a patient. I spent a long time telling him repeatedly that masturbation is not wrong in my book, but it may not be good for his hormonal control. That message did nothing except it seemed to help curb his guilt feelings.
Finally, the marriage prospect for a girlfriend eliminated himself with his revelations and I just wonder why he would tell me. I lost the schizophrenic probably because of my advice.
(Here, I am talking to a student who advised a patient to stop smoking.)
I think smoking of an adolescent may be somewhat close to visiting prostitutes; depending on his social environment. Anyway, think about it. When to give advice? Really hard to stop yourself, but just so useless, if not dangerous. For people with mental-emotional issues, really dangerous. Not a safe practice with short-term patients unless you really have a special heart connection.
I personally get stuck on a single “no no” topic. If a behavior is hurting a patient, I want to say something. It is hard to get the issue out of my mind when I see the person. Maybe you are similar.
How to give advice
On the other hand, being with others and acting out your advice is effective. I just got an email from an old friend and mentor of 30 years. She was saying I have to go do "your meditation". Why mine? We used to meditate together. I have treated her. Perhaps advice had an impact.
Another patient is listening to Pema Chodron on Youtube and told me the other day, "I noticed that my fear about xx (not so close) person is so similar to my fear of my brother's and sister's anger. She is in danger of dying with no family around her because of her fear of intimate anger. So this was a very important revelation for her. She is working on Tong long (breathing in a strong negative emotion, purifying to transform it into a higher state such as compassion, then breathing it out for all beings.) She does it all day long, she says. Does not sit down and meditate, but is working hard on emotional awareness. I have been working with her using homeopathy for probably 15 years. Apparently, something came through from advice in her case. But, you need to establish the relationship first.