The condition I have decided to write about is Fibromyalgia. Reading the blog from this week’s materials, the author’s description of the disease surprised me very much. It seems to be a combination of every awful, chronic disease that exists.
First, I will address the effects of culture on the experience of the condition and its perception. One theme I noticed throughout the blog post was the author’s affinity for self diagnosis. At several point in the post, she talks about visiting Web-MD to research her symptoms. In my experience, nothing good can come from visiting that website. It tends to assume you have the worst possible illness associated with a common and minor symptom. The western culture’s reliance on the internet for a diagnosis that a doctor should give is conducive to hypochondria. While that is not to totally discount the experience of the condition, it is something to be considered. Biomedicine, especially pharmaceutical companies are happy to jump aboard the train because it means they can make another drug to market directly to the public. To her credit, the author of the article does speak out against the pharmaceutical campaigns, saying they do not understand the syndrome. The effect of encouraging the public to think they have a condition they may not have is unfortunate, and takes away from the understanding of the disease for people who are truly suffering.
The placebo effect is an incredibly powerful thing. It can be used to treat a broad spectrum of conditions both physical and psychological. This leads me to believe that the link between belief and healing can also be very powerful. If a person believes they are being taken care of either spiritually or medically, they are certainly more likely to recover. This is also a probable explanation for the recent revival of homeopathy. The ideas behind it are absolutely absurd, but because people think it is effective, it works.