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HIV: ON LIVING-TAKING CONTROL: POSITIVE DENIAL

People who focus on hope rather than despair may seem to be denying the facts. But whether denial is positive or negative depends on what you are denying. Denial is negative only if people deny the facts of their infection and live inappropriately: drink too much, take drugs, practice
unsafe sex, avoid seeing a doctor, or preventing a person with AIDS from talking about sickness or death.
Denial that admits both the realities of today and the unpredictability of tomorrow is positive. Alan, who bought a new car on a five-year finance plan, is denying not infection, only knowledge of the future. No one knows what will happen or when. No one knows how any one person’s body will handle HIV infection. No one knows how long he or she will live or what she or he might die of. “You really have to deny some of this stuff,” Alan says. “I’m sad when I lose a friend, but I’m careful not to connect that death to mine. Death happened to my friend, and I’m sad about that. But it still hasn’t happened to me.”
Positive denial is nearly essential in dealing with this disease. If you don’t know the future, you have a certain distance between yourself and the disease: you are much more than someone affected by HIV. Your life has many aspects, many parts to it, many things you are interested in, many things and people you love; and HIV, though important, is only one aspect of your life. “I’m not denying I’m sick,” Dean said. “But I’ve made up my mind not to act sick, not to just sit around being a sick person.”
Positive denial also helps people feel feisty about the disease. They feel like they are not just victims of some virus; they are people who have some say in how their lives are run. “I’m going to fight until I can’t any more,” says Dean.
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HIV: ON LIVING-TAKING CONTROL: POSITIVE DENIALPeople who focus on hope rather than despair may seem to be denying the facts. But whether denial is positive or negative depends on what you are denying. Denial is negative only if people deny the facts of their infection and live inappropriately: drink too much, take drugs, practice unsafe sex, avoid seeing a doctor, or preventing a person with AIDS from talking about sickness or death.     Denial that admits both the realities of today and the unpredictability of tomorrow is positive. Alan, who bought a new car on a five-year finance plan, is denying not infection, only knowledge of the future. No one knows what will happen or when. No one knows how any one person’s body will handle HIV infection. No one knows how long he or she will live or what she or he might die of. “You really have to deny some of this stuff,” Alan says. “I’m sad when I lose a friend, but I’m careful not to connect that death to mine. Death happened to my friend, and I’m sad about that. But it still hasn’t happened to me.”     Positive denial is nearly essential in dealing with this disease. If you don’t know the future, you have a certain distance between yourself and the disease: you are much more than someone affected by HIV. Your life has many aspects, many parts to it, many things you are interested in, many things and people you love; and HIV, though important, is only one aspect of your life. “I’m not denying I’m sick,” Dean said. “But I’ve made up my mind not to act sick, not to just sit around being a sick person.”     Positive denial also helps people feel feisty about the disease. They feel like they are not just victims of some virus; they are people who have some say in how their lives are run. “I’m going to fight until I can’t any more,” says Dean.*245\191\2*

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