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News from CaSfA's Director


The Ring Theory

Posted on April 14, 2013 at 5:31 PM Comments comments (2)
A member of CaSfA recently posted this link on her Facebook page:,0,2074046.story.  The article is very interesting and fits with our recent topic of what to say and not say to a cancer survivor.

You start by drawing a circle.  In it, put whom ever is at the center of a trauma such as cancer.  Then draw a circle around that.  In it, put the person/persons closest to the person in the center (such as a spouse or children).  Keep drawing circles to include, parents, distant relatives, close friends, colleagues, etc.

The rules are simple. "The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens".  "That's the one payoff for being in the center ring."

"When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you're going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn't, don't say it. Don't, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don't need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, 'I'm sorry' or 'This must really be hard for you' or 'Can I bring you a pot roast?' Don't say, 'You should hear what happened to me' or 'Here's what I would do if I were you.'"

So you provide comfort to those people in a ring smaller than yours.  You are able to complain, whine, or say anything you like, but only to those in circles larger than yours.  Authors Silk and Goldman summarize with "Comfort IN, Dump OUT!"

This is great in theory. There is one problem I see with it.  I can imagine some people thinking of themselves in a smaller circle than they really are.  Best to keep it really simple.  Unless you are at the center of crisis, just comfort and forget the dumping!!!