I was recently contacted by a researcher who was looking into the effect that our attitude to IBS can have on our symptoms, and the value of ‘positive thinking’. She was looking to recruit participants for her university study, which was clearly well-researched and entirely legit. I said that I might be able to advertise the study to the readers of my IBS website and newsletter, but after seeing her research papers I changed my mind.
Why? Well, because the research just added to the pile of IBS thought that states it is all in our head. Now, this is a difficult area, because (as the researcher herself rightly pointed out), a positive attitude has been proven to actually help recovery in all kinds of different illnesses, from the common cold to cancer.
The difference is, of course, that cancer patients do not get offered ‘positive thinking’ as the first course of treatment, or get told that their illness is the result of their own neuroses. IBS sufferers do, and this is why I object to this kind of research – it feeds the myth that we could all get better through no physical intervention whatsoever – a myth which, incidentally, the top IBS experts in the world think is bunkum.
One of the reasons why I started my IBS websites was to provide a source of info and support that never, ever blamed the sufferer for their own pain.
And that’s why I’m not prepared to help with research which urges me to consider the positive effects that IBS has had on my life, including “more time to read for pleasure” (always a source of comfort when I’m curled up in agony), and says that if I just think positively I will see my symptoms greatly improve in the short-term and the long-term. No I won’t!