Fibromyalgia is a complicated disorder because there are no true biological signs of it’s presence. As seen in the blog post given as an example of living with the disorder, fibromyalgia can cause any sort of physical discomfort that seems humanly possible. This includes but is not limited to severe aching muscles, irritable bowel syndrome, dry skin, stiffness, burning and tingling sensations, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and poor vision. Basically, the disorder is severe chronic pain that makes daily tasks extremely difficult.
Culture plays an important role in fibromyalgia because it is often equated to the historical concept of a woman’s “hysteria” and the manifestation of a desire to escape the role of homemaker, child bearer, and other responsibilities in order to fulfill the image of the damsel in distress who needs to be cared for. This makes it exceptionally difficult for men to come forward and manage their own experience with the disorder because the condition is thought of as being unmanly. In our culture, it is typically very degrading for a man to succumb to the female role in any way, so the way they manage their diagnosis tends to differ. Biomedically, a cure-all for fibromyalgia would have to tend to too many areas of illness. Symptoms can be treated individually, such as anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants.
I think the lack of a cure and various ailments makes it very difficult for an outsider to take fibromyalgia seriously, much like one would view an illness like depression. Without any real evidence to go off of, it would be extremely difficult to treat the condition or convince others that it is not “all in your head”. I do believe that at least a portion of the disorder may be affected by personal beliefs, and a way to test this would be to perform placebo experiments on sufferers of fibromyalgia similar to the tests that were done on people suffering from depression. Results similar to the woman who was miraculously cured of her depression may actually occur, as even placebo surgeries have been shown to be effective. Personally, I have typically limited my use of medications such as pain relievers because I found myself to be “immune to the placebo effect” and therefore, the number or type of pill has always had limited effect on decreasing my pain.