Excel At Life--Dedicated to the Pursuit of Excellence in Life, Relationships, Sports and Career
CBT Jealousy Depression Relationships Conflict Self-efficacy Happiness Goal-setting Motivation Wellness Sport Psych

Popular Articles

Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Happiness is An Attitude

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?

Popular Audios

Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

PsychNotes Index

More PsychNotes: Physical Health

March 11, 2016       
print

If You Are Sick, Does That Mean You Are Irrational?
by Monica A. Frank, PhD

Reading the controversy regarding research showing Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) can help improve symptoms for those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I came across this quote: “These theories presume and insist that patients are not medically sick but simply suffering from dysfunctional cognitions that need to be changed (Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2016, quoting David Tuller, lecturer in public health and journalism).”

Such statements represent a common misunderstanding of MCBT. This person quoted above as well as many others, even those in the health field, use cause and effect reasoning where it doesn't exist. For example, I've heard people state that children who are abused are likely to become abusers. However, this statement is a cause and effect misinterpretation of the research that shows adults who abuse were likely to be abused as children. These are two very different concepts! Many people who were abused as children don't become abusers although most people who abuse children were abused themselves.

This same reasoning creates misinterpretations of research regarding MCBT. Many people bristle when psychotherapy is recommended for their medical symptoms because they think that must mean the medical professionals believe their symptoms are "all in their head." However, just because changing irrational thinking and developing a more mindful attitude can help improve physical symptoms does not mean that illness is caused by irrational thinking. Instead, a secondary factor is involved. In particular, when people have illness and experience stress (even that caused by their illness) their physical symptoms of that illness may worsen.

Thus, teaching people how to better care for themselves when under stress can reduce physical symptoms of illness—including heart disease, diabetes, colds and flu. And, likely, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. However, that does not mean irrational thinking and lacking a mindful attitude caused the symptoms in the first place.

An article of mine explains this in much more detail: A Brief Primer on the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help. Another talks about how you can use these methods to better manage physical illness: Mobilizing Your Body's Resources: Healing from Illness or Injury.

Kindle Books by
Dr. Monica Frank



Recent Articles

Analyzing Your Moods, Symptoms, and Events with Excel At Life's Mood Log

Why You Get Anxious When You Don't Want To

Why People Feel Grief at the Loss of an Abusive Spouse or Parent

“Are You Depressed?”: Understanding Diagnosis and Treatment

15 Coping Statements for Panic and Anxiety

Beyond Tolerating Emotions: Becoming Comfortable with Discomfort

Emotion Training: What is it and How Does it Work?

How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

When Your Loved One Refuses Help

Newest Audios

Building Blocks Emotion Training

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training