Thursday, May 29, 2014
Doctor's Perspective

Denial, rationalization won't change the truth
People tend to spend a lot of time arguing about different things. In most cases, the individuals each have a different view and nothing the other person says is going to change that view. About 4% of the population still believes that cigarettes do not cause lung cancer. No amount of scientific evidence is going to convince them otherwise. About 40% of the population does not believe in evolution. Nothing is going to convince them otherwise. While 97% of the scientific community has concerns about global warming, a significant portion of the population disagrees with them. The most primitive psychological defense mechanism is denial. The first empowering word that children learn is "No." When we hear bad news, the first response is "I can't believe it." For example, the alcoholic never thinks he/she has a problem with alcohol. When science conflicts with our non-scientific beliefs, denial is the psychological defense mechanism that is used. It is easy to just say that something is not true. It is harder to come up with arguments that then support the opposing position. When those arguments are used, they take advantage of a second psychological defense mechanism called rationalization. If we take a stand on a position, we must come up with a reason. It does not matter if the reason is logical to others. All that matters is that the reason is logical to us. As a society we evolve over time. The younger generation grows up with science and they begin to adopt things that were denied by the older generation. In 1964, the surgeon general issued his famous report about cigarettes causing lung cancer. Most smokers remained in denial of that fact for years. Now only 4% of the population remains in denial. In 1925, John Scopes was put on trial for teaching about evolution. Most people were in denial about that. Since then about 60% of the population has come to accept the fact that evolution exists. They recognize that the Bible teaches religion. God created the world. God created man. He just might have done it differently than they thought in 800 BC when Genesis was written. It is likely that as climate change begins to do more damage over time, less people will remain in denial. Hopefully, that will come at a point in time when we can still do something to reverse it. Denial and rationalization remain strong psychological defense mechanisms. Most people at one extreme of an argument have some form of denial driving their opinion. They then use rationalization to further support it. Only they will ultimately be able to change their own minds. No outside argument is going to do that. It is like the alcoholic who has to admit he has a problem in order to get help. If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at

Diabetes education program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a four-session diabetes educational program on June 4, 11, 18 and 25, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the hospital. The cost of the four-session program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. Pre-registration is required prior to attending classes. To register and to obtain additional information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Driving cooperative for seniors A proposed driving cooperative, Sussex Senior Transportation Cooperative, could solve transportation problems that older Sussex County residents face. The program would follow a national model, Independent Transportation Network America, to provide rides for a suggested $1 per mile for seniors throughout the county. Retired Millsboro educator Nancy Feichtl is working with a steering committee on the initiative. Contact Feichtl at 245-8979 or for more information.

Community lymphedema talk The Cancer Support Community will present Understanding Lymphedema - Past and Present at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10. Camilla Carter, physical therapist and lymphedema specialist, will explore lymphedema management after cancer surgery. The Sussex facility is located in Suite 312, The Medical Arts Building at the Beebe Health Campus, 18947 John J. Williams Hwy., Rehoboth. All programs at CSC are offered to people affected by cancer and their loved ones free of charge. Call 645-9150 to register.

Child Loss support program A six-week support group for adults, "Healing after the Loss of a Child," will be offered by Delaware Hospice on Tuesdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m., from June 3 through July 8, at Christ Lutheran Church, 315 N. Shipley St., Seaford. This six-week educational support group is open to parents and grandparents who are grieving the loss of a child. Gathering with others who are also grieving such a loss, whether school-aged or adults, can be beneficial. Register by Friday, May 30, by contacting Midge DiNatale, GC-C, at 856-7717, ext. 4120 or 300-2179, or

'Matter of Balance' workshop Chances are you know someone who has fallen or who is afraid of falling. A "Matter of Balance" is a proven program designed to help people manage concerns about falls and increase physical activity. RSVP has partnered with Beebe Rehab in Georgetown to host free Matter of Balance workshops. A Matter of Balance; Managing Concerns about Falls is conducted in eight two hour sessions and uses group discussion, problem solving strategies, videos and gentle physical exercise. Mature adults learn positive coping methods to reduce fear of falling and remain active and independent. Classes are held from 10 a.m. to noon once a week for eight weeks beginning Tuesday, June 10 and ending Tuesday, July 29, at Beebe Rehab Services, 21635 Biden Ave., Georgetown. To register, call 856-5815.

Anthrax practice exercise The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness section hosted a real-time, operations-based Receipt, Stage, and Store (RSS) warehouse exercise on May 13. The exercise was based on a fictional anthrax release at Dover Downs on race day, and is part of a multi-year practice drill series designed to enhance Delaware's public health response. The full-scale exercise focused on warehouse operations receiving packages from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). The SNS is medicine and medical supplies stored in strategic locations around the nation in order to support multiple state and local health departments in a severe health emergency. These assets are ready to be shipped and delivered anywhere within the United States within 12 hours of the deployment order. The exercise evaluation will be used for improvements to the public health preparedness program. For more information about the exercise schedule, visit

Hospice 5K Run & Family Fun walk Join the fun with hundreds of runners and walkers as Delaware Hospice holds the 6th annual Delaware Hospice 5K on Wednesday, July 9, at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford. Registration opens at 5:30 p.m., the race begins at 6:30, and the post-event cookout and party will go on until evening. Individual entries are $20, and the team rate for a group of four or family rate for a group of four or more from the same household is $50. Pre-registered participants receive a t-shirt. T-shirts will be available for same day registration while supplies last. Medals will be presented to category winners, and door prizes will be available for everyone. Register online at or contact Peggy Dolby, assistant director of development, at or 746-4666.