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Manage Psychosomatic Symptoms
Psychosomatic Solutions © Martyn Carruthers

Online Help: Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

Psychosomatic symptoms appear to originate in, or are worsened by, limiting beliefs, negative emotions and relationship problems. Many somatic diseases appear to have psychosomatic components.

What are Psychosomatic Symptoms?

Please consult a physician about medical symptoms or medical conditions.

If you visit a physician, you may be told it's all in your head.

Some body (somatic) symptoms have no known physiological basis. Some symptoms seem more related to relationships and emotional trauma than to physical damage or biological causes. These symptoms can range from mild headaches to phantom pregnancies, and often include nausea, diarrhea, giddiness and muscle pains.

Although these symptoms seem to involve both the mind (psyche) and body (soma), there appears to be little agreement as to what symptoms should be called psychosomatic. Sometimes, emotions seem to influence not only the onset of an illness, but the severity of the symptoms. Beyond biology is psychobiology.

Like many medical schools, we believe that symptoms such as asthma, eczema, heart problems, hypertension, migraines and ulcers are strongly influenced by emotions and beliefs - and therefore by the relationships in which those emotions and beliefs were created and sustained. Anxiety, stress, guilt and depression often result from relationship problems - and negative emotions are known to trigger physical complaints.

What is the difference between Somatic and Psychosomatic complaints?

Some people exaggerate or deliberately falsify symptoms to avoid work, examinations or military duty. It can be difficult to know which symptoms are real.

Differences between Somatic and Psychosomatic Pain*

Somatic Symptoms Psychosomatic Symptoms
  1. Somatic pain is unrelated to emotions and relationships.
  2. Somatic pain has an anatomical distribution.
  3. Somatic pain reflects tissue damage.
  4. Somatic pain may come and go, and be worsened or relieved by specific measures.
  5. People describe somatic pain with words like burning or stabbing
  1. Psychosomatic pain may follow an emotional or relationship disturbance.
  2. Psychosomatic pain may not have an anatomical distribution.
  3. Psychosomatic pain may not be related to tissue damage.
  4. Psychosomatic pains tend to be constant.
  5. People have difficulty describing psychosomatic pains.

Do some Relationships require Psychosomatic Symptoms?

While psychosomatic symptoms can affect people at any age, they seem more likely to  appear during times of stress, such as partnership breakdown, overwork or forced military service. People often tell us about mild symptoms (e.g. headaches, nausea, blurred vision) during our conversations about emotions and relationships.

During our last session, I had a weird headache which moved.
You noticed that different headache locations corresponded to
different people - my mother-headache was back left, for example.

A key issue is communication. Psychosomatic symptoms seem more commonly reported by children and people who cannot communicate well, especially people who do not communicate their emotions, or who habitually hide or minimize their feelings.

Since I was a child, my glasses give me a sense of safety.
If I take them off - people become blurred and less real.
Sometimes I fear seeing people too clearly.

How many people are taught how to communicate their feelings? Children are often punished for expressing emotions (e.g. anger) that their parents do not want to acknowledge. Many people appear to swallow their anger ... and later explode with rage or have symptoms that match the body locations of the suppressed emotions.

Psychosomatic symptoms may be ways of coping with relationship stress. Psychosomatic conditions are often linked by family dynamics. For example, chronic sadness, chronic anger and chronic anxiety seem to be passed on from one generation to the next. Children follow where their parents lead - and many identify with their parents' problems.

Solutions for Psychosomatic Symptoms

If we resolve the relationship and emotional issues that underlie psychosomatic conditions, those symptoms may seem to magically disappear.

We expect to find not one but multiple factors that lead to psychosomatic symptoms. (Finding all the benefits of a symptom set is complex. We observe and respond to non-verbal signals and body language at least as much as we listen to words).

I don't seek one cause for psychosomatic symptoms - I seek ten!
If I only find six "causes" - I keep looking
! Martyn

Some health professionals recognize the importance of dealing with relationship factors of disease symptoms and try to heal whole people, rather than just body parts. And yet people who were diagnosed with psychosomatic disorders have told us that their doctors often reacted as if they were insane.

Listen to body language with your eyes! Don't wait for a person to
explain everything ... assume that those little gestures and fleeting
expressions are communications ... in a language that you can learn

Most people need a safe space to talk about their feelings and relationships. We help provide such safe spaces to help people gain insights into how their symptoms make sense in their lives - and into what alternative cures they can find instead.

I had frequent migraine headaches for many years - and only one since our sessions.
I found that I was following my mother - whose headaches allowed her to avoid anything
she did not like ... my headaches also gained me sympathy from my father.

Online Solutions and Alternative Cures

People with psychosomatic symptoms can benefit from support, understanding and compassion of family and friends (but not from sympathy, which often encourages people to stay in bad states). We can listen carefully and provide supportive feedback.

We don't confuse compassion with sympathy! Compassion helps motivate
people to act like adults, while sympathy helps motivate adults to act like children

It can be spooky watching symptoms vanish! This is commonplace with headaches, nausea and phantom pains, but during our systemic solutions, some physical symptoms look like cinematic special effects in slow-time!

Since my older brother died of cancer, I feel like I'm carrying his pain.
I feel like he's inside me
. Doctors tell me I have no medical conditions.

If you have strange symptoms, examine your lifestyle. Could you be allergic to a common food, food additive or house dust, etc? Consider your relationships, and how you deal with stress and conflict. Do your symptoms follow a trigger?

Please consult a physician about medical symptoms or conditions.

Give yourself space for insights and time for integration. After our online sessions,
people often say that they have many aha! moments and insights.

Contact us to better manage your emotions and solve relationship problems.

Online Help: Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Rafael Fernández Martínez and Fernández Concepción Rodríguez (Spanish)
Casey PR; Tyrer PJ. (1986). Personality, functioning and symptomatology. J Psychiatry Res. 20:363-374.
Trethowan WH. Psychiatry and the seven ages of man. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 1988 Apr;81(4):189-93.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2008-2018
All rights reserved

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email