Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

A few thoughts on the limits of self-care 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

This little blog post has been making the rounds, and I like a lot of what it says, and there’s no question it’s nicely in tune with a core concept of my website — taking health care into your own hands as much as possible. And there are a great many straightforward ways to do that (like avoiding the kinds of ergonomics disaster shown in the picture). But I have a quibble …

The author writes: “Animals just like you have been taking health into their own hands and paws for millions of years.”

Hmm, yes, we have … and hoo boy does that sentiment ever ring hollow for the victims of dire medical problems and chronic pain, and even the hundreds of millions of people who struggle just with fitness, or ruinous addictions. I have personally witnessed a great many cases of people who, believing themselves to be “educated” and “empowered,” vigorously pursued expensive, risky, and futile treatments for chronic pain problems. I witnessed so many cases like this — so much bad self-help — that I decided to devote the rest of my career to trying to help all those self-helpers with better information.

Human animals are really not innately good at “taking health into their own hands.” Left to our own devices, we routinely, royally screw it up! And we are tormented with countless afflictions utterly beyond our power to prevent or treat, with or without professional help. And so it goes.