The word psychosomatic is often used derisively and dismissively, as if to imply that a person’s pain or other conditions are “all in their head.”
It’s often used in cases where doctors can’t find a “cause” for a patient’s ailments.
To be fair, this is one of the given definitions of psychosomatic:
of, relating to, involving, or concerned with bodily symptoms caused by mental or emotional disturbance.
But this definition takes away from the original meaning of the word:
of, relating to, concerned with, or involving both mind and body.
The mind and body are not two separate entities. They are part of the same entity. The human body is a complex system of systems. Everything is related.
One of the things we are learning about the human body is the relationship between physical ailments and emotions.
Every emotion we feel begins as a sensation in the body. When we try to suppress an emotion, or we don’t know how to process it, it remains in the body.
Eventually, these emotions need an outlet to express. So they speak to us through the body.
Physical ailments, or sensations — like sore throat, back pain, headaches — are often signs of unexpressed emotions.
This DOESN’T mean that those symptoms aren’t “real.”
Those symptoms might be very real. They even can be measurable.
A fever can be tracked objectively. That doesn’t make it any more “real” than a headache. Both can be manifestations of repressed and suppressed emotions that need to be processed.
A fever, for example, can indicate unexpressed anger.
Consider that we use the expression “burning hot” to describe anger, even if there’s no measurable increase in body temperature that would classify as a “fever.” Other physical symptoms of anger can include inflammation, redness, and skin flare ups.
Our instinct in Western culture is to medicate uncomfortable sensations. We seek to treat the symptom — or at least to make it go away. But this doesn’t address the cause.
Your body is speaking to you. If you numb it with painkillers you can’t hear the message.