Psychosomatics is a scientific discipline. Despite its 200-year history and many studies, its surrounded by speculation, which isn’t only meaningless but also harmful to health.
Myth 1: Psychosomatics Doesn’t Exist
This view of a health problem implies that it has nothing to do with a person’s mood, possible mental disorders and other factors. Many people believe that when ill health helps only drugs, and engaging in psychological work makes no sense.
And in fact?
Psychosomatics is based on a biopsychosocial model and is at the interface of medicine, psychology and social sciences. This model implies that for every health disorder, a role is at play:
- Biological factors related to our bodily health.
- Psychological factors, that is, the state of our psyche.
- Social factors – everything that surrounds us.
The biopsychosocial model assumes that the psychological factor is always present, the only question is how strong its effect is and what exactly it affects. If a person constantly has back pain, there may be a psychological factor in this condition, such as constant stress, but there are also others: sedentary work, uncomfortable chair, playing online slots Canada too much, sedentary lifestyle, and so on.
Myth 2: All Illnesses Come From Nerves
This is the reverse side of the myth “there is no such thing as psychosomatics”. Many people are convinced that only it exists in the form of a direct and rapid connection between the psyche and physical health: nervous, upset or angry – immediately there are health problems. It’s like an immediate punishment for doing something bad.
And in reality?
An immediate physiological response to stress is indeed possible. For example, before an important speech, we may sweat, our hands may shake, we may have a headache, we may want to pee – everyone will have a different reaction. But at the moment of performance or after it all symptoms disappear. This is the manifestation of psychosomatics.
However, with serious psychosomatic disorders, everything is not so straightforward and immediate:
- At the body level, stress activates the neuroendocrine, immune and autonomic systems. Constant stress can disrupt: e.g., lead to autoimmune diseases.
- At the behavioral level, stress can shape certain health behaviors: e.g., lead to eating disorders or substance use.
Processes at one level influence processes at another, potentially exacerbating or prolonging the effects of stress. What exactly will be the root cause, there is no clear answer, so working with psychosomatic symptoms is often accompanied by medical treatment.
Myth 3: Specific Illnesses Arise From Specific Emotions
“If you silence discontent, you get angina, and resentment leads to cancer” – you’ve probably heard that one too. These thoughts can speak to a person’s desire to control their condition and behave in such a way that they don’t get sick.
And in reality?
In the twentieth century, there really were such theories, but modern research has not confirmed them:
- For example, physician and psychoanalyst Franz Alexander formulated the idea that certain intrapersonal conflict directly leads to certain health difficulties. He identified seven illnesses that he believed were related to a certain personality type and character type.
- Helen Dunbar, founder of the American Psychosomatic Society, believed that character as well as family and parental relationships predispose to certain illnesses. For example, diabetes occurs in people who are rigid, stingy, meticulous and pedantic, and the development of bronchial asthma in a child is related to the type of attachment to the mother and to the personality type of the mother herself.
Although the connection between emotions and illnesses has been hotly debated in the scientific community, so far scientists have concluded that there is no connection between a particular emotion and a particular disorder.
Myth 4: You Can Cure a Disease by Self-hypnosis
“If you think you can get cancer, you really will get cancer. And since it is possible to suggest illness, it’s also possible to be cured by self-talk. Such thinking helps people at least a little to control and influence incomprehensible processes. Affirmations, visualization, autogenic training-anything but medical treatment-are used.
And in reality?
This is a dangerous delusion that can be very harmful to the person. Self-hypnosis cannot banish the AIDS virus from the body or destroy a malignant tumor. However, people who face the disease and believe in self-hypnosis do not go to doctors, and in fact waste precious time in which medicine could have truly helped him. When it becomes clear that the affirmations are not helping, it may already be too late for medical intervention.
Myth 5: Psychosomatic Specialists Are Charlatans
In this field, as in any other, there are indeed people without quality education. They just may believe in the above myths and thus harm clients.
And in reality?
There are worthy specialists, and they can help with psychosomatic disorders. They usually have a psychological or coaching background. Excellent specialists can be:
- Psychologists. They have a tremendous amount of space to work with psychosomatic disorders. The psychological factor that affects a person’s health has many components: it is not only coping strategies and reactions to stress, but also psychotraumatic events in the life of the client, the role of the family system, family scenarios that will also affect health. The psychologist will also work with anxiety, a person’s emotionality, his psychological rigidity and much more.
- Body practitioners. These are specialists who work in a chiropractic format, doing massage therapy, and interacting with the client at the body level. They can be, among other things, fitness instructors: they are regularly on the topic of eating behavior, because eating disorders also have a psychosomatic basis.
- Wellness coaches. Studying psychosomatics can be an area for a wellness coach to expand their own practice, increase their professional skills and develop their professional competencies.