Somatizing and Psychosomatic Illness
What is psychosomatic illness?
Psychosomatic conditions are those that present often very real symptoms in both adults and children but have no physiological basis; in other words, the symptoms and experiences of the sufferer are caused by the mind and not actual, physical illness.
The symptoms of psychosomatic condition are said to 'somatized' and often occur during times of high anxiety and/or stress for example. Psychosomatic conditions can also worsen a pre-existing physiological condition as well as creating a completely new set of symptoms. Somatizing can have a profound affect on a person's well being, their rate of recovery from a 'real' illness and also their mental health as sufferers become more worried about their physical health.
Many children somatize conditions to avoid school for example, this is common in adults and children as an avoidance technique to prevent elevated stress, anxiety or other psychological pressures.
What are the symptoms of a psychosomatic condition?
Most commonly, a sufferer will complain of a number of physical conditions and often these will 'come and go' randomly. These conditions do not present any physiological triggers or causes.
Often, sufferers of psychosomatic conditions somatize complaints such as:
- Stomach complaints
- Anxiety, panic attacks, phobias or obsessions
- Muscle aches and pains
- Poor balance, double vision
- Abdominal distress
- Neck or back pain
- Aching muscles
- Children may refuse to attend school
- Social phobia
Who suffers from psychosomatic conditions?
Psychosomatic conditions are indiscriminate, they can affect any person of any age, however, they most commonly appear in young people during periods of high stress, especially during school exams, because of bullying, self-esteem issues and other problems which face children as they develop into adults and face their own mortality, the responsibilities and complexities of life. It seems that a higher percentage of females than males develop psychosomatic conditions during adulthood, however, during childhood, this statistic is more evenly distributed amongst boys and girls.
Why do psychosomatic conditions develop?
In children, the issue is usually one of communication. Children are by nature, socially underdeveloped in terms of their ability to communicate, especially when it comes to emotions and feelings.
Children develop psychosomatic conditions as a coping mechanism, a kind of valve used to manipulate their surroundings to be most comfortable and anxiety free for them. There are also schools of thoughts which believe that psychosomatic conditions are genetically linked; high anxiety seems to be passed on behaviorally in families and there is little evidence to suggest that anxiety is passed on through genetic instinct, however, it can not be ruled out.
How is psychosomatic illness treated?
- Anxiety reduction program
- Cognitive techniques
- Life coaching support
The combination of the first two psychosomatic condition reduction techniques above, it is possible to eliminate the anxieties which create and form it and remove the behavioral elements which drive it. By combining these with life coaching support to assist in addressing the elements that may have been the catalyst for the psychosomatic condition, it is possible to quickly eliminate it.
The Linden Method is a balanced and targeted anxiety elimination method, combining the three essential elements mentioned above to provide a structured and supportive program of recovery from psychosomatic conditions.
Author of The Linden Method® and
CEO of The Linden Centers