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Book Review: Fibromyalgia and the MindBodySpirit Connection

  [ 782 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Janet Mizrahi • • October 23, 2000

If you suffer from fibromyalgia and you read one book all year, let it be Fibromyalgia and the MindBodySpirit Connection. Easy-to-read, packed with information and upbeat, this book will give you the tools to help you heal yourself.

The books author's, William B Salt II, M.D. and Edwin H. Season, M.D., are both physicians who have dealt extensively with FM patients in the clinical setting. They approach fibromyalgia in a way that explains how the physical aspects of the condition are affected by the mind and vice versa.

The first part of the premise requires understanding that the mind and body are not separate, distinct entities. This being true, it doesn't make sense to classify problems as stress or emotionally related or caused by physical problems. The two interact.

The authors explain that the traditional medical setting, as a result of how it examines problems, often needs that differentiation, which result in terms like "psychosomatic" or "functional." Drs. Salt and Season counter with, "We don't like the terms. They carry a negative connotation and seem to most people to mean that the pain is phoney or imagined."

Their process is divided into seven steps: Connecting Mind, Body and Spirit; Learning about Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain; Healing with Diagnosis and Education; Making 'The Connection'; Emphasizing Self-Care and Wellness; Managing Your Fibromyalgia; and Taking Action If Symptoms Persist.

Dr. Salt recently spoke to ImmuneSupport about some of the ideas in his book. Here's what we discussed:

ImmuneSupport: Do the 7 steps discussed in the book have any link to the 12-Step Programs?

Dr. Salt: Not by specific design; however, both include a spiritual dimension that can amplify and enhance healing.

ImmuneSupport: How did you get interested in treating FM?

Dr. Salt: Most patients who consult with me have functional digestive tract symptoms--real symptoms that cannot be explained by medical testing. Many to most also have other bodily conditions, such as fibromyalgia, that also are not explainable by medical tests. Evidence is accumulating that an important common denominator in all of the functional bodily illnesses and syndromes (e.g., FM, IBS) is abnormal sensory processing involving the central nervous system. This appears to be a consequence of alteration of the central stress response of the central nervous system and body.

ImmuneSupport: Why do you think the FM population is so skewed to women?

Dr. Salt: No one knows. We suspect that women process stress and emotion differently than do men, and that stress and emotional distress play an important role in FM and all functional illnesses. Hormone differences between men and women may also contribute.

ImmuneSupport: Can a non-religious or "spiritually challenged" person experience the benefits of the mindbodyspirit connection?

Dr. Salt: MindBody Connection healing is a system that depends upon an assumption of personal responsibility and of personal motivation to develop and utilize psychological, interpersonal, and physical skills and capabilities in healing. Thus, the focus is upon personal attitudes and lifestyle, which are key factors in healing with FM, regardless of a person's spiritual perspective. However, the spiritual dimension of the Connection can further impact personal attitudes and behaviors and enhance MindBody chemistry.

ImmuneSupport: Being chronically ill is depressing. How can someone pull out of the downward spiral to begin to heal him/herself?

Dr. Salt: Chronic illness can be worsened through a constant focus on illness, through continual concern as to the cause of symptoms, and by the loss of control over one's body. By accepting that the first stage of healing begins with breakdown (symptoms) and realizing that we can look at ourselves in terms of health, rather than illness, then painful symptoms that have been unbearable can begin to become manageable. The next step is
acceptance of the reality of the MindBodySpirit Connection and each individual's own power to heal through it. It is necessary to accept personal responsibility for health and healing by changing personal attitude (thought, belief, hope) and behavior (diet, exercise, stress management).

ImmuneSupport: If depression can be, as many suggest, biologically or chemically caused, can that person NOT use anti-depressants and feel better? Can the mind be that strong?

Dr. Salt: The answer is clearly yes; however, severe depression usually requires professional help, including antidepressants.

Fibromyalgia and the MindBodySpirit Connection is available at the store.

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