Cutting Edge Psychology

Beliefs about illnesses more important

Posted on March 1, 2013 at 8:50 PM

The attached article discusses the research evidence which shows that the beliefs about any particular health condition which a sufferer holds are as important in determining the outcomes (ie. resolving the problem, or it becoming worse and more entrenched) as are any of the physical factors- in fact, much of the research shows that health beliefs are actually more important than are physical factors. This is no more true than it is for chronic pain, where our beliefs about the causes of the pain, our beliefs about the likely outcomes and the types of treatments that may be useful, and our emotional response to being in pain are highly influential in the outcomes. We are all seeking explanations for why bad things, like chronic pain, happen to us. When we use structural pathology explanations, for which there is actually very little evidence, then we are condemning ourselves to a sense of hopelessness- either now, or in the future. This is because there are no physical treatments for chronic pain which have been demonstrated by research to work above the placebo rate. As such, sufferers who seek one physical therapy after another will ultimately be very disappointed, as each on in turn fails to provide lasting relief. This just further entrenches a sense of hoplessness and despair, and the belief that nothing will ever make a difference. This conclusion is incorrect, as chronic pain is highly treated if approached from the correct paradigm. There is substantial evidence that chronic pain is essentially a psychogenic phemomenon, requiring psychological treatment of a depth-psychology nature. Such an approach needs to be well informed about the hidden psychology of pain in order to prove effective.

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