The brain is an enigma for scientists, and its dynamics are not so simple to be easily deconstructed and understood. As the modern medical world inches towards a more profound unraveling and a better understanding of the complexities of this 10 trillion-celled mass called brain, the last century has seen considerable progress being made in realizing (pardon me for not using the word ‘understanding’!) the connection of the mind with the physical body. This quest has also contributed to the discovery of an entirely new set of afflictions that can be described as psychosomatic disorders.
The term psychosomatic disorder defies a clear-cut definition. But broadly, the term mostly refers to physical disorders whose causation lies in psychological or emotional factors. For example, a particularly stressful event, like grief or bereavement arising from the loss of a loved one, may in one individual trigger high blood pressure shortly thereafter or even a heart attack. In another person, the same sense of grief might result in a peptic ulcer or a series of asthmatic attacks. A third individual, equally grief-stricken, might not show such symptoms of sickness at all.
Mental and Emotional Triggers
Social and psychological stress can trigger or aggravate a wide variety of diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), leukemia, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Even ailments like colitis, spasm, Basedow’s disease, and dysmenorrhea mostly manifest psychosomatic causality. Certain cancers like lung cancers are also believed to be triggered or aggravated by emotional and psychological stress.
Various lifestyle diseases like anorexia nervosa or enuresis, which have an unusually high incidence among adolescents and women, are popular examples of psychosomatic disorders. They are believed to be rooted in psychological factors such as lack of self-worth, social or peer pressure, depression, etc.
Other common ailments like bronchial asthma are also many times a manifestation of psychological and emotional conflict. Scientists believe that often respiratory disorders such as asthma and dyspnoea are rooted in the “protection” instinct or the “breathing space” instinct. The emotional stress arising from being denied mental or emotional space, from suffering a sense of suffocation, or from being denied a sense of affirmation can be the causative factors contributing to the lungs feeling constricted, leading to a difficulty in breathing and gasping for breath. Asthmatic conditions can also be a manifestation of a subconscious desire for protection or be triggered by acute grief or mourning.
Psychological Defense Mechanisms
Another typical example of psychosomatic affliction is skin disorders.Experts believe that many skin diseases have their roots in emotional distress or “separation conflict,” which arises from a fear of being separated from loved ones – be it parents, partner, progeny or peers. In such cases of emotional stress or distress, the skin loses epidermal cells, or begins to lose sensation, or peels off, becomes flaky and rough. These physical symptoms, such as loss of epidermal cells, are nothing but often a psychological defense mechanism to protect against a future fear of separation.
Even the incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease pertaining to the auto-immune nervous system that affects the neurons, is often attributed to emotional trauma or psychological stress. The psychosomatic causes of MS could range from grief, anger, dejection or suppressed emotions such as hurt or humiliation in personal or professional relationships.
Psychological afflictions like depression can also suppress the immune system, making a depressed person more vulnerable to even uncomplicated infections, such as those by the viruses that cause the common old.
So can the mind (brain) alter the activity of white blood cells (blood cells responsible for the body’s defense mechanism) and thus an immune response. If so, how does the brain communicate with the blood cells? After all, white blood cells travel through the body in the blood or lymph vessels and aren’t attached to the nerves.
Research corroborates the existence of psychosomatic causality.
For instance, an ailment such as hives or urticaria manifests both mental or physical causality. In the same way, a problem like stress, which is triggered by psychological factors, has physical manifestations even though no physical ailment exists. Some of the physiological manifestations of psychologically-triggered stress could be a rise in blood pressure, heart rate, increase in sweating or muscle pain in various parts of the body. All these are a reaffirmation that many disorders are rooted in psychosomatic causality.
Homeopathy’s Synthesis Approach
A skilled homeopath shows a deep understanding of this relationship between the mind and the body. His great masters like Hahnemann and Kent have taught it to him. Homeopathy entails taking a holistic view of wellness, and ascertaining the physical factors in consonance with the emotional or mental triggers to get the big picture. The hallmark of the homeopathic approach to disease is an assimilated view of the multiple causalities of ailments, be they mundane or significant disorders. Homeopathy favors a synthesis approach to treatment that does not segregate the psychological causality from the physical manifestations.
The homeopath ensures that chronic cases like a migraine and peptic ulcer, which have their origin in a mental trauma or prolonged stress, disappear with a few doses of a correctly prescribed homeopathic medicine.
The holistic approach of homeopathy does not segregate the mind and body when assessing causality. Rather, homeopathy has an assimilative approach that examines both physiological as well as psychological causality when diagnosing a patient.
This acknowledgment of interconnectedness is not merely a vague, impractical concept. Homeopaths base virtually every homeopathic prescription on the physical and psychological symptoms of a sick person.
Psychological symptoms often play a primary role in the selection of correct medicine. Several schools of psychologists categorize people into certain psychological or characterological types. Others in medicine, genetics, and sports may classify people on the basis of various body types. Homeopaths, in contrast, acknowledge certain ‘body-mind’ types. They determine their medicines based on the constellation of physical and psychological symptoms. The homeopathic treatment is highly scientific and artful, thus making it by far the best treatment for psychosomatic disorders.
The biggest advantage homeopathy offers is its assimilative approach towards causality and cure.