Illness, death and dying are part and parcel of human life. Despite amazing advances in medical science there is never going to be a time when we can prevent against ever having the experience of illness. This book seeks to add to the alleviation of the suffering of illness by finding greater understanding of the psychological meaning and purpose of that experience. Illness, while it manifests physically, also involves deep psychological and social processes on the part of the person suffering the illness. While the book does consider the social processes of illness to the extent that it considers the personal and professional relationships that surround the person who is ill, the main focus of the book is on the psychological meaning and intent of illness. If, as this book sets out to explore, we can find ways of approaching illness that take compassionate account of the different physical, psychological and social processes that are involved, and if we can find ways of responding to those different processes, then we can truly make great strides in alleviating a suffering that is part and parcel of human existence.
In order for others to help the person who is ill to respond to the deeper intentions of the illness, it is necessary to have compassionate understanding and to create the physical, emotional and intellectual safety that will enable the person to consciously take up the healing that is being called for. The book provides guidance to enable care professionals to be mindful of their own relationship with self and to see how, out of that central relationship, they then relate to the person presenting with illness.