There are no limits to the power of the mind. For chronic pain syndromes like fibromyalgia, the power of the mind can, unfortunately, be a detriment to the progress of finding a cure for or prevention of chronic pain. Some doctors still regard fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions as psychological or psychosomatic (in the sense that people with chronic pain essentially bring it on themselves). Yes, the power of the mind can be great enough to bring on pain symptoms. Furthermore, the power of the mind can turn those pain symptoms into chronic symptoms. In addition, the mind can be the catalyst for that vicious cycle – the mind triggers pain, the mind prolongs that pain into a chronic condition, the mind stops the body from moving, not moving increases the pain symptoms, and so on. That is all possible.
The mind can also do the opposite. Patients with chronic pain can train their minds to relieve pain symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, any calming techniques, stress reduction, etc, can help relieve symptoms. It can go either way.
It’s a question that has always irked me: Do I hurt because I’ve talked myself into it? Because I have been conditioned to feel this way? Somehow the question feels like an accusation, as if I alone am responsible for being in pain, for being a burden on the healthcare system. I can’t say for certain it’s nonsense, but there is enough evidence for physiological anomalies and degeneration in people with chronic pain to look past the purely psychological.
Finally, if it is true that chronic pain is an essentially psychological disorder (and it’s rare to hear that anymore), then the next question in my mind is: Can fibromyalgia be cured by happiness? It sounds odd, but stress and depression are correlated to chronic pain. Why isn’t happiness connected to wellness? In all fairness, it should be, but I haven’t found a study telling people with fibromyalgia to simply… get happy.
As the guinea pig in this little research project, I can definitively say happiness does not eliminate chronic pain. Unfortunately. Happiness is a distractor, but not a cure. I’m happy. I’ve found a wonderful person I want to spend time with, who wants to spend time with me. Sixteen years after divorce #2, three years of online dating, and approximately 43 first dates later, and happy. For once. But the pain marches on….