Pain Disorders and Health Concerns

From the early days of psychoanalysis we have known that often times psychological pain can manifest as physical pain – and vice versa. We use the term “psychosoma” to try making sense out of this phenomenon: the body and mind/soul are fundamentally enmeshed by design. To try separating this interwoven web that intertwines body and psyche is unnecessary and unhealthy. To be human is to be both body and soul.

Modern research regarding visits to primary care physicians reveals that roughly 80% of these visits have a significant psychological component either causing or sustaining the physical symptoms that need relief. On the other side of the coin, as a psychologist/psychoanalyst, I am deeply aware of how much someone’s physical concerns can be creating emotional distress.

For many who are suffering from chronic pain and/or health concerns, what is needed is a team approach to find the root causes behind the suffering and treat those causes. For example, if you have gastro-intestinal challenges (as most of the population does), you may need to get to the bottom of some important questions: have you had the necessary screening tests to rule out serious issues (e.g., a colonoscopy or similar preventive tests)? Have you worked with your physician and/or a functional medicine practitioner to help you discover what food allergies or intolerances you may have? Functional medicine practitioners focus on getting at the root of issues and may test you for toxins and molds and even parasites (and more!). Working in therapy you will also discover the sources underlying the stresses that make and keep you vulnerable to infections or pain, and what to do to about that stress.

Most everyone I have worked with over the years who have had to deal with ongoing pain or health challenges has needed someone to understand and care and talk about their journey. They fear that they will wear out their families and friends, but they need so much to talk. And there is much to talk about!