What follows is a list of some of the questions that most doctors don’t ask – and yet which are key questions for both doctor and patient in coming to understand the life meaning of particular symptoms or a particular illness. They are the sort of questions central to Life Medicine and those that a Life Doctor will ask and discuss with you.
When did your symptoms first occur?
Is there anything else in your life that is bothering/distressing you right now?
What was going on in your life in the hours, days, weeks, months or years preceding the onset of your symptoms?
What were the most significant life encounters, events, experiences, dilemmas and decisions that faced you in the period preceding the onset of your symptoms?
What was the underlying mood you experienced in this period and how would you describe it?
What were the most dominant thoughts and emotions you experienced in this period?
What do you tend to think about most when you are most aware of your symptoms?
What feelings accompany these thoughts?
What do you do with those thoughts and feelings when you have them?
What do you tend to do in response to your symptoms themselves?
At what specific times or in what specific life situations do your symptoms tend to occur or intensify?
At what times or in what situations do your symptoms tend to disappear or diminish?
Have you experienced similar symptoms in the past, and if so at what times and in what circumstances?
How do your symptoms – and the thoughts you have around them – affect your emotional life, work and relationships?
What do your symptoms either force you to do or stop you from doing?
Is there any positive benefit you can see from the way your symptoms affect your life?
How would you describe the overall or underlying mood or state of consciousness accompanying your symptoms and/or the thoughts and emotions around them?
How do your symptoms make you feel? In what way does the mood that accompanies them affect not only what you think and how you feel but also who you are – your sense of ‘you’?
Is there any positive side to the different mood and sense of self accompanying your symptoms?
Are there any other ways you could give expression to it in your way of relating to life and other people?
Alternatively, what changes in your way of relating to life and other people do you feel would most help to alter this underlying mood and/or alleviate your symptoms?
What are the most important types of experience you miss or have missed in your life and relationships?
What are the most important potentials or abilities you feel are not or have not been fulfilled or realised in your life?
What are the biggest fears or concerns you have regarding your symptoms/illness/treatment?
What would make you most happy or content in your life – independently of any improvement in your condition?