Ron Unger has written a superb piece on consumer empowerment which I think is a must read.
“Recovery from many kinds of problems is affected by beliefs about the possibility of recovery. Consider a hypothetical example of a person who has received an injury which affects the person’s ability to walk, but which is not necessarily permanently disabling if strong efforts are made to recover. If the person is led by medical authorities to believe that the disability is permanent, efforts at rehabilitation will probably not be made, and the prediction may become a self fulfilling prophecy. Since the disability at that point is a result of the inaccurate prediction rather than the injury itself, the disability becomes a medical system induced condition.
You can find the rest of his article at http://recoveryfromschizophrenia.org/2009/10/the-role-of-consumer-empowerment-in-mental-health-recovery/
I know a woman whose husband died within this last year, and his doctor was completely shocked that he had died, because his condition wasn’t life-threatening. Nevertheless the man in his late 70s went further and further downhill, until he ended up in a nursing home, all the time treated by the same doctor. The doctor said to the wife after the fact, “maybe I was too pessimistic when I spoke with him.”