Mindfulness and Compassion as Antidotes to Physician Addiction
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Addiction, broadly defined, is common in healthcare settings. A person can be addicted to substances, junk food, work, power, money, using mobile devices, and so on. The problem is generally ignored until dire consequences occur (e.g. a critical mistake is made, or the clinician acts in an unprofessional manner). Once identified, addicted physicians are usually referred to Physician Health Programs i.e. sent elsewhere to deal with their presumed personal issues. A Buddhist view of addiction differs from Western psychology and psychiatry in that it examines compulsive behaviours in the light of ‘common humanity.’ Craving is seen to be the cause of (all) suffering. Obsessions (about the desired object) occur in the mind; this then triggers compulsive acts. And thus, treatment includes examining how the mind works, how it influences behaviours, and how it can be used to heal suffering.
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