Saturday, October 01, 2011

Verbal First Aid

Last Friday Julie and I attended a presentation on verbal first aid by author Judith Prager. The main message of the presentation was that words can kill and words can heal. We received training in using healing words.

Dr. Prager talked briefly of research and gave examples of rapid dramatic physical improvement experienced by accident victims who heard healing words like "we're going to get you to the hospital right away and they have everything ready and waiting there to help you". Contrast this to "don't die on me" which puts thoughts of death in the victim's mind, elevates blood pressure and initiates a chain of harmful physical reactions.

I enjoyed the presentation and learned much. On the way home that afternoon we stopped at a local grocery. While there emergency medical persons arrived in response to a young woman who fainted. Both Julie and I listen closely as they spoke with the woman to see if they were employing verbal first aid.

Over the last few days I've been pondering a broader subject. If words can kill or heal then what's the effect of the media on our health? News is almost always negative. Horror movies elicit a fight or flight response. Some television programs portray brutality as entertainment. Years ago I chose to be selective in what I consume be it news, music or videos. I think that choice contributes to my health. (I haven't missed a day of work due to illness since 1986. On that occasion I worked on a sewer line and scratched a hand which led to bad consequences.)

Verbal first aid is good but I want to expand the underlying concept to daily living and my choice of words as I interact with people.

We've ordered a copy of The Worst is Over: What to Say When Every Moment Counts. We'll read the book together as we ride to and from work, discuss it and learn to speak more healing words.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Sue has read and told me about that book. Heck, I may have even read it or parts of it too.

10/02/2011 04:29:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Hodgens said...

Hey Paul,

It's been a while since I've posted a comment here, but I regularly visit your blog.

I like that idea of verbal first aid. Years ago I heard a story of two men who walking down the street - psychologists, naturally -who had a front row seat to a collision between a motorcyle and a car.

The cyclist flew briefly and landed nearly at their feet. One got on the phone immediately and called for help. The other knelt down and said to the person (conscious or not, I don't recall): "help is on the way and now the healing can begin."


10/02/2011 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger graceonline said...

Thank you for this, Paul. I looked up the book. Not only do I plan to buy that one, but it's companion as well, Verbal First Aid: Help Your Kids Heal from Fear and Pain--and Come Out Strong.

These will be invaluable additions to our library. I expect to learn much.

10/04/2011 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Regenia said...

Years ago we took a course on what to say and NOT say to people who have experienced a tragedy. It was excellent.

Also, I remember reading about how to phrase commands to children (and I used it for students too) so they will be more likely to comply.

I could write all that I learned, especially in the course, but it would be too long. I think I'll write about it on my blog instead.

I'll have to get this book and learn more! Glad you wrote about it!

10/05/2011 06:09:00 AM  

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