Book recs on the psychological part of illness
February 15, 2020 1:43 PM   Subscribe

I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The onset of my symptoms aligns with an unhealthy relationship I was at the time (not anymore). I want to read more about the ways our emotions and stress contribute to chronic physical illness, and I’d love to read about how doing psychological work can lessen symptoms. Please no woo-woo:I can tolerate mindfulness and meditation, but no Law of Attraction, vibrations, or affirmations. Are there good books that fit this criteria?
posted by mermaidcafe to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings by Randolph Neese may be worth a look.
posted by ajr at 2:04 PM on February 15, 2020


This isn't a book, but the Curable app teaches you how to apply psychological work to lessen chronic illness symptoms and it's been a great help to me. Their website curablehealth.com lists the doctors on their advisory team and I went through each to read their websites for more info on the science behind it.
posted by ilovewinter at 2:10 PM on February 15, 2020 [3 favorites]


I'm an emergency physician/medical toxicologist.

I want to read more about the ways our emotions and stress contribute to chronic physical illness, and I’d love to read about how doing psychological work can lessen symptoms


Can you be (a lot) more specific? The literature on stress-related illness, mind-body interactions etc is just too vast and wide ranging for me to make good rec's unless you narrow things down for me.

For example,

are you as intersted in how stress interacts with the biology of heart disease, diabetes, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis as you are in how it interacts with the biology of fibromyalgia?

how "no woo-woo" do you want to get? There's zero bullshit and magical thinking in the formal medical and scientific literature, but none of it will make much sense unless you have a background in the life sciences.

and so on...
posted by BadgerDoctor at 4:07 PM on February 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


Look into the book "The Body Keeps the Score". This book reviews the psycho-somatic connection and validates stuff like chronic pain, dissociation, etc as a result of challenging, stressful, and/or traumatic experience. It changed my life.
posted by erattacorrige at 5:30 PM on February 15, 2020 [8 favorites]


And for an alternative viewpoint, check out Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. One thing they talk about is how mental health problems frequently manifest as physical ailments around the world. Also our Western ideas about mental health are pretty different from other cultures' models.
posted by acridrabbit at 5:43 PM on February 15, 2020


You might consider Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky -- although the latest edition is from 2004. Disclaimer: I haven't actually read this book, but the author is a very well-respected neuroscientist, and I'm familiar with some of his work. And I've read other things he's written, so I know he is a careful and engaging writer.
posted by alex1965 at 5:57 PM on February 15, 2020


How to Be Sick by Toni Bernhard is great! It’s quite Buddhist, but in the kind of Western-Theravada-style way that is probably not too woo-y if you’re already comfortable with mindfulness language.
posted by matildaben at 7:37 PM on February 15, 2020 [2 favorites]


Gabor Mate's When the Body Says No.
posted by TrixieRamble at 9:19 PM on February 15, 2020 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Another vote for "The Body Keeps the Score".
posted by EllaEm at 5:04 AM on February 16, 2020


Best answer: Another vote for the Curable app. Although I purchased the app, I have gotten the most benefit from listening to their free podcast, Like Mind, Like Body.

A few books mentioned in the course of those interviews or I came across from following those interviewed other places:

Unlearn Your Pain by Howard Schubiner
The Great Pain Deception by Steve Ozanich
Defying the Verdict by Tamara Gurin
posted by Jenny'sCricket at 12:14 PM on February 16, 2020


For a non-woo, evidence-based approach to this question, I'd recommend looking into Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Living Beyond Your Pain is focused on chronic pain, or you can read more about the ACT approach in general in A Liberated Mind.
posted by soonertbone at 2:46 PM on February 16, 2020


Tender Points by Amy Berkowitz
posted by CancerSucks at 1:14 AM on February 18, 2020


Also came here to recommend The Body Keeps the Score. It's changed my life too
posted by Zaire at 9:44 PM on February 20, 2020


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