Projecting Belief Systems onto Health Struggles

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

September 20th, 2012 • Patient AdvocacyPrint Print

Yesterday I had yet another conversation with yet another well-meaning person who felt perfectly comfortable telling me, uninvited, the certain cause of my health challenges – yet again, surprise surprise, purportedly energetic/spiritual in nature. Because, you know, a car crash can’t possibly trigger pain, environmental toxins can’t possibly cause cancer, and an upside-down, profit-driven medical system can’t possibly exacerbate or otherwise interfere with effectively resolving either.

What fascinates me is that someone’s decision about the supposed root of my health condition is the direct result of what information I share with that person. If I share the distress I have felt about my dad, that’s the cause. If I share the struggle I have had with the Jewish community, that’s the cause. Without having more than a quick peek into decades of a very dynamic and super-packed life, without taking into consideration the plethora of ways that I regularly have released distress in healthy and transformative ways, that individual will decide, point blank, that X issue caused Y health condition.

Not only that, but the people who make these assertions do not even demonstrate the humility to acknowledge that this possible scenario is their own belief system. They simply present it as fact. Take the conversation I had last night: When I challenged this well-meaning individual on her unsolicited judgment about the root cause of my experience with chronic pain, she said, “I understand the bigger picture.” In other words, I am misguided in my earthbound, tunnel-vision about how health and wellness works, but she has the larger, cosmic understanding of how and why these things happen. Later in our conversation, she referenced my “sensitivity” about this issue. You know, as opposed to my “insight” into it.

Projections are the most annoying when they are not even recognized as such. As are judgments. I find that the most judgmental people are, hands down, the ones who run around preaching non-judgment.

But worst of all is when Person A has not only the arrogance to presume they know how this universe works, but also the blatant insensitivity and disrespect to tell Person B, uninvited, why Person B is suffering from fill-in-the-blank. These kinds of interactions encourage people to be less trusting and less open. Which I think is profoundly sad. When someone is suffering, the decent and humane response is to support that person in alleviating the suffering. Period.

I have written a number of blog posts on this theme. Today I’m collecting the ones I could either remember or find, for your consideration and reflection.

Obsession with Diagnosing Pain May Obfuscate the Cure

Pain and Suffering

Symptoms and Causes

The Law of Attraction is Bogus: An Interview with Larry Dossey, MD

Can You Stomach It?

The Law of Attraction: Shirking Social Responsibility

Spiritual Meaning Behind Chronic Pain: Interview with Brad Lemley, Editorial Director,

What You See Does Not Equate What You Get

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