Rudolf Hausner: I am Id

I do not know if you have noticed that when you are stressed, when you are sad, it is much more frequent for you to get sick. This is because the mood will affect your health and your health will affect your mood.

If we make a quick historical-philosophical review this will help us to put this phenomenon in context and understand a little bit more. In the golden times of the Greek culture, Aristotle and Plato proposed that as humans we have a soul. For Aristotle the soul died when the body died and for Plato the soul will survive the body. It is in the 17th century that the scientist and philosopher René Descartes makes the distinction between mind and brain, creating a dualism. Thus, a duality was created between the physical part (brain) and the psychic part (mind) as if both were separate or disconnected. This vision has permeated Western culture since then.

However, it has been shown that we are a psycho-physical unity where one will affect the other. Examples of how physical area can affect the psychic area are when, for example, the presence or absence of certain chemicals in the brain will affect our perception (delusions) and affect our mood (depression). Other times a disorder in the liver can affect the personality (depression, anxiety or irritability).

On the other hand, also the mind will express its conflicts in the body. There are two main ways in how our minds will express themselves in the body. A first form is known as the conversion disorder. The second way of expressing emotional needs in the body is a psychosomatic disorder. We will address both of them in more detail a little later.

But how do we learn to express feeling in the boy? or why this expression of feelings in the body happens?. We have to understand that when we are babies, before there is verbal language, all our feelings and sensations are going to be expressed through the body. Through crying, blushing, gestures and movements we will express what we are feeling and ideally our parents will interpret it, attend to it and put words that we will learn and then we will be able to express what we feel in words.

But it happens that when we are adults and we cannot process a feeling, we will express it within the body. To process a feeling or sensation is to be able to express and clarify with words what we feel. When for some reason we cannot express it, either because it is dangerous, conflicting or even because we are not aware of the feeling itself, then we are going to express it through a physical condition, either by a conversion or a somatization.

Let's talk about the conversion disorder: Here we talk about disorders where there is a malfunction in some organ but there is no physical damage in the body, in the affected organ. The conversion episodes are usually related to stress or traumatic incidents. These symptoms will appear suddenly. In many of the occasions the medical exams are not going to give any negative result, "everything is well" physically speaking or what is found is not enough to explain the symptom. Many times this type of symptoms is associated with the motor and sensory systems. Examples of these are paralysis, difficulty in movement, blindness, numbness, pain, tingling or numbness. They are going to express an unconscious conflict that is expressed through the body.

On the other hand, in the psychosomatic disorder there is an organic malfunction but also the affected organ will be damaged/physically affected. The psychosomatic disorder occurs after prolonged exposure to feeling such as stress, frustration, anger, anxiety or sadness. The main symptom is that the immune system is going to be affected and the defenses will decrease making you more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Other types of frequent psychosomatic diseases are: asthma, high blood pressure, colitis, diabetes, acne, ulcers, tumors or even cancer.

We can see now the importance of listening to our body, since it will be a clear place where our emotional conflicts can be expressed. Just as it is done with babies, let's try to interpret what the body is trying to express. Most of the time, these feelings will be conflicting ones or unconscious feelings that will not be easy to accept. Hence the importance of, in addition to consulting with your doctor, having a psychotherapeutic process where you can analyze what is happening, the feelings that this causes and so you can process your feelings and relieve your ailments or diseases. 

Pablo Munoz.