Why chronic illness is not psychological even if you have a history of trauma
Book 3 of The Chronic Illness and Trauma Connection series
“Chronic Illness Is Not Psychological” introduces the new science about risk factors for chronic illness, explains why it’s not in your head and not your fault, and tells you what you can do about your symptoms of chronic illness. It also acknowledges and validates how having a chronic illness can be traumatizing in and of itself.
Throughout the book I explain why common perceptions such as these are false:
- chronic illness is all in your head (it’s not)
- negative thinking causes chronic illness (our thoughts can affect symptoms but it’s not the underlying cause)
- chronic illness is your fault (it’s not)
- if you’re still sick it means you aren’t trying hard enough (as we know, this is not true either)
- having a chronic illness means you’ve failed (I have often struggled with this one, but it’s false too)
Why Chronic Illness is Not Psychological
In this ebook I explain why the belief that chronic illness is psychological – especially if you have a history of trauma – is out of date. The research offers another, more comprehensive (and compassionate) view that draws from scientific research and gives you new options for working with symptoms.
If you have no history of trauma, these tools can help if having a chronic illness has been traumatizing for you (this is remarkably common).
The updated view offers new tools for healing and is not about exercise, positive thinking, cognitive therapies, increasing our will power or “trying harder.”
The concept of “trauma” is a loaded one. This is in part because it implies that symptoms are psychological or “all in our heads.” It also implies that we’ve experienced overtly recognizable, horrific events – which is not the case for many, myself included.
I wrote this book because the belief that the effects of trauma are entirely psychological causes harm.
I wrote it because this blaming perspective has been painful for me.
It has affected my experiences with a debilitating invisible illness; as a doctor and later as a therapist whose clients have been deeply shamed by perceptions that our / their chronic illnesses were psychological; and as a researcher sharing insights in the chronic illness community where the concept of trauma has conferred blame, shame and failure.
Our current understanding of trauma as a society and in medicine is that all of its effects, such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, depression, addictions and other symptoms, are psychological.
The belief is that the effects of trauma are entirely and exclusively psychological.
And we live in a society where psychological symptoms such as anger, shame, fear, and depression are seen as signs of weakness and/ or a lack of self-control.
These beliefs imply that if trauma has played a role in someone’s life and they have a chronic illness, it means that their disease has psychological roots.
This view is inaccurate.
Learn more about why – and what you can do about it – in my book.