A psychotherapeutic exploration of the meaning of Fibromyalgia

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Howard, Georgia
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BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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A psychotherapeutic exploration of the meaning of fibromyalgia; the syndrome which does not have a specific aetiology it is a diagnosis given when all other possibilities are ruled out. Medically it is an unsatisfactory diagnosis. Difficult to treat and its management is multifaceted. Doctors, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, physiotherapists and social resources are used in the treatment of this syndrome. Because of the nature of this research the emphasis is on its meaning. Why does the body cry out with chronic pain? What has been ruptured that emanates such pain? What caused this invisible wound that is relentless in its expression? Firstly the exploration will focus on the literature that expresses the meaning of pain both emotional and physical, on how as human beings we experience emotional pain finding the earliest experience in object relations theory. The research will explore the meaning of pain and loss of the object, how the object is incorporated and what that means. Researching hysteria will give rise to whether fibromyalgia is a hysterical symptom or not. Investigating the manifestation of physical pain and gaining insight into trauma in the psyche will broaden the research to find links to a sense of meaning in this chronic pain. To broaden the sense of meaning in the research and for the research to be non-bias, a combination of professionals were used in the interviewing process. One GP, one Psychiatrist and three psychotherapists were interviewed, reflecting the fact that fibromyalgia is managed using a combination of care. Pseudonyms were used to protect the identities of the participants. A qualitative approach was used to allow for an in depth exploration of the participants’ sense of the meaning of these symptoms. Semi-structured interview style was used using questions that were aimed to explore their personal sense of the meaning of 5 fibromyalgia (See Appendix 1). The interviews were transcribed and thematic analysis was used to report the findings. The findings will report the answers to the questions and will also contain additional information which came up in interviews, which was then elaborated on and investigated further in subsequent interviews. Largely the emotional influence on the symptom was prevalent in all interviews. The discussion will focus on areas that had not yet been thought of. And will include areas for further research. Author keywords: Fibromyalgia, widespread chronic pain, loss