I chose chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) as the medical condition for this week’s assignment because I believe it is something that is something that is very real, but not quite believed by society to be an actual illness. Our culture is very fast-paced. If someone is unable to keep up they will likely be looked at as an outsider who is lazy or unwilling to contribute to the community on the same level as everyone else because the illness itself is subjective. It makes it more difficult in that there is no single biomedical method to prove that a person has the illness. Light exercise, proper nutrition, and behavioral therapy are all recommended methods of treatment for CFS (“Management of CFS.”). Our culture influences the illness experience by expecting the person to assume the sick role and seeking professional help. Biomedicine also influences the experience in that clinicians may order blood work and other physical tests to prove or disprove the patient’s story and recommend treatment.
CFS is often likely treated with behavioral therapy, periodic psychological evaluations, or drugs. Therapists may be used to help the patient develop better daily routines. Placebos or antidepressants may also be used to induce a positive therapeutic response. These seem to be very different responses to a syndrome that may very well have many simultaneous causes.
I believe the linkage between belief and healing is incredibly strong. While I do not think we are capable of re-growing severed limbs, I do think a positive attitude and a genuine belief in therapeutic success has a huge effect on the success of the patient. This seems to be the equivalent of the placebo effect in that if a patient can be convinced that they are cured they being to feel better regarding their symptoms. This type of healing was illustrated in the film, “Placebo: Cracking the Code” multiple times including the recovery of the placebo knee surgery patients, the placebo effects of doctors/monarchs/clergy throughout history, the woman whose depression improved after placebo treatment, the effect of religion on healing, the positive effects of placebic pain killers on shock patients, and the hypnotism of the boy with the warts/skin condition all over his body. One of my own experiences involves my kids. Whenever they fall and scrape their knees or bump into something I kiss their wounds, which seems to actually make them feel better. At the very least this motion relaxes them, which seems to let them move beyond the pain of the injury.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Management of CFS.” Accessed July 24, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/management/index.html.