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Archive for September, 2008

Ticking off the pros, part two

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This story is much funnier when my friend Deb tells it because she’s the nurse who was involved. Because she couldn’t really see everything I was doing, she likes to exaggerate her level of frustration.

The patient was a rather large and muscular guy who looked as if he’d been in a few fights in his life. I’m not sure what he was doing, but the staff were quite intimidated. When I got there, he was sitting in one of the common areas, slouched in his chair, with a look of exaggerated indifference on his face. Deb was sitting at the opposite end of the table and talking to him with a great sense of reason in her voice. (It’s hard to describe the tone in more detail. Sorry.) I sat down at the table, too, in view of him but not her, and I slouched in my chair and put an exaggerated indifference on my face.

When she said anything I thought he should agree with, I’d shift my expression to “Well, that makes sense”, and then shift it back to mirror his.

(Deb would say something like, “I called him so he could help me, and all he did was sit there!)

And when I figured he and I were on the same wavelength, I yawned. A little noisily, but not loudly.

(Deb would nearly shout at this point in the story, “And then he started yawning! I’m trying to defuse a dangerous situation and he’s yawning!“)

I sat and listened and paced him for another minute and yawned again. And then he yawned too. I guess he got tired or something. No more fight in him. Shortly, he asked her if he could just go to bed.

As we walked out of the room, she gave me the “WTF did you do?!” look. I just shrugged.

Written by Michael DeBusk

September 17th, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Articles,Rapport

Ticking off the pros

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She was really going off on the nurses, and they couldn’t get control of her. It can get scary for a psych nurse when a patient goes there… probably because they believe Torrey. I’ve never found the mentally ill to be any scarier than anyone else, so I guess I have an advantage. I got there within a minute of the call. All they wanted was for her to go be quiet in her room for a few minutes.

The patient, a textbook Borderline, was throwing a first-class tantrum. Keep in mind that a lot of therapists refuse to work with people who have her problem, and that most of the ones who will work with them don’t have much success. The great skill of Borderline Personality Disorder is Jerking People Around; they do it better than absolutely anybody.

One of the things a Borderline will do is, they’ll place you into one of two categories. You’re an angel or a demon. You can jump immediately from one category to the other, depending on whether or not you’re doing what the patient wants you to do. If you care at all, even a little, about the relationship, they will quickly condition you. It’s either amazing or sad to watch.

Nurses are taught to maintain a “professional distance” with patients. That tends to work with most, but the Borderlines will scream, “You don’t even care about me! You’re supposed to be nurses! Nurses are supposed to care about people!” (Yes, I learned a lot about double-binds from these situations.)

Personally, I think the key is that I care more about my opinion of myself than I care about anyone else’s opinion of me. Like me? Great! Don’t like me? That’s still OK. I like me.

I walked over to the ranting patient and asked her what was going on. After she got a sentence out, I shifted my stance to mirror hers. Then I started to nod in time with the rhythm of her ranting. Once in a while, I’d feed back to her a word or two. One of the nurses stood nearby. I usually appreciate that. This time, though, the nurse picked up on something the patient said and tried to respond.

The next thing that happened caught me off guard. The patient wheeled on the nurse and shouted, Excuse me! I’m having a conversation with this man!” The nurse blushed a dark maroon, apologized, and walked away. To my credit, I suppressed my smile before the patient turned back to me. (Well, it was funny.)

After a minute or so more, I said to her, “OK. Head on back to your room and wait there for a bit. I’ll talk to the nurses and get their side of the story.”

She thanked me and went to do what the staff wanted her to do all along.

Written by Michael DeBusk

September 16th, 2008 at 2:06 am

Cialdini has a new book!

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Over at Presentation Zen is a review of Robert Cialdini’s new book, 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive:

The book is designed for anyone in business who is interested in becoming better at understanding how to persuade or influence isn’t that just about everyone?. The book may also help you understand why you decide to do the things you do. Even if you are a researcher or teacher or a medical doctor, and so on, and not a business person, it’s still important to understand how people are or can be influenced and persuaded by your words and behaviors. Each chapter focuses on a single question and is no more than 3-5 pages long.

Sounds like another real winner from Dr. Cialdini. It’s on my wish list. Go get 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive for yourself! (Note: this is an amazon link with Presentation Zen’s referral code intact. When you buy, you’ll be thanking Garr for the review and the referral.)

Written by Michael DeBusk

September 13th, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Books,Persuasion,Psych

The Art of Expression

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Facial expression, that is.

The Eyes for Lies blog points us to ArtNatomia:

ARTNATOMY/ARTNATOMIA is a Flash interactive english/spanish tool. It is intended to facilitate the teaching and learning of the anatomical and biomechanical foundation of facial expression morphology.

I’ve been playing with it; it’s fascinating and fun.

Written by Michael DeBusk

September 10th, 2008 at 2:56 pm