When Thumbs Up Is No Comfort -- a NY Times Article

As public figures are stricken with harrowing illness, the images of them as upbeat have almost become routine, and whether such images inspire patients or reinforce unrealistic expectations remains an open question. 

This article opens discussion regarding public image and personal reality. When going through a traumatic situation, people often mask their emotions as to not worry others. Children do this as well. Children diagnosed with cancer often feel bad for the impact of their illness on others. 
But is "thumbs up" by a public figure sending a message of hope to similar patients or guilt? Guilt for not putting on a happy face after being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and expressing their true emotions. 

Excerpts from Article: 

“Whether you’re a celebrity or an ordinary person, it’s obligatory, no matter how badly you’re feeling about it, to display optimism publicly,” said Dr. Barron H. Lerner, the author of “When Illness Goes Public.” That optimism reassures anxious relatives, the public and doctors, regardless of whether it accurately reflects the patient’s emotional state. “If Ted Kennedy wanted to stick up his middle finger,” Dr. Lerner added, “that would be the more appropriate finger, but he’s doing what he is supposed to.”

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