Almost all of us have, at some point in our lives, experienced the process of somatization.although we are not aware of it.
Without apparent cause, organic or muscular ailments occur that do not seem to respond to the process of cause and effect, and condition our mood, our behavior and our general vitality. In this article we will analyze this type of process, what are its most common mechanisms, and how we can learn about them, in order to manage them correctly.
What is somatization?
Somatizar is, by definition, “involuntarily transforming psychic problems into organic symptoms”, and this transformation from mental to physical is not always well understood nor, therefore, well treated.
When we go to the doctor for some discomfort and the diagnostic tests show nothing to justify it, we can face a process of somatization. The symptoms evoked can be mild, such as a slight headache or joint discomfort, or they can be more intense, such as disabling lumbago or unpleasant and unexpected dizziness.
Of course, visiting the doctor should be the first option to rule out an underlying cause, but if the clinical evaluation shows nothing relevant, we can start the psychological analysis of what we suffer from, either individually or with the help of a specialized professional.
We are going to present here four paths of somatization which, although they are not the only ones, cover a good part of the disorders of somatization that we can experience, and it is more than probable that we recognize ourselves in some of them.
Low intensity muscle tension, but maintained for a long time, generates contractures which are a common source of pain. How we create these tensions can be obvious, for example, if we have gained weight and are not used to it, or if we have climbed the mountain without prior physical preparation. In these cases, the tension is justified by an antecedent. But what if the muscle pain appears and nothing explains it before? Let’s look at a typical situation:
Having hunched shoulders can easily cause pain in the neck, due to the tension in the muscles that connect the cervical spine to the shoulder blades. Experiences of fear, insecurity or low self-esteem can involuntarily induce this gesture, which does not require much effort, but whose prolonged maintenance ends up contracting the muscles and blocking the movement of the neck. It can be perceived as stiffness in the neck, difficulty in turning the head, or pain in the back of the shoulder that extends to the cervical region.
In these cases, it can be useful to analyze the possible situations of fear experienced, or whether the patient’s personality is prone to negative thoughts about himself. In fact, it’s easy to imagine the typical person with a slightly stooped posture, hunched shoulders, and head forward and down, as if carrying something on their back, and associate this pose with a depressed personality. and depressed.
Emotional states experienced with great intensity cause physiological changes that can be measured objectively, such as heart rate, respiratory rate and amplitude, or skin conductance. Emotions such as anger and fear are those that cause the greatest fluctuation in certain physiological levelsbecause they prepare the body for specific behaviors such as fighting, fleeing or simply being able to raise your voice to express your displeasure or agitation.
Once the emotional state is over, these changes gradually return to their usual levels. But when certain emotions are prolonged over time, or are experienced too frequently or intensely, physiological changes can maintain altered parameters, causing internal shifts. It is known, for example, that personalities prone to anger for a long time undergo cardiovascular changes that increase the risk of suffering from coronary symptoms such as arrhythmias or small heart attacks. And it has also been experimentally proven that the experience of intense fear can cause vomiting or stomach problems, due to the internal discomfort that such an experience produces.
Emotional management is all about being aware of how you feel, and express it sincerely. Admitting that you are angry at what is happening around you or acknowledging that certain situations cause you exaggerated fear can be the first step in modulating these emotions and preventing them from escalating to extremes.
The daily demands can be perceived as excessive, to the point of feeling incapable of coping with them. This is how stress arises, the consequences of which are linked to internal organic changes, among which the increase in certain hormonal levels, such as adrenaline, stands out. This connection of the nervous system with the endocrine system also affects the immune systemvarying lymphocyte and killer cell parameters, which can modulate how we cope with an infection.
It is known from many studies that students during exam periods tend to develop more illnesses than during the rest of the year. Colds, flus, or colds are more common when you spend time thinking you won’t be able to cope with an external demand, such as academic tests, or feeling overwhelmed with tasks at work or home . Although not very serious illnesses, depression of the immune system can make us more vulnerable to pathogens such as viruses or bacteria, or make us more susceptible to adverse weather conditions such as cold or damp.
Stress management requires specific work in which relaxation techniques are of great help, or the regular practice of moderate exercise in which body and mind work in harmony, such as yoga or tai chi. In this sense, the ideal is that everyone finds the dynamic with which they best agree, or that task in which their mind can escape from daily worries, such as painting or playing a musical instrument, for example.
Negative thoughts about yourself
What we say to ourselves in our external environment conditions our state of mind. If we tell ourselves daily that we are worthless, that our life has no meaning or that we do not contribute anything meaningful to the world, it is easy for us to enter a state of apathy in which we do not don’t feel motivated to grow. healthy behaviors such as physical exercise, a balanced diet or an optimal sleep pattern, with the harmful consequences that this can have on health.
When this happens, and it can take a long time, the body blames itself and begins to take on a sickly attitude, which is usually noticeable in outward appearance and the way you move, express yourself, or just , are in society. It is a long-term process of somatization, which can last for years or even decades, and which involves profound changes in the way of thinking and seeing the environment.
In these cases, and I’m sure a familiar case comes to mind, the person in question must take a first voluntary step to start a process of individual transformation that reverses this process. This is not always easy, as it involves changing patterns of thought and behavior which tend to be deeply ingrained in the mind, so it is essential that the person in question makes a great individual effort, regardless of the outside help it can ask for.
Somatization is natural
The evils of somatization are something natural, and a way the body should communicate with us when it senses something is up in the mind. Somatizing is therefore not only “what the mind does to the body”, as the title says, but also “what the body reflects from the mind” and which a sleeping consciousness prevents us from perceiving.
We are not always aware of being stressed, of being tense or of experiencing an exaggerated emotion. And this is where the body comes into play and, in an often unpleasant way, tells us: “there is something wrong, what are you going to do?