Western Medicine, also known as Allopathic Medicine, has a long history of looking only at physical symptoms when determining the diagnosis of illness. In fact, there has been much documentation originating from Western Medicine stating that emotions have nothing to do with illness. Today, a shift is slowly occurring among Western doctors as they begin to recognize the emotional state of their patients as a part of an existing illness. In both becoming ill, as well as recovering from illness, there is more and more evidence to suggest the emotional state of an individual plays a key role.
For thousands of years, Traditional Oriental Medicine [TOM] has pointed to the patient’s emotional state as the first signal of possible illness within the body. After emotional imbalance occurs, the physical manifestation slowly becomes visible. By recognizing disparity in a patient’s emotional state, the possibility of inhibiting or stopping physical illness exists. In TOM, emotions are examined along with physical symptoms to help establish a patient’s diagnosis. The seven emotions (joy, worry, grief, fear, terror, anger and depression) are taken in to consideration when determining a treatment plan. The TOM practitioner considers whether the client is stuck or stagnate in one of the aforementioned emotional states. The levels of emotion can range from mild or moderate to severe. The more emotional distress present in the patient, the further out of balance or homeostasis the body may be.
In TOM, we recognize that emotional distress compromises the immune system so that factors like trauma, accidents, pestilence and contagious diseases can deteriorate the health of the patient even faster. In TOM, the emotional pattern that exists for the patient is a tell-tale sign in the pattern of disease.
Discerning the extent of a patient’s emotional distress helps the practitioner understand how long the imbalance/illness has been present and also how deeply ingrained the pattern of imbalance is for this individual. Knowing the patient’s family history can further assist in identifying genetic patterns of illness and the stability or lack of stability in emotional balance.
TOM encompasses multiple centuries of medical training, blending Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan and other regions of the Far east. As medicine from the Far East has evolved, all components of life are encompassed to help relieve human illness including diet, exercise, daily activities, herbs, human touch, acupuncture, as well as the effect of emotions. Each of the seven emotions corresponds with specific organs and can perpetuate a breakdown within those organs. For example, anger causes a lack of harmony with the liver and gallbladder. And depression (anger turned inward) can injure these same organs. With excessive fear, the kidneys and bladder organs are affected. Grief causes injury to the large intestines and the lungs, especially with excessive crying. Worry and pensiveness injure the spleen and stomach. Excessive joy, as well as terror, cause heart and small-intestine injury. Any of the aforementioned emotions in excess cause stress and disparity for the individual.
In my 23 years of practicing TOM, I have found that patients with a high number of stressors within a two-to-five-year time frame have the most difficulty bouncing back from illness, trauma or accidents. Stress, whether positive or negative in nature, affects recovery time. The human body responds to stress the same, whether it’s positive (a surprise birthday party/promotion at work), or negative (a motor-vehicle accident). If the stressors illicit strong emotional anxiety, sorrow or pain, like the death of a close-to- the-heart family member, recovery from illness is much slower. Depending on the number of stressors and the amount of mental or psychological anguish created, the physical illness typically takes a longer time to fully resolve.
Studies of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] and its effect on soldiers have shown that if the soldier had sexual abuse or other strong emotional distress as a child, their recovery from PTSD was much slower. For most of these soldiers, PTSD is a condition they need to learn how to manage through life because full recovery may not be possible.
Having a consistent positive attitude can help one prevent and recover from illness. Consistent, positive interaction with friends and family members helps the patient recover faster and more effectively. Emotional support from others makes dealing with personal illness more tolerable. In fact, just sitting with someone who is going through a rough time can make all the difference for them, knowing that someone is with you on your side, not against you.
If, when going to the doctor, you are already sick, you are also typically in a weakened emotional state. Having an advocate by your side to help remember what is said by the medical professional is imperative to your well-being! Taping the conversation with your doctor can be very helpful so that you can listen to or repeat the dialog multiple times. When choosing to tape the conversation, be sure to tell the practitioner that you are using the recorder so that you and your family/friends are clear on what was discussed concerning your future medical treatment.
Having compassionate interaction helps the patient dealing with illness. Remember, someday you could need assistance to bounce back from illness, so do your best to be there for your loved ones in their time of need to help speed their recovery. A sigh of relief, a loving smile or giggle begins the healing process. Keeping a positive attitude makes life better, and makes living in the moment easier. Do your best to stay positive and keep a positive outlook. Treat those around you as you wish to be treated, for that can make the world a better place. Joy and love are the two things that double when you share them. Sharing is the greatest joy there is. Spread joy. Smile, and the world smiles with you.
Did You Know?
> Having a consistent positive attitude can help one prevent and recover from illness. Consistent, positive interaction with friends and family members helps the patient recover faster and more effectively. Emotional support from others makes dealing with personal illness more tolerable. In fact, just sitting with someone who is going through a rough time can make all the difference for them, knowing that someone is with you on your side, not against you.