In my last post I explained why guiding principles helped to create our specific beliefs. I claimed that if the dentist is committed to comprehensive care then it is probably a good thing for him to believe that all patients want to keep their own teeth.
Then why all the confusion?
Why do some people report that wearing complete dentures is the best thing that ever happened to them?
For the answer I will turn to Harvard psychologist, Dan Gilbert, author of the book, Stumbling on Happiness.
Gilbert sites studies of a phenomenon known as synthetic happiness and compares it to natural happiness. Synthetic happiness is what we create when we don’t get what we want, and natural happiness occurs when we get what we wanted.
Dan Gilbert tells us that in our society we have a strong belief that synthetic happiness is of the inferior type. The data tell us this isn’t true. Studies show that synthetic happiness is every bit as real to people as natural happiness.
We see this all the time. For example, imagine two future outcomes. The first is a picture of someone winning a fifty million dollar lottery, and the second illustrates a person as a paraplegic. You would expect that one year later the lottery winner would be so much happier. Study after after study surprisingly shows that one year later the recipients of both outcomes were equally happy. Why? Because of something known as impact bias, which is that events have a lesser impact on us than we expected after a period of three months. In other words these major life traumas had no impact on their eventual happiness, because we synthesize happiness. It is part of our psychological immune system.
We have all seen actor Christopher Reeves tell the public how happy he was after the horrific accident that left him a paraplegic.
Gilbert gives the example of Harry S. Langerman who was offered one of the first MacDonald’s franchises for a price of $3000. He asked his brother-in-law for a loan and was told,
“Are you crazy, no one eats hamburgers.” Years later, Harry was asked about the impact of that event and he said, “I believe it turned out for the best.”
Years after one of the original Beatles, drummer Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr, he was asked about how his life would have turned out as a member of the Fab Four
? He said, “I’m happier than I would have been with the Beatles.”
So what does this have to do with people losing their teeth? Well if we ask denture wearers how they feel about the trauma of losing their teeth they will tell us all kinds of stories that justify their happiness. Their stories are not reality…not if you believe that all people want to keep their teeth. So if we can create synthetic happiness, is there really a preferred future for our patients. Absolutely there is and I feel it is the role of the professional to guide our patients toward that future.
Do not listen to the voices from the field that claim there is happiness with the loss of teeth.
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