Over-sharing

16 09 2011

My name is Mudmap and I’m an over-sharer.

There, got it off my chest.

The problem is, I come from the health industry. In health, sharing personal details is positively reinforced. Not only have all the clinicians heard it all before (and they are keen to top your story with a grosser one – a competition that one is keen to win), they are also incredibly interested in the details. They ask informed and intelligent questions and listen intently to the answers. And then you get excellent considered feedback. And possibly a diagnosis.

Now I like to think I am not totally self-absorbed, but it is rare to get a really good quality conversation about yourself and your every twinge or symptom.

So after two and a half decades of this training, I changed industry. And now I have to remember “real people aren’t quite so interested in discussing either my or their every symptom”.

So here are my twelve steps to give up my addiction:

1. “how are you?” is not an invitation to answer literally or in detail. If pressed for detail on health, high level symptoms are much better that detailed descriptions. Adjectives are best left out of the descriptions.

2. Casual enquiries about health are more socially acceptable (see above). It is not appropriate to enquire in depth as to people’s health.

3. I am not a clinician therefore I shall not diagnose others, no matter what disclaimer I issue. Not even as a hobby.

4. Sometimes listening is better than responding when someone has chosen to share an issue.

5. Someone offering a symptom up is not an invitation for an interrogation. Polite interest has its limits.

6. Conversations about symptoms are not appropriate for the lunch or dinner table. Even if someone else started the conversation.

7. Trying to gross people out is also not socially acceptable, albeit somewhat amusing.

8. No-one is quite so interested as I am in what I read in the medical mag, nor what photo they had to illustrate the afflicted body part.

9. Stories about bizarre ways to die is not a socially acceptable conversation. Nor is conversation about the likelihood of various types of deaths.

10. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing (repeat three times).

11. Sound effects of symptoms are also best left out, even just descriptions of sound effects. Not everyone has iron guts developed from listening to someone vomit in a bucket while you eat dinner.

12. There are certain classes of symptoms and ailments that are really best not shared, particularly in mixed company, no matter how common the ailment. This includes anything hormonal.

Hopefully this will let me pass as a normal human being.

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One response

16 09 2011
aristotlesocrates

Simply brilliant writing Louey (another nickname – do you know research shows that the greater the number of nicknames a person has is a reflection of the esteem and affection in which they are held?)

Was professing your talents to a couple of Jim’s film maker buddies tonight.

I can’t say I am a compulsive sharer, not in the sense that I can be a compulsive carer, as so many health professionals, especially nurses (see D W Winnicott for further details of this issue) – sometimes, sadly, with unfortunate consequences, mostly for the carer, but sometimes, tragically, in terms of Munchhausen’s By Proxy, for others.

I am more of a rescuer, which can be a hindrance in my industry.

Also, I have no problems with blood, dissection and gore, but talk about infection and gooey stuff…. and I’m outta there! There was a reason I didn’t choose medicine! I felt guilty about that for a long time, but thirty odd years after the fact, I’m proud of my stand.

But having forensic psychology and science as my special interest and practice areas I do love ……… ‘ 9. Stories about bizarre ways to die’

Ha ha. I’ll join in that conversation any time

Keep it up mate. You’re a natural.

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