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Nervenarzt. 1993 Oct;64(10):640-7.

[Coping with illness in myasthenia gravis].

[Article in German]

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Abteilung für Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie, Universitätsklinik Göttingen.


Within the past few years, the introduction of immunosuppressants in the treatment of myasthenia gravis, has turned this severe, chronic and life-threatening disease into a moderate illness with good chances of control or even remission. Of 44 patients whose coping behavior and course of disease we investigated, only seven experienced a significant change in severity of the disease within nine months. This consistency in the course of the disease was also reflected in the forms of coping with the disease: in contrast to the situation two decades ago, today's myasthenia gravis patients are no longer caught up in the dilemma between passive dependency and active resistance, most of them adopting an attitude of calm acceptance. According to the Berne Forms of Coping (BEFO) which we applied, this attitude is expressed as a pattern of passive cooperation, acceptance, distraction and relativization. This coping pattern remained largely intact even in relation to the severity of the disease and the retrospectively assessed course of the disease. We present two cases to illustrate the influence of coping behavior on the course of the disease. Comparison with two other patient groups (rheumatoid arthritis and hip osteo-arthrosis) showed that there is no disease specificity of coping behavior. It can be assumed that there is a basic pattern in coping with chronic diseases, the manifestation of which is dependent on the severity and prognosis of the disease. If depressive reactions to the disease are excluded, the prevalence of longer-term pre-existent psychiatric disorders among MG patients corresponds to the average for the general population, although there is a relatively high incidence of anxiety disorders.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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