has anyone experienced what I call mind/body/spirit gaslighting?

wabi-sabi

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Hi Everyone,

I had a really bad experience in one of my classes today. One of the other students was doing a presentation on chronic pain, fibro, chronic regional pain syndrome that kind of stuff. they were going on about exercise programs and regaining functionality for children.

Link is here if you want to see: https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/service/f/functional-independence

I was really worried about this. These children don't have ME/CFS, but still. But I just couldn't figure out how to explain how potentially problematic this was- teaching children to be "functional" despite being in pain.

Mostly what happened when I tried to talk about the necessity of treating physical pain was that everyone just started talking about, but pain is a mind/body/spirit problem. I thought- this is a new form of gaslighting- refusing to acknowledge physical pain, but shift the conversation to mental and spiritual pain. I know all of us have all three types of pain and we can tell which is which and what we need treatment for!

The upshot- does anyone have any resources I could share in class to get the point across? Has anyone else experienced this particular form of gaslighting? I know we get lots of gaslighting, but this seems like a special and harmful kind. Also, can anyone think of an easy way to point out the BPS problem to people who really believe in that model? It's sort of related.
 

wabi-sabi

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Could be new... or could be as old as time...
This felt different to me than the usual "it's all in your head" or "you're just depressed". They kept insisting that pain wasn't just physical, but spiritual and emotional too. We all know that and don't need healthy people to tell us! It allows them to ignore and overlook physical pain and insults us by presuming we don't know or that they know better than we do. Maybe it's the assumption that treating someone's emotional pain is an adequate response to physical pain.

These people mean well, but they so truly don't understand. I'm a bit too tired to be coherent on this right now, but it's so upsetting that I need to find a way to deal with it and try to explain why they are wrong when it comes to my presentation.
 

ljimbo423

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I need to find a way to deal with it and try to explain why they are wrong when it comes to my presentation.
Maybe you can look at it like you're sharing your knowledge and experience, rather than they are wrong. It might take some pressure off yourself, not to try to prove that they are wrong, but to voice your view.

I do that sometimes here when I feel emotionally charged about something. If I take a step back and decide to just share my opinion, based on my experience, I usually feel much less angry and stressed about what I need to say.

Just a thought.
 

wabi-sabi

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I do that sometimes here when I feel emotionally charged about something. If I take a step back and decide to just share my opinion, based on my experience, I usually feel much less angry and stressed about what I need to say.
So very true. It bothered me a lot- this attitude from classmates I like and trust.

I guess it just goes to show how difficult it is for people how don't have chronic conditions to understand them.
 

nerd

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Link is here if you want to see: https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/service/f/functional-independence

I was really worried about this. These children don't have ME/CFS, but still. But I just couldn't figure out how to explain how potentially problematic this was- teaching children to be "functional" despite being in pain.
When my ME was still mild, I think my pain improved from regular exercise. But I can't tell if the pain I had at this time was fibromyalgia, which I think definitely deserves a separate place among the ones that this article mentions.

Mostly what happened when I tried to talk about the necessity of treating physical pain was that everyone just started talking about, but pain is a mind/body/spirit problem.
Pain is a reality problem. You can try a meditation that detaches your mind from your body. And you won't feel the pain for as long as you stay in trance. It's like when you sleep and dream, you won't notice this reality either. But once you wake up, once you leave the trance, you have to play by the rules of this reality and that means that pain signals are perceived by the brain, no matter what. It won't disappear by dreaming more, by meditating more, by improving your attitude, by changing your mindset, unless these things somehow mediate a neurological change. Biomedical approaches can fulfill this role far better than psychotherapy, spirituality, or homeopathy.
 
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I guess it just goes to show how difficult it is for people how don't have chronic conditions to understand them
the topic Pain is complex.

My husband's Pain in his knee, is the bone rubbing on bone. You don't do a thing, to trigger that.

I have a deep cold pain in the pit of my shoulder. Its energetic. Its wind. I can ignore it, it has no bearing on movement of my arm and shoulder.

those are very different "PAINS" and both are 'real".
 

wabi-sabi

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Pain is a reality problem. You can try a meditation that detaches your mind from your body. And you won't feel the pain for as long as you stay in trance. It's like when you sleep and dream, you won't notice this reality either. But once you wake up, once you leave the trance, you have to play by the rules of this reality and that means that pain signals are perceived by the brain, no matter what. It won't disappear by dreaming more, by meditating more, by improving your attitude, by changing your mindset, unless these things somehow mediate a neurological change. Biomedical approaches can fulfill this role far better than psychotherapy, spirituality, or homeopathy.
This is such a fantastic description! Can I quote you for my class?
 

hapl808

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They kept insisting that pain wasn't just physical, but spiritual and emotional too. We all know that and don't need healthy people to tell us! It allows them to ignore and overlook physical pain and insults us by presuming we don't know or that they know better than we do. Maybe it's the assumption that treating someone's emotional pain is an adequate response to physical pain.
I think that may be partially true, but if you ask them to hold their hand over the burner on a stove, treating that pain spiritually and emotionally will probably not help until you allow them to remove their hand from the flames. Once they do remove that hand from the flame, again spiritual and emotional treatment may help them, but if a burn unit only uses those techniques and does not treat the blistered skin, they will likely experience some unpleasant pain.
 
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Hi wabi-sabi, Just hearing about your experience makes me pissed bc I really want them to hear what you are saying!!! :mad::mad:

The thing I try to remind myself, and it's always easier when I'm not in the situation and am telling this to someone else, but we never know exactly what other people think. I think if possible it helps to ask questions for more clarification of how/what/why they are thinking bc maybe it is as benign as they want to focus on something they think can help and they're presuming the physical body has been helped as much as it can be with treatments. Maybe they aren't good at explaining their thoughts on it and your questions will help them get better at what they are trying to say. Maybe they are giving too much weight to the mind/spirit without considering the body, ask if they think the body holds just as much weight in this m/s/b equation. Maybe they don't even know how to address what you are bringing up about the physical body bc they haven't given it as much thought.

I think perhaps you could get through to them more if you suggest that, and I don't know if you think this, but suggest that it's a feedback loop between brain/body/spirit so just as they are emphasizing there could be a positive impact from targeting the loop in the one direction between mind > body and spirit > body, the reminder that there is a very real loop going from body > mind and body > spirit that's just as important, it's not a one way thing. If they conceptualize it as a interconnected feedback loop they might better understand the importance of listening also to the pain in the body and limits imposed by the body, the importance of treating the body, not just the mind and spirit. At least it will maybe get them to think about it with equal balance.

A last note, maybe they don't realize the significance and what it can do to crush someone's mind and spirit to have their real physical body condition invalidated/ignored by most everyone or everyone. And the opposite, when someone validates/acknowledges the reality of someone's body experience it can be like a healing, soothing balm to the mind and spirit.
 

wabi-sabi

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A last note, maybe they don't realize the significance and what it can do to crush someone's mind and spirit to have their real physical body condition invalidated/ignored by most everyone or everyone. And the opposite, when someone validates/acknowledges the reality of someone's body experience it can be like a healing, soothing balm to the mind and spirit.
This is so very true. There are many times when I wouldn't mind if the doctor said "I'm sorry you have a disease with no cure" as long as they would acknowledge the disease as real and not "in my head".

I've decided I'm going to take a bit of the approach that you mentioned- the importance of taking the body seriously and not just looking at mind and spirit.
 

wabi-sabi

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The thing I try to remind myself, and it's always easier when I'm not in the situation and am telling this to someone else, but we never know exactly what other people think.
And at this point I'm so cognitively messed up that it's hard for me to figure that out. Not to mention the emotional lability part getting in the way of thinking clearly.
 

seamyb

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The body - definitely a real thing.

The mind - wellll that's a construct based on our perception of our own being and is open to philosophical debate. But okay!

The spirit - no. WTF is that even supposed to be? Like a ghost? Is a ghost making me ill? An Exorcism would cure me? My mother does WHAT in hell?!
 

wabi-sabi

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The body - definitely a real thing.

The mind - wellll that's a construct based on our perception of our own being and is open to philosophical debate. But okay!

The spirit - no. WTF is that even supposed to be? Like a ghost? Is a ghost making me ill? An Exorcism would cure me? My mother does WHAT in hell?!
Now this has definitely cheered me up. It's so wonderful to get a dose of reality, humorously presented.
 

Azayliah

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teaching children to be "functional" despite being in pain.

Mostly what happened when I tried to talk about the necessity of treating physical pain was that everyone just started talking about, but pain is a mind/body/spirit problem. I thought- this is a new form of gaslighting- refusing to acknowledge physical pain, but shift the conversation to mental and spiritual pain.
I sort of feel like they are engaging in a bit of spiritual bypassing. Basically, it is "a way of hiding behind spirituality or spiritual practices. It prevents people from acknowledging what they are feeling and distances them from both themselves and others." The article I found doesn't mention physical pain, but it seems related. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-spiritual-bypassing-5081640

Pain serves a purpose. It tells us to pay attention. I can't tell if the group was focusing on specific kinds of chronic physical pains--the ones that don't have a better treatment than painkillers (which are good to avoid getting addicted to if it's possible)--or if they are referring to all pain. If they mean everything in a broad sense, well... it's time for a barefoot lego walking session. I mean, they just need to heal their emotional pain to stop experiencing the physical pain of a lego slicing into their foot, right?

As to chronic pains... while meditating does not help me with fatigue, Curable has been helping me with pain. Only pain. I still feel the migraine pulsing in my head, face, and neck, and still have the light sensitivity, dizziness, etc. I can still tell that my muscle is tight and twisted, and it's probably a bad idea to walk. With the pain gone I don't have an alarm to tell me I'm pushing it, and now I have to make the conscious effort to restrain myself so I won't damage something. I think this shows the problem with their way of thinking...

Relieving pain is not a fix if you are still hurting yourself.