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Old 24-02-2024, 02:36 PM
Found Goat Found Goat is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2019
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Psychosomatic Ailments, Disorders, And Disease

That the mind can and often does affect one's physical health is something most of us understand, but how understood is mind-body relations within the medical profession?

My interest in psychosomatic disorders is largely a result of my occasionally to regularly experiencing the power of the unconscious mind in relation to the appearance of bodily effects.

In saying this, I am not simply speaking of, say, being organically aroused at the sight of an attractive young woman -- this, a normal and everyday cause-and-effect which most men can relate to -- but in the sense that the unconscious can also produce real sensations and physical effects of a not necessarily medically recognized nature.

Personally, I have undergone bouts where I know the cause of a seemingly medical ailment I've been experiencing to be in large part, if not entirely, psychogenic in origin, only to find myself at a loss as to who in the medical field to turn to for professional assistance. Commonly, however, after a few days or weeks, the symptoms disappear on their own, and my equilibrium is restored.

Genuine somatogenic ailments notwithstanding, there is something to be said for the psychosomatic diagnosis.

A state of nervousness, for example, may cause a person to sweat...and not simply due to a heat source. A shy person stands in front of an audience to speak, which leads to his face turning red...and not because he suffers from high-blood pressure or alcoholism. For some women, the mere sight of a heartthrob can make their tickers beat faster...but do these ones necessarily suffer from hypertension? A claustrophobic may begin to hyperventilate if finding himself in an elevator filled to capacity...and not on account of any drugs he has ingested.

In olden times, it is said that simply being in the presence of a handsome gallant would cause many an inhibited mid-Victorian lady to faint.

I read of a case in which one MD reported abnormal heart rates in his patients while in his presence, which the doc chalked up to their anxiety at seeing his stethoscope, since outside of his office remote heart-rate monitors showed their hearts to beat normally.

All these examples -- and several more could be given -- illustrate the reality of mind-body relations, and by extension, in some cases the genuine power of autosuggestion as it relates to supposed medical disorders and disease.

An overburdened man keels over from a heart-attack. To say that this person died of a damaged heart is a no-brainer and may only be partially true, if failing to take into consideration a possible psychosomatic root cause for the fatal abnormality, which in some instances might very well be entirely stress-induced. One has heard of heart disease being shown to occur more in those people with 'Type A' behavior, just as peptic ulcers may in some cases be (partially) stress-related, as well.

To emphasize, psychogenic is to be distinguished from psychoneurosis. In the case of the latter, an example may be given, as in reports of women believing themselves to be pregnant, only for medical examinations to uncover no physical cause for such a belief (a condition termed 'pseudocyesis'). Which is to say, when speaking of psychosomatic ailments and the like, often various stressors are involved, stressors which can produce a genuine organic effect (often in those with weak constitutions), be it an upset stomach upon hearing disturbing news, chronic muscular tension about the upper back and shoulders, etc; whereas, in the case of psychoneurosis, no bodily effects actually occur and whatever anxiety is felt is strictly the result of an overactive imagination.

That the psyche or the unconscious has the power to upset one's autonomic nervous system, to throw it temporarily out of whack, for example, this I have experienced for myself, as one who is inward and who thus tends to internalize or 'bottle up' his feelings. Or in the case of a relative of mine who's a chronic worrywart -- gastrointestinal issues are experienced.

All this is obviously not to suggest that organic ailments and disease of an entirely physical -- as opposed to psychological -- origin do not occur, nor is this intended to belittle the admitted value and importance of allopathic medicine, but only to show that in some cases it is difficult to tell the difference between the psychosomatic and somatogenic symptom; an understanding which I think many within the medical community fail to appreciate.
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