“The amygdala in the emotional center sees and hears everything that occurs to us instantaneously and is the trigger point for the fight or flight response “, Daniel Goleman.
Just as I figured several years ago…it wouldn’t take long before others would finally give up searching for viral/bacterial/hormonal or other CAUSES for fibromyalgia and agree with my theory that this demon is caused by a hyper-aroused nervous system in highly sensitive persons! My book was the first to write about that and now I find that in the magazine Psychology Today , August 2011, an article written by Andrea Bartz, suggests that as well! I have laid out these ideas as: fibromyalgia= highly sensitive persons who have had acute or chronic trauma in their lives (psychological and/or physical) have developed a hyper-aroused nervous system, and an amygdala that is hyper-responsive to fight or flight tendencies. This is called central sensitization, that is being hypersensitive to sounds, stress, weather changes, light and many other conditions that can affect the nervous system and which develops slowly over time.
What has not yet been documented by those other than myself is why it is more prevalent in women. I developed this theory further than what I have just cited and suggest that because the majority of women in society are generally the caregivers of others and have developed highly intuitive, empathetic personality traits, they are more prone to a predisposition to fibromyalgia if they are overly empathetic. Therefore the next stepping stone to this theory is that highly sensitive persons are overly empathetic /overly compassionate. I realize that there are many men with fibromyalgia who also are HSPs. However, the vast majority of people with fibromyalgia are women. As roles change somewhat in society and more HSP men become highly empathetic caregivers it may be that fibromyalgia will have been under reported in men in the past. Not all caregivers are overly empathetic, but interestingly, in the hundreds of people I have interviewed either formally or informally, I have found nurses and social workers, among the professionals, to have a high rate of fibromyalgia, particularly if they themselves have experienced severe trauma in their own lives. The key is not female vs males, but rather these conditions often result in fibromyalgia: HSP, an overly empathetic personality trait, has experienced personal trauma, resulting in a hyper-aroused nervous system, that is, a hyper-responsive amygdala (which I have written about on several blogs). Interestingly, I read recently that the amygdala of children who had a mother who was depressive was larger than the usual size of the amygdala! Hmmm.. more food for thought. Could it be that these children were raised in a somewhat unstable home situation, always on the alert? Too early to even speculate about these new findings in the research. Even more dangerous is the idea that the mother is responsible for one more bad thing in a person’s life! Mother blaming has been far too common in the past.
I have one major differing theory about HSPs than the psychologist, Elaine Aron and the article written by Bartz: I do not believe that we are necessarily born with the tendency, but that it is primarily socially induced. That is why I believe that there are more women than men with fibromyalgia. However, neither the psychologists nor I, the sociologist, can prove this point and I am not sure it needs validation. More to the point, there is the possibility to change the brain and establish new pathways. Living as an HSP may be appreciating that it can be a gift, but it can also be a burden. There are numerous strategies I have described elsewhere and it is too bad that those who write about HSPs do not focus on them in order to make our lives less prone to intense sensitivity.