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    Senior Member chatoyer's Avatar
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    Question secondary gains?

    Definition: Interpersonal or social advantages (e.g., assistance, attention, sympathy) gained indirectly from organic illness.

    Secondary gain is a psychological term that means that a person has a hidden reason for holding on to an undesirable condition or behavior. More often than not this issue is unconscious and is most often uncovered during therapy or can surface during certain awareness exercises. With Secondary Gain, people are motivated to continue with their negative behavior because there is some kind of secondary payoff or benefit generated from that behavior.

    Another example:
    This particular assignment asked her to write out 25 reasons “Why I want to be fat!” After completing the assignment, this woman sent me a message. Her message ended with: “After I had written 25 reasons why I want to be fat I realized I have an ongoing serious issue that kept coming up again and again. I want to be fat because I feel safe being fat.” This is called "Secondary Gain."

    Do you think this term is overused in psychotherapy circles? Is it legitimate? Is it another psycho-babble term with too broad a meaning? What do you think?
    Last edited by chatoyer; 10-25-2007 at 03:15 PM. Reason: incomplete, sorry!

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    It's true, but a) one should not become paranoid about the motives behind people who are psychologically or physically ill, and b) even if they use their condition to have secondary gains, the fact is that relying on secondary gains may be seen as a condition in itself.

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    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chatoyer View Post
    Definition: Interpersonal or social advantages (e.g., assistance, attention, sympathy) gained indirectly from organic illness.

    Secondary gain is a psychological term that means that a person has a hidden reason for holding on to an undesirable condition or behavior. More often than not this issue is unconscious and is most often uncovered during therapy or can surface during certain awareness exercises. With Secondary Gain, people are motivated to continue with their negative behavior because there is some kind of secondary payoff or benefit generated from that behavior.

    Another example:
    This particular assignment asked her to write out 25 reasons "Why I want to be fat!" After completing the assignment, this woman sent me a message. Her message ended with: "After I had written 25 reasons why I want to be fat I realized I have an ongoing serious issue that kept coming up again and again. I want to be fat because I feel safe being fat." This is called "Secondary Gain."

    Do you think this term is overused in psychotherapy circles? Is it legitimate? Is it another psycho-babble term with too broad a meaning? What do you think?
    Well, I think it can happen, but I don't think it should be used as an excuse to question the behavior of anyone who has an illness. It could also be indicative of safety/trust issues, because the person had to resort to an illness to feel secure when most people don't. So if they do this, they have a problem, it's just not the one they're trying to convince the doctors they have.

    But the secondary payoff for such behavior should normally be less than the positive of curing/treating the condition, so I doubt many people would do this.

    Basically, I agree with Maverick.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chatoyer View Post
    Definition: Interpersonal or social advantages (e.g., assistance, attention, sympathy) gained indirectly from organic illness.

    Secondary gain is a psychological term that means that a person has a hidden reason for holding on to an undesirable condition or behavior. More often than not this issue is unconscious and is most often uncovered during therapy or can surface during certain awareness exercises. With Secondary Gain, people are motivated to continue with their negative behavior because there is some kind of secondary payoff or benefit generated from that behavior.
    As far as the general premise goes, behavior is all driven from "gains" -- isn't it? And people continue to do stupid or bad things because, at some level, they believe it benefits them [at least in the short-term if not the long].

    This particular assignment asked her to write out 25 reasons 'Why I want to be fat!' After completing the assignment, this woman sent me a message. Her message ended with: 'After I had written 25 reasons why I want to be fat I realized I have an ongoing serious issue that kept coming up again and again. I want to be fat because I feel safe being fat.' This is called 'Secondary Gain.'
    Sometimes I think people just are fat because they overeat and don't exercise. (And so the gain is actually not having to develop discipline and maintaining a level of emotional comfort.) It is not based on some profound underlying psychological insight.

    I think perhaps sometimes people can allow themselves to be fat as to not feel vulnerable or naked -- those feelings/motivations can occur -- but I certainly do not think it applies to every situation, and so often it seems like something someone says because they were looking for a remarkable insight into their fatness, rather than just acknowledging that the real reasons (e.g., not wanting to discipline oneself / commit to change) were the obvious ones... and harder to accept because they reflect more negatively on the person.

    Does that help?

    I find I have to walk a line between developing some underlying meaning versus NOT reading too much into something. Sometimes things just are what they look like they are.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Senior Member chatoyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    As far as the general premise goes, behavior is all driven from "gains" -- isn't it? And people continue to do stupid or bad things because, at some level, they believe it benefits them [at least in the short-term if not the long].
    I see your point, but if you stretch that concept too far, the term loses its meaning.

    I just get wary of some of these psychological terms that are so unconscious, sometimes I see the validity to these terms or theories, but I just get a bit skeptical when it gets so Freudian, that so much is unconscious, that the patient could be viewed like a blank slate that the psychotherapist writes a story filtered through their own biases.

    I tend to lean more towards the cognitive-behavioral school where the cognitive beliefs that may be irrational or stem from early childhood are confronted & treated.



    Does that help?

    I find I have to walk a line between developing some underlying meaning versus NOT reading too much into something. Sometimes things just are what they look like they are.

    Yes I agree, sometimes the simple explanation is the most valid one.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chatoyer View Post
    I see your point, but if you stretch that concept too far, the term loses its meaning. I just get wary of some of these psychological terms that are so unconscious, sometimes I see the validity to these terms or theories, but I just get a bit skeptical when it gets so Freudian, that so much is unconscious, that the patient could be viewed like a blank slate that the psychotherapist writes a story filtered through their own biases.
    Actually, I'm not saying it's cognitive at all (unconscious or otherwise) when I refer to people doing things that result in SOME sort of gain.

    I think it's merely how organisms (human or otherwise) are wired. It's called the survival/contentment drive, or the Survive/Thrive motivation.

    It has nothing to do with our cognition.

    I agree that most of psych theory is rather claptrapish. It reads far too much into things.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Senior Member chatoyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Actually, I'm not saying it's cognitive at all (unconscious or otherwise) when I refer to people doing things that result in SOME sort of gain.

    I think it's merely how organisms (human or otherwise) are wired. It's called the survival/contentment drive, or the Survive/Thrive motivation.
    Oh I agree with you......it's just the degree I'm not sure about, is it entirely not conscious? In my own case, I've had chronic pain, & I've identified some psychological payoff-- excusing some responsibilities, positive attention, & so forth-- but I also know there are hormonal, physiological, environmental factors that also play into the illness.

    Doesn't the psychotherapist infer the degree of the psychological gain? Isn't that where the science gets really soft?

    I agree that most of psych theory is rather claptrapish. It reads far too much into things.
    I don't know if I'd say most, but the stuff that drives me nuts is the primarily unconscious stuff, like the "fantasy bond" being broken--if you have a dysfunctional parent, & you marry someone like them, it means you haven't worked out issues because you are still working them out, but then on the other hand, if you marry someone opposite them or unlike them, you have issues because you unconsciously don't want your spouse to compete with the parent, so you have issues either way, no way to disprove it. It's like a conspiracy theory, you can't prove anything!

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chatoyer View Post
    Doesn't the psychotherapist infer the degree of the psychological gain? Isn't that where the science gets really soft?
    There is a subjective element that comes into play at that point. I suppose we could say that is where we are "paying for someone's expertise"... but that's what it really is... paying for someone's "best judgment." So they could be wrong.

    I don't know if I'd say most, but the stuff that drives me nuts is the primarily unconscious stuff, like the "fantasy bond" being broken--if you have a dysfunctional parent, & you marry someone like them, it means you haven't worked out issues because you are still working them out, but then on the other hand, if you marry someone opposite them or unlike them, you have issues because you unconsciously don't want your spouse to compete with the parent, so you have issues either way, no way to disprove it. It's like a conspiracy theory, you can't prove anything!
    Uh huh. That is basically inference or (to be less nice) speculation. A pattern has been created that COULD explain the condition... but there is no way to know whether it really did or not. There is no real connection between the pattern/speculative diagnosis and the actual condition.

    I guess we also call that a "theory," but these sort of theories are not easily verifiable/ cannot be validated easily.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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