I chose the illness fibromyalgia because I have never learned about this condition before in detail and the blog “Fibromyalgia + The Type “A” personality” caught my interest right away. I also work in a Physical Therapy clinic, and plan on going to school for Occupational Therapy, and we have had a couple of patients with the condition. I wanted to learn more about it from a first person perspective. Based on the blog, the syndrome has many symptoms that vary from person to person. The girl who wrote the blog expressed her experience and what she deals with on a day –to- day basis. Some symptoms include pain in every area of the body, muscle spasms, diarrhea, nausea; irritable bowel like symptoms, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, and anything that is controlled by the central nervous symptoms. Culture can influence the experience and also how the illness is perceived. In the narrative, she mentioned others will ask questions like “But you look so healthy, how can you feel so bad?” Society and culture can affect the patient’s personal feelings toward their illness by how others perceive them and also the treatment methods used in the culture. In the blog, the fibromyalgia patient has to take several types of medications to control some of the symptoms. To treat the syndrome, the majority of the medications that can be prescribed are used in biomedicine. Other cultures might view and treat this condition differently. Both culture and biomedicine can impact the management and treatment of the condition by how is it viewed and what treatments are available.


The placebo effect has always been a topic of interest of mine and after watching “Placebo: Cracking the Code,” I am more convinced that it can be an effective way to treat some conditions. It proves that there is a connection between belief and healing. Just like the documentary showed, people experiencing extreme knee pain and wished for surgery, felt cured and no pain after receiving a placebo surgery where nothing was done to their knee besides cutting the skin. Also, the placebo effect proved to cure depression in the patients involved in one research study. I am starting to question many illnesses that exist in the medical world and wonder if some are mostly related to the mind and what someone truly believes is happening in their bodies. From my own experiences, I can say that I have felt sick, pain, and have maybe thought I was developing a condition but was proved wrong, It shows me that the mind is very powerful and our beliefs might be more powerful than medicine or technology that is meant to cure.


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Hassan Ahsan says:

    Though I have heard of fibromyalgia, I also admit to not having in depth knowledge about the illness. My thoughts on Edwina Caito’s (aka toydiva65) article about Fibromyalgia was that it was a genuine sharing of her personal experience. But the symptoms were so biomedically generic that her condition could fall under a number of other more recognized illnesses. For example, the ‘potty dance’ and the irritable bowel issues are also symptoms associated with celiac disease. The mood swings could be pre menstrual symptoms (fibromyalgia seems to be predominantly a female disease?). The symptoms associated with muscles and fatigue are signs of mitochondrial dysfunction which can be triggered by stress, environmental toxins and even lack of rest. Therefore, all the symptoms of fibromyalgia can be explained by other diagnosis, making it hard for a doctor to be able to say definitively that a person has fibromyalgia.

    Culturally, even western society where fibromyalgia is a more familiar term, people who feel they have the disease struggle to get doctors to recognize that a patient may have this illness.

    I have heard someone say that Fibromyalgia is a lazy person’s disease as it is an excuse for why they aren’t as active as they could be. I have a cousin in London who has similar symptoms to those described by Edwina. My aunt has suggested to the doctors that he may have fibromyalgia, the doctors refuse to diagnose him with this illness, although they still have no other diagnosis after two years either. Though I am a little reluctant to accept fibromyalgia as biomedical illness, symptoms should never be ignored by doctors and if curative care is not possible, then they should at least provide palliative care to patients who express concerns. Does the palliative care have to be chemical altering medication? No. After watching my favorite documentary so far on the placebo effect, I am inclined to think that psychological support may be just as good a medication as pills. My mother keeps nagging me to change my thinking from negative to positive and I always thought she was just being a typical mother. Now I am beginning to think that maybe mothers have always known about the placebo effect after all!

  2. Angela Palmer says:

    Dear Rei,
    I found your post very intriguing. I agree that the placebo effect seems to have a quality to it we need to further explore. But I fear it may be something like stem cells, where it seems promising but not quite plausible. We can further research on it but I really think there are going to be a lot more dead ends than solutions.
    In terms of my own perceptions on fibromyalgia, I believe the illness is in fact real, and not something people make up. Our culture likes healthy hard workers, when someone seems to be otherwise I believe our culture can be a bit harsh towards them. I feel American biomedicine is very behind in treating fibromyalgia. I also think we are not only behind in treatments but also we are very behind in understanding the actual illness. I think my perception of fibromyalgia comes from my catholic upbringing. I was taught forgiveness and compassion. I feel inclined to feel empathy and sympathy. I really do believe these people aren’t making their illness up and I strongly believe we have a lot of research to do on chronic pain. I think furthering research will really benefit not only our understanding of fibromyalgia but also how we can diagnose a serious case and effectively treat it.

  3. Breanna Block says:

    I agree with a lot of what you said in this post, especially what you said about the placebo effect. My aunt was actually diagnosed with fibromyalgia, however I didn’t have very much knowledge of the disease, until this week. I have mixed feelings about the disease, because I never noticed her being in very much pain, however I suppose it is a stereotype of the disease for a reason. I do not necessarily think that the disease is fake though. The comment that I will make, is that I think because there is no way to really prove someone has the disease, that I think it is very easy for someone to lie about having symptoms. I think this disease is very cultural. I have to wonder if people of other cultures experience as much (if any)symptoms of the disease. I think that would tell us a lot about the validity of the disease. I think my perceptions are mainly influenced by social institutions ironically, not my family even though I have a family member who was diagnosed. I talked to my aunt about her experience with doctors, and was surprised to hear that her doctor is the one who suggested she may have fibromyalgia, which seemed to disagree with a lot of the information we got this week.

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