Did you know that if you are experiencing migraine headaches, digestive issues, chronic back or joint pain, or other chronic pain conditions and disorders, that it might be your body’s way of trying to tell you something? A Dr Sarno therapist in Arizona, which is a therapist trained in this specific methodology, can help you discover this.
The latest research in psychology has been putting an emphasis on somatization, or how feelings and experiences show up in the body. It turns out that the body can store information that is not in our conscious minds, meaning our bodies can know more about us that we are aware of ourselves!
The conscious mind, or awareness, will send thoughts and feelings that it perceives as a threat into the subconscious mind, out of awareness, to protect you from having to confront them. But, Dr Sarno teaches, if your overall well-being depends on you becoming aware of this information so you can properly deal with it, the subconscious will try to alert you to it through sending pain signals into the body. The pain is real, it is not imagined, but rather than coming from disease or a clear structural abnormality, it originates in the brain as a defense mechanism.
As a psychotherapist with training and experience in treating the mind-body connection, I see some common patterns and dynamics among people suffering from somatization. They include:
1) People who subconsciously have resentment or anger towards someone they love for that person being dependent on them. This can include a parent towards a child who depends on them, an adult child who feels responsible for a parent, or a person feeling it’s wrong to have critical feelings towards a spouse. On the conscious level this person loves and cares very much for the person, so any feelings of resentment or negativity towards them are too hard to bear. But subconsciously they may feel burdened or crave independence. They somatize to protect themselves from feeling guilt or shame over this desire. They don’t have to act on the desire, but if they can become aware of it and accept it as a normal reaction and not judge themselves for having a part of them that feels this way, they could free themselves of psychic conflict and the physical pain.
2) People who feel subconsciously that their life is not their own. This person may feel that doing what they feel like doing or not doing the best possible or ‘right’ thing is wrong, selfish, indulgent or deserving of punishment. These people tend to have high standards and a tendency towards judgment, but are usually more forgiving of others than they are of themselves. They somatize to protect themselves against the anger they have towards the constant pressures to do more and be better in life, and at the feeling of having to live for others rather than live according to their own whims. This person can move out of psychic and physical pain by becoming aware of how this tendency operates in their life and deciding if they want to make any changes about it.
3) People who subconsciously believe “I can’t”. These people don’t trust in their own competence and often look to the outside or to others for help and answers. They resist being responsible for themselves and may present as indecisive, clingy, fearful or obsessive. They may struggle with feelings of being unwanted and their emotional state is often tied in to how they perceive others around them are doing. Somatization becomes another manifestation of their obsessive nature and acts as a distraction from their insecurities. If they get help in quieting their fears and claiming authority over themselves, they can live more peacefully, productively and pain-free.
The first thing a person should do if they want to determine if their pain is somatization is educate themselves about mind-body conditions to see if they identify. You can find several excellent resources for this on the mind-body page of my website.
The second step is to be assessed by a medical doctor to rule out serious illness. An assessment with a doctor trained in identifying mind-body disorders (you can find a listing at www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Find_a_TMS_Doctor_or_Therapist) can determine infinitively, but with any doctor if serious illness is ruled out and no diagnoses or a vague diagnoses is given, it could be an indication of somatization.
Some people experience a significant decrease or even elimination of pain from diagnoses and education alone. However if the person doesn’t engage in adequate psychological work around the pain, they are more likely to experience a re-occurrence of pain at a later time, or the pain move into another part of the body.
The psychological aspect of recovery requires a person to get in touch with their emotional experience and identify feelings they are not acknowledging and defenses that are no longer serving them. Going to a psychotherapist, especially one with a mind-body specialty like myself, can be particularly helpful in finding mental and physical relief in the present and for the long run.
Somatization, the method for a Dr Sarno therapist in Arizona is the psyche’s way of trying to communicate something to you. It could be a long repressed part of you begging to be expressed, a reality that needs to be confronted, disconnected feelings wanting to be engaged, a belief system being challenged, or a way of being that has stopped working for you. But until you give it your mental attention, it will continue to try to grab at your attention through physical expression.
What began feeling like a curse can become a tremendous blessing. Your pain is trying to help you – it’s telling you that you are not living your whole truth. My somatization clients often start out very hesitant to come for psychotherapy, but they usually end up saying they are very grateful that they did. By wanting to bring relief and healing to their physical body, they brought relief and healing to parts deeper within them they didn’t even know were hurting.
If you’re in the NY area and want to schedule a consultation session with me to see if mind-body therapy could be helpful for you, please visit the contact page of my website. (I only have a few spaces left available in my schedule.)
For more details on the mind-body connection, please see the mind-body page of my website and my blog post Can Your Personality Be Causing You Physical Pain?
If you found this article helpful, you’re likely to know someone else who will too. Please share it, so that as many people as possible can benefit from it. Thank you.
Liz Wallenstein has a specialty in treating the emotional and psychological roots of chronic physical pain, in her NYC therapy practice. See the mind-body page of her website for details. to schedule a consultation session with her or to receive a free copy of her special report “How Therapy Can Change YOUR Life, for the Better!” visit www.LizWallensteinTherapy.com.