Mind-Body Connections: The Hidden Role of Emotion in Pain
During physical trauma, the person’s emotional state at that moment becomes part of the whole package of ‘pain’ the person experiences. I have seen many instances whereby I was treating someone for a physical issue, and the patient began to cry. Sometimes they knew why, and sometimes they didn’t. However, very often as treatment progresses the patient will be able to relate the emotion they felt to either a physical accident, or to an earlier time in their life, and to their presenting symptom.
Many practitioners have studied such connections and pioneered treatment techniques. Here are some interesting findings:
- Dr. John Upledger, the developer of Craniosacral Therapy, found the body can retain imprints of physical trauma in the tissues. These imprints, which can also include intense feelings that occurred at the time of injury, actually leave a residue embedded in the body. He called these areas of restricted or disorganized energy "energy cysts." He devised a method of accessing and dissipating these via a process called SomatoEmotional Release.
- When many of us are injured, we go into a state of disassociation at the moment of trauma to survive. We experience an instinctive “freeze response” and this positional, physiological memory becomes indelibly imprinted into our mind/body awareness. This “freeze response”, over time, creates holding or bracing patterns that eventually produce increased chronic muscular tone, spasm, and myofascial restrictions that eventually become symptoms.
- All types of emotional wounds can result in bodily pain, as expressed by John Barnes, one of the leading proponents of Myofascial Release in the U.S., “…the body remembers everything that has ever happened to it. Time does not heal emotional wounds; it simply covers them up with layer on adaptive fascial layer, tightening over time.”
Because of the subconscious or instinctive nature of these types of mind-body interactions, osteopathic treatments may work to release emotions and the related pain that may not come out in more traditional therapies. When an emotion arises during a treatment session, I help the patient to stay with the feeling. This often results in the patient’s body beginning to move involuntarily, into positions that allow it to release long-held patterns. I help them with these movements (called unwindings) and stay in contact while they process what they are going through. Very often the patient will feel much better (and “lighter”) after experiencing this.
My role as an Osteopath is to keep the “space” open for the patient to experience what they needed to experience. We may not always be aware of the specific connection between our pain and some trauma or emotion, but holistic treatment gives the body and mind the opportunity for full and lasting healing.
Read more about Marshall Gabin (+http://www.tcm-shanghai.com/en/clinicsdoctors/therapists/marshallgabin.html) or book an appointment with him here ( + http://www.tcm-shanghai.com/index.php/contact). Marshall offers consultations at our Downtown Clinic – Xintiandi Hongmei Road Clinic – Hongqiao.