Are We "Absorbing" Other Peoples Symptoms?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by joeb7th, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. joeb7th

    joeb7th New Member

    Are we ( or most of us ) absorbing other peoples symptoms from here and all the different websites out there relating medical conditions, symptoms and patients sharing of their personal experiences ?

    This is a very important question.

    The reason I am posting this question as a post title is because I and I'm sure many of you have been accused of this.

    First off, let me say that I strongly believe the answer to this question is overwhemingly "no."

    I had a PC tell me that when desperate patients like me go on the computer, they see a little of everybodies symptoms in themselves and they absorb these into their own perception of their illness.

    It's sad and amazing how much effort so many doctors put into trying to promote this subjective, poorly researched or poorly proven scientifically, blanket statement explaining and enforcing the "suggestibility and psychological aspect" of people with undiagnosed pain.

    I think there should be a well funded study into the psychological motivations of "doctors"... who feel compelled to throw this incredibly subjective and unproven statement out there to their suffering patients in this situation...especially when their training tells them not to promote something that has so little scientific data to support it.

    It is a very curious, contradictory, illogical and disturbing action on their part in my mind versus their strongly taught teachings of relying on more scientifically studied and proven facts.

    When they "push" this subjective observation to the point of getting upset with you if you express a contary view is unethical and wrong...and it actually seems to reveal an insecurity "on their part" ... a diversion mechanism that allows them to
    deal with the frustrating fact that with all their training...they just can't find out what is wrong with you!

    That rather than just admitting their infallibility ...that their insecurity about doing so seems to compel many of them to say that most of these difficult to diagnose symptoms all must be more born out of some mental weakness and susceptibility on the part of the patients!

    And when a family practice or other "non-psychiatric trained" doctor with this viewpoint starts advising you to take anti-depressants for the first time in your life without you ever taking fairly well respected psychological evaluation tests first...then you know that the pushing of this viewpoint is really getting out of the hand.

    None-the-less, I decided to re-evaluate and actually study whether this observation was more true versus wrong in my case.

    Here is what I determined in my not-so-educated but trying to be objective and honest-with-myself mind.

    Several weeks and months after letting the doctors completely alone to do their work and waiting for tests results and diagnosis and respecting these doctors as highly trained technicians...I finally allowed myself to go on line to see what I could find about all my pain and symptoms...especially since my doctors just kind of gave up on me (when you are told to see them in 2 months, isn't this kind of the same thing?)

    I also did a general outline and history of when I first became ill, what exactly happened to me and what medicines I was taking and anything else I could think of in my life at that time that was affected, affecting or may have played any part at all in regards to my sudden body changes.

    I would go on line and type in sights in regards to different areas of my symptoms like levels and types and locations of body pain, odd unprecedented functioning of my body parts like bladder, gastro intestinal tract, heart rates, phsyical balance and weakness, you name it.

    I also went to sites that discussed the medicines I was taking when all this exploded inside of me. That was pretty easy because the only one I was taking at that time was a super powerful antibiotic called "Levaquin."

    I included medicines I took later.

    My body pain and other symptoms took me to many weird sites. Understanding my extremely desperate desire to find answers and trying hard not to let my imagination get carried away I filtered through almost all of them and eventually found that this Fibro/CFS board had postings that were the closest to my symptoms ...far far more similar in every way than any other board.

    I definitely saw what the doctors had said...that you could ( if you allowed yourself to and were desperate enough) see a similar symptom or two in hundreds of different disease and symptom sites.

    I fought and forced myself to be brutally honest and strictly objective when perusing these sights.

    I truly feel that I got to where I could discern between what applied to me and what didn't and saw that 99% of the sights I had visited were not logically, scientifically and comprehensibly related enough to my symptoms.

    And I made a conscientious and courageous effort "not" to absorb these other peoples testimonial symptoms from these sights into my own.

    I almost went overboard in being disciminating and I never once felt I had cancer of the prostrate or some other obscure cancer. I never once latched on to any other disease or medical problem site and never told my doctor that I had finally found out " what was causing all my problems."

    But 2 months ago I found this site and the one on Levaquin.

    Nothing came close to these two sites and their personally shared stories and postings in matching my symptoms. The similarities are so close to what I have been suffering through in totality....that I cannot dismiss them no matter how hard I try!

    I have cross-checked and torn apart contradictions and very subjective postings even here so much I am exhausted with this...but I need to be sure.

    I have written down as objectively as I could try, my history of symptoms and daily feelings and episodes down to the minutes and levels of pain etc. I have then compared them with thousands of shared experience postings here on this board and the Levaquin board.

    I am convinced that I have not "absorbed" anyone others symptoms here. I "KNOW" what I felt the last 8 months...without having to read this somewhere else!

    I never once blindly absorbed, and was able to screen out and eliminate other peoples symptoms in 100 other sites before I found this one and the Levaquin one. It seems to me that if I were inclined to do this, those first 100 sites may have had me doing this just a little...but they didn't.

    The doctor's almost "wishful" feelings that this myth of theirs is simply wrong. I am convinced that 80% of people that post on these boards are way...WAY more objective and responsibile in this way than the doctors give them credit for.

    I mentioned this board to my PC. I said to him " are you saying that most of the thousands of people who post on this board have conditions that are more emotionally induced than physically? " He nodded and said "Yes, I am."

    Like so many here...I don't have the time or energy to chase and follow false leads. And many of you have had years to filter through other areas of disease sites and you are intelligent enough to know which ones apply to you.

    I resent the doctors "throwing" this insulting and downplaying myth out there. These are people trained to rely on "scientifically proven" facts to make their diagnosis.

    And yet, this irresponsible, patient spirit dampening, and patient integrity demeaning blanket statement and theory has never been well proven by anyone. Doctors putting this out there without any scientific proof of it's validity is disturbingly contradictory to their own tenets and teachings. Not to mention, ethically questionable.

    I do not feel that the majority of people on this board and the Levaquin boards...are "absorbing" other peoples symptoms. And I resent such subjective observations like this being promoted by physicians who feel the need to promote something which contradicts their own teachings of sticking with scientifcally proven facts.

    I see an insecurity "ego" problem on the part of doctors who would rather find a subjective "diversionary" explanation rather than admit to their inability to find out the cause of and treat difficult to diagnose medical conditions such as those described on these boards.

    This is a major ethical problem in the medical field that hurts patients in this area far too much versus helping them. And it is so widespread it should be acknowledged, address and stopped.
    [This Message was Edited on 08/01/2006]
  2. joeb7th

    joeb7th New Member

    Where many doctors think you?

    Do you think the doctors are wrong in this assessment?

    Do you think it is responsible medical professional behavior to promote this view over a phsyical one when a doctor cannot find clinical results identifying you r illness?

    Important questions...especially in this area of illness.
  3. MsE

    MsE New Member

    When I was first diagnosed with CFS, my doc told me not to go online for information. He has since changed his view. Or, at least he doesn't say this to me any more because he knows I'll research new problems if he doesn't have answers.

    I think since this is such a weird illness, it makes it very difficult to stay true to what I know is going on. I find myself second-guessing how I feel, doubting what I know to be painful, exhausting, etc. I know I went through quite a length of time when I kept asking myself, "Am I just depressed?" Notice the "just". Says something about my state of mind at the time, doesn't it?

    Now I have to be careful that I don't discount symptoms of problems that could be serious. It is too easy to say, "Oh, it's just another CFIDS symptom." I find myself doing that because I hate to go to the doctor--any doctor. I have become quite disillusioned with the medical profession.

    [This Message was Edited on 08/01/2006]
  4. lenasvn

    lenasvn New Member

    After spending 6 months going to one physician he one day said the following:" You would be so much happier if you didn't pay attention to your symptoms". This after explaining an episode very much like a stroke after he discontinued my BP meds since the readings looked good. (DUH! Could it be because of the BP meds?)

    That's when I went to the next physician that treated me the same, again offering me SSRI's for "depression" that I didn't have for any other reason than not being heard by previous docs.

    What made me look online was the refusal by physicians to diagnose me. What made me look for FM/ CFS in perticular was that my mom one day said out of the blue- "You have Fibro." If anyone knew about it, it would have been her, she had it for 40 some years.

    I never spent much time looking for the reason for all my ailments until I got too sick after having my daughter 2 yrs ago. I believe it's because my x-husband have GWS with Mychoplasma as a major cause, and it is transmittable.

    Doctors need to understand that there will always be diseases that have not been discovered yet. MS was once "all in your head". Seisures was demon possession. How intelligent, indeed.

    It is too widespread, as we look at this board and the treatment many of us receive. They forget the "Do not cause harm". They cause us enormous mental, emotional and financial distress by letting us hang in the air like this for years, and God knows what they write in our personal medical records. We need to ask for those and have them corrected.

    I agree with you, I can't wait to read further responses to your superb thread!


    [This Message was Edited on 08/01/2006]
  5. joeb7th

    joeb7th New Member

    I went through a devastating period where I thought maybe this was all due to some psychological reasons.

    To physically feel so bad you think you are going to die..and to feel that it might be in your mind ( that you might have lost all your marbles ) is a combination of horrors that I would wish on no one.

    I was told by two GI docs that they couldn't find anything to explain indescribable GI pain. They told me to go on "Trazadone" for my insomnia and anxiety. Actually wrote a presciption for this, advised me to see a psychiatrist and quit returning my calls. I had to go 35 miles out of town two months after having no one to take me seriously ...found another GI doc who asked if the other two had looked at the small intestine.

    They hadn't. Why? I have no idea. When this doctor heard my exact symptoms, he immedietly had me swallow a camera to look at this area.
    What do you think he found? 25 areas of inflamation, damaged illium, two beginning ulcers. He thought it was beginning Crohns disease.

    The other GI doctor who originally wrote me off saw me in a hospital weeks later, did his own barium X-Ray, saw the damage...came in and apologized saying I was one of the most courageous patients he has seen..."because I had to do this further discovery on my own." I asked him why he quit seeing me and recommended psychiatric treatment when I had real damage all along that explained my complaints. He said he just didn't see the " indicators" to direct him to look at my small intestines !!!

    Does this true story kind of give you an idea of what my original posting was getting at?
  6. joeb7th

    joeb7th New Member

    This board is very good for what you have said...friends who will understand, respond, empathize, encourage.

    But I just don't absorb other people's symptoms. I just don't. What I have I have.

    And I believe the majority of people on this board and others like it are more responsible and mentally healthy than doctors are saying they are.
  7. lenasvn

    lenasvn New Member

    I just love what you wrote to the head of the clinic!!

    You go, girl!
  8. jinlee

    jinlee Member

    I think that is just an excuse the docs throw out so they don't have to look for a cause or believe in anything they can't see on an x-ray.

    I don't believe for a minute that anyone would or could imitate the pain, depression, IB, etc., etc., extreme exhaustion for months, years on end, no matter what their reason.

    I got this DD 30 years ago when it was not even heard of. Of course I was labled "on drugs", all in my head, seeking attention, etc. But it ruined my life so why would I keep this sham up if I was just pretending? Makes no sense.

    It was great to finally have a real diagnosis that didn't relate to my "psych". My nurse psych practtioner has fibro and a doc tried to tell her it was all in her head. She gave that doc a real talking to. Doc did not know she was a psych nurse practitioner.

    This DD is a real condition and I do not believe for a minute that it is imagined or added upon by reading info.

    I had a wonderful doc, unfortunately he retired, who taught at the med school and the later practiced treating fibro. He said he did not at first believe it was real but then too many people he respected and new were not making it up came down with the symptoms. He then studied it and then became a believer.

    Maybe if the docs would just study these sites they would either come down with symnptoms and then could relate (LOL)proving their point, (which will not happen), or at least they would learn what it is all about.

  9. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    Joe, I do hope you're feeling much better. If you posted after your HELP post, I missed it.

    As for my opinion on your question, I think people who are
    discouraged, frustrated, often at wit's end, foggy, lonely, in pain and/or extremely fatigued are very sensitive to what happens around them, including other people's problems and symptoms. We understandably want so very badly to find a reason, then a cure for whatevertheh**iswrongwithus that seems to be ruining our life that I think we sometimes grab at straws, especially in the beginning. I can also imagine that doctors get a bit tired of their patients knowing more than they do. lol If so, they need to get up to speed, but until they do, they're probably frustrated too.

    I disagree with your doctor when he said that our conditions are more emotionally induced than physical - unless he's talking about neurotransmitters, but I don't get that feeling. At the same time I also believe there is a huge mind/body connection in all of this.

    That said, we do often get treated unfairly by doctors. Face it, we want answers, not excuses, and your doctor gave you an excuse. Maybe you need a new doctor. Even if they can't cure you, they should support your needs fairly and you don't seem to feel he's doing that.


  10. carebelle

    carebelle New Member

    I so agree with you. I feel if it was not having people here to relate to and understand and give advice from their own experiences I may not even be here at all.

    I also feel any mental problems I have, are probably because of Doctors that have told me I don't have pain when I have had pain. To denie a person medical care because of an opinion of a doctor and cause undo mental stress and more physical pain should be a crime .I can think of at least 4 times in my life that Doctors refusing to believe me has prolonged my pain and could have cause serious if not fatal problems. I should have sued but I was young and did not realize it was a crime called malpractice.

    Even now after months of dealing with unbelieving Doctors I feel they could help but they don't. This time if I find out they have not done the right thing I may sue. What makes it hard with me is I've always worried my husband would be fired or demoted out of revenge because my husband works with in the same system as my doctors. Military Doctors .How do you prove and protect your husbands career if you are suing the people he works for. Sticky problem.

    ( I hope you are feeling better now)

  11. pam112361

    pam112361 New Member

    I, for the most part, have had wonderful doctors who have tried in every way they knew how to help me with my pain.

    I've had headaches since I was a child. I began having neck pain 20+ years ago. I have been treated for muscle spasms for nearly as long. After it became so bad that I couldn't tolerate it anymore, I sought help through specialists (neurologist, neurosurgeons). The neurologist was pointless; he kept insisting that I had carpal tunnel. I said fine, treat me for it and then find out what's wrong with my neck.

    After three years of jacking around with this group, a doctor friend that I worked with saw my neck xrays and helped me get set up with a neurosurgeon he had trained with. I ended up having a C4-5-6 fusion which helped the pain that was being caused by it. Since then I have had surgery for ulnar neuropathy in my left elbow and will eventually need it in my right.

    Even after these surgeries, I had overall pain. It took another 3 years before my PCP finally suggested fibro. I really think I knew it years prior to the diagnosis; possibly before my surgeries.

    All this being said, my husband is the one who is bad about saying "you're not a doctor; quit diagnosing yourself." Even my physicians realize that anyone with computer access and a little bit of common sense can do enough searches to put two and two together. Mine equaled fibro. I didn't "absorb" anything. My pain is my own and I simply wanted to try to figure out what was going on with my body.

    This board gives me a place to learn about different things, talk about meds, vent and rant (mostly about my DH), or just read what's going on with others. It came along after my diagnosis; it didn't help me diagnose myself.

    I appreciate the people here and value their willingness to share their experiences with me.

    God Bless you all!
  12. blessedmom2four

    blessedmom2four New Member

    i have had FM for three years before ever finding this board or getting a diagnosis, my symptoms are still the same...havent changed because i read something...

    just lets me know i am not alone in this so little known about illness

    good post to think about though
  13. Ranigar

    Ranigar Member

    I know what symptoms apply to me and what doesn't.I usually look for posts that apply to me first.Sometimes people post symptoms I knew I have but am surprised anyone else does.Over the yrs. I've discovered just how much the medical system doesn't know about alot of illnesses.It wouldn't shock me so much if they didn't come across that they know everything about the human body.I know ther's good Drs. out there I just wish they didn't seem to be the minority.
  14. Michelle_NZ

    Michelle_NZ New Member

    I've had this suggested to me by doctors, work colleagues and friends. To be quite frank I find it highly offensive.

    Like I can't tell what is going on inside my own body?!

    The reason we use the internet to try and understand what is going in our bodies is because noone else can tell us! We are forced to try and make sense of it ourselves because the doctors are for the most part, useless.

    Grrrr... yep, this is sore point with me! lol

    Take care
  15. CockatooMom

    CockatooMom New Member

    I saw the title of this post and skipped over it a few times today, but HAD to come back to it and I'm glad I did.
    Sorry it's so long.

    I've had FM for 11 years now (diagnosed)and things were bad in the beginning. Then I started pushing myself to do more, until finally I pretended i was not sick. I still complained here and there about pain, but not often.

    Going to college to become a RN has caused my health to spiral downhill to the point that I have never been in as much pain as I was when school let out the last semester.

    My husband and I were talking tonight about my fears of not being able to finish the nursing program now because of my health.

    Then he told me that ever since I started getting on THIS website that I have become so negative and have no positive thoughts. He said I have to think that I CAN FINISH! That I WILL finish. He told me he feels like I've given up. But I haven't!

    (Not trying to offend anyone, this is what I want to say to my hubby.) No one knows the hell you go through in RN school, unless you have been through it. And no one knows how hard it is to get through school with these DD's unless you've done it.

    Part of me wanted to slap him, but I tried to stay open minded. I feel I do NOT absorb others symptoms. I have enough, why would I want more?

    So I have decided to continue with my nursing program, do or die. I feel a bit resentful right now. Besides, he reminded me that I have to pay back the school loans because HE CAN'T!!
  16. sues1

    sues1 New Member

    I LOLed at what you wrote:
    I mentioned this board to my PC. I said to him " are you saying that most of the thousands of people who post on this board have conditions that are more emotionally induced than physically? " He nodded and said "Yes, I am."
    I've had this a lot longer than this board, and a lot longer than having a computer with info. I am sorry but I never got the book on the list of symptoms. I never heard of CFIDS and Fibro before I got it.

    I also thought that it was so inane, not logical, that I went to a shrink, after reading it was in our minds, a emotional issue. I really did a lot of work and soul searching. I was truthful to myself and questioned me every step of the way, keeping an open mind.

    If this was the problem.....okay....I would work on getting myself better! Finally Dr. dismissed me saying that I was a well balanced person and she could not find a cause.

    I even tried various little pills, they did not change a thing, except having me walk into walls or such.

    To finally get written info and as I went down the list.....well, most fit me. I had already complained of these problems, Before I had a check off list.

    I tried to give myself a kick in the back side and "straighten up", but I fall right back down. I do not want to be this way, nor do I think I deserve it, etc.

    I do think we must strive and do and try to keep a good much as we can. I am the best I can be.

    But I am far from "normal" .......I pray for answers, if not for myself, for others also.

    How in the world can thousands of people make up the same illnesses?

    Good Posting.....Blessings.......Susan

  17. Leaknits

    Leaknits New Member

    In one word, No.
    If we were that suggestible, we would hear, believe, and absorb our dr's wrong-headed opinion that there is not one thing wrong with us.
    Just my 2cents' worth.
  18. donna275

    donna275 New Member

    My first year of going to the doctors for my symptoms was terrible. When this all started, my pain would jump around. When in my knees, a couple hours it would go to my shoulders, etc. Well, after about three doctors, I went to a neurologist to test for MS, etc. He said he did not believe I had MS. Sometimes people are very very sensitive to everything going on in there body. I do remember many times, I would come on this board and read about someone having some symptom and the next day getting that symptom. I have done this many times after I started looking up symptoms on the internet and this board.

    I truly believe my beginning symptoms were real, but I also think, because of my panic and anxiety that something terrible was wrong with me, I picked up "extra" symptoms.

    It is like a person going to med school and they learn all about diseases and then they start feeling sick. Or, when a soldier is in a war and his arm is blown off and he can't feel it. Sometimes the opposite happens, and a person can feel too much.

  19. sues1

    sues1 New Member

    Many times a automatic pain killer kicks in when someone loses a limb or such. That is not permanent, but thankfully that does happen.

    Yes, we can induce pain and so forth. But I do not feel that I have from this board. I can not add any additional problems that I did not have before I found this board.

    But for an experiment.......concentrate on a finger and imagine it hurting and give it your total attention. Most of the time it will hurt then. LOL.

    We do have a mind/body connection. So we should concentrate on positives as much as possible. It helps. It also helps to have things to do outside of ourselfs, to care for others in any way we can. Hobbys help, etc.

    But our problems are real and not mentally my opinion anyhow.......

    Love, Susan
  20. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    but it does happen quite often in any medical related studies. Several years ago while in school one instructor told us to be very careful when researching diseases and the disease process as it is very easy to start imagining oneself as having symptoms of the disease and then a snowball effect happens.

    She also told us (her students) that this happens to many med students, nursing students, medical information students, etc. and then we get over it... lol

    I have discussed this with a few physicians whom I know personally and yes they have been through it also.

    Our instructor got the biggest kick out of seeing who developed what disease each week...LOL

    So I think it can happen to anyone when reading or researching about diseases or symptoms. It is just a matter of someone seeing a symptom described and saying oh I do that I must have...

    I am not saying it is a bad thing it is just knowing when to realize the difference between an isolated symptom and a disease now when looked at that way a physician's job is not that easy in my opinion and you couldn't pay me enough money to take on that kind of responsibility.


    Karen :)

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