Recently, Carol and I discussed “adaptation” after hearing a report on National Public Radio (NPR) concerning elderly people with dementia. I asked her, “Would I recognize that I had dementia if I had it? What if I’m living in a dementia right now? How would I know?” I certainly have plenty of delusions that might or could fit the diagnosis.
As we talked further, I asked if I might normalize my experience, regardless of its reasonableness. That is, would I use a strategy to either adjust my values or the threat level to lessen my stress? For example, I value my family and they are under threat. To mitigate the stress I feel, I will tend toward either lowering the value I assign to my family, “They don’t mean THAT much…” (so I can run away…); or, raising the level of threat necessary to invoke my action, “It’s not THAT bad…” (so I can just ignore the threat). Either way, I lower my stress level.