Medicine’s inability to pinpoint the cause of headaches is, of course, frustrating. What if you stopped looking for a cause? Could you still get better?
A psychologist contends that finding the physiological source of pain is irrelevant. More important, he says, is that patients “understand that they must claim responsibility for their pain and learn how to live with it, no matter what physiological condition has caused it.
He continues, “It’s not the pain that’s critical and it’s not the generator of the pain. It’s the person’s pain perception. . . . The psychology of a person with pain is even more important than cause of pain.”
Sounds like something that would get my hackles up, right? Except that it didn’t.
Here’s my take on it. Claiming responsibility for pain doesn’t mean that you’re to blame or that it’s all in your head. It’s more like accepting that pain is a part of your life, no matter if you know what causes it or not. You can choose to fight against it or you can acknowledge it and learn to lessen its impact on your life.
Of course investigating the source is necessary — headaches are usually benign, but can also be indicators of a life-threatening problem. Classifying headaches as cluster or tension-type or migraine (or any of the many other diagnoses) is important too, since they have different treatments. But once you have a diagnosis, do you really need to know the cause?
I want to know what you think. Is finding a cause for your headaches important to you? Is “claiming responsibility” just a euphemism for “think positive“?