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Friday, June 13, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Meningitis Fears

Dear Jeannie,

My character had a case of meningitis at the age of ten, in which he lost his hearing. Since then he has felt the reality of his mortality, and fears engaging in seemingly risky situations. The loss of his hearing also concerns him; He attempts to hide his hearing aids with a hat that he never removes. Seeing as he had done nothing to cause the Meningitis in the first place, is it reasonable that he should be fearful? He is still young, so could it be a case of ‘old fears dying hard’?

Thank you,
Bothersome Caution in British Columbia

Dear Bothersome Caution,

A kid who is ten years old is just entering into the stage of psychosocial development where their peer group is becoming more important. He likely wants to hide his differences (hearing aids) so that he fits in better. So that's totally realistic and understandable. As for his fear, there is something more fearful about things out of our control than things in our control. We can rationalize that we could have done something different which would have changed outcomes, but for something like being struck with meningitis...that's the luck of the draw. That makes his outcome on life very unpredictable. I think it makes sense that he'd be cautious, living by a set of rules that he adopted early on as a way to cope with his circumstances. (This would especially be true if his parents reinforced a certain hypervigilance in their attempts to keep him safe.) Anyway, hope that this helps you out. Thanks for writing in!

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