What is a Body Syndrome? You may or may not have ever heard of it, but chances are you’ve experienced it or known someone who has, and I’ll guarantee you’ll recognize references to it in our language. We’ll get to all of that, and some examples, right here.
A definition of Body Syndrome is an emotional trauma that is expressed through the body. It is somaticized (soma = body). This may also be known by an older name, “psychosomatic disorder” (psyche = mind). So a Body Syndrome is a physical manifestation of a conflict or trauma that has occurred at the emotional level and has no other way of being productively expressed or dealt with.
We refer to Body Syndromes in our language all the time, and that’s a good way to start to understand what the phenomenon. The fact that this phenomenon has been in our language for millennia begins to tell you how commonplace and how human it is to experience.
Just a couple of the many examples: “What a pain in the ____” (fill in your word of choice-neck, or maybe further down the anatomy). “I just knew it in my gut.” (Really? Is your brain there?)
To illustrate this phenomenon further, a couple of case histories.
Jan was a sweet older lady who was referred to ChangeWorks by her doctor because she manifested a limp but there was “nothing physically wrong with her.” In sessions she shared that her husband, who had made excellent money and had always supported her, had gambled on a bad business deal right after they retired, and just before the economic collapse in 2008. Jan and her husband went from affluence to just getting by, with their peak earning years behind them. Many changes resulted, from downsizing their home, etc., and one day Jan began to limp.
After MRI’s, numerous office visits, physical therapy and the rest of what you’d expect, her doctors were at a loss. There was nothing physically wrong, and yet the limp persisted. Through hypnosis it came out that the limp was a manifestation of the trauma caused by the financial loss and the fact that her husband could no longer “support” her the way he had their entire married life of 50+ years. Jan had internalized this and her subconscious mind, (which is very LITERAL,) interpreted her need for “more support,” and gave her a reason to have more support–from a walker, a cane, etc.
The situation quickly became reinforced through another phenomenon we call “secondary gain.” Jan had always been the caretaker/caregiver in the family, for her children, her husband, and others. She had followed the classical path of putting herself and her needs last. Imagine the delight of her subconscious mind (the seat of all emotion) when her physical limitation garnered her the support and caring focus of members of the family. She was finally the one being taken care OF; finally, she was being put first in many very real ways. In one event that stood out strongly for Jan, she had been in the parking lot of the mall, alone. She kept her scooter in the back of her vehicle, and was single-handedly going about getting it out when she noticed three young men (late teens) walking her way. She felt a flush of fear as she realized she was vulnerable, should these young men mean her any harm. Rather than meaning her harm, though, they came up, and offered to help her. They got her scooter out, and put it together for her. It was really a defining moment that fully justified, at the subconscious level, keeping her limp. It brought her more good than bad.
As this came to light in hypnosis, Jan became more and more fully aware of how the events of her earlier life had paved the way for this physical manifestation, from her uncaring mother to the pattern of being caregiver she had taken for herself, to the fact she had taken a passive, traditional role allowing herself to be financially supported by her husband. With her eyes now wide open, so to speak, Jan in the end made the very self-aware and brave decision to keep her limp. Upon reflection she realized it brought much more good into her life than not. Her feeling that she needed to “do something about it” was resolved and her conscious and subconscious minds were now in agreement; she also knows that at any point she desires, she can relinquish the limp, should it at any point become more of a cost than a benefit to her.
Another story comes from one of my instructors at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, we’ll call her Michelle. She tells of a time when she had a bad feeling about a new co-worker. She shared her concerns with management, but then, being a good employee and team player, did her job and watched events unfold. This new employee became more and more odd and created more and more internal conflicts and issues. About nine months after the new person began, Michelle’s eye lashes began to fall out. She was left with just a few and the doctor told her “it’s just stress.” This went on for about a year, with Michelle wearing false eyelashes during that time. Nothing would cause or allow her eyelashes to grow back. She quit the job about a year after her eyelashes fell out and within a week, they grew back. Shortly after that, it came out that the employee she had the odd feeling about was wanted by the FBI, had embezzled, was a drug addict and more. As Michelle explains it, what are your eyelashes for? They protect your eyes but they partially block your sight. Her subconscious mind wanted her eyes to be “wide open,” so by removing the eyelashes it gave her “a little more vision.”
One of my very early clients came to me to relieve herself of guilt that was put upon her by her husband, for giving birth to a child with Down’s Syndrome. We did a session to alleviate that guilt, and after she emerged from hypnosis she said, “Oooh, the pain in my upper back is gone. I’ve been to chiropractor after chiropractor without any relief, and now it’s gone.” Pain in the upper back is often tied to guilt or the weight of responsibility. She had not even shared with me that she had that pain prior to the session.
What is manifesting through the body for you or your loved ones?