Psychic pain: the body bearing the brunt
Our bodies are trying very hard to tell us something about how our lives, jobs, relationships and attitudes affect our body. If we do not pay attention to our feelings and the messages from our bodies, then our bodies will assume we do not enjoy life and will somatise as its way to express unprocessed thoughts and feelings.
Dr Margo de Kooker, a medical doctor who specialises in the field of behavioural medicine, confirms what Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has proven that:
….what happens in our minds at the level of our perception….can have real effects on… our immune system. This concept is not new, and the ancient wisdom has always encouraged us to focus on maintaining a ‘healthy’ mind in order to maintain a healthy body. It is only now that we are able to prove and understand the connections….
Many people experience psychological hurt and trace this to an early trauma, either a single event or an on-going situation. Often the consequent of pain trauma is the result of stored up undischarged emotion. Hurt becomes localised in a particular part of the body where it can manifest as a physical discomfort, or even dysfunction. Intermittent headaches, disturbances of sight and hearing, digestive problems, irritable bowel, back problems and aches in the skeletal muscles are just a few conditions that can have psychogenic origin.
‘the sorrow that has no vent in tears makes other organs weep. The body does its own ‘thinking’.
Henry Maudsley (British psychiatrist, 1835-1918)
Many people describe an accumulation of unexpressed feelings and have a feeling of increased pressure within their mind and body and then try to abandon their painful past and implement distractions and drugs which are not the proper response to their feelings.
People have a hard time paying attention to their body and feelings and live instead solely in their head and thoughts because to experience their feelings fully is a painful process. Healing psychic pain requires you to engage with it within a relational setting. It’s the antithesis to the self-destructive methods we create in an attempt to heal. Paying attention to the messages from within our body helps understand the internalised messages that others (such as parents, teachers, clergy, doctors etc) have imposed upon us. These somatic communications must be listened to and rendered symbolic through language.
Sharing your experiences with a trained listener would mean entering the realm of a therapeutic relationship. The therapeutic relationship provides a safe container that allows one to move fully and completely to feel the presence of Self while in the presence of another. This connection provides the foundation for change. A counsellor who is able to face whatever the person is experiencing nurtures the therapeutic relationship. Without a therapeutic relationship, there is no therapy. Good therapy helps people to process and complete whatever hidden and unhidden wounds they have harboured. Healing requires feeling. As it is said, "If we can feel it, we can heal it."
Enlightenment consists not merely in the seeing of luminous shapes and visions, but in making the darkness visible. The latter procedure is more difficult and therefore, unpopular." ~ Carl Jung
To find out more about psychotherapeutic counsellor Deborah Kerr visit her website: www.deborahkerrcounselling.co.uk
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