When the medical profession can't explain those physical ailments

So you've been to your GP, had all the tests, and been told that there is nothing physically wrong with you. Yet you continue to experience distressing symptoms, so you know that something isn't right. One option for you is to seek a psychological cause, to try and understand the connection between what goes on in your mind and what you are experiencing in your body. I can help you with that, just like I helped one client, who I will call "Mona". Here is a summary of my work with Mona (where I have removed or changed any identifying details for the sake of confidentiality).

Mona had terrible pain in her shouders that had persisted for many months. She visited her GP many times, but there appeared to be no medical explanation for her pain. In order to get through the day and to get some sleep at night, Mona had begun to depend on strong painkillers. She was able to get some relief from seeing a physiotherapist, but this was always temporary. Mona's physiotherapist, aware that she was treating the symptoms rather than the cause, suggested that she come to see me for psychotherapy. Listening to Mona talk about her early life, I noticed that she didn't show any signs of anger, even when referring to situations that caused me to feel angry on her behalf. It became clear to me, as she talked about the family by which she had been adopted, that Mona found it difficult to distinguish between anger and aggression. Outside her conscious awareness, she had made the decision that anger was wrong and she needed to avoid it and be a "good girl" in order to remain acceptable in her new family. I began to be curious about whether Mona's shoulder pain was the result of holding in her anger. There certainly were recent events in her life that most of us would be angry about if they had happened to us. Mona used psychotherapy to learn how to recognise angry feelings, accept them and vent them safely. Some way into this work, she started to forget to take her painkillers, and then later she stopped taking them. Her shoulder pain was gone.

Whether or not we are aware of it, trying to hide our emotional pain can give rise to physical pain. Likewise, as demonstrated by scientific research, many illnesses can be caused or worsened by what goes on in the mind. If this is a possibility for you, the good news is that some effort made in the process of self-discovery can enable you to feel better, or sometimes to get well again. And if you need help with that, then give me a call.

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© Gill Sweeting