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On parole: The natural history of recovery from fibromyalgia in women: A grounded theory study

Journal article
Authors Kerstin Wentz
Christopher Lindberg
Lillemor R-M Hallberg
Published in Journal of Pain Management
Volume 5
Issue 2
Pages 177-194
ISSN 1939-5914
Publication year 2012
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 177-194
Language en
Keywords Dissociation; Fibromyalgia; Grounded theory; Negative effect; Personal growth; Recovery; Self-regulation
Subject categories Psychology


Full remission of fibromyalgia symptoms is unusual and this course is unknown. The aim of this study was to elucidate psychological functioning and psychosocial processes expressed by women originally diagnosed with fibromyalgia and presently recovered. Eight women, earlier diagnosed with fibromyalgia but presently subjectively and objectively recovered, were interviewed in-depth. The interviews were analysed in line with Grounded Theory. Result: The women were as children exposed to high levels of mental load. Adult psychological functioning, prior to the onset of fibromyalgia, was characterised by insufficient definition of self and dissociation; psychological strengths were used to cover up or desert psychological ‘weaknesses’ as negative effects. Later in process an increase in mental load was accompanied by development of fibromyalgia symptoms. The phase of fibromyalgia held three dimensions; a maintained high level of load, mastering strategies as seeking alternative treatment and use of support from others. The stage of recovery or remission was reached proceeded by a pronounced decrease in mental load as improved life conditions or cease of overexertion of body and mind. The stage of conditional recovery was mirrored by the core concept ‘on parole –strengthened enough to be weak’. At this stage of process, absence of symptoms was secured by personal growth and less dissociative functioning including careful management of health needs as pacing of activity. Conclusions: Recovery from fibromyalgia seems to be a recovery on parole. Recovery appears to rely on improved self-regulation including less dissociative psychological functioning and ways of living allowed by prosperous conditions of life.

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