If you've ever wondered whether your pain or illness could at least be connected to your emotional or psychological state, PLEASE READ THIS TODAY

Dr John Sarno has already healed tens of thousands of their pain. Even the act of simply just reading this today could do the same for you...

I have been doing some research recently into how illness and pain can be caused by or connected to the mind and the emotions. This is still such a little chartered area and my own research still tentative but I feel compelled to share with you what I have discovered so far.

First of all, an important thing to note is that when we say that an illness or pain is "psychosomatic", we do NOT mean that it is 'all in the mind' or merely imagined. If a physical problem is caused by or linked to a cognitive or emotional phenomenon, it is as physically real as a broken leg caused by a fall or a swelling caused by an insect bite.

The problem with emotional or mental causes, of course, is that they are not as easy to identify or pinpoint as a fall down a concrete step or an angry wasp that has been sat upon. The whole idea of psychosomatic illness and pain is also so new to our society that many people still find it too difficult to accept or understand how something like repetitive strain injury or chronic back pain can possibly be caused by something other than a physical or mechanical cause.

One theory: pain is created by unconscious rage

One of the leading medical pioneers in this field is Dr John Sarno who has successfully treated many hundreds of patients suffering from chronic pain in his private practice - but has also helped many more to cure themselves through the books he has written (Healing Back Pain and The Divided Mind).

What occurs in TMS (tension myositis syndrome), the name he has given to the condition he has identified as inflicting hundreds of thousands of people, is that the mind creates a strong pain in the body in order to distract the conscious mind away from the large amount of rage occurring in the subconscious mind. This rage may be caused by a single or combination of factors: strong feelings or anger, sorrow or pain from childhood or other; life pressures; anger at ageing, suppressed anger and putting unreasonable pressure on ourselves.

While all people are said to suffer from rage within the uconscious mind, you are particularly likely to suffer from TMS "If you expect a great deal of yourself, if you drive yourself to be perfect, to achieve, to succeed, if you are your severest critic, if you are very conscientious, these are likely to make you angry inside... The child in our unconscious doesn't care about anyone but itself and gets angry at the pressure to be perfect and good."

So how do you go about curing yourself?

For some people amazingly it is even enough to become aware of what is going on to instantly halt the pain. For others it may take several weeks or months. Here's a brief summary of what Dr Sarno recommends:

Getting in touch with your inner rage

The first key is to simply accept that the physical symptoms are caused by emotional rage and to focus on the psychological rather than the physical. In his practice, Dr Sarno performs a complete physical examination to reassure the patient that there is no physical cause - often having to disprove explanations that have been given to the patient by other doctors who have only be trained to offer people scientific-sounding medical explanations. Conditions like Fibromyalgia and migraine, for example, may have very credible-sounding names but that doesn't mean that doctors have much idea about their cause.

The second stage is to start concentrating on and exploring, every day, the psychological factors that you think may be contributing to your unconscious rage. Make a list, suggests Dr Sarno and then write a long essay on each item on your list. Don't worry, he says, everyone has this unconscious rage. "This program is designed to stop the brain from producing pain because it fears that the rage, emotional pain, or sadness will manifest itself and be felt consciously it it doesn't do something to distract you. You must do something to sit down and think about these things every day. This is the way the ideas get from your conscious mind to your unconscious mind. That's where they have to get in order for the brain to stop the pain process."

Basically, I guess, aim to get more in touch with your inner realm!

Second theory: Specific emotions cause specific pains and illnesses

I suppose I am presenting these 'theories' here as if they are two different theories that might perhaps even be conflicting. When it comes to the realm of the mind and emotions, however, I feel that it works in such mysterious ways that are perhaps almost beyond exact definition that different ways of explaining what might be going on might work better for different people.

Treatment of psychosomatic illness with psychotherapy has always been in existence since the time of Freud and has moved along steadily but always on the fringes. The fact that it has never made it to the mainstream does not mean that it should not and from what I have read it is often very successful. One source I read said that it was very efficient at treating bronchial asthma, duodenal ulcers and migraine in particular.

Another source that I found particularly interesting and thought-provoking was the website of a man called Ian Heath (http://www.confusion.discover-your-mind.co.uk).

The emotional dynamic of a persistent mood

What Mr Heath believes is that the psychological roots of physical illness consistst of two factors:

"These roots consists of two factors : a particular negative belief about some aspect of life, together with an emotional mood that is generated as the response to that belief. The belief is not a conscious one, and I call it an unconscous idea, whilst the mood is the emotional dynamic that maintains the physical symptoms. The intensity of the symptoms depends upon the intensity of the mood.

When the mood is active in the subconscious mind, then the physical illness is active as well. When a different mood is active, so the illness becomes temporarily quiescent.
If, through therapy or psychological support, the person is no longer troubled by the unconscious idea, then the emotional mood ceases to have any power and so the illness fades away."

Through his own experience over decades of personal exploration, his work as a hospital porter and his intense reading of autobiographies, Mr Heath has put together some ideas about the possible specific emotional dynamics of particular illnesses. Notably, for example, he links:

Head and eye aches to resentment or fear and anxiety.
Rheumatoid arthritis to jealousy ("mode of self pity")
Skin cancer to guilt ("mode of self hate")
Angina to Bitterness
Heart deterioration to Pride ("mode of hatred")
Multiple schlerosis to fear and self pity.

How do your modus operandi that impact on your health?

Obviously, of course, these are based on personal experiences and theories and certainly will not be true for everyone! I do feel, however, that they offer some reasonable food for thought.

A personal theory that I am starting to work on myself is that we can cause physical manifestations in ourselves by what I am currently calling our "modus operandi". This idea is still very much in its infancy but I am thinking, for example, that one person might go about their day (literally their method of operating) bracing themselves against the onslaught of activities, backed up perhaps by some deeper fear. Another person may constantly keep their body in a state of emergency alert. Another may retract from life in general, fearing the damage it could do them... And so on and so on. (If you have any ideas on this yourself please email them to me!)

And finally: A word on problems of lifestyle from Dr Thoman Stuttaford

And finally, to bring the conversation back down to earth a little perhaps, I liked this reply from The Times newspapers famous doctor in reply to a woman who wrote in saying that she felt her chronic fatigue, hormonal problems, digestive upsets, excessive weight gain etc had all been caused by some problems she had in her life and were now getting better since her life took some changes for the better:

"This email will encourage many people. It seems that for the reader the worst is over and she has gained insight, the greatest gift that can be given to anyone with psychological or psychiatric troubles. She now understands that a period of stress can induce many varied symptoms that will only lift when some underlying problem in lifestyle has been relieved. This rule applies not only to those with difficulties that stem from stress but from psychiatric diseases that can be labelled. Many patients with classic unipolar depressive disease, with every symptom of endogenous depression, may do well with antidepressants.

Even in these patients the final recovery and a return to their old selves only happens when some longstanding domestic or professional difficulty is removed. Often this may be impossible, some burdens are too heavy or difficult to lift and those carrying them have to struggle on with them throughout life supported (one hopes) by family, friends and their doctors."

(Life is a Bag of Revels)