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I have been thinking quite a bit about surgery and mental states and outcomes. My question is this: If someone is facing surgery — especially surgery that is supposed to be routine and effortless — and goes into it with a feeling of grave foreboding, does it make the surgery more risky? I know that a positive mental attitude can help in healing, even when the medical odds are not necessarily favorable. But is the opposite true, also? Does a negative or fearful mental attitude, or — worse yet — an acceptance that things are not going to go well, detract from the success of the procedure?

Do “gut feelings” take precedence over a physician’s assurances that the surgery will be a slam-dunk? If the patient is purportedly accepting of, or possibly even welcoming, impending death, does his attitude hasten the negative outcome? Or is death even negative, if the patient says he would welcome it?

I am such a Pollyanna that I can’t imagine welcoming death unless I were in extreme pain and considered well beyond hope. But then, I have never dealt with depression or suicidal feelings, either. I am not trying to judge, simply pondering.

What do you think?

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