The Sadness of Secondary Gain

I recently had a client with secondary gain. Secondary gain is defined as: “any advantage, as increased attention, disability benefits, or release from unpleasant responsibilities, obtained as a result of having an illness”.

A man goes to his doctor because he has a chicken attached to his head. This is a problem, having a chicken attached to his head. The doctor examines him and asks him to come back the next week. When he returns the doctor says he can remove the attached chicken. The man pauses and thinks for a minute and replies he doesn’t want the chicken removed. The doctor is astonished and asks “why?” The man replies, because I like the eggs.

My client has a difficult problem with migraines. When I mentioned wouldn’t it be nice to be free of the migraines and return to work instead of subsisting on disability, the reply was that that might mean going back to school to catch up to the current technology in the former job. Rather they would prefer to be well enough to engage in the volunteer work they enjoyed but not well enough to be off of the disability.

I bring this up because many of us have enough “benefits” from our problems to want those problems to continue rather than face the change or uncertainty of returning to full mental or physical health.

As a side note: Migraines affect an estimated 38 million Americans. They can strike both young and old, but a majority of sufferers are women, and/or between the ages of 35 and 55.

Worldwide, as many as 1 billion people are affected, making migraine the third most prevalent illness in the world.


It is amazing to me how the universe works sometimes. I attended a retreat seminar last weekend hosted by the local chapter of the ARE. The key presenter was Dr. C Norman Shealy. He’s a wonderfully intelligent MD and PHD with numerous patented inventions in healthcare. So, I was shocked when opened his presentation saying that the number one thing he believes anyone should do when confronting a health issue is to get a past life regression. Up until that moment I wasn’t sure this retreat was for me, and then I was enthralled.

I try not to stand out as too woo woo because I desire to help as many people as possible in my practice. Someone who comes to me with congestive heart failure and a mainstream religion needs the immediate help I can provide and I don’t need to lessen that help by talking about things they would find uncomfortable.

Now this has me thinking about how I can add this as a possibility for more clients.

One of the very next things he said also rocked my boat. He suggested that Autogenics (self-hypnosis) would cure 80% of all problems people have, but that alas, most people lack the self discipline or motivation to set aside 10 – 20 minutes twice a day to engage this.

He also said that all our troubles are the result of fear. I’ve known this for awhile but, this was so validating.

I’m now on track to implement these ideas into my practice asap.

Here’s one more wonderful synchronicity, Norman and my long time friend Dr Elmer Cranton go way back in time when they started the American Holidtic Health Association. Life some days is amazing.