The line between physical causes of pain and ailments and emotional causes is blurry at best. While Western Medicine seeks to compartmentalize these things and somehow believe that mental health and physical health are separate (as are eye health and dental health as exhibited by the US healthcare system), we’re also learning more about how trauma changes genes (epigenetics) and how mental health impacts physical pain.
When I first became involved in the bodywork and energy work scene, it was the early 2000s, and I discovered Louise Hay’s work. He book, You Can Heal Your Life, discusses the emotional causes for a variety of physical ailments. Recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia (and already medically abandoned), and dealing with the symptoms of what I now know were autistic burnout and at times meltdown, I searched for answers.
For example at the time I was dealing with quarterly stress-induced sinus infections. which Lousie Hay attributed to being irritated by someone in my life. Which on one hand was very true as I worked for a major financial company on their help desk and was yelled at daily by irate loan officers and bank personnel, most of whom were in sales positions and thought they were better than the help desk workers. So I could say that there is truth to that, but also…it gave me no direction on how to change things. And, it attributed my ongoing sinus infections to my irritation, not to the unique venn diagram between fibromyalgia, hypermobility, MCAS, and neurodivergence which I now know I’m dealing with.
And that’s the double edge sword to attributing physical ailments to emotional causes. The old “It’s all in your head” fallacy. On one hand, it is in my head because my neurodivergence affects everything. On the other, that is victim blaming at its finest and in the case of Louise Hay, spiritual bypassing.
We see this in the world of Western medicine too. Instead of treating the physical pain someone is dealing with, right now the suggested course of action is to give them antidepressants, because they’ve been shown to help. I’m a huge proponent of mindfulness to help me deal with my mental health conditions and pain, and yet, mindfulness alone can’t heal everything. It helps, but so does an ice pack.
I encountered this double edge sword recently when my back became extremely angry for no reason. I’m sharing this story with you because I feel like it perfectly encapsulates the situation. When I broke my tailbone in December, I learned I have osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and spinal scoliosis in my lumbar spine (and arthritis in my sacroiliac joint). While I’m a large bodied person approaching fifty who has worked desk jobs, this is understandable, but the degree goes beyond that. My back is the way it is due to being a 24/7 caretaker for my mother without any support or help. Let’s put a pin in that, because the lack of support is big.
When my back became angry, I thought “just for kicks” I’d look up what Louise Hay has to say about back problems. Since an MRI isn’t in the budget, and I’m hesitant to go the doctor for pain anyway due to past gaslighting, I’m not above trying everything I can at home.
Louise Hay says that back pain is caused by a lack of support.
I laughed. I really did. Because a lack of support explains so much about the past ten years and let’s just say, I literally feel that lack of support in my bones. So on one hand, such thinking is true. A lack of support did indeed cause my back issue. However, telling me that, a proverbial clue-by-four over the head from the universe, also doesn’t provide any support–HA!–or help the issue. It’s still up to me to resolve it.
That’s the other side of the sword. We can be very valid in discussing emotional causes of physical ailments. Ask anyone with anxiety how their stomach feels. But unless you’re willing to provide support and help someone, rather than dismissing it with the individualistic, it’s all up to you to fix, then all you’re doing is adding pain on top of pain. And that’s not helpful at all.
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