Let's go over a brief explanation of your field, which is called Rehabilitation Psychology. You said in an interview once that Rehabilitation Psychology has to do with the physical conditioning of someone through the mind. What do you mean by that exactly?
I break it down into three different components: the brain is like the laptop, the hardware is the body and the software that runs it is the mind. The mind is very, very closely connected with the brain and body to the nervous system. And ultimately when you are struggling with chronic pain or chronic medical conditions and you find yourself not having the right mindset, what happens is it tends to impact the other aspects: the brain and the body.
So having the right set of mind, for example having more compassion for oneself and learning to recognize that everything that your mind says is not the truth, is important. When it comes to chronic pain, when we buy into all those thoughts it really runs havoc in both our brain and body.
One thing that many people find surprising about this sort of approach to treating chronic pain is that the work you do often yields great results for patients with whom many physical biggest treatments have failed. Why do you think that is?
I think it's because we're looking for the needle in the wrong haystack. What I mean by that is it's not that those treatments - I call them traditional medical or biomedical treatments - it's not that they are wrong or not helpful. It's just that it does not complete the whole person in the healing process. The mind, again the software of the brain and the body, is really crucial. In fact, when treatment fails it's not so much that it failed, it actually hit its limits, like a credit card.
What the mindbody work interventions can be used for, just as curable does and as I do in my office, is to basically expand on it. Just think of having a greater set of loans or a higher credit card limit so to speak. We're able to expand on where biomedical treatment leaves off. So I basically put patients in the two categories: pain recovery and pain management. And where pain management stops (the traditional medical treatments) that's where pain recovery can pick up, if the patient is open and receptive to a different approach that is.
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