I’m sure that you’ve heard about the human body being a perfect self regulating machine. For example, our bodies take care of keeping the glucose levels in our blood in optimum condition. When glucose levels get high, the body creates insulin that transforms the sugar in the blood into energy, and when it gets too low, the body will let us know by creating dizziness or a feeling of sickness so that we can eat something. All of this is the result of the body’s self regulation system: It is not necessary to think in order to make our hearts beat, or to make our hair and nails grow. Our body takes care of all that by itself. We aren’t conscious of this process. In other words, we are unconscious.
Our psyche works very much the same way, as it also regulates our stress level. So if at a psycho-emotional level we are living a difficult situation (it doesn’t need to be difficult to others but we perceive it as difficult to us) and this pressure exceeds our limit of stress, our psyche will self regulate by utilizing our bodies to create a psychosomatic response that will shift the stress from the psyche into the body, which in time will be somatize in the form of an illness or physical symptoms.
Therefore, if we can understand this, we will also understand that the disease is not something that comes at random, but has a precise biological meaning, and is born of a psycho-emotional conflict.
Carl Jung, a well known Swiss Psychologist, said that “disease is the effort made by nature to heal a man”. In other words, disease is the way our biological system tells us of a psycho – emotional conflict, thus giving us the opportunity to heal. In this “new” paradigm, disease stops being something “bad” that we must appease, and becomes a message or a metaphor that represents the emotional conflict experienced.
Here there’s a story that illustrates this:
A man goes to eat regularly at his mother-in-law’s house with his wife. He usually doesn’t like going since his mother-in-law always judges him for not having a steady job. So he keeps going just to make his wife happy. He gets to the house, and while they are eating dinner, his mother-in-law begins talking about her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, to whom she was engaged before. She expresses her admiration for him and his successful career as an medical doctor. The mother- in-law ends up saying, “what bad luck you’ve had, my dear daughter, in marrying this one instead of that one!” One hour later, the man ends up in the hospital with gastroenteritis.
What is the reason for gastroenteritis?
Let’s take a look at the gastroenteritis symptoms: stomach ache, diarrhea, and vomit. Gastroenteritis comes from a virus and typically, it is said that it comes because we ate something that has gone bad. But other people ate the same thing…. or almost the same and no one else got sick. What did this man eat that was different? For him it was the “condiment” that his mother-in-law added to his meal with her words. So when this man has diarrhea, his small intestine (in charge of absorption and assimilation of nutrients) refuses to absorb and assimilate the nutrients (words) coming from his mother in law; furthermore, he wants to get rid of them, so he gets diarrhea. Once we become aware of the emotional conflict that brought upon a symptom or illness, we have the capacity to solve the problem by changing the way we live and feel about the situation. That is, we don’t have to change the situation, but rather change the way in which we live and feel about it. When we do that, we become coherent with whatever we are living, and that situation will not create an emotional conflict or symptom. But this isn’t always easy, and maybe the person doesn’t feel able, at least for now, to change his or her perception. It is possible that at the moment the person doesn’t know how to live the situation in any other way.
In that case, in order to reach the level of coherence necessary to help reduce psycho emotional stress, one needs to move into action. This means that we need to move in a different direction and do what feels right or necessary to do even if our new direction is not approved by many.
In our story: has the man created gastroenteritis because of his mother in law? The answer is no. He created the illness because of the way in which he took the criticism and comparison made by his mother-in-law. He could have understood why his mother-in-law was doing that and not have gotten upset at all. Difficult? Maybe. But we also have another way of being coherent: Stop going to have dinner at his mother-in-law’s place, even though this decision could not be socially approved and he could be judged as a bad person.
This option is only valid if I am not feeling resentment, if I am at peace with her. Because if I continue to blame her for what she says or thinks (I am still judging her), I could still get gastroenteritis or something else. Remember that the subconscious mind doesn’t distinguish between real or virtual events, that is, whatever you imagine that is happening or will happen for your subconscious mind is already happening.
In short, our emotional and biological health go hand in hand. To keep our health, not only must we be capable of adapting to any situation, we also need to develop our capacity for coherence and sow in our hearts the seed of understanding and forgiveness.
Saúl Pérez Sánchez