Thursday, September 29, 2016

Compassion fatigue and condom fatigue

On today's CBC Metro Morning, I was introduced to two related, but very different, concepts: "compassion fatigue" and "condom fatigue".
  • Compassion fatigue: In a discussion of a program of training for new doctors, the concept of compassion fatigue was brought up. This refers to the fact that hospital doctors are often so over-worked and physically fatigued that they just do not have time to reflect on and internalize the human issues they encounter on a daily basis, to the extent that they become emotionally numb. The theory is that individuals have a certain well of compassion to draw on, and when that is exhausted (e.g. towards the end of a long shift) there is just no more compassion to go around, and the doctors become little more than emotionless automatons. Scary.
  • Condom fatigue: This came up in a discussion of the alarming increase in cases of syphilis is Toronto (as well as in other major cities in North America and Europe). Around 98% of the cases are in men, and at least 89% of those are in men who have sex with other men. When asked why this might be occurring, one reason posited was reduced condom use, including "condom fatigue", the idea that some people become bored with using condoms all the time and this leads them to more risky, condom-free sex. Also scary.

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