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Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Feb;37(4):260-4. Epub 2007 Jun 14.

Hypothesis: the chaos and complexity theory may help our understanding of fibromyalgia and similar maladies.

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National Institute of Cardiology, Mexico City, Mexico.



Modern clinicians are often frustrated by their inability to understand fibromyalgia and similar maladies since these illnesses cannot be explained by the prevailing linear-reductionist medical paradigm.


This article proposes that new concepts derived from the Complexity Theory may help understand the pathogenesis of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Gulf War syndrome.


This hypothesis is based on the recent recognition of chaos fractals and complex systems in human physiology.


These nonlinear dynamics concepts offer a different perspective to the notion of homeostasis and disease. They propose that the essence of disease is dysfunction and not structural damage. Studies using novel nonlinear instruments have shown that fibromyalgia and similar maladies may be caused by the degraded performance of our main complex adaptive system. This dysfunction explains the multifaceted manifestations of these entities.


To understand and alleviate the suffering associated with these complex illnesses, a paradigm shift from reductionism to holism based on the Complexity Theory is suggested. This shift perceives health as resilient adaptation and some chronic illnesses as rigid dysfunction.

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