Dangers of Self-Diagnosing

by Ronda Behnke ND, CHom, RN


With the high cost of medical care, many people are choosing to delay medical treatment until they either cannot figure out what is wrong with them, or they have diagnosed themselves already, and their findings have suggested medical care.

There are many avenues one explores when looking for a diagnosis of the set of symptoms they are experiencing:

The first one is to talk to friends, family, and co-workers, to see if anyone else has the same, or similar, set of symptoms. The majority of people can determine right away what is wrong based on what they are told by someone they trust. Uncle John had these symptoms and he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The person then finds out what Uncle John did, and makes a determination if they want to pursue the same course of action.

Although sometimes this can be revealing, it also clouds the judgment of the person currently experiencing the symptoms. The person may quickly seek medical care because of the findings, or they may avoid medical care out of fear they would have the same treatment and outcome as Uncle John.

The second-most common way people self-diagnose is through the internet. Today people can diagnose themselves and find out what the medical community recommends, AND what others with the same diagnosis have done. This website says I have asthma and recommends I see a doctor, but Jane Smith’s website said she cured her asthma with a supplement.

Although the internet is a great source of information, anyone can have a website and publish anything they want. If a person doing research for a diagnosis stumbles across unproven remedies or treatments, a person can delay medical treatment for a life-threatening condition by trying the remedy or treatment they found on a website. People tend to believe the written word more-so than a spoken word, leaving many people using supplements and taking treatments because Jane Smith was healed by using them.

The third main category of self-diagnosing is some form of muscle testing or pendulum testing. Muscle testing is also known as Contact Reflex Analysis (CRA) and kinesiology. Muscle testing and the use of pendulum are ways to ask questions and get a yes or no response based on the reading. For muscle testing, a muscle stays strong (yes) or weakens (no) based on the answer of the question. For the pendulum, it swings according to a yes or no answer to a question.

There are several drawbacks to self-muscle testing. The first is that it is very inaccurate. To muscle test effectively, you have to not be thinking, which is impossible if you are asking questions. Also, your own emotions get in the way. If you are afraid of the answer, then you will get an answer that does not cause increased emotions. For example, if you are afraid of a diagnosis if cancer and you ask if you have cancer, you will get a no reading even if you have cancer; or you could get a positive “yes” answer when you ask yourself if you are pregnant because that’s what you want to hear.

Also, sometimes your own beliefs cloud the answer. For example, a person I had known many years ago came to see me because she was ill; she had self-muscle tested herself, and came up with the diagnoses of Bubonic Plague and Typhoid Fever. She wanted to know what she should do. I told her that if she truly believed she had either of the illnesses that she should go to the hospital immediately. I knew she had neither of the illnesses, but she had thought she did, so she needed medical care for proper diagnosis and treatment. As most of her illnesses of the past were emotionally-related, I felt she was doing herself harm by suggesting to herself that she had these illnesses and felt she needed medical intervention for her mental instability more than for the cold virus she actually had.

Another draw-back of muscle testing is that you can only ask questions that can be answered by a yes or a no. The person themselves need to know what to ask. In the example above, the lady didn’t know what to ask for a proper diagnosis, so she picked out a book about terrible illnesses and went down the list. Because she felt she was terribly ill, she didn’t ask herself if she had the flu, or a cold, or something that wasn’t life-threatening. Her emotions clouded her answers; she wanted a diagnosis that would give her the attention she needed so people would know she was terribly ill.

This lady chose not to seek medical care after seeing me, however, because she decided to muscle test herself to find what natural supplements she needed to feel better. Not only did she self-diagnose, but she also self-prescribed. This is another drawback of self-diagnosing: self-prescribing. If muscle testing is not accurate with the diagnosis, it will not be accurate with the treatment recommendations either.

Of the three most commonly used methods of self-diagnosing, muscle testing is the most dangerous. It is easy to use; so many people can make life decisions based on the findings. It is also very limiting, as the right questions need to be asked, and the questions can only be answered with a yes or a no.

Diagnosing needs to be done by a competent health professional. Researching on the internet or talking with friends, family, or co-workers is a good initial step when you are not feeling well, but there is no substitute for a health professional. If you feel you have a life-threatening or disabling symptom, seek medical care immediately. Self-diagnosing can be inaccurate; don’t trust your life or fate to what you hear or read, and definitely do not trust self-muscle testing results.

Best wishes,
Dr. Ronda Behnke

Disclaimer: The information presented by Dr. Behnke is for educational purposes only. It is important that you not make health decisions or stop any medication without first consulting your personal physician or health care provider.

This article cannot be reposted without the expressed written consent of Dr. Ronda Behnke.