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Chronic Physical Disability and Secondary Control: Appraisals of an Undesirable Situation

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"Secondary control" (accommodation to unchangeable, undesirable situations), rather than just "primary control" (choosing to leave or improve the situation) can help in adapting to a chronic physical disability. To identify instances of secondary control, semistructured interviews with 22 persons with chronic physical disabilities were conducted. This research examined the emotional valence of disability appraisals, and identified regularities in these appraisals. Results showed that the great majority of interviewees used secondary control in handling their disability, and that 95% of comments were non-negative in emotional tone. Regularities included mention that one learns much about the self and others, and comes to know more than able-bodied persons in some ways. It is concluded that secondary control processes are useful, and their training should be considered during cognitive therapy.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: University of Michigan

Publication date: January 1, 1995

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