Psychobabble and CFS: a little rant

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Lichu3, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. Lichu3

    Lichu3 New Member

    I had an 30 minute debate with my Chinese medicine doc yesterday. I've been doing a little prescribed taichi daily, taking herbs, and getting acupuncture once a week without much improvement in my symptoms but at least no side effects.

    So at the end of the visit, he asks me "What role do you think psychology plays in your illness?" I replied something to the effect that learning to deal with the illness meant adjusting my expectations about what I could do, changing my view to some degree of who I am, etc..

    But he persisted and seem to indicate that not recognizing and dealing with the stress in my life (particularly as it manifested itself physically) was a factor in the start and continuation of my illness. At which point, I really got annoyed.

    When I got ill, I was at a high point in my life financially, physically, and mentally and was planning to go to Italy - I was content and far from stressed. I refuse to believe in "stealth" stress. And it's not as though stress reduction techniques have ever been proven in trials to reduce CFS symptoms to the same degree as antivirals. Secondly, lots of people have stress and don't develop CFS; conversely, I've read of people who've lived a healthy life and meditated for years prior to CFS.

    Anyhow, my mom thought he was nuts as well. (I'm the most laid-back person in my family.) She said living life means having stress: even if you're secluded in a quiet room by yourself, you would be stressed by the loneliness. Buddhist monks probably stress over where they're placed to beg for alms. ;) She once had a doctor tell her her foot pain was due to psychological stress. She fired him, went to another podiatrist who prescribed other therapy, and got well.

    She thinks this is a poor excuse for why the herbs aren't working (not that we expected a miracle). Anyway that was my last visit there. For my own situation, I do not believe in the personality/stress explanations that are given for CFS.
  2. 545

    545 New Member

    Sounds frustrating lichu,

    I saw a psychiatrist twice last month (until some tests started pointing me towards a non-cfs diagnosis, which is still pending); I was complaining to him about other doctors telling me I might be stressed or depressed; he said that that's common when there's no med explanation, even from a good dr., but, either way, he told me that one of the foundation principles you learn in med school (perhap's you'd know) is that the patient knows best, and the best reason to rule out stress is if it doesn't *seem* like that's the cause to you; perhaps a gentle reminder of that to your doctor would help.

    & good point that people are often stressed but not CFSed; despite dr.s always pointing to stress, you never hear is how psychological mechanisms alone could account for all this; if it were just "stress", the stress literature would tell you **how** stress was causing all this (both in those aware & those unaware of their stress) & how to reduce it. Upon further reflection, I think that the whole idea of "conversion" disorders needs to be reinvestigated; they're fairly well-rooted in the field (more legit for children), not often qustioned, well pioneered by Freud. When you're first learning about them as a student, you learn that there's no way those medical symptoms could be organic, so they must be psychological - sounds earily familar?

    But at the same time, it's possible that there might be a certain type of stress that targets people who don't "feel" the stress, and consistently leads to general flu-like symptoms, malaise, fatigue, cognitive fog, hypotension, etc. So your dr. might be actually onto something, the only problem being that the logic isn't too consistent with the scientific method.

    Funny, I've always been completely laid back also; in fact, the two years before onset were very satisfying, eventful & exciting years, probably the most laid back years of my life. But one thing that's been impossible for me not to notice since after onset is that - at least for me - my reaction to stress is all off, it's either all or nothing (usually just nothing); & dr's situations (just visiting them - nonetheless paying them, talking (arguing) with them, convincing them you're not insane, waiting for them) don't help - so don't let it get the all of you! - but writing it out does help.

    Also, did you ever get around to sending that letter to that non-CFS doctor? I'd be curuious about his response. It's interesting how some researchers respond to the phenomena of a disease that seems medical but isn't totally quantifiable; skepticism is certainly understandable, but - from a scientific perspective - we have the most to gain by studying things we don't completely understand. & that CFS comes in so many shapes & sizes would suggest that there's something commmon going on, which, on some level, might not be that far from the normal spectrum of experience; that is, we have a lot of basic knowledge to gain also.
    [This Message was Edited on 04/06/2007]
    [This Message was Edited on 04/06/2007]
  3. obrnlc

    obrnlc New Member

    hi, i almost gave in to those theories that i must be seriously mentally ill to have these problems!

    as a nurse, i wanted BLACK AND WHITE as i searched for answers to my strange symptoms, i wanted a : cause, test, research in a book, etc. and after i found nothing (yes, i ran thru all of the dramatic things i might have--then realized i would have been dead long ago if i had them) i considered mental illness, since most probably don't know they are mentally ill til someone tells them (i hated my Psych rotation in training--not enough "black and white!)

    so then, decided if i am mentally ill, what "black and white" treatments are out there--can i just please have some electric shock and be done with it, and started to believe i MUST have serious mental problems.

    a few things i held onto, though, were vague physical symptoms that i didn't think you could bring on yourself, no matter how "crazy" you were, like the persistent low grade temps, the super huge thymus gland (does show autoimmune), the fact that my legs really won't straighten.

    i saw a psychologist w/ my theory that i wasn't depressed til all this happened, but if i am crazy, would it help to lock me away, because i don't realize it, and what if i am a danger to myself and others and just don't realize it?

    so many of us have been told we brought this on, even at a "high point" like you were at, that we start to believe it, i can't wait to find black and white for this and cram it down everyones throats! Or at least it will make me feel better!
    take care--L
  4. Lichu3

    Lichu3 New Member

    Yes, I am eagerly awaiting Dr. Montoya's results. Even if it doesn't apply to me specifically, if he is able to show that a virus causes CFS in a subset of folks, perhaps others will realize that there may be multiple other causes that are physically based that need to be investigated.
    I hope if his results come out that he publishes them in a well-known widely read medical journal.

    545: I decided to wait a little to write as I wanted to learn more about Dr. Manu before writing. It seems he did some research on CFS in the past but the majority of his work was on chronic fatigue and not CFS persay. I am waiting for a response.