They passed off chronic fatigue this way for ages, but most damningly, stomach ulcers were falsely believed to be due to stress, aka “all in your mind” in the WORST and most damning and limiting meaning of that, and Barry Marshall, the guy who researched and found that they were due to a bacterial infection, actually had to infect himself and then treat himself to get the reality across:
[quote]Can you describe the received medical wisdom about ulcers before your research?
Peptic ulcers became more common in the 20th century, at the same time that these theories of Freud and other psychoanalysts became popular. And somehow those meshed, and this tradition emerged that ulcers were caused by stress or turmoil in one’s life. I don’t know where the data came from, but there was this idea that stress caused high acid levels; maybe there was a small amount of evidence for that, although I haven’t been able to find it when I’ve looked. Anyway, all those things added up to convince people that ulcers were caused by stress. There was no proper data of any kind. It was smoke and mirrors as much as anything else, but terribly convincing for everybody.
Are you saying that there was no basically no empirical evidence to support the stress-and-acid hypothesis?
You can always find stress in someone’s life if you want to. You ask a few questions and eventually it’s, “Yes, I admit, I was worried about something recently.” So they tried to find evidence for stress causing ulcers, and whenever they had an experiment which worked, it would just be blown out of all proportion, and everyone would get so much publicity out of it that you would think, “Ah, at last, it’s proven.” But the data was very bad. And in fact there was plenty of evidence showing that stress didn’t make much difference.[/quote]
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Much the same thing has happened with eating disorders, the behaviours of anorexic people that are commonly attributed to them being crazy were also found in the psychologically healthy young men in the Minnesota starvation study, and therefore at least begin as a reaction to being malnourished… a lot of stuff is psychological in life, but the state of the body affects the mind far more often IMO.