PainSci Member Login
Submit your email to unlock this audio content (and any other stuff for members). If you can’t remember or access your registration email, please contact me. ~ Paul Ingraham, PainSci Publisher
Found! 🙂 Member content on this page only has just been unlocked. To unlock member content on all other pages for a month, see the confirmation email just sent. (If it doesn’t turn up in your inbox, check your spam folder! Email can also sometimes take a few minutes. If it never turns up, just contact me.)
Found, but… you are not an active PainSci member with website privileges, so this content cannot be unlocked. See your confirmation email for more information about your account.
Not found! 🙁 Sorry, but that email address is not in the PainSci database.
⚠️ Sorry, too many lookups right now. This is a rare error. It should go away if you try again in a little bit.
Privacy & Security of this form This login is private and secure: the information you submit is encrypted, used only to search for matching accounts, and then discarded.
Russian wellness influencer Zhanna D’Art has allegedly died from taking her own advice: a “fully fruit-based-low-fat diet” probably caused malnutrition and infections that finally killed her. There have been many deaths by self-help like this over the years, but they are certainly out at the edges of the bell curve. For every tragic death by self-care, how many less extreme cases are there? People feeling merely rather or somewhat unwell thanks to their misguided wellness optimizations? And then rationalizing and justifying their symptoms as part of the process, maybe a “healing crisis”?
Or, worst of all, how many misinterpret their symptoms as the reason for their efforts? “I feel awful today, so I should eat even more fruit.”
Distrust of doctors, medicine, and science is rampant, of course, and more people than ever are trying to help themselves. Long ago, a popular blog post went viral by arguing that “animals just like you have been taking health into their own hands and paws for millions of years.” Cute, quotable, and there is some truth in that, of course … but it also rings hollow for the victims of dire medical problems and chronic pain, and countless less serious problems that just cannot be “hacked.”
Chronic pain in particular seems to inspire quixotic and reckless self-help experiments, probably because pain is damned motivating, and because there is no other kind of help to be had. And so I have witnessed many cases of people who pursued futile, expensive, and risky self-help strategies — believing themselves to be “educated” and “empowered,” when in truth they were far from it. I don’t know anyone who has died trying to treat their own pain, but I have personally known dozens who suffered more than they had to, and seen clear evidence of hundreds more examples in my correspondence and on social media.
Human animals are really not innately good at “taking health into their own hands.” Indeed, we routinely screw it up royally! We are tormented by countless afflictions utterly beyond our power to prevent or treat — with or without professional help. “And so it goes” (Vonnegut).
Whether you’re getting help, or trying to help yourself, the focus should always, relentlessly be on what is cheapest, safest, and most believable. That’s great in theory, but humans struggle greatly with these. We are rotten with magical thinking and seemingly itching to win a Darwin Award. Exhibit A (out of millions of examples):
Seriously, non-human animals are way better at self-care than this. They do not, at least, actively sabotage themselves. As one commenter put it, “Hubby is going to need one less onion sock in the future.”