Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

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Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby Painintheneck » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:46 pm

In my relentless quest for explanations and answers, I pose the seemingly harmless question: what type of person develops FM? It’s not a new question, having been asked many times by all sorts of people, most far more qualified than me to interpret any answers. Just to be clear here, I’m talking about personality types and character traits, from an affected layman’s point of view.

Pre-supposing that the medically qualified expert (GP, Specialist, Nurse etc.) dealing with your case accepts that there are illnesses identifiable as fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis, temporomandibular joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gulf war syndrome, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, idiopathic prostatitis etcetera etcetera, I would warily guess that he, she or they, if open and honest enough to give a basic opinion as to your ‘type’, would opt for ‘neurotic’. I believe this is the current professional perspective. But is it an accurate assessment and does such a simplification actually cover the apparent complexities of these illnesses? Is neurosis the underlying predisposition to our health problems? Can a person recognise his or her own neurosis? That first “seemingly harmless question” quickly becomes complicated, loaded and dangerous.

Supposedly, neurotics know there is something faulty in the way they think about or understand their lives, even if they don’t know what exactly is ‘faulty’ (as opposed to psychotics, who have no such awareness of their skewed perception). So working on this principle, if a patient knows he or she is neurotic, then that patient should be able to accept that any illness he or she suffers from, which comprises of only symptoms without verifiable physical changes and which is not transmissable, would be a result of their neurosis (and conversely, such an illness would never be seen in a psychotic).

From my own limited but practical experience of having had the above discussion with qualified therapists, accepting the legitimacy of this argument is the basis of most ‘talking therapies’ used to treat FM, ME, TMJ and so forth…. To put their message simply: You must stop WORRYING about stuff because it’s making you ILL!

So what’s the verdict – can anyone, without being neurotic, develop these states of poorly understood unwell-ness? If the answer is yes, then might there be some other predisposing character traits or personality types at work here?

P.S. To challenge the accepted current thinking on this matter, does anyone know of a professionally diagnosed psychotic who suffers from FM? :twisted:
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Re: Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby perseus » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:47 am

Evidence suggests that the amplification of pain in fibromyalgia occurs independently of mood or emotional processes. However, stress may be an important precipitating factor in the development of fibromyalgia. There is also strong evidence that major depression is associated with fibromyalgia although there's no proof of a causal relationship. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15880832

Neurosis is still commonly used as a diagnosis (or excuse in my view) for a range of difficult to diagnose conditions such as ME/FMS/FM. I believe from personal experience that there's substantial pressure to use psychological diagnosis for difficult to diagnose or poorly understood medical problems, because it transfers the responsibility onto the patient, and away from expensive tests and consultations.

A substantial number of patients could be genuinely suffering from various psychological conditions that have led to these illnesses, and for a smaller number they could be the sole cause, so it's not surprising to see strong associations. However, I've always thought that false diagnosis of neurosis and depression are very dangerous, not only because they might result in inappropriate treatments, but could also result in exacerbating the symptoms psychiatrists search for to verify their theories, such as feelings of frustration and hopelessness.
As a Public Moderator of this forum my opinions/views expressed are personal and are no more valid than those of other members and not necessarily those of UKFibromyalgia. Regards Stephen
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Re: Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby Painintheneck » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:44 pm

Perseus, I read the abstract of the paper to which you kindly provided a link. I found the authors’ argument interesting, as far as it goes, even though the research on which it is based is now quite dated. But, with all due respect, it goes nowhere near answering the question: Are all FM sufferers neurotics? As far as I know, not all neurotics are depressives and neither are all neurotics FM (etcetera) sufferers. Nonetheless, mainstream professional medical opinion ‘types’ FM sufferers as neurotics (possibly as an easy catch-all excuse for medics to offer the least treatment they can get away with, as you allude to in your response).

Like it or not (and I don’t!), most folks get ‘typed’ every time they come into contact with health professionals or any other officialdom. I know several people who won’t go to their GP about anything because they’re sick and tired of having been lectured on every unrelated aspect of their ‘lifestyle’ [an awful, meaningless expression] each time they’ve entered the surgery, with whatever ailment they had being given scant, secondary attention.

I suppose what I was trying to find out from my post is: Why do some folks develop FM (etcetera) and others don’t? And that’s the enormous question which I didn’t want to ask. If it isn’t contagious(?) and there are no observable(?) explanatory physiological, organic or biochemical abnormalities, then what’s left to identify its cause?

To some extent, I’m acting as devil’s advocate here. I’m trying to make sense of a disparate clump of symptoms, which mainstream medicine at best sees as a tiresome psychological curiosity and at worst dismisses as non-existent….

"I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the most of us are. Very hard to explain why you're mad, even if you're not mad…. There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it's all dark"
Gerry O’Driscoll
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Re: Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby Painintheneck » Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:05 pm

Further to this subject, I did yet another trawl of the internet to see what sort of research is available concerning neurotic[ism] and a link with FM. I came up with this: http://www.clinexprheumatol.org/article.asp?a=11154
As with most scientific research papers, it is long and tedious to read, but the conclusion is simple and unambiguous. I don’t hold it up as a warranted, conclusive study to end the discussion – it is just one amongst many similar studies and articles which covers much of the ground I have been exploring.
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Re: Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby Painintheneck » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:29 pm

The tragic death of Merryn Crofts, with an official contributory cause being given as myalgic encephalomyelitis (after a coroner’s verdict), highlights yet again this debate on conditions which are considered by mainstream medics as being mental illnesses.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44969741
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Re: Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby Painintheneck » Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:52 pm

After some digging into what is a heap of contradictory but often biased research, I’ve come to the answer that, no, not all FM sufferers are neurotic. In fact, the only conclusion I can draw is that some FM sufferers who visit their GP may also be neurotic. But then so are lots of folks seeing their GP with other medical problems.

It seems to me that a person is more likely to become neurotic as a result of having FM (or any of the other chronic difficult-to-treat conditions) and not prior to, as much of the research depressingly strives to suggest. Such illnesses wear folks down, mentally and physically, and eventually wears them away. When you’re constantly in pain, or in so much of a state of physical awkwardness and discomfort, you do check and analyse your awareness of bodily sensations relentlessly. This is a classic symptom of neuroticism.
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Re: Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby *Lisa* » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:35 pm

You hit the nail on the head there with the *awareness of bodily sensations*

Personally this happened to me. Before fibro I was fine, never saw a doctor, never ill and never was concerned at all over my health.

Once the symptoms started kicking in I became very aware of every sensation in my body. This I explain was from the frightening symptoms. My throat felt like it was closing up, my chest was tight making me feel I couldn’t breathe, my neck and shoulders were so stiff the pain radiated around my heart...

I was in panic each and every day and this lead to severe anxiety.

Now for me this happened because I didn’t know anything about fibro or understand it, I felt out of control and scared. When I was diagnosed many years back it was the time where doctors hadn’t a clue. No one I knew had it and no one even heard of it. Was given a leaflet and discharged. There was no info, no support groups, nothing! I felt my symptoms were life threatening as they were and still are severe.

Once time went on and I started managing symptoms I realised and learnt that I was OK so to speak I became relaxed. I also had a lot of CBT sessions which helped and physio.

I was taught to re train my brain to tell it I wasn’t in danger. Now when pain hits the brain tells you your body’s in danger. When your constantly in this state of mind it’s so easy to stay in it and not be able to get out. This then heightens all your senses and you become more aware of bodily sensations....

To re train my brain took a long long time and it’s not easy!

I can control my mind now. I feel the pain, ,my brain analysis it to see if it’s a danger pain or not. Once I tell myself it’s the fibro and I’m not in danger the brain switches off it’s panic mode.

There could be others who are health conscious or have health anxiety first but for me it was triggered by the fibro.
As a Public Moderator & Admin of this forum my opinions/views expressed are personal and are no more valid than those of other members and not necessarily those of UKFibromyalgia...Lisa
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Re: Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby Painintheneck » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:07 pm

Lisa, I have a difficult problem to resolve in that I’ve never had a diagnosis of FM (or any other explanatory diagnosis of the associated symptoms – please see my intro). So I don’t have the dubious solace of knowing what they are symptoms of, or what’s causing them. This is a sticking point for many chronic pain sufferers.

A dozen or so hours of face-to-face CBT didn’t help me. I found just when I thought I’d got one aspect of my problems under control, another would spring up. I know I’m describing Generalised Anxiety Disorder here, which I suffer from, but I’m convinced it doesn’t cover the whole rotten bunch of symptoms.

These past two weeks have seen both my pain and anxiety levels reaching peak levels, again (too much stress, as usual). The pregabalin, which once stood some chance of knocking out the pain despite the adverse effects, is now making matters worse for certain. What on earth was I saying when I recently posted it was “great” for getting rid of my aches and pains??? Take pregabalin and talk tosh is nearer the truth!

I’m off to see my GP in about ten days. Bearing in mind how many times I’ve been in this same position, I’ve no clear idea what I should say on this occasion. Suggestions on a postcard, please… :(
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Re: Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby Painintheneck » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:51 pm

I saw my GP - a different one again but was very attentive. Outcome: other stuff going on, so mirtazipine to replace pregabalin... :-|
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Re: Are all FM sufferers neurotics?

Postby *Lisa* » Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:31 pm

Painintheneck wrote:I saw my GP - a different one again but was very attentive. Outcome: other stuff going on, so mirtazipine to replace pregabalin... :-|


That’s good to have an attentive GP but seems to have left you a bit puzzled with their outcome or did you expect it?
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