The concept of the unknown brings up different feelings in different people. The uncertainty that accompanies the unknown can be a source of great anxiety and fear. However, it can also foster curiosity and exploration. I wonder: Do fear/ anxiety and curiosity/exploration really conflict with one another?
The unknown, and uncertainty for that matter, is no more evident than in the medical field, as nothing in medicine is 100%. This unknown in medicine can be approached with anxiety and fear, curiosity and exploration, or both
If one approaches the unknown with anxiety and fear, consequences range from positive to negative. Sometimes, anxiety and fear can be protective mechanisms to avoid certain results. This may mean avoiding behaviors that may
put one at risk for disease exposure, unnecessary medication usage, and accidental traumas. If a physician is concerned about risks associated with a new technology, they may be hesitant to use it and instead continue to rely
on the standard technology they’re familiar with. However, fear and anxiety may prevent that person from utilizing a tool that could improve care.
If one approaches the unknown with curiosity and exploration, results range on a spectrum from positive to negative as well. Being curious and exploring the unknown has brought a tremendous number of advances and innovations
in therapeutic technology and in medicine in general. As with anxiety and fear, curiosity and exploration are not without their risks. While the results of being curious and exploring unknown areas of medicine have brought us
many victories, they have also brought us failures. Unintended side effects of medications or inaccurate diagnostic testing results are just a couple examples. Nevertheless, curiosity and exploration of the unknown are necessary for
the advancement of medicine.
All of these feelings and their results are not mutually exclusive and do not necessarily need to conflict with one another. The only measure of how they negatively or positively affect the medical field and health is how they affect
the lives of those involved. The best recipe for successfully addressing the unknown and uncertainty in medicine and health is by walking the delicate balance between fear/anxiety and curiosity/exploration to glean the benefits of both sets of feelings.