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Is Interstitial Cystitis Caused by Anger? No!

jill1114bAllright, I’m angry right now. Yes, ANGRY. Thoroughly and completely pissed. Why? Because, in 2014, an IC patient in the South of the USA was told that the reason that she had IC was because she was angry about her ex-boyfriend. Yes, he really, REALLY said that. This was after she had been diagnosed by another doctor, found to have a damaged bladder wall, Hunner’s lesions and was in serious pain. His treatment suggestion? Get psychological therapy.

Yeah, right! DUDE, we’re not in the 1950’s. It’s 2014 and IC has clearly been established to be a genuine bladder and pelvic pain medical condition. In fact, new research released this year found that some Hunner’s lesions may be the result of a BK polyoma viral infection (1). Another study also published this summer found genomic variations
in patients with IC which has helped two reveal two possible subsets of the condition (2).

It pains me that some IC patients are still being dismissed so casually and, far worse, are labelled as hysterical and/or emotional. The root of that perception began in 1958 when three clinicians suggested that a woman who had been under medical care from childhood to 29 years of age with severe IC may have had “repressed hostility towards parental figures handled masochistically via bladder symptoms since infancy. (3)“ Can you just imagine how their patient must have felt? To be so ignored by her care providers, labelled as hysterical and, in all likelihood, refused treatment.


This shouldn’t be happening in 2014.

More than $100 million dollars have been dedicated to IC research in the past twenty years proving, clearly, that not only is this a real condition but that, for some patients, there is a genetic connection, as it is in my case with a grandmother, mother, aunt and sister with similar problems. IC is seen in higher rates in veterans returning from active duty. And, for some patients, IC and chronic pelvic pain may have been triggered by accident or injury to the pelvis, such as through childbirth or surgery. How dare anyone suggest that my IC is the result of my being angry! Really??

How do you think an IC patient should respond when someone says something like this?

If a doctor and the audacity to say that to me, I would respond “Then why is my bladder bleeding?” or “How does anger make my bladder bleed?” I’d explain the family connection, share the research and, basically, try to educate him. But, it would also be very tempting to just gather my things, look him up and down, and say “I deserve to be with a doctor who is knowledgeable and experienced at treating interstitial cystitis” and then walk out with my head held high.

I’d love to hear if this has happened to you or how you would handle a doctor making that judgement. Let’s see if we can give some patients some ideas on how to respond! Share your ideas on our Facebook page or below!

By Jill Heidi Osborne, MA
ICN President & Founder


1 Van der Aa F., et al. Polyomavirus BK–a potential new therapeutic target for painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis? Med Hypotheses. 2014 Sep;83(3):317-20.
2. Colaco M, et al. Correlation of gene expression with bladder capacity in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. J Urol. 2014 Oct;192(4):1123-9.
3. Bowers JE, Schwarz BE, Leon MJ. Masochism and interstitial cystitis. Psychosom Med 1958;20:296-302

By |2017-01-31T10:50:02+00:00November 26th, 2014|Awareness, Interstitial Cystitis Network Blog, Jill's Journal, Self-Help Tips for IC, Bladder & Pelvic Pain|Comments Off on Is Interstitial Cystitis Caused by Anger? No!

About the Author:

My Google Profile+ Jill Heidi Osborne is the president and founder of the Interstitial Cystitis Network, a health education company dedicated to interstitial cystitis, bladder pain syndrome and other pelvic pain disorders. As the editor and lead author of the ICN and the IC Optimist magazine, Jill is proud of the academic recognition that her website has achieved. The University of London rated the ICN as the top IC website for accuracy, credibility, readability and quality. (Int Urogynecol J - April 2013). Harvard Medical School rated both Medscape and the ICN as the top two websites dedicated to IC. (Urology - Sept 11). Jill currently serves on the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Panel (US Army) where she collaborates with researchers to evaluate new IC research studies for possible funding. Jill has conducted and/or collaborates on a variety of IC research studies on new therapeutics, pain care, sexuality, the use of medical marijuana, menopause and the cost of treatments, shining a light on issues that influence patient quality of life. An IC support group leader and national spokesperson for the past 20 years, she has represented the IC community on radio, TV shows, at medical conferences. She has written hundreds of articles on IC and its related conditions. With a Bachelors Degree in Pharmacology and a Masters in Psychology, Jill was named Presidential Management Intern (aka Fellowship) while in graduate school. (She was unable to earn her PhD due to the onset of her IC.) She spends the majority of her time providing WELLNESS COACHING for patients in need and developing new, internet based educational and support tools for IC patients, including the “Living with IC” video series currently on YouTube and the ICN Food List smartphone app! Jill was diagnosed with IC at the age of 32 but first showed symptoms at the age of 12.