“Psychosomatic”

I am rather embarrassed to admit that I had three major medical episodes in the past that were all psychosomatic in nature.

The first occurred was when I was living in Germany. I had a whole host of physical symptoms, most notably severe sharp pains in my chest and referred pain in my back. The doctor I saw, Dr. Stoeppel, ran a battery of tests and when everything came back normal, he let me have it: “I zink your zymptoms are psychosomatic.” His prescription was for me to join a gym and get regular exercise, though my wife would instead come up with her own prescription for me: a nature walk through a river and mud and stones in the German forest. I remember being in pain and afraid during the adventurous nature walk. Eventually, however, all of my symptoms would disappear completely in the days thereafter. This, after having been symptomatic for months.

The second time was when I was living in NY. I somehow got it in my head that there was mold in our apartment. On a daily basis I experienced nausea and vertigo. We ultimately had a thorough mold inspection conducted and the recognition of there not being a mold issue in the apartment allowed for a complete resolution of symptoms. Gone … within a matter of days.

The third instance was also in NY after a minor neck injury. Over a year of excruciating pain and I would finally find the doctor I was looking for. This wonderful diagnostician, after a thorough exam, explained to me that there was nothing structurally wrong with my neck and that the two small herniated discs seen in my MRI weren’t enough of an issue to cause me the amount of pain I had been experiencing. He prescribed two targeted stretches, which I barely did, and the book The Divided Mind, by Dr. John Sarno.

Although I had been in physical therapy for four months and was in excruciating pain, I became completed healed just three weeks after I saw the good doc and finished reading that book. It defied explanation. I simply had no more pain. Just reading the book cured me of all my pain symptoms. Sarno even says in the book that for some patients, simply reading his book will be enough to cure them. It certainly worked for me.

In all of these instances, I had nothing physically wrong with me, with the exception of the two small herniated discs in my neck that could potentially even be seen in a normal person due to aging. It was the recognition that I was OK that eventually lead to my healing.

With ME/CFS, however, it is more complicated, significantly more complicated. As we know, physiological changes take place in the body in this multi-system illness that won’t just go away by simply reading a book, going for a nature walk, or having a compassionate clinician tell you that nothing is wrong.

But if it’s not psychosomatic, then could it be psychogenic—when something originates in the psyche but causes a physical change in the body? Unlike psychosomatic, where there are only symptoms and no physiological changes, it’s still the same place of origin: the mind or brain.

Though this notion is highly controversial when it comes to ME/CFS, is it still worth considering? Well, I felt that it was in the beginning stages of my illness, and it is the sole reason why I started seeing a psychotherapist. Because Dr. Sarno, the late author of The Divided Mind, prescribed cognitive-analytical psychotherapy for his patients with extreme cases of pain and in some instances fatigue. After all, this was the man that had changed everything for me with respect to my chronic neck pain. At the time, as far as I was concerned, he should have won the Nobel Prize.

But then I reread his book The Divided Mind while ill with CFS. I even implemented some of his techniques, such as daily journaling, for example, where you just put down everything you are feeling on paper. Much time passed and between therapy and journaling and daily affirmations and gratitude journals and more reading, nothing happened. There was no positive shift. My health didn’t improve and in fact I got sicker. Now severely chronically ill and bedridden, I feel confident in saying that I gave it my best shot to try and heal myself from this so-called somatoform disorder that had been ascribed to me by many doctors again and again.

Fortunately, my condition was properly validated when I finally saw my very first ME/CFS specialist over six months ago. And so it goes.

Comments

Hello @Cloudyskies......I think everyone had given up on me and I was sent to my first osteopath. Boy, what a goldmine. Little were both of us to know that he would die within 4 years, but what he taught me in the meantime is something that I'll always hold on to, and I do.

Even to this day, the first thing I do when there is any body movement is "to let my body talk back." Now we're talking probably 30 years later and it's still a truth. It's surprising how much junk is filtered out with those words and a few minutes of being still and allowing yourself to relax. It has helped me through so many difficulties....my mind is given permission to override my body, and I put it to good use.

If this will help you, then I'm glad to pass it on. First I have to honor the man who gave me this wonderful tool to begin with, Dr. Neil Pruzzo. I hope it helped him in the end. Yours, Lenora
 
I witnessed a psychosomatic event in my own body, which refused to agree to go get a dental implant.

So my upper intestines manifested a severe pain that would rate up around an 8 on the Ramsey Bolton Pain Scale..(reference to a Middle Ages torturer on Game of Thrones)

This went on for several days in a row until I picked up the phone and cancelled the procedure. I gave myself a heat rash, putting the hot water bottle on this pain...

The dental surgeon BTW had said, during the medical review, that "he did not believe me"...regarding swelling I experience in my mouth daily, the ME swelling events. (probably mast cell related).

I was so flabbergasted to be flat out accused of lying by this surgeon in front of his two nurses that- well it was only after I left that what truly transpired got finally processed.

My body refused and I listened to it and so much for that.

(they send me birthday cards each year)
 

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