Likewise, a problem shared is a problem halved when you get a hand to shift that piano or weed the garden. But when it comes to medical matters, things get a little trickier.
Sometime a patient shares a problem with me, I give them a couple of aspirin, and the problem is not just halved but goes away completely, which was certainly a big relief to Mrs Brownlow given the itchiness she was experiencing “downstairs”.
But other times, and I’m thinking in particular of neck pus here, sharing the problem only increases the problems rather than halving them. I can illustrate this point mathematically.
Mrs Higgins was no doubt frustrated that the abscess on her neck had become a pus receptacle. By sharing her problem with both her fellow teachers and her pupils, she perhaps felt 20% better about her situation. But what about the 50 or so people she shared the problem with? The sight of a golf ball sized sea of pus probably made each of them at least 20% less happy. If a significant number of the 50 people re-share the horror of seeing the pus with others, the unhappiness just spreads like a pussy virus.
The total increase in unhappiness by Mrs Higgins thoughtlessly sharing her pus problem worked out at over 54,000%!
I had so many villagers visit me for the resulting trauma that I had to keep the Surgery open late and I almost ran out of aspirin.