Some science behind the scenes

Psychosomatic medicine

Psychosomatic medicine is an interdisciplinary medical field exploring the effect the mind can have on bodily health.

The term psychosomatic still invokes negative reactions in some less than helpful people.  When one says ‘it is all in the mind’ the implication is that the person is imagining it, but in fact the term psychosomatic actually means that our state of mind plays a very large part in determining whether we are healthy or not.

It is one of the few branches of medicine that regards the body holistically, although it does so by involving numerous disciplines, as opposed to a single multi-disciplinary person viewing the body and mind as a whole during the whole process.    

Background

This interplay between mind and body has been recognised for thousands of years, it is only recently that the wisdom has been lost.  In the medieval Islamic world the Persian psychologist-physicians Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi (d. 934) and Haly Abbas (d. 994), for example, made a detailed study of illness that was due to the interaction of the mind and the body. They found correlations between patients who were physically and mentally healthy and between those who were physically and mentally ill.

Wikipedia

In the beginnings of the 20th century, Franz Alexander led the movement looking for the dynamic interrelation between mind and body……. And since the 1970s, due to the work of Thure von Uexküll and his colleagues in Germany and elsewhere, biosemiotic theory has been used as a theoretical basis for psychosomatic medicine. Particularly, the unwell concept and the theory of organism by Jakob von Uexküll has been found useful as an approach to describe psychosomatic phenomena.

The causes of illness

 The majority of illness is caused by pathogens – toxins, bacteria, viruses, fungi, heavy metals, nanoparticles and parasites.  Added to this list rather sadly these days are pharmaceuticals. 

Illness can also be caused by physical damage, both direct injury and surgery.  Other causes include hypoxia, nutritional deprivation [including all forms of imbalance in vitamins, minerals etc] and radiation.

The last major cause is however, stress and trauma, but this can have a direct impact and an indirect impact.

Our state of mind affects the immune system.  A severely troubled mind affects the competence of the immune system, and thus a troubled mind allows whatever pathogens are in the body, to get a hold.

For instance, while peptic ulcer was once thought of as being purely caused by stress, later research revealed that Helicobacter pylori caused 80% of ulcers. However 4 out of 5 people colonised with Helicobacter pylori do not develop ulcers, thus the ability of the immune system to counteract the bacteria plays a very significant role.

There are some physical diseases that are directly caused by stress.  Illnesses such as high blood pressure can be caused simply by the constant invocation of the sympathetic nervous system as a consequence of stress.  The 'fight and flight' response in us produces higher throughput of blood in order to deal with the ‘dinosaurs’ – the dinosaurs that are no longer there physically, but mentally may be all around us.  Fear, stress, grief and high emotion can all produce direct effects.

The same negative emotions can also cause unconscious tensing of muscles or trapped nerves, often in the ‘symbolic’ areas associated with the problem we face.  Thus if we feel burdened by responsibilities, we may get shoulder pain.  If we feel we can no longer stand on our own two feet, we get knee and leg pain, if we feel heart broken, the muscle that is our heart can break!

 see Types of hurt and organs.

The symbolic correlation between organs and pain appears to be hard wired into us.  Few people who get the pain consciously associate it with a mental state.  Those with lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema, for example, often feel they are being  ‘suffocated,’ trapped, and unable to escape some problem they have.

Wikipedia
… whilst it is necessary to identify if an illness has a physical basis, it is recognized more and more that the effort to classify disorders as purely physical or mixed psychosomatic and physical is increasingly obsolete, as almost all physical illnesses have mental factors that determine their onset, presentation, maintenance, susceptibility to treatment, and resolution.

We still have some way to go before there is acceptance by the medical community as a whole that the body is a functional unit, not a mechanical thing. 

The medical community still consider “the power of suggestion”, and the use of "positive thinking" or concepts like "mind over matter" to be pseudoscience, whereas they are just extensions of the same idea. The placebo effect is also an extension of the same idea.  Belief plays a much greater role in our health than we realise.

If one can become ill from negative emotion, it should be possible to help cure via positive emotion.  The technique of ‘tapping’ for example, which in practise shows remarkable efficacy in releasing tension and emotional pain, is also regarded by the medical community as a pseudoscience, even though it too is simply an extension of the body mind interconnection.

Shamanic healing and psychosomatic medicine

 Shamanic healing has long recognised the connection between mind and body.  Belief in ‘spells’ by a person was often enough to help them on the way to recovery.  The invocation of the ‘spell’ positively affected their belief in whether they could be cured and by believing, their own healing processes were invoked. 

Unfortunately in those susceptible to this sort of mind body control, negative ‘spells’ could be just as effective.

A Summary of the observations

The observations which contain actual examples of healing taking place via the power of the mind over matter have also identified some other useful facts about this area

Triggering the immune system

Although we may think that positive emotion heals, the observations show that the immune system is triggered by one off THREATS and sudden negative events, a shock then relief from the shock.  In other words it takes a shock or sudden negative event to get the immune system to work, especially in people who have been ill for some time.  Negative events – threats or even the threat of a negative event can provoke cures.  Many cases of the success of placebos require them to be a threat.  So it is better if the ‘medicine’ tastes awful, is described as being ‘dangerous’ [even if it is inert] and is perhaps coloured – red, black, all the colours of danger and threat.

The will has its place

There are examples of people who were absolutely determined they would not be ill and managed to cure themselves that way.  They directed their Attention to the region affected, accompanied by the expectation of a positive result, without the administration of inert drugs and by doing so they willed themselves well.  Strong minded individuals succeed better than their opposites in this

" The surest road to health, say what they will,
Is never to suppose we shall be ill ;

Doctors can be the cause of illness

If we ignore for the moment the problem of symptom and not cause based medicine, there is still evidence that doctors cause illness.  The lack of empathy, the use of terrifying words, the diagnosis of ills from symptoms only and not proper tests, causes – from what we can glean from the observations – a great deal of sickness.  People get so stressed and worried about what they have been told they have, that they become ill or get worse  

Some, if not many cures are achieved by invocation  of the parasympathetic nervous system as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system, simply because only when the parasympathetic nervous system is working is the immune system able to function effectively.  ICUs, hospitals and the way they are run and medical procedures generally cause untold stress and fear.

Most of those evils we poor mortals know
From doctors and imagination flow."

Sleeping heals

Deep non dreaming sleep heals, it allows the body to repair itself untroubled by the commands of the will or the lessons from dreams.  Whilst dreams may help solve psychological problems, only very deep sleep [or coma] heals effectively.  There is one interesting addition to this fact, however.  Hypnosis appears able to put people into this very very deep sleep state, as such hypnosis may help heal insomniacs – both of their insomnia and their illnesses

Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.
The influence of [hypnotism/hypnotherapy], when carried to the stage of " nervous sleep” must be regarded as among the secondary effects of psychophysical agents. Sound and refreshing sleep in cases of insomnia is no insignificant blessing; and we have no doubt there may be instances in which to produce it by acting upon the mind, is more beneficial in the long-run ….

Attention and its intent is very key

Where one becomes sick – the organ or organs affected -  is greatly affected by where one directs one’s thoughts, consciously or subconsciously.

Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.
The great principle which appears to be involved in all, is the remarkable influence which the mind exerts upon any organ or tissue to which the attention is directed, to the exclusion of other ideas, the mind gradually passing into a state in which, at the desire of the operator, portions of the nervous system can be exalted in a remarkable degree, and others proportionately depressed ; and thus the vascularity, innervation, and function of an organ or tissue can be regulated and modified according to the locality and nature of the disorder.
Potent as is the influence of mere Attention directed to a particular region of the body, it may be neutralized by a contrary Expectation, and intensified by Faith and a vivid Imagination

 

Observations

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