Intrapsychic Omnipresence In Bodily Symptoms Essay

1481 words - 6 pages

Intrapsychic Omnipresence in Bodily Symptoms

Sometimes disease and illness just show up. For these medical conditions, a doctor usually tells us what is "wrong" physically. These scientific observations determining diseases or symptoms leave people wondering if there is something behind the cell that created the malfunction. Perhaps one's psyche; which is the mind functioning as the center of thought, conscious or unconscious, and interconnected with the physical environment, can effect the body positively and negatively. An indirect way of dealing with psychological conflict is to intuitively or unconsciously convert it into symptomatic illness. However, this does not get rid of the ...view middle of the document...

In the case of hysteria, the mind or the psyche is neglected by the person who represses emotional trauma, and these then divert themselves into the body as a means of expression or escape. These patients often times do not know what is wrong with themselves because the repression was unconscious and out of their control. Accordingly, the physical symptoms in hysteria are a result of the person's lack of psychological control, which is unconscious not voluntary.

During the 19th century, French Neurologist J.M. Charcot and Psychologist P. Janet emphasized that "morbid ideas could produce physical manifestations" and that hysteria was caused by the psyche not the body (1). This reference highlights the notion that physical symptoms reflect psychic states. Freud also believed that hysterical symptoms were symbolic of a repressed unconscious "event" or psychic trauma not properly expressed at the time (2). One must appreciate Freud’s assertion of unconsciousness in the pressed event. Some of the physical manifestations of hysteria or conversion are expressed as blindness, paralysis, ataxia, epilepsy, amnesia, anaesthesia, aphonia (loss of voice), and melancholia (3). The same symptoms were also seen in Breuer’s patients like Anna O. One of the most classic of all psychosomatic disorders was the hysteric Dora, Freud's patient. At the age of eighteen she had developed a range of symptoms such as hemicranial headaches, attacks of nervous coughing, tussis nervosa (inflammation of nose and throat), appendicitis, aphonia, fatigue, together with amnesia, dyspnoea (aggravation), hysterical unsociability, and depression. As Freud describes it, Dora "was clearly satisfied neither with herself nor with her family: her attitude towards her father was unfriendly, and she was on very bad terms with her mother....and she tried to avoid social intercourse" (6). Dora also had traumatic sexual encounters with a man which she repressed as well. Clearly Dora had psychological stress, and psychological trauma due to the resulting sexual fears. Dora diverted her repressed sexual encounters and familial conflict into her psyche, which created a plethora of symptoms.

Similar symptoms are also seen in dissociative states where the individual may suffer from "dissociative control" and "dissociative awareness" in that he or she can not consciously control actions and is not aware of what experiences took place (5). For example, amnesia and fugue states represent the person's inability to recollect what actions took place. In fugue states, they are consciously aware of the actions, but they do not remember. Amnesia in hysterics does not come as a result of brain lesion, but as a self-induced protective erasing of an emotional traumatic experience. These states, like hysteria, address the person's involuntary control of their internal experience and worldly actions. Since there was no organic basis for the physical symptoms, physicians like Breuer and Neurologist...

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