A psychosomatic illness is the manifestation of emotional turmoil in the form of pain or illness in the body. This manifestation can be the result of ignoring emotional symptoms or needs over a period of time. It can also happen when someone believes that they are suffering from an illness that they do not actually possess, therefore feeling physical symptoms by means of placebo effect. It is common that someone will attempt to suppress their emotions in an effort to either numb or heal themselves. Even though this might temporarily serve a purpose, the negative emotions are still present and growing stronger in the absence of attention. In order to suppress a negative emotion, a person may use substances to numb the pain, or avoid talking about the subject while avoiding people, places, or memories that will remind them of a certain event or emotion.
Withholding such emotional stressors can cause physical effects such as high blood pressure, increased heart beat, quick breathing, chest pain, nausea, shaking, dry mouth, numbness, risk of heart disease, bone weakness, and joint pain. The reason our bodies react to stress is to prepare us for imminent danger. For example, when we are angry, blood flows to our hands in order to either defend ourselves or to strike a foe. Our heart rate increases and adrenaline level increase to prepare us to go into fight or flight. When we are afraid, blood rushes to our large skeletal muscles so that we can flee a harmful situation. Even though these emotions might be temporarily ignored or suppressed, they are always present just beneath the surface, causing our body to react.
The purpose of pain is to grow and learn from past mistakes. When a negative event is avoided in the mind, it can alter one’s ability to deal with similar scenarios in the future, therefore stunting their emotional growth and health. The forced forgetting of negative emotions might have an effect on healthy emotional regulation as well as the ability to retain other memories. The positive aspect of psychosomatic disorders is that they might be dissolved by accepting and letting go of the emotional issues within oneself.