Suffering in chronically ill children in the context of psychological interactions supporting their families
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Instytut Psychologii Stosowanej, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie
Submission date: 2016-06-29
Final revision date: 2016-10-07
Acceptance date: 2016-10-28
Publication date: 2016-12-21
Corresponding author
Krzysztof Gerc   

Instytut Psychologii Stosowanej, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie, ul. Łojasiewicza 4, 30-348 Kraków, Polska
Psychoter 2016;179(4):45-56
This article, incorporating contemporary achievements of developmental psychology and physiological psychology, contains an attempt to characterise the differences concerning a child's experience of distress in general and physical pain. The pain in interpreted as a specific somatic sensation of high intensity, it is a consequence of disorders resulting from a disease or dysfunctions of body functioning. On the other hand, suffering means intensive and emotionally upsetting feeling of undefined character of physiological correlates. A child suffering from a chronic illness or visible and permanent disability may experience a kind of sense of loss, which in many cases means a great despair for it and its family. The paper shows that a child's suffering, relevant to the stage of its development, often co-occurs with: - noticeable disturbance in cognitive and socio-emotional development, caused by incomprehensible and upsetting incentives, - disorder of identity development and personal integrity, - gradual loss of hope for keeping prospective efficiency, - relative disorganisation of activity and functioning in conditions of stimulation caused by pain and loss of safety. The provided forms of reality perception are associated with certain attitudes, believes, emotions and reactions in suffering children, which are the consequences of the loss experience concerning both the child directly and the entire family system. The conclusion of the article involves an attempt to answer the question: what and how to communicate with children and when do they experience suffering and how, using available organisational potential, to provide effective support?
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