Why Don’t People Take Care of Themselves?

Perhaps all our blog readers are good Scouts and follow the rules—eat sensibly, exercise sensibly, and don’t stress out—preferably our version of all these. But some—and all our readers surely know one or more—some seem hell-bent on self-destruction. Why is this? We don’t know, but would, herewith, like to start a dialog. Maybe someone has a solution.

A close relative, age 68, is in the hospital again. He’ll get out soon, and probably spend the rest of his life near an oxygen tank and other breathing paraphernalia. It took no medical wizardry to see this coming. He smokes—won’t quit. No exercise. He has never had a physical, seeking medical attention only when there is an emergency, and there have been several. He has had carotid artery surgery, is partially paralyzed from a stroke, has had several mini-strokes, and innumerable other maladies.

Myself, along with other family members have been on his case for decades. We have tried the hard sell, the soft sell, and every other kind of sell except the successful sell. He is dug in for the long haul and won’t hear a word of it. Will he be scared straight with this latest episode? I’d have to give 10:1 odds against it, or maybe 100:1 (and would be delighted to lose).

He has a close relative who is an RN. He has me, the fanatical health-book co-author. We both are in fine health and have the numbers to prove it. So it’s not like he has never seen any viable alternatives.

The arguments seems pervasive. Live long and disease free. Long flight, gentle landing. But why won’t he listen? He is not alone. Everyone knows somebody like this.

Possible reasons:

  • It won’t make any difference. When your number is up it’s up.
  • Don’t trust doctors.
  • The internet says that smoking, drinking, drugs, or whatever aren’t a problem.
  • It is too much trouble.

And on and on. Excuses without end. Amen.

And we do know what to do. Dr. Mike has 25 years of patient records—several thousand. Several thousand success stories. Anyone that made even a half-hearted attempt at least got better. The adherents—and the “rules” are all over this blog, or in the book—all got a lot better. Literally all. Some pulled off miraculous recoveries. Certainly miraculous from the point of view of contemporary medicine.

Miraculous? The real miracle is that contemporary medicine is coming around, slowly but surely. Though hardly a week passes without Dr. Mike railing about the latest medical inanity, slowly but surely things are falling into place. Dietary cholesterol, after 50 years of exile, is now OK. Saturated fat is no longer the boogeyman. Interval exercise is now widely recognized to be more effective than aerobics. So even the doctors are getting on board.

So what? Some refuse to listen. And they suffer horribly. And we suffer because we love them. Why can’t we get through? Does anyone have any good ideas? Any shrinks out there? Or super-salesmen?

There’s just got to be a better way.

  2 comments for “Why Don’t People Take Care of Themselves?

  1. Dollie
    June 19, 2017 at 10:29 am

    2 reasons for the ones who do not respond to their “wake-up calls”
    1. TEMPORAL DISCOUNTING
    2. HUBRIS

  2. Drifter
    June 25, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Here are some ideas from what I’ve seen :

    – Self-destructive behavior..”I can’t fail if I was never trying to succeed”
    – Inability to see the value in delayed gratification. This is a well documented factor in overall life success.
    – Inborn lack of concern for health
    – They do try to take care of their health but they follow mainstream guidelines which actually damages their health
    – They perceive (sometimes correctly) that mainstream guidelines are all about denial, but they never see a reward in return.

    That said, I have seen multiple people make a 180 degree turn in attitude from bad habits to (an attempt at) good habits so I think an equally important question is what causes some people to make the switch. I don’t know for sure, but the desire to be around for someone important to them seems to be a common theme.

    Also, I recommend you get familiar with the work of Frederick Navarro who has studied the patterns of how people view health. He has a book called Pattern of Health and there are some good podcasts where he summarizes it

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