Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: ‘Entitled” People May Be Pursuing an Unhappy Path

“Entitlement is a broad construct, but basically it refers to a desire to get something for nothing,” explained study lead author Joshua Grubbs, assistant professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

According to Grubbs, entitlement is a personality trait where a person has an exaggerated belief that he or she is vulnerable to disappointment. And when disappointment strikes, it can mean anger, blaming others, social strife, collapsed relationships and depression, Grubbs’ team said.

That’s because entitlement is “really an attitude of ‘deservingness’, without any consideration for earning those things you want,” said Grubbs, who conducted the review while a graduate student in psychology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “I often describe it as someone saying, ‘I exist, therefore I deserve whatever I want.’”

He said this outlook doesn’t necessarily hinge on wealth. “We observe it across cultures and economic status,” he added. But no matter its source, “entitlement has long been known to be associated with negative emotion and distress,” Grubbs said.

The review of the data uncovered a common three-step pattern of pressures and behavior that often plague entitled individuals.

  • There’s a burden of living with the constant threat of failed expectations.
  • Adversity tends to cause them to lean even more heavily on an inherent sense of superiority.
  • These behaviors just perpetuate the cycle of disappointment, unhappiness, frustration and social turmoil.

“Ambition, drive and high standards are not necessarily symptoms of entitlement at all,” he said. “You can want to be successful and have high standards for yourself while still being humble and grateful. Many of the world’s greatest, most-accomplished leaders have been truly humble people.”

These findings were published in the recent issue of Psychological Bulletin.

My Take:
This patient is a real “red flag” in my office and I see it all too often. They have a “fix me” attitude and will take no responsibility in their own health care.

The first clue is on the entrance case history. The information is scant or missing. Under chief complaint it will read “back” or some other one-word response. I once had a patient that left all the information blank. When I asked him why he had come in he stated “you’re the doctor, you figure it out”.

The chances of helping “entitled” people are slim, but they need the help just like anyone else that enters my office. So I give it my best effort all through the initial visit, ignoring the negative feedback until I have finished my evaluation and treatment. However, I do not reschedule this patient. When asked “when do you want to see my again?” I respond “I don’t.” Sometimes that gets through, they realize the value of the care they just received and adjust their attitude accordingly. They often become very good patients, actively participating in their health care. If not, then they got a taste of what could be but can’t get past themselves to reap any benefits and would fail to improve under my care anyway.

The Bottom Line:
Entitled people are difficult to deal with. Just look at our presidential election this year. Some can be helped, most just can’t or won’t see it. It is the nature of the condition.

Source: September 29, 2016 National Institutes of Health

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