Offended patients

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    Any good tips on how to prevent patients from getting angry with you when you try to explain Mind-Body and how to adjust your technique when a patient does begin to get angry with you because they are offended at the Mind-Body paradigm (the idea that it’s all in their head even when you do your best to avoid giving that sense).
    Thanks, Rachel Hollander

    Dawn HarvieDawn Harvie

    It’s hard, because it’s such a delicate balance. I often compare it to the red flush and heat of embarrassment – an individual has no control over that – the brain just makes it happen. Or butterflies in the stomach when you’re nervous. Chronic pain/symptoms are the same. It all happens behind the scenes in the brain. I also like that these examples relate a physical symptom to an emotion/feeling.


    I was worried about this a bit at the beginning of when I started doing this work. I had just a few patients that got offended early on. The vast majority did not. I find that I am better at explaining it now and almost never have a patient who is offended. If they start to question and start to get offended, I completely support them and say ‘I totally get it! That is very normal. Many of my patients have the same thoughts. Our brains evolved to connect pain in the body with damage in the body. But ALL pain is created by the brain whether it’s from damage in the body or not.’ I also use examples people know well. I often use stage fright – you could get a headache, stomaches, dizziness, tingling… All those symptoms are very real, but nothing is wrong with the body. I’ve also started explaining that the danger center of the brain that filters the information coming in from the world is in the primitive side of our brain. But it’s our conscious brain that decides our behavior like running away from a tiger or not moving our broken hand. The unconscious brain DECIDES if there is danger and then has to communicate that to the conscious brain. The ONLY way it has to communicate is through our body in the form of symptoms. That is the language of the two parts of our brain. I also bring up my own experience with chronic pain as well and say even though I KNEW this was only from my brain, when I was overwhelmed with symptoms it was very hard to believe in that moment.

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