The term psychosomatic is often misunderstood. If we say someone has a psychosomatic illness it is easy to assume that we mean the condition is all in a person’s ‘mind’ – a figment of the imagination – unreal. This is not the meaning I attach to the concept of psychosomatic illness. I believe that many illnesses have their origin in a particular subconscious process; in other words that certain emotional patterns and psychological factors may contribute to the appearance of a physical condition in the body.
For example if I were to suggest to you to imagine eating a food that you dislike intensely – and I mean really imagine it vividly – thinking about the smell or texture of that food, or whatever it is that puts you off the most, you are likely to feel physically nauseous.
Such is the power of thought and I present this view in my book The New Cancer Paradigm. In a nutshell, a metal patterns or even a thought process can lead to a physical experience in the body.
Author Marilyn Hunter says that “it is impossible for us to be sick or injured and not have an emotional response to that, it is also impossible to be emotionally distressed or overjoyed and the body not respond to that.”
Basically what I am saying is, that if something is psychosomatic it simply means that the body and the mind are connected – that the body and mind are a complete integrated system. One does not exist without the other. If the mind is affected then the body will be too and vice versa – mind and body cannot be separated. Therefore virtually everything that we experience has a psychosomatic definition.
When considering the psychosomatic origin of chronic illnesses or cancer – surely we have to open our minds to the possibility that certain emotional or psychological factors have promoted the presence of these conditions within the body?
It is important to point out that this is not about attaching blame to illness. I am not saying that anyone who has a chronic disease or illness has ‘given’ himself or herself that illness by being negative. It is more likely that a mental reaction to a stressful situation has perhaps changed the chemistry of the body in some way or suppressed immune function thus allowing disease to become present.
The field of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) supports this theory. PNI is the study of the interaction between the nervous and immune systems and psychological thought processes. PNI has its’ origins in France in the 1800s but was advanced and developed in the mid 1970s by Dr Robert Ader at the University of Rochester.
In relation to psychosomatic disease PNI acknowledges that illness is very real and definitely experienced. However because an organic origin cannot be found PNI assumes that psychological factors, emotional patterns and a certain state of mind must be responsible for the appearance of the physical illness.
So if you are told you are suffering from a psychosomatic disorder at least explore the possibility that the person is referring to the relationship between your mind and your body, and the role that the mind plays in any physical experience we suffer from.
Many medical professionals do take an interest in the field of PNI and accept that the mind can contribute to illness. They are now taking their interest further and looking into how much the mind plays a part in illness.
The question, it seems, is no longer whether the mind plays a part in illness but more like “can we harness this capacity of the mind to reverse the process of illness and heal the body from chronic illness and cancer?”
Hopefully, Psychosomatic Medicine or PNI may provide us with the answer to this question very soon.