When emotions manifest physically

Somatization is the physical manifestation of emotional or psychological pain. There are a lot of people who, due to family or spiritual beliefs or cultural norms, are unable to admit to having emotional difficulties. Depression or anxiety may be seen as personal weaknesses, and admitting to those moods and the impact they can have on every day life is an unacceptable sign of personal failure. Of weakness. This is not uncommon. After all, it’s okay to have migraines or intestinal difficulties. It’s socially acceptable to have back spasms or difficulty sleeping. Recognizing emotional or psychological problems, however, is treated quite differently. “Get over it” we hear, or in sports terminology, “walk it off!” which is not something that usually possible. And so we suppress the emotion, the depression, the anxiety, the trauma… and we somatize those feelings. Our brains understand from a young age what is and is not acceptable in our families (or religion or circle of friends or or or) and so we stamp those real feelings down and our bodies develop medically undiagnosable symptoms. And the pain is real. The physical pain is very real. But to fix that pain the cause must be recognized and honored as being just as real, just as important, just as painful, as whatever physical symptoms we are feeling. Ask what your body is feeling, be in your body, allow for the possibility that what you are feeling may be more than simply what you are physically feeling. A different healing may be needed. Consider the possibility.

Published by Joanne Mackie, LMHC

Psychotherapist specializing in adults with trauma, anxiety, depression and distress due to difficulty in interpersonal relations.

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