Psychosomatics: What's it All About?
There is a lot of scientific evidence suggesting there is a clear connection between our mind and our body, which can manifest in the form of illness or physical discomfort. This idea is not new. For centuries our ancestors worked with our body through the psyche or the other way around. It is called psychosomatics. Dr Ryke Geerd Hamer developed a method he called German New Medicine. I have found that this method has a polarizing effect. It is one of those controversial ideas that people either love or hate. Which is why I apply it in my practice alongside integrative therapy and life coaching, depending on the issue and if the approach resonates with the client.
Dr Hamer said: "Through the millennia, humanity has more or less consciously known that all diseases ultimately have a psychic origin and it became a "scientific" asset firmly anchored in the inheritance of universal knowledge". He conducted extensive research with thousands of patients relying on MRI and other diagnostic methods, recording his findings and results. In the end, he was able to conclude that disease is caused by a shock for which we are unprepared. This idea became one of the major points of the Germanic New Medicine's therapeutical approach. Our body is a brilliant system designed to persevere. Survival is the main programme of our body, and it is going to do anything possible to accomplish that. For example, if we catch a virus, our temperature rises, and phlegm increases in an attempt to expel the infection. But we often get frustrated and uncomfortable about this inconvenience and try to stop our body from aching, so we can go back to our regular life as quickly as possible. Psychosomatics suggests having faith in your body and trusting that whatever it is doing; it is reacting in the most effective way based on millions of years of evolution. I am not suggesting that people should not take medications or go to doctors. All I am saying is, trust yourself, believe that whatever your body is doing now is the best possible option in the current state. Then the stress level goes down, which helps with the recovery. I understand that it is easier said than done, but nothing is impossible with a little practice. That is the first principle of the psychosomatic method.
The second principle is to do with the psychological conflicts that we sometimes have to deal with. Our modern life can be overwhelming, dominated by information overload, work, family and relationship pressures. And we are supposed to succeed in all those areas, simultaneously. We have to be the best parent, career-driven professional, have a full social life, be cultured and stay informed, take care of our body, fight the ageing process, and so much more. Just imagine the level of stress and pressure we are experiencing every single day. It is one of the reasons why our mental health suffers, and sometimes we get stuck with a particular issue. We try to solve it at the "upper level" of our body (our mind, brain). If this does not work, then the conflict "goes down" for our body to process it. Now, remember the first principle - the body has to survive at any cost. It receives a signal from the brain that we are at significant danger, that we cannot cope, and need to survive. The body deals with the problem in its own way by producing a headache as a signal to slow down and rest, by decreasing our energy level, giving us stomach problems, skin conditions, and so on.
Let's take migraines, for example. People suffering from migraines know how intense the pain and discomfort can be. It burns, it stabs, it shuts you down for up to three days. It completely takes over your life. There is no treatment; insurance doesn't cover it as an ongoing condition; no one knows when or why it happens, and what to do when it does. It forces you to lay down, rest and disconnect from your thoughts and life. In that state, you can't even watch tv or read a book. All your body tells you is to STOP. According to Dr Hamer, most of the times migraines have psychosomatic roots. According to Andrea Taddei in his 2012 book "Headache is a biological conflict: Dr Hamer's New Medicine", migraines are related to biological conflict rooted in thoughts like "I feel intellectually devaluated; I am not able, I can't do something, someone told me I did something wrong". Situations in which we feel intellectually devaluated can occur at school, in the family or with friends. It can also have a connection with fulfilment and our current position in life. Interestingly, I have seen migraines go away once we work through these psychological issues.
Another example of psychosomatics is skin conditions. Often, Eczema is not treatable and occurs in early childhood. According to Germanic New Medicine, the condition is related to conflicts having to do with physical contact. It could be a desire of the physical touch or on the contrary, wanting to be left alone. It is either too little contact or too much. Think of small children suffering from skin conditions. The mother needs to go back to work and worries about her baby being without her. The child knows that something is wrong but cannot process this information. Mother and child get stuck in this conflict; the child's body reacts by growing extra skin sells "for protection", to make the skin thicker. Up until age 6-8 children are emotionally connected to their parents. Therefore they "read" the emotions directly. For this reason, in my practice I work with parents, and not children, to address children's issues.
Psychosomatics establish a direct connection between stress, fears, emotions, and our body's reaction. The problem is when those psychological issues have not been resolved, and our body tries to "fix it", by creating more cells or increasing fluids and phlegm to remove something that shouldn't be there, and so on.
There is a very effective method proposed by Dr Hamer to deal with such psychosomatic conditions. First, we start by identifying the problem. I recommend double-checking with a doctor to rule out a serious medical condition. Once we have established that it is a psychosomatic issue, we start a deep and lengthy conversation, trying to identify when and how it all originated. The main idea is to find an event that triggered the whole process. Depending on the person and the condition, sometimes one session is enough, but sometimes we need more time. The work is conversational, but I might suggest meditation and hypnosis. Once a client understands when, how and why it all started, we work on finding a safe position in life. It is a very particular process for convincing our brain that that stressful situation is not dangerous anymore. The effect can be almost immediate, but it might also take a couple of days, even weeks depending on the condition.
I find it fascinating how clever our mind-body system is. And how little we still know about it! Take care of yourself, be happy, and stay healthy!