Such diseases as anorexia or bulimia are rather well known. Both of them are eating disorders: the first pertains to a person who cannot eat and gradually loses weight; the latter is, on the contrary, a syndrome of an uncontrolled desire to eat. Though these two diseases seem to be contradictory of one another, they have one common aspect: both of them are caused by a person’s mental complexes. Therefore, in this case, we can say the mind affects the body. Moreover, besides anorexia and bulimia, there are many other diseases that are caused by mental factors; researchers claim even cancer can be connected to psychological problems—severe stress, for instance (Cancer Fighting Strategies). Thus, unlike multiple spiritual traditions that try to separate mind and spirit from the body, in fact the mind and the body are connected, and impact each other.
The correlation between psychological conditions and bodily disorders is called psychosomatics. The term consists of two parts: psyche, which means mind, and soma—body. Whereas any disease has a mental aspect—in terms of how an individual copes with their illness, or as in the examples mentioned in the introduction—the term ‘psychosomatics’ is more often used to describe a physical disease that is thought to be caused, or made worse, by mental factors. For example, among those diseases that are considered to be affected by mental factors are psoriasis, eczema, stomach ulcers, heart disorders, and high blood pressure (Patient.co.uk). Another bright example of psychosomatics is hysterical pregnancy, when a woman feels so anxious about getting pregnant that she develops all the symptoms, even though she is not pregnant.
Certain specialists believe psychosomatics is the key to understanding almost any disease. For example, a famous spiritual teacher, Louise Hay, in one of her books, provides a table containing a list of diseases, their symptoms, and the emotional or psychological reasons standing behind them. Hay claims pneumonia, for instance, is caused by the feeling of despair, and a forbiddance to heal deep emotional wounds; ulcers may develop because of a person feeling consistent fear and believing they are not good enough; Alzheimer’s disease, according to Louise Hay, is caused by a refusal to deal with the world as it is, and anger (Vital Affirmations). A similar approach is shared by many traditional medicine and religious systems; however, there is no scientific proof the mind is able to cause all diseases.
It is not clear yet why some people suddenly develop psychosomatic diseases, as well as it is not clear how to treat them, especially when it comes to such cases as sudden blindness or severe pain of an unknown nature. There are doctors who specialize in treating psychosomatic disorders; psychologists and psychotherapists can also contribute to treating such illnesses (WiseGeek). On the other hand, to a certain extent, psychosomatics can help a patient to cope with their disease; well known are the astonishing effects of the placebo, which helped to cure even terminal diseases while factually being a simple soother.
The term psychosomatics displays a link between the condition of an individual’s mind (psyche) and body (soma). Theoretically, a condition of mind can influence one’s physical health—such disorders as anorexia or bulimia speak in favor of this statement. Among other diseases that are considered to be caused or affected by mental factors are eczema, psoriasis, stomach ulcers, heart disorders, and many others. Some specialists—for example, Louise Hay—claim almost all diseases can be caused by the condition of mind or emotions. However, it has not been proved scientifically. Psychosomatics can be treated—both by specialized doctors or regular psychotherapists—but it is yet unclear how to cure such disorders as sudden blindness or severe, unknown pain.
Kenny, Tim. “Psychosomatic Disorders.” Patient.co.uk. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. <http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Psychosomatic-Disorders.htm>.
“Stress and Cancer: Psychological Stress Leads to Cancer.” Cancer Fighting Strategies. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. <http://www.cancerfightingstrategies.com/stress-and-cancer.html>.
Ellis-Christensen, Tricia, and O. Wallace. “What is Psychosomatic?” WiseGeek. Conjecture, 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-psychosomatic.htm>.
“Metaphysical Causes of Illness.” Vital Affirmations. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. <http://www.vitalaffirmations.com/health/metaphysicalcauses.htm>.