What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

The Downside of Silence After a Parkinson's Diagnosis

August 15, 2014, 2:06 PM
Shutterstock_93643888

We learned yesterday that Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease when he died.  This information has led to much speculation about whether his diagnosis or depression associated with the disease itself contributed to his suicide.  We will likely never know if there was a link, but the proximity of events does raise the question as to whether newly diagnosed patients, their family and friends know enough about living with PD to quell their worst fears.

Often PD is referred to in the press as a “devastating, debilitating illness” which, as a PD patient, I’ve always found annoying.  It gives the impression to newly diagnosed patients that they’re about to embark on a horrible, consistent downhill journey on route to death.  And that’s simply not the case.

CNN reported that Williams' concern about being unable to exercise and cycle with PD, two means of coping with depression, made him extremely upset.

Actually, exercise is an important means of reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including cycling.  Not knowing this and other important information about advances in PD research and treatments perpetuates erroneous and potentially harmful myths about the disease.

There’s an embarrassment factor to PD, which partially explains why many patients choose to keep a new diagnosis close to the vest.  Soon enough, they reason, people will notice tremors, slowness, rigidity, facial masking, and other signs and so they buy some time with silence.

Additionally, things once done easily can become difficult – even participating in conversations or being quick-witted on social occasions.  Again, pulling in can occur. For someone whose career calls for quick thinking, the cognitive slowing experienced by many patients, even early on in the disease, can be upsetting.

While totally understandable, the downside of self-imposed silence is that helpful, accurate information isn’t obtained from experts and others with PD when it might do the most good – early on in the disease.  Outmoded perceptions of the disease are accepted as reality.  Fear of symptoms, being a burden, upsetting children, and being unable to do things that have defined you for years naturally occurs. 

The truth is that many symptoms can be managed and even diminished by exercise, speech therapy, creative activities, enjoyment, social support, and an excellent medical care. 

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is not a walk in the park.  It is also a different experience for each patient.  The more people with PD talk to each other and their physicians, the more we all learn and share, the less likely we are to create or foster fear where optimism rightly belongs.

 

photo:  Featureflash/Shutterstock.com

 

The Downside of Silence Aft...

Newsletter: Share: