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Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

This question & answer column is for people living with chronic health challenges and their family caregivers, who want to learn to increase the odds of improving their health by learning to live with mastery & wellbeing.

I invite you to post your questions in the comments box below. When I get a certain number of related questions, I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one.

I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are relevant published articles. Wednesday posts are interviews—mostly video. Friday posts consist of questions about living better with chronic health challenges, and my answers to them.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:  This is more of the question from last week related to how it is possible for some chronic pain patients to do well without narcotics or other pain medications?

ANSWER:   In an actual study of a group of hospitalized patients suffering with severe, intractable pain, all the patients were told they would be given morphine. In actuality, only few were given the morphine; most were actually given a placebo. Amazingly, most of the placebo patients got relief from their pain!

The fact that they got relief is not surprising. The way this can be understood is that the experience of pain is largely the result of the attributions or expectancies we assign to it. Pain is directly affected by memories of pain as well as expectancies of future pain and suffering. Thus, our expectancies and cognitive attributions can serve to intensify the pain. Conversely, when we are fully present with the pain, experiencing it only as bodily sensations in the present moment, there is a diminution of suffering even if the intensity of the pain itself remains constant. That happens when we are able to disengage from thinking.

That process is explored in depth in my new book entitled In Your Own Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions—Mindfulness-Based Practices for Mastery and Wellbeing, which is just about to be released (mid Feb 2014).

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.

What questions do you have about how to live better with chronic health challenges that are related to the relationship between states of mind and health? 

Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box. I will post a reply to your comment, but your question may not appear in this column. 

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