A psychiatrist’s-eye view of serious medical and surgical illness is a perspective that is new to many people, both patients and health care providers. We see things a little differently. We see the extraordinary challenge and burden of living with chronic disease; the frequent nearness of fear and exhaustion; the countless opportunities for resilience; and the unavoidable moments of compromise.
Perhaps most unexpectedly, in our several decades (between us) of doing this work, we have seen over and over again, how critical close relationships are to health. For children, those are relationships with parents, for adults the circle is wider—parents, partners, children and other loved ones. For better or worse, what happens in those relationships, the support and security that we provide for one another, and the stress and harm we do one another as well, are a powerful influence on the health of our bodies. In health care settings the circle widens further, to the relationships between patients and health care providers, whether they are trusted confidantes or complete strangers.
These pages compile our efforts in various media to understand how human relationships shape health, and to communicate what we have learned. We’re doctors and researchers, so we stay close to the evidence, but we are also trying to change the way people look at health and how we can work to keep each other healthy – so we try to think beyond conventional approaches to treatment and prevention.
Dr. Jon Hunter & Dr. Bob Maunder