A Question For You

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Hello there, dear reader of my blog.  I'm curious and I want to know your thoughts on the term "It's all in your head."

Does it sound dismissive?  Does it carry suspicion from the speaker that the subject is making things up?  Telling lies?

I have my own thoughts but I'm interested in knowing if they are the same as yours.



  1. I absolutely hate it when people say that to me, which has been going on most of my life. Either I'm really delusional, it's an easy way for people to dismiss the feelings of people when they don't understand what the person is feeling or why.

    1. Ok that...um...didn't come out quite the way I meant it.

      "Either I'm really delusional, OR it's an easy way for people to dismiss the feelings of people when they don't understand what the person is feeling or why."

    2. How dismissive and contemptuous. I would like to bop every person who has been saying that to you on the nose.

      Good summation.

      What about in a situation where you have an illness? I'm thinking here expressly of CFS. For so long it was - and still is - considered a malingerer's illness, something you're making up to get out of being in the rat race or something.

      But what does it even mean? Are people referring to the brain when they say that, or what? Because CFS is certainly in the brain, but it's also everywhere else in the body. But it certainly didn't originate there. And what if it did?

      It's just such a strange term, I'm trying to grapple with what people really actually mean when they say it.

    3. OK yeah, I was going the direction of feelings, not illness.

      People used to tell me my migraines were "all in my head" (and not meaning they originated in my brain, but meaning I was making them up.) Or, I was told I was exaggerating how bad it was.

      But, people will always be dismissive of things they don't experience (racism), things they don't understand (migraines), things they can't see (CFS). Etc. (And those categories aren't all inclusive or mutually exclusive -- that is, CFS is something most people don't experience, don't understand, and can't see). I don't know what part of the human condition causes this.

      I think it's just a matter of gathering evidence, both anecdotal (your story, other people's stories) and medical research. The more people who come out and say "Hey, I experience this", the more they will be believed, the more studies will be done, and the more accepted conditions such as CFS will become.

    4. Yes, so true.

      I've been thinking of all of this stuff because I have begun doing a process called "amygdala retraining" which has proved helpful for some CFS patients. His idea is that while CFS is often or most often sparked by an assault of some sort, whether emotional or environmental or infection or whatever, that the amygdala is what keeps it going after the assault has passed. The amygdala and the mind then form a negative loop and get stuck in the "on" position and that's what keeps the symptoms firing.

      I'm open to suggestions and am possibly more willing than some to try things that may be considered cuckoo by the mainstream. If it works, it works. But it just makes me realise how touchy I've been in the past about the whole "it's all in your mind" thing and how I scrabble to remind myself of the originations of my CFS being in a glandular fever episode.

      Honestly, I want to not care so much about what other people think. Who cares what other people think? Sheesh.

      I really wish people would stop and think before being dismissive of things they don't experience. I know it's human nature to a certain extent but it's also a reasonable case of not owning your own shit - not wanting to admit or own that you are experiencing fear or whatever the underlying thing is that makes you so pricky and boingy in projecting that onto someone else who is suffering in front of you and making them feel worse by rejecting them. That's just ... cruddy. Especially when you have a migraine xo

    5. And there's the challenge: "Honestly, I want to not care so much about what other people think. Who cares what other people think? Sheesh."

      We are socialized to care because we don't live in a vacuum. However, we forget there are other people who will like us exactly the way we are, rather than judging all they believe we are not.

  2. Our brains are incredibly complex.
    Which makes diagnosis of illness stemming from psychological symptoms even more complex.

    Even with all the technology and knowledge at "our" fingertips today, no one truly understands the brain, and what is is capable of.
    There is only past - and still today, fairly crude - studies to work from and make assessments.
    There is so much yet to discover.

    But, science likes to pigeon hole and book end, so, it's not likely the brain will ever be fully understood. Not as much as they think they might.

    Which leaves comments like, "it's all in your head", very spurious, judgmental and dismissive.

    I dislike this society that condemns people with emotional trauma, psychological disorders or illness as "malingerers".

    But, it is a suspicious, un-trusting society.
    And, if it can't be seen, it can't be believed.
    Until, it happens to them, or someone they love.

    1. Yes, I don't know where that particular sort of arrogance comes from. I had this dickwad on Twitter the other day bail me up for daring to suggest that I thought the evidence for electromagnetic sensitivity was inconclusive. He told me that there have been thousands of studies done proving it doesn't cause problems in humans and I begged to differ. He informed me that I "hate science" in that case.

      Thus being the type of bastard that gives science a bad name. Generally socially inept people who can't stand to have their baby tarnished by those on the outside. He told me that unless I was a research scientist whether I believe the results are inconclusive or not are irrelevant.

      Because, like, I can't be interested on science unless I'm practising it. Excuse my language but that is such a fucktarded attitude. People who love science should be encouraging others to love it, not gatekeeping it. I understand its results are much misused but that is because the findings are complicated and complex and people have 3 second attention spans. Nevertheless ...

      So why do you think people say "It's all in your mind" when they don't understand the causes of something? (Apart from the obvious discomfort and therefore wanting to put the blame onto others. We could call this the Australian Government Syndrome). Do you think when people say "It's all in your mind" they mean the brain or the person's deficient reasoning or coping skills, or something else?

    2. I apologize. I'm afraid the US Government Syndrome is contagious. :)

      "Excuse my language but that is such a fucktarded attitude. People who love science should be encouraging others to love it, not gatekeeping it. I understand its results are much misused but that is because the findings are complicated and complex and people have 3 second attention spans. "

      Perfect! My sentiments, exactly.

  3. I feel like I can't quite say what I'm trying to say :) I feel like when people say "It's all in your mind" that they have this idea that there is a pristine space, a physical space, say, where things like broken wrists or stomach cancer dwell, and then on the other hand there's this other space, this "All in your mind" space where the problem and the fault therefore lies with you and a psychiatrist is in order. One is purely physical and clearcut and the other is murky and you are more at fault for it.

    Which is weird, seeing the brain or the mind lives within the body and they totally inform each other all the time.

  4. But then of course it comes down to the old chestnut of whether the brain and the mind are the same thing. I don't think they are.

  5. I know, and one can go 'round and 'round trying to make sense of, and can talk about for hours.

    So many people find psychological "disorders" hard to fathom/believe, because we have become such a "show me the proof" society.
    Much trust (cough) is put in science. And, while there have been some great discoveries etc., I don't believe science can, or will, ever be the, be all and end all.
    The world just isn't that black or white.

    We've lost - or been made to conveniently forget, the trust in our "selves", our bodies as a whole.
    We've given ourselves over to the men of science - doctors - to diagnose and treat us, completely.
    Personally, I believe psychs are just one step ahead of the rest of us, hiding behind their degrees.

    I shudder at the thought of how many people have been unfairly incarcerated in institutions at the hands of these "knowledgeable men of science".
    The cruel electro shock treatments, lobotomies.
    All because, "it's all in their minds".
    They believed they had to "quiet the mind" for successful treatment.
    I've seen this first hand, and the results are devastating.
    But, god help anyone who wants to debate and question this subject with fan-boys of science.

    And yes, it's always been the same as far as illness/injury goes. If it can be "seen" or diagnosed with scans etc, then it's a "legitimate" problem which garners sympathy from everyone, it seems.
    Yet, emotional trauma, illness and psychological disabilities seem to be regarded with a large degree of doubt, suspicion and sometimes, malice.
    Depression, for example, gets a bad rap from so many people who often quip, "take a chill pill" or "smile, it can't be all that bad". As if it can be switched on/off light a light bulb. Ugh.
    Depression is seen as pathetic or seeking sympathy, or worse still, trying to evade work/responsibilities etc.

    Such a lack of tolerance.
    One can feel very removed from the rest of the world due to lack of empathy and understanding.

    And, I do believe that our bodies weren't designed to cope with the constant bombardment of electric/magnetic/wireless radiation that we're exposed to 24/7.
    Electromagnetic sensitivity is a very real concern.

  6. I suppose it's as silly as saying 'oh it's all in your body'. As your comments above say, and I concur, we are integrated beings and we (faith/science) have very little understanding of it. I've been reading Gabor Mate (Mat-ey, should have an accent on it) - the Hidden Cost of Stress: When the Body Says No. It freaked me out a bit (had to skip ahead to the chapter on What You Can Do) but also is a medical approach to the mind-body connection, especially regarding emotional stress. From his perspective pretty much everything (but especially auto-immune) is, essentially, in the mind.


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