THERAPEUTIC THURSDAY:—Veteran’s Day — Psychosomatic Symptoms

Psychosomatic symptoms or somatization is defined as the tendency to experience psychological distress in the form of physical symptoms.  Research found 14 common symptoms that  includes chest pain, fatigue, dizziness, headache, edema, back pain, shortness of breath, insomnia, abdominal pain, numbness, impotence, weight loss, cough, and constipation.

The brain and the body are intimately intertwined, the brain sending out innumerable signals and instructions to the body every second, the body receiving them and sending back perhaps just as many. In Buddhism, the mind and body are considered “two but not two,” a concept meant at least partially to reflect their complex interdependence.

Further, evidence is beginning to mount that our physical brains and our subjective experience of them—that is, our minds—are also “two but not two”  so the idea that an emotional disturbance could be translated into a physical symptom shouldn’t be too surprising.

Another mind/body connection is referred to as  conversion disorders, that is where the pain from an intense emotional trauma too awful to face becomes “converted” into a paralyzed limb, a paralyzed voice, or, paradoxically, an inability to stop moving a limb or limbs.

However, even when a patient accepts their symptom is being caused by an emotion-an exceptionally difficult barrier to surmount—the trauma that caused the symptom in the first place is often shown to be so ugly that both patient and doctor can readily understand why the patient’s mind converted it into a physical symptom in the first place: even the mind itself believed the emotional trauma to be easier to handle that way.

Physical symptoms often get better with a pill. Emotional traumas  take ‘time’ to heal.

Alex Lickerman, writes we may all experience psychosomatic symptoms to some degree, but when our symptoms are shown to be so and we accept it, that acceptance becomes the most important step toward resolving them.  Dealing with somatization only requires us to bring to the table one quality: courage.


DrBev is a National Certified Counselor, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a Certified Gestalt Psychotherapist, Seminar - WorkShop Facilitator, Radio Personality, Author and President and Educational Director of DrBev Mental Health Counseling.
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