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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

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

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

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?


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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

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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

The Porcupine Effect: Pushing Others Away When You Want to Connect

What if You Considered Other Peoples' Views?

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?


Building Blocks Emotion Training

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Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

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Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

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Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

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PsychNotes March 2016

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March 11, 2016       

If You Are Sick, Does That Mean You Are Irrational?

by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
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.


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