Archive for the ‘Stress Illness Causes’ Category

Stress, Illness and Competition

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

A match for the Women’s World Chess Championship recently finished in Tirana, the capital of Albania.  The winner was incumbent champion Hou Yifan, a 17 year old from China who won the title last December, the youngest ever.  The pressure on her was enormous for several reasons.  The weight of national pride was heightened by the fact that Ms Koneru, her 24 year old challenger, is a native of India, China’s geopolitical rival.  Ms Koneru had also surpassed Hou (slightly) in the world rankings.  In addition, prize money for the match winner was more than $50,000 greater than for the loser.


How Physicians View Stress Illness (3)

Friday, April 29th, 2011

In the last two posts, we reviewed a quotation from Dr Jerome Groopman that highlighted two common physician errors, the first being to lump together all patients with medically unexplained symptoms and label them hypochondriacs.


Stress Illness and Shared Responsibility (2)

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

As described in the last post, in the future we can teach physicians who practice diagnostic medicine to be aware of Stress Illness and to ask a few key questions.  (See the screening questionnaire on the Overview page of this site for examples).  When they uncover significant stress, they can offer the patient referral for a Stress Check-Up, where a more detailed evaluation for stress is done by a mental health professional.


Stress and Parenting (4)

Friday, January 14th, 2011

The article about the Chinese “Tiger Mother” (described in the last three posts) reminded me of another issue of key importance for the 55% of my stress illness patients who have survived dysfunctional childhood environments.  Often they struggle to perceive accurately the long-term impact of this experience.  There are a couple of reasons for this, most simply that they have no parallel life to contrast with their own experience.  More subtly, part of surviving a difficult environment involves suppressing your emotional reaction to what is happening.  When this is done repeatedly, in later years it becomes difficult to look back and accurately perceive what took place.


Stress and Parenting (3)

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Continuing the comment from the last post about the article Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.  Another concern I have about the author’s parenting choices is the absence of any perspective on the limitations it places on her own life.  The approach to her daughters is tremendously demanding of time and emotional energy.  Of course she has every right to allocate these resources as she thinks best, but giving a little more time to her career, husband or other interests is not considered.


Stress and Parenting (2)

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Continuing the comment from the last post about Amy Chua’s article in the Wall Street Journal titled Why Chinese Mothers are Superior. To achieve goals the author has for her daughters, she imposes high levels of pressure and coercion.  There is a significant risk that this will result in long term damage to their self-esteem.  This damage is the common denominator in my patients whose symptoms are linked to their childhood experience.


Stress and Parenting (1)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

An article making the rounds of my social network, titled Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, was published January 8, 2011 in the Wall Street Journal.  The subheading is “Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games, and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?”  The author, Amy Chua, was born soon after her Chinese parents arrived in the U.S.  She is a professor at Yale Law School and the article is excerpted from her forthcoming book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  The article has generated over 2500 comments in three days.


Stress Illness in other cultures

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Physical symptoms connected to stress are reported in many cultures.  Abraham Verghese, MD is a professor of medicine at Stanford University in California.  His critically acclaimed novel Cutting for Stone (Vintage Books, 2009) is narrated by Marion Stone, a 50 year old surgeon born in dramatic circumstances at a hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Dr Ghosh practices Internal Medicine at the hospital and early in Chapter 12 there is a description of some of his work.


Psychosocial Context (2)

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Continuing from the last post,  recall that in my practice a large majority of over 7000 patients with medically unexplained symptoms were referred due to failure to grasp the their psychosocial issues.


Psychosocial Context (1)

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

The health care system has a strong bias toward viewing people as purely biological organisms.  This approach ignores two critical facts: