The Psyche of the Body is a passionate and well-informed plea for a Jungian version of psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy. Many cases of physical illness show evidence of the eﬀect of psychic involvement, both in origin and treatment. Yet to date, the majority of study into psychosomatic illness has been purely empirical, with little theory to help interpret and put results into context.
Illustrated by vivid clinical illustrations of case histories, The Psyche of the Body reviews the long history of psychosomatic medicine and models of the relationship between psyche and body that have evolved over time, and presents a full revision of research in the ﬁeld over the last twenty years. It presents a much-needed theoretical model together with practical guidelines that demonstrate how the psychological aspects of speciﬁc illnesses should be handled in therapy and analysis.
Practicing and training Jungian analysts, as well as all those involved in clinical treatment, will ﬁnd the interdisciplinary approach to psychosomatic medicine promoted in this book fascinating reading.
Denise Gimenez Ramos is a clinical psychologist and member of the Brazilian Society of Analytical Psychology. She has a private clinic in São Paulo and is Professor of Analytical Psychology and Head of the Department of Post-Graduate Studies in Clinical Psychology at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo. She is also Chair of the Academic Sub-Committee and Vice-President of the International Association for Analytical Psychology.
Denise Gimenez Ramos
First published in Portuguese as A Psique do Corpo by Summus Editorial, São Paulo, Brazil
First published in English 2004 by Brunner-Routledge 27 Church Road,Hove,East Sussex BN3 2FA
Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Brunner-Routledge 270 Madison Avenue, New York NY 10016
This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2004.
Brunner-Routledge is an imprint of the T&F Informa plc
Copyright © 2004 Denise Gimenez Ramos
All rights reserved.No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
This publication has been produced with paper manufactured to strict environmental standards and with pulp derived from sustainable forests.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ramos, Denise Gimenez, 1947–
[Psique do corpo. English]
The psyche of the body: ‘a Jungian approach to psychosomatics’ / Denise Gimenez Ramos.
p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 1-58391-897-3 (alk. paper)—ISBN 1-58391-898-1
(pbk.: alk. paper)
1. Medicine, Psychosomatic. 2. Jungian psychology.
3. Psychotherapy. 4. Mind and body. 5. Diseases—Philosophy.
RC49.R266 2004 616′.001′9–dc22 2004003890
ISBN 0-203-33628-3 Master e-book ISBN
ISBN 1-58391-897-3 (hbk) ISBN 1-58391-898-1 (pbk)
In memory of:
Maria da Penha Gimenez Nilo Ramos René Victor Liviano
They have left us with the great mystery and with the desire to get it right more and more each time.
The psychophysical experiments 28 The theory of complexes 30 The formation of the symbol 31 The development of the symbolic process 33 Symbol as the third factor in the psyche–body phenomenon 38 The transcendent function and the theory of transduction 40 Synchronicity 42 The ﬁnalist approach and the compensation mechanism 43
4 Critical analysis of psychosomatic research 49
The repressed person: when the skin erupts (acne rosacea) 110 The constipated person: when nothing is expelled (fecaloma) 113 The freezing hands: when we swim under ice (Reynaud’s syndrome) 116 The untouchable princess: when sexual instinct threatens (pelvic inﬂ ammatory disease) 118 The guilty person: when the head is tortured (migraine) 122 The dirty uterus: when incest is remembered (miscarriage) 124
5.1 Case summary of “the human grenade” (myocardial infarction) 76
5.2 Case summary of “the stoic” (rheumatoid arthritis) 85
5.3 Patient’s “witch-woman” drawing 99
5.4 Patient’s drawing of two birds and a woman 100
5.5 Patient’s drawing of a “defeated” woman 101
5.6 Patient’s drawing of a monster and a tumor 102
5.7 Patient’s drawing of a “funny personage” 103
5.8 Case summary of “the depressive” (with respect to melanoma) 106
5.9 Case summary of “the depressive” (with respect to mammary cyst) 107
5.10 Overall case summary of “the depressive,” incorporating mother complex, shadow and father complex 108
6.1 Daniel’s sandplay, showing handprints 111
6.2 Daniel’s sandplay, showing volcano 112
6.3 Case summary of “the repressed person” (acne rosacea) 113
6.4 Case summary of “the constipated person” (fecaloma) 115
6.5 Case summary of “the freezing hands” (Reynaud’s syndrome) 118
6.6 Georgia’s sandplay, showing Buddha and dog 120
6.7 Georgia’s sandplay, showing prostitute, church and baby 120
6.8 Case summary of “the untouchable princess” (pelvic inﬂammatory disease) 121
6.9 Case summary of “the guilty person” (migraine) 123
6.10 Case summary of “the dirty uterus” (miscarriage) 125
So many were my teachers over the course of these years that it would be impossible to cite them all here by name. I should, however, mention those who have played the most direct role in developing the present work: Lúcia B. Kohler and Luiz C. Figueiredo, who contributed to my work with their valuable suggestions and guidance, and Liliana L. Wahba for the inspiring words, thoughts and support that only a true friend could give.
I should especially like to thank Dr Mathilde Neder. I regard it as a privilege to have had the guidance of Dr Neder, pioneer and teacher who, above all through her example, brought a sense of worthiness to each step and to each discovery. Her enthusiasm and aﬀection were present throughout.
I thank Paul Brutsche and the Susan Bach Foundation for the grant that allowed me to translate this book, and to Andrew Samuels for his friendship and support.
To my patients, I send my gratitude for the trust they deposited in me, to which I hope to do justice and respect with humility. To my students, who, with their intriguing questions, caused me to rethink what I had known for certain. To Pericles Machado for his valuable assistance with the revision of the last researches, papers and data. To Robin Geld and Lincoln Berkley for assistance with the translation.
And ﬁnally, to Viviane, who, in the wisdom of her eight years (on the occasion of my doctorate), coming upon her mother submerged under masses of papers, sent me a note:
Yet a passion. The science of the thesis is to show that a person may transform one thing into Something else, however...
At the time, she said she didn’t know how it should ﬁnish, and now, 10 years later, I must confess that the increase of the complexity of our knowledge convinces me that there is not really an end for these fascinating questions.
We cannot rid ourselves of the doubt that perhaps this whole sep
aration of mind and body may ﬁnally prove to be merely a device
of reason for the purpose of conscious discrimination – an intel
lectually necessary separation of one and the same fact into two
aspects, to which we then illegitimately attribute an independent
(Jung, 1972: 619)
Not long ago, I was surprised by a phone call from the intensive care unit of a hospital. In a voice that seemed very anxious, an ex-patient of mine asked, “How did you guess that I would have a heart attack, when all my clinical exams were normal? My doctor himself told me that I was in ﬁne shape and two months later, I have a heart attack!”
As it was not the right moment for great explanations, we talked about what had happened and set a time for my visit to the hospital. But I spent quite some time thinking about how I would explain to the patient that I had not guessed what was to happen and that my asking him to take care of his health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) had not been an intuitive ﬂash. Rather, my recommendation had been based on a theoretical model backed by research that allowed me to predict such a happening with a certain margin of conﬁdence.
This example, among so many others in clinical practice and our daily meetings, reveals clearly the obtuseness that still prevails among a high number of professionals in the health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) ﬁeld. Although this patient had been complaining for quite some time about love and “cardiac” pains, as these were not detected by the state of the art in technology, they went by unheeded by the cardiologist. However, the patient’s dreams, his complexes, his hasty behavior, his contained anger and hostile attitude towards all who did not follow his orders at once, were visible factors of a heart risk. Not getting any feedback from the doctor, the patient gave up analysis, ﬁnding his aﬄictions to be “nothing that a vacation could not solve” (doctor’s words). The patient had a heart attack on the beach, on his second day of vacation.
What was it that happened, he wanted to know. What happened was the traditional split between the living, subjective body and the body of biology, the body of anatomy and physiology classes. The patient was a victim of the Cartesian body/spirit/psyche division. He almost died from “this”.
Unconsciously, we perpetuate a vision wherein detailed, minute descriptions derived from dissections or physiological studies prevail over the perception of feelings and the subjective and symbolic sensations of the body.
In this discrepancy between the described body and the living body lies one of the central diﬃculties in arriving at a common language between medicine and psychology. Having for so many years been dissociated, these two ﬁelds of knowledge suﬀer from mutual prejudices that hinder both. Even psychosomatics – the youngest daughter of this wedding – suﬀers from the same neurosis in trying to reduce pathologies to a cause-and-eﬀect psychology, using the reductionist biomedical method.
Thus, frustrated with the dearth of theoretical and methodological research attempting to determine a relation between psychological and physiological phenomena, in my PhD thesis in 1993 I established a theoretical ﬁeld that allowed a broader, more scientiﬁc basis in the area.
At the time, the word “psychosomatics” had already been execrated by many scientists for being remindful in some way of the psychologism of the 1970s, which resulted in the patients’ being held responsible for their pains and suﬀerings. Thus, besides worrying about their illnesses, patients were made to blame for their sadness, not dealing adequately with their mourning, having such and such personality traits, or for being chronic depressives. At the same time, the eﬃcacy of surgery and medication stood up against vague psychological notions such as “death wish”, “lack of enthusiasm for life”, among others. Psychological theories also contributed little to the understanding of the psyche–body phenomenon, in that they either remained at a superﬁcial, behavioral level or reduced the phenomenon psychodynamically to traumatic child causes, with few eﬃcient therapeutic resources.
This problem is still reﬂected in the most diverse of present-day circumstances. It is evident in the two schools of medicine and psychology, which ﬁght over the human being, each one sticking to its truth and side and, worse still, thinking its side to be the totality. This pretentious inﬂation, among other consequences, has resulted in considerable scientiﬁc setbacks and a debilitating one-sidedness in science and consciousness.
At the same time, patients, aﬄicted by their symptoms, divide themselves into pieces, revealing each one of these to diﬀerent professionals, who frequently reinforce the “schizophrenization” of the patients, when not provoking it themselves. Both doctor and patient, as part of their cultural context, have little awareness of this process, thinking the diﬀerent directions quite correct. Moreover, it is generally the case where “organic causes” have been excluded that attention is directed to psychology, which is responsible only for “emotionally disturbed” patients, once again reinforcing the “schizophrenia” prevalent within our professional circles.
The recent coining of terms such as “psychocardiology”, “psychooncology”, “psychoneuroimmunology” and “psychoendocrinology” so as to avoid “psychosomatics”, while serving to delimitate an area of studies, also continues to reﬂect the dichotomy of the body and goes against the grain of history, as increasingly the interrelation between various systems is revealed. It is not possible to speak of psychocardiology without studying psychoendocrinology, for instance.
This problem can be understood as the result of an evolutionary process. We are determined by the myths and beliefs of our times; thus, understanding these is essential in bringing to light what has determined our attitudes regarding health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and disease (Chapter 2).
Today we are seeing an enormous advance, especially in the ﬁeld of neuroscience: a promising source for understanding the relations between the nervous system, brain and mind. Alongside this, there is an accumulation in psychology of a vast set of experiments which, while highly polemic, have been conﬁrming the inﬂuence of psychosocial variables on the origin and development of so-called organic diseases (I say here “so-called organic” for lack of better terminology, in that I consider all diseases, physical and mental, psycho-organic).
However, in Chapter 5 we will see that the development of most of the studies in this ﬁeld has been purely empirical, with little or generally no theory to give them substance. In most of the studies there is proof of psychic involvement both in the origin and in the treatment of organic illnesses. The lack of depth of the theories, together with the poor theoretical body, has created great diﬃculty in the interpretation of the results, which are limited to the variables studied.
The psychological theories in general, when applied to these areas, have used for the most part a classical, deterministic, mechanical methodology, no longer in keeping with the new scientiﬁc models. Even worse, they do not allow for the understanding of phenomena that escape the narrow lens that such methodology imposes. There is an urgent need for the development of a coherent theoretical body, which can more widely encompass the vastness of a theme as complex as the question of the psyche–body phenomenon in illnesses. Support for this proposal is to be found in analytical psychology, and it is with this question in mind that this study is developed (Chapters 3 and 4).1
This book is an updated edition of the original, published in Portuguese in 1994. It was written primarily for health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)care students and professionals, many of whom are not familiar with Jungian terminology, aiming to develop a theoretical psychological model to be applied in the understanding and treatment of organic diseases within modern scientiﬁc standards.
In the 10 years following the original edition, much research has given continuity to this work, including a great deal of postgraduate clinical psychology research. The model developed has also been used by psychologists and doctors in hospital care, and has proved highly promising in the investigation of cardiovascular diseases and cancer in particular. Recently, it was also applied in the study of patients with lupus, vitiligo, heart diseases and terminal diseases, with excellent results.
In Chapter 6 we will examine three cases of organic illnesses in psychotherapy, followed by other vignettes (Chapter 7). The objectives are: (1) to understand the illnesses in light of the developed analytical model and compare them to the data produced by the research; and (2) using the analytical model and its psychotherapeutic techniques, to observe the changes in the patients’ organic symptoms.
We will see that the use of the analytical model in patients with organic symptoms leads to an improvement in their general health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and at the same time heightens their level of consciousness. Even when there is no organic improvement due to the irreversibility of the clinical state, it is evident that the patient, in understanding the process and being able to attribute to it a symbolic meaning, feels relief and a greater sense of well-being.
The emerging paradigm brings to the surface of our consciousness,
in a more detailed scientiﬁc form, what we, and our fathers and
forefathers before us, have known all along.
(Laszlo, 1993: 223)
There are many myths and models today that determine how we view health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and sickness and deal with them. They originate with the history of humans and evolve in tandem with the evolution of human consciousness. They are present simultaneously and paradoxically.
Humans in the information technology era appeal to the gods on the moment of pain, in search of the meaning of their suﬀering. However developed society may be, the mystery of life and death remains. Reason and faith, scientiﬁc and religious concepts are mixed in modern people who search for meaning, and determine their attitude in the face of health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and sickness.
Myths mold our perception of the world and of the phenomena that we propose to study. They were created in the search for the meaning of life, and through them we come to have a more rational understanding of the world that surrounds us. According to the great scientist Joseph Campbell:
Myths are the metaphors of the human beings’ spiritual potential. They relate us to nature and with the natural world. (Campbell, 1990: 6)
The practice of the science of healing always reﬂects the morals, the ethics, the myths, and the psychological development of the culture of which it is a part. In the following pages we shall brieﬂy discuss some of these myths and models, especially those that are still with us today.
To broaden our perspective, we can observe the development of the understanding of the process of sickness and healing as an example of the collective process of individuation, from the psychological point of view, as described by C.G. Jung. This allows a metaanalysis and a more discriminating understanding of the models that determine our clinical and research attitudes.
According to the analytical model, the ego, at birth, is immersed in the totality of the Self without discrimination between the I and the non-I. The pre-egoic state is a paradisiacal, unitary, nondivided state. The appearance of consciousness comes from the rupture of this indiscriminate totality. Slowly, certain contents of the unconscious start to separate and form the consciousness, this process being described by M. Fordham as “de-integration” (Fordham, 1957). What used to be a whole, One, becomes many. The original psychic structures have to be constantly broken, divided, to be integrated into the consciousness.
We shall see that the models collectively suﬀer the same process, and at the start of this century, after many “de-integrations”, we are arriving at a moment where a new mandala becomes complete, closing a long circuit of “integrateds”.
We have observed that the original unity is found to be much more preserved in children and in primitive people than in modern humans. In the latter, the superimposing of conscious structures aggregated around the ego has caused them to draw apart from their source, from their Self.
In primitive peoples, we see humans subjugated by the power of the forces of nature that their mind cannot understand. Humans equated these with divine powers, thus ﬁnding a temporary answer to their anguish in face of the unpredictable. Matter contained life, and natural events were personalized. Humans and nature were One.
Jung used the Levy-Bruhl’s designation for this process, “participation mystique”, which “denotes a peculiar kind of connection with object and consists in the fact that the subject cannot clearly distinguish himself from the object”: “This identity results from an a priori oneness of subject and object” between ego and Self (Jung, 1971: 781). We ﬁnd this original unity as source of life and of consciousness in very diﬀerent myths on creation and cosmic events. Reality that explained life was invisible and non-material. A “spirit of totality” integrated all the elements of existence.
If, for primitive peoples, life had to be lived in accordance with the natural order of the spirit, it was a natural consequence that their therapeutic procedures would have the same focus (Mauceri, 1986).
The quality of observing nature as transcendent is found in the majority of archaic religions and led to the development of medicine, where respect for the spiritual and for the search for greater signiﬁcance as regards disease and health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) were basic. The one who cured was the mediator between cosmic forces and the patient, and his value was based on the belief that he was an extension of the relationship of the primitive with the cosmos.
The shaman was the specialist who mediated this order to the patient. Myths were transmitted by word and materialized in totems and in images. The shaman, as mediator, had, therefore, the function of contacting spiritual forces. A cure was never attributed to him. His status was earned through his ability to precipitate “ecstasy”. He would listen to the patient’s history not in search of a symptom, but rather to discover what the patient’s error had been. The disease was invariably the outcome of violating a taboo or oﬀense to the gods. A cure lay in re-establishing the link of the human with the divine through repentance and sacriﬁce.
This idea also appears in the Bible, where we might consider Miriam, the ﬁrst recorded example of punitive disease in Jewish– Christian culture. On criticizing her brother Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman (dark skin), Miriam’s own skin “became sickly and white as snow” (leprosy) and was cured only after seven days of repentance and sacriﬁce (Numbers 12:1–15).
Rituals of diﬀerent types, oﬀers to placate the divine wrath, and techniques for sacriﬁce were developed. One good example is found amid the Tucano Indians in the Amazon region, where disease is known as doré, a term derived from doréri, which signiﬁes “that which was sent, to order”. Disease among these Indians is interpreted as a product sent by a supernatural agent, as a form of punishment to those who disobey the moral norms of the tribe. On the other hand, doréri also means “to transform into something by means of the imagination” and, in this sense, disease and transformation are interconnected concepts. Here disease may have many causes (diﬀerent transgressions) but always a purpose: “transformation”.
The supernatural agent who has “sent” the disease, usually in the form of an animal, must be discovered and transformed, just as the patient is transformed when he interacts in his imagination with this animal, until he has subdued the animal. The function of the shaman is to intermediate this discovery by “invoking” invisible powers and strengthening the body by means of infusions and beverages (Reichel-Dolmatoﬀ, 1971).
Thus, as the primitive medicine man also had knowledge of the medicinal properties of herbs, of music, and of verbal therapy (words were of great power in a non-literate culture), he provided two basic necessities of humans: a spiritual search and health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com).
All the civilizations that succeeded primitive society lent continuity to this train of thought. The Hindu, Egyptian, Chinese, Babylonian, Chaldean, Persian and ancient Greek civilizations built cosmogenic myths and had astronomy and “cure” as basic “science”. In all these cultures, we can perceive the interconnection between empirical ability and spiritual belief (Solié, 1976).
The medicine man–doctor–priest fulﬁlled the physical and spiritual needs of the patient in such a way as to conserve the harmony between psyche and nature. To a certain extent, the shaman was a forerunner of the use of the techniques of trance, psychodrama, dream analysis, suggestion, and imagination. However, while the shaman remembers the values of his culture with his patient, through collective myths, the modern psychotherapist seeks the patient’s personal myth in his unconscious past.
Perhaps one of the great diﬀerences between primitive and modern humans is precisely this excessive “personalism”. In an era of rationalism and technical knowledge, humans can dissociate from religious values and those of nature. The religious need became dissociated from the culture. Modern humans began to believe that through science and technology they might prevail over nature and that, therefore, the need for the spiritual, for signiﬁcance, would be less relevant. And this has been one of the myths of our era, inherited from Greek medicine – the most important and perhaps the most developed science among the Greek people.
The Greek physicians were the ﬁrst to separate the spiritual category from the material, and to develop a scientiﬁc approach such as we use today: observation, analysis, deduction, and synthesis.
Separating the study of beings and of the qualities of spiritual life was a prerequisite in order for Greek philosophers to understand natural phenomena. However, the idea of a controlling principle in the cosmos remained indispensable as a ﬁrst reality in cosmology.
The concept of Nous, director intelligence, was considered the creative force that diﬀerentiated the material world through its ordinating activity. Nous was not on a par with a personal creator, God; it was closer to the idea of God, the Creator. To the Greek doctors, the world and the cosmos were recognizable and order prevailed in the multiplicity of things and in the unity of mutable diversity.
Use of music and the words of a spell were in common use in processes of cure. All acknowledged the curing power (“magic”) of the words and used them to expel “daimons”, the malevolent spirits of disease. Internal harmony might be obtained by music, diet, understanding dreams, and meditation that led to stability of the union between psyche and soma.
Plato, one of the most important ﬁgures of eastern thought in the mid-fourth century , recognized the primary role of medicine among the Greeks, and often alluded to the methods of the doctors in his Dialogs. If, in Phaedo, he stated that medicine should be an object of total man, and that a cure must direct the soul, in Charmides Socrates makes these ideas even more clear in his discussion with Critias:
as you ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head, or the head without the body, so neither ought you to attempt to cure the body without the soul; and this, he said, is the reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to the physicians of Hellas, because they are ignorant of the whole, which ought to be studied also; for the part can never be well unless the whole is well . . . And therefore if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the ﬁrst thing. And the cure, my dear youth, has to be eﬀected by the use of certain charms, and these charms are fair words; and by them temperance is implanted in the soul, and where temperance is, there health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) is speedily imparted, not only to the head, but to the whole body . . . Let no one persuade you to cure the head, until he has ﬁrst given you his soul to be cured by the charm. For this, he said, is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that physicians separate the soul from the body.
(Plato, 380 ) The importance that Plato attributed to the noetic value of words and to the receptivity of the same by the patient is clear. In another text, his insights as to the notion of a placebo are marked. We might say that traditional psychotherapy associates to Plato through the emphasis that he gave to words in the process of a cure.
In the same period, over 200 temples of incubation dedicated to the god Aesculapius spread throughout Greece, Italy, and Turkey. Without a doubt, these were the forerunners of modern holistic treatment. A global vision of humanity predominated at these centers, and treatment was carried out by means of special baths, theater, medicinal herbs, sleep, and interpretation of dreams, all in a beautiful, pleasing environment (Solié, 1976).
Hippocrates of Cós, in the ﬁfth century , was from a family of several generations of physicians and members of the Circle of Aesculapius, and is today regarded as the father of medicine. With his observations and deductions, Hippocrates gave rise to modern medicine; words had a lower status in therapeutic methods. The rational attitude and therapy oriented by causality, with new methods for observation and treatment, took the place of the value of words.
Hippocrates regarded the brain as a receptor of phlegm, a redundant mixture liberated to relieve the body of extra heat. The heart was regarded as the seat of the soul. To Hippocrates, “anger contracted the heart, raised the heat, and carried the ﬂuids to the head; whereas a peaceful mind, euthymia, expanded the heart” (Simms, 1980).
If we take these observations not in the concrete, physiological sense, but in a symbolic sense, we will see how correct they are. These are the expressions of feelings and of sensation from the point of view of the subject who experiences cardiac alterations. However, depreciation of the verbal mode limited the possibility of correct guidance between psyche and soma – the basis of psychosomatics.
Greek science was the start, therefore, of types of methods that were to become standard procedures in the medicine and psychology of our era. There was one great diﬀerence, however: the greater purpose was the search for knowledge of nature, and not the desire to dominate or change it.
Many centuries separate us from this position. For development, it was necessary that humans divide knowledge into compartments, separating religion, philosophy, and science. This tendency grew more pronounced through the eras until in the sixteenth century, with René Descartes, it became explicit, when he made a clear distinction between mind (spirit) and matter.
The Cartesian model emphasizes that matter is reality separated from the activity of the mind, although eventually, it would be associated to it on a divine plane. The body might be compared to a machine that would function equally well for good or evil, with or without the psyche:
I take the body to be no other than a statue or machine made of clay, which God created. (Descartes, 1971: 120)
Although Descartes did not doubt that the origins of the spirit and of matter were in a single sphere (the divine), his methods were later interpreted as proposals to render matter and the spirit irreconcilable principles.
In a revision of the Cartesian method, Brown (1990) analyzes that the reason for our having made Descartes the villain creator of dualistic thought is the diﬃculty, even today, of dealing with the complexity of these phenomena. In truth, when we read his Discourse on Method more carefully, we will see that Descartes describes mind and body as intimately related, interdependent. In Meditation VI, “Of the Existence of Material Things and of the Real Distinction between Soul and the Body of Man”, he argues that the soul is not merely “lodged” in the body “as a pilot in a vehicle”, but rather that “he is very intimately connected to it . . . in such a way that both make up a whole” (Descartes, 1988: 63). In Passions of the Soul, Descartes describes a series of states of mind as proceeding from or the consequence of alterations in the body. Both to Wilson (1980) and to Brown (1990), the true Descartes described not a rupture of mind from the body, but rather interaction that exposed the deep somatic bases of the aﬀective and perceptive states. Far from denying mind–body interaction, Descartes supported it when he speciﬁed one place in particular where mine and body interacted – the pineal gland – although he saw the body, like a machine, as functioning without the direct intervention of the soul. Experiencing a feeling would be the outcome, and not the cause, of material, somatic action. Moreover:
Although I may have a body to which I am closely bound, however, since on one hand I have a clear distinct idea of myself, in the measure that I am but a thinking and extensive thing, and that, on the other, I have a distinct idea of the body, in the
measure that it is but an extensive item and that it does not
think, it is certain that I, that is my soul whereby I am what I am,
is entire and truly distinct from my body and that it may be or
exist without same.
(Descartes, 1988: 66)
Probably owing to the complexity both of his thought and of the phenomenon in itself, the majority of the contemporaries and clinical successors of Descartes understood his profound philosophy but little. Descartes was to a certain extent stigmatized as a “creator” of mind–body dualism, both in the positive sense, to promote scientiﬁc thought, and in the negative sense, more prevalent in the present day, to hinder a fuller understanding of humans.
The end of the eighteenth century lent greater emphasis to reason, while “God” had something to do with words. Rationalism, the condition of accepting the knowledge veriﬁed by means of the intellect, became the ﬁrst principle.
There was also an increasing tendency to separate religion from science, mysticism and beliefs from “objective” knowledge. From the psychological point of view we might say that, in the search for consensual knowledge, the collective consciousness at this time would have achieved greater separation of the ego in relation to unconscious contents.
With the separation of religious faith from reason and science, one more stage in the collective de-integration process would have been attained.
If in the ﬁeld of science a new model was gaining strength and power, medical practice, even in the ﬁrst half of the nineteenth century, followed a romantic model where state of health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) was attributed to the interaction of diﬀerent factors. The principal source of therapeutic knowledge was the clinical observation of patients, as we may observe in countless reports of the times.
Also referred to as romantic medicine, this model contested pure rationalism with the rediscovery of the irrationality of the psyche. Human beings were thought of as a unitary, global ﬁeld rather than an aggregate of particles (Gusdorf, 1984).
Disease was deﬁned as a non-natural imbalance caused by the interaction of biological, moral, psychological, and spiritual factors. And, as such factors were very personal, physicians rarely prescribed speciﬁc treatment for one disease. On the contrary, according to the romantic model, they emphasized the idiosyncrasies of the patients in laying out plans for treatment (Rosenkrantz, 1985). Even when suﬀering was located in one speciﬁc organ, it was observed that the organism reacted as a whole, in the form of resonance or compensation. All bodily disease, it was believed, might express itself in disorders at the level of consciousness, in the same way as psychological diseases would belong to an organic ﬁeld. Symptoms would be linked by a relationship of correspondence and of reversibility that would be beyond mechanistic interpretation.
There is, therefore, a paradigm of a unitary, organic, and mental ﬁeld, with recognition of mutuality pertaining to clinical signs: “The diseases of the soul may be written on the body from a material aspect and, reciprocally, bodily disorders may have corollaries within mental space” (Gusdorf, 1984: 259). A man who was ill was regarded in his relationship with himself, with others, and with the world, integrating art, science, and religion.
It was at this time that psychiatry became deﬁnitely incorporated into medicine and, as we shall see later, this period also saw the advent of the term “psychosomatic”. Philosophers such as Schelling and Carus were to inﬂuence the development of the theory of C.G. Jung, mainly as to the concepts of the collective unconscious and the Self. For example, Schelling’s concept of the archetype as primordial portrayal of the organism within a functional rational unity matches the pathology of totality in therapy concerned not with applying to each symptom an appropriate medication, but rather with interpreting symptoms as symbols of a simultaneous situation for which we should utilize a global remedy (Gusdorf, 1984). These are ideas that, with better elaboration, were to become one of the bases of analytic theory.
At this time, therefore, the treatment for a speciﬁc disease varied in accordance with the circumstances of the patient. Regimes were prescribed that included medication, diets, modiﬁed behavior, and changes in residence, and implied deep knowledge of the patient. Within this model, the doctor–patient relationship had a central role, and sensitivity to psychological factors was very important. A review of the literature of the nineteenth century shows that hundreds of articles described the psychological components of somatic disease (Warner, 1986). W. Osler, an eminent nineteenth-century English doctor, stated that:
In the medicine of the future, interdependence of mind and
of body is to be more fully recognized and the form whereby
one may inﬂuence the other is hardly possible to imagine at the
(Lipowski, 1984: 160)
The end of the nineteenth century, however, saw the onset of much criticism of the romantic model, above all because it was predominantly empirical and did not allow any generalization. Within this model, knowledge obtained with one patient could be applied to another only in a very limited fashion, for it depended basically on clinical observation.
Little by little, the biomedical model, based above all on experimental physiology, became more inﬂuential (Myers and Benson, 1992). Disease came to be deﬁned as a deviation from the normal, and no longer holistically as non-natural imbalance. A focus on interaction between psychological, biological, environmental and personal factors was replaced by emphasis on biological abnormality. Clinical observation was gradually superseded by the experimental approach that came to be regarded as the main source of scientiﬁc knowledge.
Emphasis on body systems as a whole was replaced by a tendency to reduce systems to smaller parts, with each subsystem considered separately. At the same time, the focus was transferred from the individual to universal aspects of pathology. Finally, materialism took the place of a former trend that had considered moral, social and psychological (non-material) factors in dealing with the patient.
Thus, a change from the romantic model to the reductionist model was inevitable. Formulating disease as a separate entity marked by a deviation from ﬁxed physiological norms required that the body be thought about as a set of related, though relatively independent, systems.
The search for speciﬁc etiology directed this trend even further towards reductionism, because it sought the discovery of one single speciﬁc cause of disease, rather than leading the patient to the restoration of balance. In addition, reductionism was indispensable to experimentation in a laboratory that demanded that a system be controlled by one or a few variables. This aﬀorded conclusions on the contribution that each part made towards the whole, for here the functions of the total organism could be extrapolated and understood by an analysis of its lesser parts.
The trend towards universalism – emphasis on those aspects of disease that were universal – was also inevitable. With the acceptance of a biomedical model, the norms for countless physiological (temperature, arterial pressure, etc.) and psychological (sensations, thoughts, emotions) parameters were described. Reference to the patient as an individual was set aside because it was believed that these norms were essentially universal and, thus, deviation from them would be regarded as a disease. Measures, tests and diagnoses could be done without considering social, moral, and psychological characteristics of the patient. In this way, the practice of focusing on speciﬁc qualities of the patient was discouraged. Psychic and social factors were regarded as “epiphenomenon” with no impact on the body and, therefore, were left out of the clinical treatment.
The biomedical model also incorporated strong materialism. Nonmaterial factors were not susceptible to being easily measured in the laboratories and were thus neglected (Myers and Benson, 1992). If the “ideas” did not have “material” power, they would not be taken into account, because they would not have any eﬀect on the body (Foss and Rothenberg, 1987).
The study of the semiology of disease, i.e. the science of the signs of a disease is from this period. The signs were no longer seen as the symbols of a disease, but rather as external manifestations of a disease. Descriptions of color, smell, sound, consistency, temperature, physical dimensions, etc. led to greater objectiﬁcation reinforced by the development of technology. Here, mind and behavior were observed as quasi-physical entities, divided into sensations, ideas, feelings, for they had a place of representation in the brain and were measurable (Fabrega, 1990).
In addition, each disease began to be seen as having diﬀerent patterns of development. At ﬁrst, it was thought that these standards were made up of anatomical and physiological lesions. Only later, in diﬀerentiating “internal” from “external” signs, were “psychological lesions” thought of, as in neurosis or hallucinatory phenomena. The elaboration of a concept of hallucination and neurosis as phenomena that were “internal” and psychological in origin contributed to the distinction between that which is “purely” psychological and that which is “purely” physiological, and to the development of psychopathology (Fabrega, 1990). This distinction between abnormal states of body and mind would later lead to the concept of psychosomatics.
The semiologic approach to the study of diseases, both physical and mental, was also used in the phenomena referred to today as psychosomatic, such as a state of chronic fatigue. For example, exhaustion of unknown organic cause was and still is regarded by many clinicians as a sign of depression and, therefore, not as “real exhaustion”. The complaint of organic disease without a biological basis is even today regarded as false by traditional medicine. It is left to one side or reduced to a phenomenon that is “purely” psychological and, consequently, of “less worth”.
In conclusion, as we enter the twenty-ﬁrst century with a fragmented vision of humanity, the emphasis on studying disease is on compartmentalization, objectivity, the concrete, and standardization. The determining myth is that which tells us that humans may dissect, manipulate and dominate nature. These factors have shaped our concept of disease and of the mind–body relationship, also laying a basis for the concept of psychosomatics.
Both in the ﬁeld of medicine and in that of psychology, there is considerable misunderstanding as to the concept of the psyche–body relationship with disease. Concepts such as hysteria, conversion mechanisms, somatization, and psychosomatization have been used with the same signiﬁcance in diﬀerent articles. In dealing with empirical research the problem is aggravated, as we shall see. Many authors seem not to be concerned with deﬁnitions or theories, and conduct an empirical study without deﬁning the concept employed. Even when the term “psychosomatic” is used, there is no consensus as to its meaning.
Historically, it seems that the ﬁrst time this term was used was in 1808 by a German psychiatrist, Heinroth, in attempting to explain the origin of insomnia. Later, it was adopted (but rarely) by German and English doctors (Lipowski, 1984). According to Heinroth:
As a general rule, the origin of insomnia is psychosomatic, but
it is possible that each phase of life may, in itself, supply the
complete reason for insomnia.
(Margetts, 1950: 403) Later, in 1828, Heinroth introduced the term “somato-psychic”. While the latter was applied to diseases where the organic factor aﬀected the emotional, “psychosomatic” indicated the power of “amorous passion over tuberculosis” (Haynal and Pasini, 1983).
It is considered today that Deutsch in 1922 was the ﬁrst author to introduce the term “psychosomatic medicine”, although it was Dunbar (1935) that provided the principal base for the formation of this area with systematic observations and the application of scientiﬁc methodology. Although Dunbar herself did not consider the term adequate because it did not express the fact that mind and body are aspects of a fundamental unit, in the absence of a better option gained currency in the public and scientiﬁc domains. Dunbar, who was inﬂuenced by Jung and Deutsch, founded the American Psychosomatic Society and its journal in 1939 (Editors, Psychosomatic Medicine, 1939).
Shortly before writing her book, Dunbar visited Deutsch in Vienna and Jung in Zurich (Kornfeld, 1990). Jung was at this time involved with studies to test psychophysiological reactions resulting from activation of the complexes, and also with the study of typology and physical manifestations. He states:
The distinction between mind and body is an artiﬁcial dichotomy,
an act of discrimination based far more on the peculiarity of intel
lectual cognition than on the nature of things. In fact, so intimate
is the intermingling of bodily and psyche traits that not only can
we draw far-reaching inferences as to the constitution of the
psyche from the constitution of the body, but we can infer from
psychic peculiarities the corresponding bodily characteristics.
(Jung, 1971: 916)
On her return from the United States, Dunbar continued the studies that became a stimulus to founding of the Society, which is still probably one of the largest and strongest in this area. In the editorial of the ﬁrst issue of Psychosomatic Medicine (1939) we have the following deﬁnition, which remains uncontested and has guided the work of this group:
Its objective is to study the interrelation of the psychological and
physiological aspects of normal and abnormal function of the
body and integrate the somatic therapy in psychotherapy.
(Editors, 1939: 3–5) The publication of Dunbar’s book, followed by the founding of this Society and of the journal, are regarded as marking the emergence of the ﬁeld of psychosomatics as an organized ﬁeld of scientiﬁc research, and gave rise to a movement intended to transform clinical attendance. However, as we have seen, in deﬁning the ﬁeld of psychosomatic medicine the editors of this journal positioned it as the interrelationship between psychological and physiological aspects of the functions of the “body”. This is a biased aﬃrmation and yet, at the same time, proposes the application of an organic approach in psychotherapy. In another passage in this article, the editors emphasize mind–body dualism in proposing that this ﬁeld be separate from psychiatry and, we might add, from psychology, all of which exacerbated the mind–body dissociation (Lipowski, 1984). At this time, researchers from other areas developed similar studies demonstrating the mind–body relationship, according to the scientiﬁc parameters of the time.
In the 1930s, studies in psychophysiology developed by Pavlov and Cannon became an integral component of psychosomatics in focusing on the mechanisms that related the psychological variables to bodily functions. However, in applying classical experimental methodology, they also reinforced the dualistic view.
The Gestalt psychology of Kohler, Koﬀka, and Wertheimer in the 1920s and 1930s arose as a reaction to this experimental and laboratory psychology, with the thesis that the body could not be understood from the study of its isolated parts, but only as an irreducible totality with laws of its own (Heidbreder, 1964). According to Kohler, the function of each element would depend on the structure of the whole and on the laws that rule it (Kohler, 1947). As we shall see, this idea was taken up once more in the present-day holistic model.
Another important contribution to the area was that of Selye (1956) with his discovery of the syndrome of general adaptation, today more commonly known as stress syndrome. Selye deﬁned stress as “the sum of all the non speciﬁc eﬀects of the factors (normal activity, disease producers, drugs, etc.), which can act upon the body” (Selye, 1956: 42). “Stress is a condition, a state and although as such it is imponderable, that it manifests itself by measurable changes in the organs of the body” (Selye, 1956: 43). “Stress is usually the outcome of a struggle for self-preservation (the homeostasis) of parts within a whole” (Selye, 1956: 253).
Although his approach and research clearly follow a reductionist and organicist model, they lead to deeper reﬂection. Selye aﬃrms that there is an element of adaptation in every disease. According to him, there is a group of diseases that he describes as diseases of adaptation, which would be defensive and adaptive reactions of the body, a blend of defense and submission. Some diseases would be caused by an excess of defense, others by an excess of bodily reactions of submission.
The basic implication of his ideas for psychosomatics is the discovery of how much and in what way the body is transformed under stress. According to Selye (1956), by “dissecting our diﬃculties [we may] clearly distinguish between the part acted by the stressor and . . . our adaptive measures of defense and surrender”. Although he aﬃrms that “man’s ultimate aim is to express himself as fully as possible, according to his own rights” (Selye, 1956: 253), he lacked a more global theory about humanity that would allow him to bind his physiological ﬁndings to his philosophical concepts.
At the other extreme, Freud (1891/1954) studied the inﬂuence of emotion on the body with reference mainly to the role of etiology in the development of symptoms. His concepts of repression and conversion furnished the instruments that might be applied to the hypothesis of psychosomatic relationships.
To Freud (1895/1966), the hysterical symptoms appeared when the aﬀect associated with an idea entered into conﬂict with the ego and was consequently repressed and discharged in somatic symptoms and innervations. Freud used the term “conversion” to refer to processes where excitement was transformed into hysterical symptoms, and “somatic compliance” to signify organic susceptibility prior or simultaneous to the trauma that would serve as a “bed” to hysterical conversion. However, he conﬁned these hypotheses to hysteria and did not extend them to organic disease.
In presenting a formal theory of the unconscious within the scientiﬁc frame of reference of his times, Freud suggested that the psyche had a speciﬁc measurable topography and activities. Freudian thought also led to an explanation of the development and dynamics of culture. His theories of instincts, repression, guilt, and sublimation formed the basis for a theory on social life and on society. To him, instincts were primary forces in human life and the function of an individual would be to attain a balance between these forces and the external world, owing to the demands of the superego and of the principle of reality. The individual would, therefore, repress his instinctive life and his desires so that there might be integration on the social level, which, in turn, generates anxiety and mental disease.
Any emotional transaction would be a psychological dealing, not a question of liberty or moral freedom. Freud could not admit that these essential transactions would come from the spiritual man, not in a struggle against himself, but in search of signiﬁcance. While Freud discovered the unconscious, he overestimated his power and limited its expression.
According to this focus, therapy allows the psyche to attain individual accommodation with one’s condition of life, lending one greater energy, but without giving one the reason to employ it. In believing that the origin of religious thought was the expression of psychic dependence, linked to the need to diminish fear of the unknown, Freud intended to liberate humans from repressive fear dictated by religious institutions, believing that they could thus accept the ﬁnality of death and the absence of a spiritual force with equanimity. This was one of the points that led to the historical rupture with his disciple Jung.
Owing to the fertile development of psychoanalysis in this period, most of the scholars of psychosomatics up to the end of the 1940s based their studies on this approach. The most signiﬁcant example is the development of the School of Chicago under the direction of Franz Alexander and Thomas French.
Alexander was strongly inﬂuenced by psychoanalysis, by Gestalt psychology and by advances in neurology and endocrinology. Although he considered that somatic and psychological phenomena occurred in the same organism, and were merely two aspects of the same process, he did not escape in practice from a dualistic vision:
Psychosomatic research deals with processes in which certain
links in the causal chain at the present stage of our knowledge
lend themselves more promptly to study by psychological rather
than physiological methods, in that a detailed investigation of
the emotions as brain processes are not suﬃciently advanced.
Even when the physiological base of the psychological phenom
ena is better known, we can probably not do without the
(Alexander, 1923/1989: 47)
Alexander worked with the hypothesis of speciﬁcity of the disease according to which “the physiological responses to emotional, normal and morbid stimuli, vary in accordance with the nature of the emotional state that unleashes them” (Alexander, 1923/1989: 55). There would be a speciﬁcity (organic) in the manner whereby a psychological motivating force might express itself (Alexander, 1923/1989: 57). Thus, each disease would correspond to an emotional picture or to a type of personality. Alexander described seven diseases later known as psychosomatic, but he considered that “every disease is psychosomatic since the emotional factors inﬂuence all of the processes of the body, by means of nervous and humoral routes” (Alexander, 1923/1989: 44).
Although the concept follows a linear, causal, and reductivistic model, Alexander made extremely signiﬁcant descriptions and clinical analyses, particularly if they are interpreted in the light of a broader theory.
Within the psychoanalytical line, another outstanding contribution is that of the Psychosomatic School of Paris through Marty, M’Uzan and David (1963). Here, the central idea is that psychosomatic patients diﬀer from others by the poverty of their symbolic world. They dream little and their dreams are “realistic”. There is little psychic elaboration and their thought is of the operatory type, imprisoned in concrete and in pragmatic orientation. A psychosomatic patient would have little connection with his unconscious mind. In the face of any stress on the part of the patient, through incapacity to symbolize he would react with somatic disease. These authors state that organic diseases, unlike neuroses and psychoses, lack any sense and have no symbolic signiﬁcance, with psychic and organic disease being incompatible.
Sífneos and Nehemiah developed a similar idea regarding the concept of alexithymia in 1970.1 To them psychosomatic patients would be alexithymic, i.e. incapable of deﬁning and expressing feelings, and having diﬃculty in recognizing feelings (Sífneos and Nehemiah, 1970).
In spite of the heuristic worth of this concept, it has had limited acceptance, as it goes against most of the clinical observations of professionals:
In practice, however, we see psychosomatic manifestations
develop into hysterical, obsessive and psychotic persons. We can
see psychosomatic symptoms being incorporated to signiﬁcant
associative chains in neurotics or articulated to deliria in psy
chotic persons, although we also observe the existence of patients
classically somatizing, as per Marty.
(Santos and Otelo 1992: 110) The problem in psychoanalytical conceptualism in psychosomatics is to work with a symbol only on the verbal, abstract plane. In considering that somatization does not have a symbolic signiﬁcance, and is but a signal of a dysfunction, the French School loses a direct route for work with the unconscious and gives rise to a technical diﬃculty. Thus, Marty (1990) proposes to psychoanalysts a therapeutic non-psychoanalytical form of work, such as using relaxation techniques for somatizing patients.
Although the psychoanalyst McDougall (1986, 1989) refers to these alexithymic patients as normopaths, i.e. those that use false non-aﬀective normality in order to adapt, she considers that many organic patients are not within the framework of this approach and, as we shall see, she makes some valuable observations.
We shall see, therefore, that many ideas were developed without a coherent framework that would group them and that would aﬀord coherence between theory and therapeutic practice.
According to Mello et al. (1992), psychosomatics has evolved in three phases:
We could add that in the third phase, where we are now, there is not a coherent theory. The model that we still use follows the classical biomedical model.
In the words of Castiel:
The trail to be followed in search of a proposal that is more consistent for constitution of a paradigm that produces more eﬀective psychosomatic interventions must include theoretical developments, in such a way as to reverse the ideology of a scientiﬁc medicine man that has permeated medicine and that originates in the positivist tradition of the XIX century. In this way, medical thought is impregnated with the curative model . . .
We thus resort to interventions that have had an important degree
of eﬀectiveness, but that now, besides producing considerable
iatrogenic eﬀects, are not so eﬀective.
(Castiel, 1991: 272)
We may observe, therefore, that the concept of psychosomatization, although it represents a new de-integration in the collective consciousness, is still immersed in the biomedical model, which may be summarized as follows: the body is a machine that must be analyzed and reduced to its smallest parts. Psyche and body have a causalistic and deterministic relationship and it is possible to diﬀerentiate them objectively. health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) is deﬁned as absence of disease, which, in turn, is deﬁned as poor function of the biological and/or psychological mechanisms.
Since the 1980s this model has begun to lose strength and has, in some sectors, been replaced by the so-called holistic model. This, as we shall see, partly encompasses the romantic model, has a parallel in the development of contemporary science and includes a vision of an ecological and all-inclusive world whereby the universe is seen as a live interconnected system.
As Campbell says:
New myths have arisen from the idea that man came from the
earth and was not thrown here from somewhere . . . man is the
earth, is the conscience, the eyes and the voice of the earth . . .
All of the planet is one single organism.
(Campbell, 1990: 25)
Up to the present time, no conceptual or institutional theoretical frame of reference has been established that may situate the problem of health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and disease within a new paradigm. We must, therefore, gradually formulate a new theoretical approach and develop methods of research and treatment accordingly.
“Holistic” is a word that comes from the Greek holos (whole). According to Weil, it was ﬁrst used in science in 1926 by Smuts in the book Holism and Evolution to designate the concept that the universe is in constant formation. A vital force is responsible for the formation of complexes on diﬀerent levels: ideological, biological, and psychological (Weil, 1990).
To Smuts, totality is a fundamental characteristic of the universe; product of a propulsion to synthesize that comes from nature. “Holism creates itself and its ﬁnal structures are more holistic than its initial structures” (Ferguson, 1980: 156). Therefore, totalities are dynamic, evolutionary and creative. They cannot be understood by dissection into parts. They cannot be predicted by observation of their components. Many years passed before the term “holism” could be incorporated in diﬀerent areas of knowledge.
Progress in molecular medicine, in neurobiology, in genetics, and in the application of quantum theory in biology has broadened our manner of seeing the mind–body relationship and has led to new reﬂections on health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and on disease. Modern scientiﬁc thought, in physics and chemistry as in biology and psychology, has led us to a vision of the world that is, to a certain extent, close to that of more traditional and “natural” cultures. Thus, new trends have begun to posit a holistic principle or psychic force greater than any neurobiological event, and the molecular descriptions of psychic life have begun to reveal mind–body interdependence as a signiﬁcant unit.
Quantum physics has taught us that matter and energy are two diﬀerent aspects of the same reality, and that their physical characteristics may be observed only as statistical probability. This indeterminability is, in fact, a function of the matter–energy relationship with the mind of an experimenter. Therefore, quantum theory questions the principles of causality and determinism, leading to deep changes both in human and in biological sciences, just as in the theory of evolution and in psychology. Within this paradigm, vital force (like gravitational force, among others) cannot be known reductively. We can measure their eﬀects, but in essence they are non-demonstrable.
If the molecular level is useful for the study of physiological events, it is on the quantum level that matter and psyche meet. Modern science thus suggests the problematical nature of knowledge and leaves to one side the idea of a consensual, normative, objective world.
Here, the idea of normal and universal is questioned. Martins and Bicudo state that:
Just as the position or momentum of a particle, the motivations and attitudes of an individual are not objects that present char
acteristics that can be objectively measured; rather, such charac
teristics are related to the place, moment, manner, and to why
they were measured.
(Martins and Bicudo, 1989: 69)
Laszlo (1993), one of the most prominent scientists of our era, in his quest for a uniﬁed theory aﬃrms that science is on the threshold of another “revolution” that promises to be even vaster than the Copernican revolution, and it can only unfold across the disciplines as a more holistic, systemic approach, as a cosmological revolution, in the sense in which cosmology has always been the science of the whole of reality.
In the ﬁeld of psychosomatics we ﬁnd some publications that attempt to integrate these concepts within a new deﬁnition:
Psychosomatic is a term that refers to the inseparability and
interdependence of the psychological and biological aspects of
humanity. This connotation may be referred to as holistic, in
that it implies a vision of human beings as a totality, a mind–
body complex immersed in a social environment.
(Lipowski, 1984: 167)
According to Capra (1982), a holistic approach in health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and in cure is in harmony with many more traditional points of view, and is also consistent with modern scientiﬁc theories.
In medicine and in psychology the term “psychosomatic” has been used, as we have seen, to refer to a disease without a diagnosis that is clearly organic. The modern use of the term has become modiﬁed. It derives from the knowledge of a fundamental interdependence between mind and body in all of the stages of sickness and health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com). It would be reductionism to consider that there are diseases caused only by psychological or organic factors. There are always many variables involved in the observation of any phenomenon. Thus, we should regard all diseases as psychosomatic, in so far as they involve continuous interrelation between body and mind in their origin, development, and cure.
LeShan (1992), an eminent psychologist and researcher in this area, has described the three principles that support modern psychosomatic medicine. The ﬁrst states that an individual exists on many levels or domains, all of equal importance. To divide them into body, mind and spirit has been most common in the Western tradition; however, other levels may also be used. Second, each person may be seen as unique and treated as such. And third, the patient must be encouraged to beneﬁt from his/her autonomy in the process of cure.
According to these three principles, we may help to develop an environment where the abilities of individuals to cure themselves will more probably surface to assist an allopathic medical program. From another point of view, we may say that these principles tend to produce a superior level of activity in the processes and structures that we refer to as “the immunological system”, for example. Here it is important to remember that any system is an oﬀshoot (i.e. “deintegrated”) that is somewhat arbitrary, and that does not have, as such, an absolute truth. With other oﬀshoots, other laws have been discovered; systems that are very diﬀerent from those with which we are accustomed would probably have been developed in diﬀerent circumstances. The medicine–psychology division is one of these “de-integrated” systems that will certainly be outdated at some time in the future.
In conclusion, a new synthesis is necessary. A new de-integration begins to emerge from the collective unconscious, forming a new model. Our evolution depends on the level of our consciousness and on our capacity to bring forth the information that is already in the unconscious.
The holistic model, in resuming former concepts, practices, methods, and techniques, tries to integrate them in the modern world. However, we can observe, even among the authors that use a new approach, the absence of a conceptual model. The diverse researchers and clinicians in the area, including LeShan, have not deﬁned the theoretical paradigm that underpins them. Techniques are applied and tested, in general with good results, but in a form that is eminently empirical.
On the other hand, on brief reﬂection, we can see that this new attitude and the new approach are described completely in analytical psychology. The principles of the holistic model, as described above, are found in the theory and in the psychotherapy method proposed by Jung, even if the latter has not contributed directly to the former.
Therefore, our proposal is to use the analytic model to develop a theory applicable to the phenomenon of disease and health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com), in its interrelation with the psyche–body phenomenon.
Our brains deal exclusively with special-case experiences. Only our minds are able to discover the generalized principles operating without exception in each and every special-experience case which if detected and mastered will give knowledgeable advantage in all instances.
(Fuller, 1963: 1)
Although references to the body/mind issue are rare in analytical psychology, by 1906 Jung had already laid the foundation for considering this phenomenon by developing the word association test.
Initially used to diagnose neuroses and psychoses through the complexes that surfaced during the experiment, and to shorten the time of “psychoanalysis”, this experiment proved to be an area for basic observation of human psychophysiology. Jung was speaking of the these tests’ results when he said:
Physical and psychic symptoms are nothing more than symbolic manifestations of pathogenic complexes. (Jung, 1973: 727)
Through these experiments of association, Jung observed that a complex works as an automaton and replaces the constellatory power of the egoic complex.
In this way, a new morbid personality is gradually created, the inclinations, judgments, and resolutions of which move only in the direction of the will to be ill. This second personality
devours what is left of the normal ego and forces it into the role of a secondary (oppressed) complex. (Jung, 1973: 861)
The ego [is] deﬁned herein as nothing but a complex of imaginings held together and ﬁxed by the coenesthetic impressions. (Jung, 1973: 1352)
There is a similarity between the ego and the secondary complexes, for the emotional tone of these is also based on coenesthetic impressions, in the knowledge that either one or the other may be temporarily repressed or split up.
(Jung, 1973: 1352)
Countless cases and studies reported by Jung clearly established the function of a neurotic symptom as the best expression of conﬂict lived and repressed, mainly in hysterical patients.
In the depths of the mind of each hysterical patient we always ﬁnd an old wound that still hurts or, in psychological terms, a feeling-toned complex.
(Jung, 1973: 915)
The same concept was used in the explanation of psychoses (Jung, 1973: 1353). In the Psychiatric Clinic laboratory, Jung together with Peterson carried out a wide-ranging study on psycho-physical reactions in normal and in psychopathological individuals. The purpose of these studies was:
to ascertain the value of the so-called psycho-physical galvanic reﬂex as a recorder of psychical stimuli; to determine its normal and pathological variations; to study the respiratory innervation curve in the same relations; and ﬁnally to compare the galvanometer and pneumograph, under the inﬂuence of various stimuli.
(Jung, 1973: 1036)
In a brief summary of Jung’s discoveries, we might cite the following:
The ﬂuctuation on a galvanometer and in the time of reaction may be used as a measure of amount of emotional tone. Each stimulus that accompanies an emotion precipitates an elevation in the electrical curve that is directly proportionate to the vivacity and actuality of the emotion elicited (Jung, 1973: 1049).
2 An emotion imagined may produce the same reactions (Jung, 1973: 1050).
3 Great emotional liability precipitates a considerable variation in the curves of a pneumograph and galvanometer (Jung, 1973: 1057).
4 Breathing is subject to a process of inhibition in the presence of expectation, tension, and emotion; however, because it is more subject to conscious control, sometimes the pneumographic curve does not show a marked change (Jung, 1973: 1062).
5 Alterations in breathing owing to emotional states are more marked in breathing out, at the moment of relaxation, than during breathing in (Jung, 1973: 1063).
6 The time elapsed between one stimulus and the change in electrical resistance of the skin, as shown by the galvanometer, suggest alterations in the sympathetic nervous system, probably under the inﬂuence of the sudoriferous glands (Jung, 1973: 1064).
7 The galvanometer curve for these reasons is more intimately connected than the pneumographic curve with the emotional complexes (Jung, 1973: 1064).
The association experiments furnished a means for experimental study of the behavior of complexes and of the psyche–body relation, enabling better comprehension of the ego’s structure and the personal unconscious.
Thus, a complex was conceived by Jung as:
a collection of imaginings, which, in consequence of this autonomy, is relatively independent of the central control of the consciousness, and at any moment liable to bend or cross the intentions of the individual.
(Jung, 1973: 1352)
For Jung, both in neuroses and in psychoses, symptoms of a somatic or psychic nature originate in the complexes. In neuroses, the complexes undergo continual changes, while in the psychoses they remain ﬁxed, preventing the personality from progressing (Jung, 1973: 1354). The more intense and more autonomous the complex, the greater the symptomology: “a strong complex possesses all the characteristics of a separate personality” (Jung, 1973: 1352).
Through innumerable research studies, Jung demonstrated that the basis both of the ego and of the secondary complex is the body, insofar as both have their emotional tone based on coenesthetic impressions, understood here as the totality of sensations that originate in the body organs, i.e. sensations through which the body itself is perceived.
Elaborating later (1974), Jung makes it clear that the ego, originating in the Self archetype, has one psychic basis and another somatic. The somatic basis would consist of the conscious and unconscious endosomatic sensations. The emergence of the ego would be touched oﬀ by the “collision between the somatic factor and the environment” (Jung, 1974: 3–6).
Fordham (1957), through clinical research on children, also demonstrated that the ego originates from the totality archetype, the Self, which expresses itself, as do all archetypes, in body experience on the one hand, and in archetypal images on the other.
Thus when a given complex constellates, there is not only a change on the physiological level, as shown by the association experiments, but also a transformation in the total body structure, whether or not the individual realizes it. This transformation may be felt as an indeﬁnite sense of ill-being or may express itself in clearer symptoms.
So we may note that every complex, including the ego complex, has a speciﬁc pattern of coenesthetic images and sensations. The body self-image is part of the ego complex, just as are all coenesthetic sensations consciously present, forming a consistent and relatively stable structure in the normal individual.
The formation of the body image is not merely the result of personal experiences, but is based on the ego–Self relation, which has its own bodily representation. Body consciousness is “de-integrated”; it is the perception of a part of the total body, of the corporeal Self.
The development of individual and/or collective consciousness brings to the surface other new “de-integrateds”, other knowledge, that is joined to this forever partial perception of the body consciousness. Knowledge of the total body would correspond to knowledge of Self’s body, of Totality’s body.
To the normal individual the de-integrated arises in consciousness as a symbol, sometimes in its more concrete pole, other times in its more abstract pole, but always acting synchronistically in the two cases. The development of the ego depends in part on its ability to absorb these symbols, images, and sensations that supply the ego with information about the Self.
For their part, the Self’s symbols emerge from the depths of the body. Jung says:
The symbol is thus a living body, corpus et anima . . . The deeper layers of the psyche lose their individual uniqueness as they retreat farther and farther into darkness . . . Lower down, that is to say as they approach the autonomous functional systems, they [the symbols] become increasingly collective until they are universalized and extinguished in the body’s materiality, i.e., in chemical substances. The body’s carbon is simply carbon. Hence “at bottom” the psyche is simply “world” . . . The more archaic and deeper, that is the more physiological, the symbol is, the more collective and universal, the more “material” it is.
(Jung, 1974: 29)
Starting from these statements, we might inquire whether the more a disease manifests itself in the body, the more it is an expression of the collective and universal unconsciousness. Here the question would be: is a disease that has a clearly corporeal representation expressing content more unconscious, more collective? Can it be that those patients considered more “psychosomatic” are expressing contents more archaic than those patients who are less sick physically?
When we compare these patients with psychotics, we see that the latter also express decidedly archaic and archetypal contents and that therefore the diﬀerence must not be one of the degree of primitivism and lack of diﬀerentiation, but perhaps one of the quality of the psychotics’ expression. While psychotic manifestation occurs mainly on the abstract level, the “organic” invalid expresses himself mainly on the concrete level. Perhaps the diﬀerence lies in the way of expressing this structuring, since both may be manifesting disorganization or non-diﬀerentiation of a primary level. Thus, we may reason that while in psychosis the ego is menaced with extinction by invading archetypal contents, in cancer (for example) the organism, including the ego, is being threatened with extinction by “invading cells that proliferate indiscriminately.”
Another way to formulate the question would be: is the conﬂict that ﬁnds expression in abstract symbols (fantasies, dreams, imagination) closer to consciousness than that which ﬁnds more pronounced expression in the organic aspect? If it is, the idea of alexithymia makes some sense. In the absence of an abstract symbolic representation, the Self would manifest by creating more regressive, primitive, and organismic symbols. This idea has support in the thesis developed by J. Conger, who (with reference to Jung) states that:
Symbols either reﬂect the archaic physiology of the body or are more diﬀerentiated, reﬂecting the more conscious character. (Conger, 1988: 185)
In clinical practice, however, many “organically” ill patients do not demonstrate themselves to be alexithymics nor to be reduced to operational thinking.
We cannot here reduce symbol to the verbal, as does the Psychosomatic School of Paris. That a patient somatizes, as we shall see, does not mean he does not symbolize, but rather that this symbolizing happens on the somatic plane. It would be highly reductionist to restrict the symbolization process to the verbal or abstract level.
The problem probably lies in the interconnection of conscious and unconscious life. The patient who expresses himself somatically has lost his body’s connection with his somatic unconsciousness, so that his eidetic fantasy life would be disconnected from his organic life. That is to say, these patients have a more restricted and compulsive symbolic life.
Perhaps we are dealing here with archaic forms of psychic functioning: pre-verbal symbolic forms, natural at the infantile stage. Although a technical review of personality development is beyond the scope of this work, some observations are needed.
We know that babies react bodily to fear of, or the sensation of, being abandoned. The psychic structures are at ﬁrst constructed of psychophysiological reactions. We can suppose that when an adult reacts with a physical symptom to feeling abandoned, he is
re-experiencing an infantile pattern of behavior, as a child responds psychosomatically to emotional pain for lack of verbal language. Jacoby (1999), in his study of the development of the symbolic function, describes the infant experiences as:
a whole spectrum of body sensations; and with them, diﬀerent patternings of psychophysiologycal rhythm, having to do not only with its own and its mother’s heartbeat, but also with the cycle of biological and emotional states that the newborn goes through during a twenty-four hour period.
(Jacoby, 1999: 62)1
When the mother–child relationship is suﬃciently good, there will develop in the child, starting from the initial somatopsychic matrix, a progressive discrimination between his body and the mother’s body, which is the ﬁrst representation of the external world. The psychological contents are slowly discriminated from the somatic in the infant psyche. In the normal pattern, it is through the relation with the mother that verbal symbolic communication develops in harmony with, and complementing, corporal communication. Psyche–body diﬀerentiation grows more solid, and the mother–child relationship oﬀers the basis for forming the transcendent function. The archetypes proceed to de-integrate as their two poles become conscious.
Also according to Jacoby, thinking and fantasizing are possible only after the emergence of the capacity of symbolizing, which occurs after the age of 18 months. And the development of this capacity “depends largely on a facilitating mirroring and an optimal dose of stimulation coming from the environment” (Jacoby, 1999: 71).
Infants may experience states of bliss or anguish but they have no image or concept of those states. This actually makes the emotional experience, raw and unmediated as it is, much more intense and pervasive, and therefore in greater need of being contained by the caretaker.
(Jacoby, 1999: 59)
In adult life, we may suppose that the diﬃculty in symbolizing at the most abstract level would be a consequence of prematurely interrupting the relationship to the caregiver, regardless of the reason. Thus fear, rather than transforming into a mental process, would get stuck on the physical plane.
Although the organic patient may function rather well in certain personality areas, in some patients it is possible to see a split between body and psyche. How exactly this happens, we do not yet know. Nevertheless, we know that it is the mother, or a substitute, who decodes for the child, verbally and with gestures, both external stimuli and his apparent corporal sensations. In this context the mother would thus function as a protector and decodiﬁer, carrying out the transcendent function for the child. It is through this relationship that the child learns to identify his body abstractly.
If certain emotional states cannot be elaborated with abstract symbols, they may became isolated fragments of a purely concretized nature (Jacoby, 1999: 66) and a split would tend to occur. This split, according to McDougall, might be resolved in two ways:
The ﬁrst leads to autistic pathology, in which case the body and
its somatic functioning frequently remain intact while the mind
closes itself to the external world; the second keeps the relation
to external reality intact, with the risk that the soma will begin
to act in what we might call an “autistic” fashion, that is,
detached from the psyche’s aﬀective messages in terms of word-
presentations, leaving powerful thing-presentations to seek non
(McDougall, 1989: 43)
Thus we might reason that in these patients a complex has no way to be represented on an abstract level and therefore cannot be expressed through fantasy, imagination, or dreaming. But this conﬂict may indeed take on an organic expression. In this way, the organic symptom will contain psychic messages that otherwise would have no abstract representation.
McDougall observes that organic patients “resist the search for the psychic factors that nourish their psychosomatic vulnerability” (McDougall, 1989: 43). It is as if these patients struggle, as do neurotic and psychotic patients, to protect their somatic creation.
Fordham (1957) developed a similar idea. According to this author, the mother, by not mediating for the child between psyche and body, keeps the symbolic, transcendent function locked in the body, rather than its changing into fantasies and images that would be assimilated by the ego. It’s as if the emotional memory got lost in the body and reappeared when current situations mirrored a conﬂict similar to that which gave rise to this split. The archetype’s two poles are split. There is no space to symbolize emotional pain verbally; that’s why it is experienced in the body. In this case, somatization would be acting out and trying to integrate the repressed instinct (archetype) into consciousness. But due to diﬃculty in expressing at a more conscious level, the corporal symptom keeps repeating compulsively and defensively.
This hypothesis has been conﬁrmed by innumerable clinical cases, where the sentiment of fear does not accompany the normally concomitant physiological sensation. That is, the patient complains of organic symptoms without being aware that they refer to a certain conﬂictive sentiment. For example, a patient who had tachycardiac and hypertensive crises took some time to see that they were concomitant to the sentiment of panic (appearance of a complex).
The issue of why a person with a conﬂict reacts neurotically, whereas another reacts with a somatic disease, is far from being answered. Some hypotheses, however, have been broached. Here it is also necessary to discriminate between the causes that precipitate the symptom and the psychic organizational structure that reacts somatically in face of a conﬂict. Hundreds of studies on stress fall into the ﬁrst of these categories.
In summary, one of the hypotheses we could raise would be that psychosomatic phenomena may be avoided when neurotic forms of organization emerge. The neurotic structure creates a protective structure, namely the neurotic symptom, to deal with the conﬂict or emotional pain, whereas in organic disturbances there would be a regression to more primitive forms of relationship between body and mind. The verbal communication of aﬀective states would be disconnected, in general, from the body. Here an archaic form of symbolism is at work, in which the body talks. A symptom that may be corporal (“organic illness”) or psychic (“mental illness”) would be the symbolic representation of a disconnection or disturbance in the ego/Self axis.
In this context, we have to be careful about the observation, common among psychologists and doctors, that diseases of the immunological system, especially cancer, occur less frequently in psychotic patients, as if mental illness were an alternative to organic.
Several studies have been undertaken in an attempt to clarify this issue, with highly controversial results. For example, while some authors defend the idea that cancer (particularly lung cancer) occurs less often in patients with schizophrenia (Craig and Lin, 1981; Rice, 1979), others have observed incidence levels greater than (Ananth and Burnstein, 1977) or equal to the general population (Hussar, 1966; Odegard, 1967).
After an extensive review of the literature, Harris (1988) attributed this controversy to numerous methodological questions, including the use of antipsychotic medication, which has obviated clear results.
Mortensen (1989, 1994), one of the most prominent researchers in the ﬁeld, developed a number of studies that looked at the occurrence of depression (in conjunction with some other type of problem) in schizophrenia. Most of the ﬁndings indicated a reduction in the risk of cancer in schizophrenic patients. His conclusions were based extensively on a cohort study of the Danish population, and an independent analysis of schizophrenic patients who had been admitted for the ﬁrst time.
A study conducted by Gulbinat et al. (1992) found that three cities
– Aarhus (Denmark), Nagasaki (Japan) and Honolulu (USA) – produced very interesting results. In Aarhus, there was a low incidence of two cancer types in particular: pulmonary and prostate. Among schizophrenic women, the risk for all types of cancer was equal to or slightly less than the risk to the general population. The results for Nagasaki and Honolulu revealed no signiﬁcant diﬀerence, while the authors found a signiﬁcant reduction of lung cancer in schizophrenic Danish men and women. This is important, as schizophrenics tend to be heavier smokers, smoking longer and preferring cigarettes that are heavier in tar.
The most recent study on the subject is the ﬁrst study done on the US mainland. Cohen et al. (2002) demonstrated a reduced likelihood of a cancer diagnosis in persons diagnosed with schizophrenia, despite their higher rates of smoking. While the authors hypothesized that this ﬁnding is due solely to the use of neuroleptic medication, these results are similar to those observed at the turn of the twentieth century, well before this type of medication came into use.
It appears that this negative relation between schizophrenia and cancer is also found in relation to schizophrenia and rheumatoid arthritis. In an extensive review of the literature on the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis in schizophrenic patients, Eaton et al. (1992) found that although the evidence for the negative relationship of schizophrenia to rheumatoid arthritis is not conclusive, it is very strong: they found a consistently lower than expected co-occurrence of the two conditions.
In conclusion, the hypothesis that there is a negative relation between mental and organic illness remains open to question.
While the bulk of research points to a negative relation between schizophrenia and illnesses such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, methodological diﬃculties have prevented a clear conclusion on the phenomenon. As far as current wisdom goes, there is a tendency to express a dysfunction in either the psychic or the organic realm.
Some observations of an alternation between schizophrenic symptoms and cancer are found in cases described in the literature and in clinical practice. Recently, from the medical report of a schizophrenic woman, I could see the improvement of the mental symptoms, according to her psychiatrist, at the same time as a malign tumor was found. According to her nurse, the patient – a 58-year-old woman with chronic schizophrenia – was perfectly lucid during the treatment. It was only after discharge by her gynecologist that she experienced a severe recurrence of the mental disease.
Jung returns to the psyche–body phenomenon as symbol in his work on psychology and alchemy, in which he states that the result of alchemical endeavor should be sought neither in the body nor in the psyche, but rather
in an intermediate realm between mind and matter, i.e. a psychic realm of subtle bodies whose characteristic it is to manifest themselves in a mental as well as a material form . . . Obviously, the existence of this intermediate realm comes to a sudden stop the moment we try to investigate matter in and for itself, apart from all projection; and it remains non-existent so long as we believe we know anything conclusive about matter or the psyche. But the moment when physics touches on the “untrodden, untreadable regions”, and when psychology has at the same time to admit that there are other forms of psychic life besides the acquisitions of personal consciousness – in other words, when psychology too touches on an impenetrable darkness – then the intermediate realm of subtle bodies comes to life again, and the physical and the psychic are once more blended in an indissoluble unity.
(Jung, 1968: 394) In his work, the terms “subtle body”, “pneumatic body”, “breathbody” (Jung, 1970: 513; 1972: 390), “internal body” and corpus gloriﬁcatus are used as relatively synonymous. Corpus subtile is a transﬁgured and resurrected body, i.e. a body that was at the same time spirit (Jung, 1968: 511). Corpus gloriﬁcatus or gloriﬁcationis is the body of the resurrection, the subtle body, in the state of incorruptibility (Jung, 1975: 202), “a state achieved by the hero as reward for his victory” (Jung, 1970: 513). “It is a pure and eternal substance capable and worthy of being united with the unio mentalis” (Jung, 1974: 774).
The subtle body is also mixed up with the somatic unconscious. In his seminars on Nietzsche, Jung states that the unconscious can only be experienced in the body and that the body is exclusively the external manifestation of the Self (Jung, 1988).
Meir (1986), revisiting the theory of the subtle body, considers that it is in that theory that we will eventually ﬁnd the solution for problems of the psychophysical relationship. The subtle body, to him, is a third factor, greater than the body and greater than the psyche, and responsible for forming symptoms in both.
Mindell (1982, 1985) develops from these concepts a new term: “dreambody”. This author considers that the relation between subtle body and real body is given by the oniric body, for both the subtle and the real are aspects of the oniric body.
A similar concept is developed by Sandner (1986), who describes the subjective body as the archetype through which the psyche inﬂuences the objective (real) body, and vice versa.
This body of which these authors speak is the expression of the archetype of the original human, of his corporal schema, as Neumann (1973) says; and it is his symbolic body, according to Byington. As Byington understands it, the body participates in the psyche via the structuring symbols that express the individual’s personal traits. The symbolic body is deﬁned here as the set of psychological signiﬁcance of the somatic body. Beyond this:
every one of the ﬁve corporal systems (respiratory, digestive,
cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and motor) aﬀects, in charac
teristic manner, countless symbols which typically structure our
identity and our style of being and of knowing the world.
(Byington, 1988: 29)
With all these conceptions, symbol comes forward as the third factor in mind–body polarity. Subtle body, pneumatic body, somatic unconscious, dreambody or oniric body, subjective body, and symbolic body are all concepts which refer to a third factor that transcends the psyche–body dichotomy: the symbol.
In summary, symbol expresses the perception of the psyche–body phenomenon by perceiving, synchronistically, physiological changes and the corresponding images. A complex always has a corporeal symbolic expression through which we may grasp the key to comprehending the illness. In the case of a complex, the symbol points toward a dysfunction, a detour that needs correction because the relation of ego to Self has changed.
In Groddeck, regarded by many as the father of psychosomatic medicine, we ﬁnd the same idea. To him, disease does not exist as an entity, but only as the expression of totality of man, as an expression of “this” (id). To cure would be “to correctly interpret that which this totality is trying to express through symptoms and to teach it a less painful mode of self expression” (Groddeck, 1992: 173).
Several authors, including Reich (1954/1955), tried to establish a correlation between the organic and the psychic symptomatology based on a similar idea. However, in so far as they tried to establish ﬁxed and universal relationships between body and mind, they brought about a rigid and reductionistic system. As we shall see, the same can be said of Temoshok and Dreher (1992) (cancer and type C personality) and Friedman and Rosenman (1974) (cardiac disease and type A personality), among others, in trying to establish a relationship between the personality traits and disease.
Rossi (1986) proposes a psychobiological theory of mind/body communication, in which symbol is present through word or placebo using techniques of hypnosis. He deﬁnes the conscious as “a process of self-reﬂective information transduction” (Rossi, 1986: 11).
Transduction theory refers to the conversion or transformation of energy or information from one form to another. Here the human body is seen as a network of information systems (genetic, immunological, hormonal, inter alia). Each of these systems has its code, and the transmission of information between the systems requires some type of transducer to allow the code of one system to be translated to that of another.
The mind, with its capacity to symbolize linguistically, may also be considered as a mean of coding, processing, and transmitting the organism’s, psyche’s and soma’s information. The organic patient would code his conﬂict in the somatic system, by preference.
The question then is that of how the information received and processed on the semantic level, for example, may be transduced into information appropriate to be received on the somatic level, and vice versa.
Rossi addresses this question by investigating the technique of hypnosis as facilitating the process of transducing mind/body information, based principally on studies of the limbic/hypothalamic system, which he considers the major psyche–body transducer.
The concept of symbol as “energy-transforming machine,” proposed by Jung (1970), would here be comprehended as the transducing machine through which a system’s information (e.g. the immunological system’s) could be transduced to the conscious system, and vice versa. Rossi goes so far as to suggest that
The successful lucid dreamer is the individual who can use a
certain degree of conscious planning and voluntary control to
transduce mind into physiological responses.
(Rossi, 1986: 29)
That is, an individual who, besides controlling some of his oniric states, can have access to certain psychophysiological functions.
Mind and body are presumably a pair of opposites and, as such,
the expression of a single entity whose essential nature is not
knowable either from its outward, material manifestation or
from inner, direct perception . . . This living being appears out
wardly as the material body, but inwardly as a series of images
of the vital activities taking place within it.
(Jung, 1972: 619)
In this sense, the symbol would be informing of organic events. This idea ﬁnds substrata in the case histories of patients who describe dreams indicative of organic diseases well before any such illnesses are perceived.
A patient of mine once dreamt that she had a clump of arteries and veins wrapped around her left foot. She woke up screaming when, in her dream, a doctor had threatened to cut the clump open.
Her associations in no way explained the meaning of this dream. Intrigued, we let it be until almost 20 days afterwards she was diagnosed with an angio-sarcoma tumor, a rare type of vein and artery cancer. It was at this time that the patient remembered the dream that had remained concealed. Another patient who dreamt of crabs crawling on her chest was immediately taken to her oncologist, where she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In this second case, the image was more easily interpreted due to the association between the words “cancer” and “crab” in the Latin language. Accordingly, more profound observations of the oniric world can allow a preliminary diagnosis – even before the visible manifestation of an illness.
The use of the transcendent function in the therapeutic process coincides with the method of transducing described above:
to gain possession of the energy that is in wrong place, he [the
patient] must make the emotional state the basis or starting
point of the procedure . . . The whole procedure is a kind of
enrichment and clariﬁcation of the aﬀect, whereby the aﬀect and
its contents are brought nearer to consciousness . . . This is the
beginning of the transcendent function, i.e., of the collaboration
of conscious and unconscious data.
(Jung, 1972: 167)
Jung continues describing various methods, denominated “ampliﬁcation”, by which we may make the transition (transduction) from unconscious contents, as organic or emotional symptoms, to the conscious plane – methods such as active imagination or the use of painting and clay.
Here we should remember the limits of the psychoanalytical technique in this ﬁeld. In regarding the organic symptoms as pre-symbolic representations, McDougall emphasizes the therapeutic need to convey them to the verbal plane, underestimating the value of the image and thus losing valuable material (McDougall, 1989).
Implicit in the concept described here of disease and symbol, we have the concept of synchronicity.
Synchronicity refers to the existence of two or more phenomena occurring at the same time, without any relationship of cause and eﬀect between them, but with a relationship of signiﬁcance. This type of phenomenon shows that the non-psychic may behave as the psychic, and that the psychic may behave as does the somatic, without there being any causal relationship between either pair.
Using this concept, we may realize more easily that an image does not cause a certain sensation and that a certain sensation does not lead to the formation of an image, but that both are simultaneously present in the organism, consciously or not. In so far as psyche and body form a pair of opposites, their relation cannot be perceived as that of cause and eﬀect. The third – transcendent – factor that we call symbol, when it is in the conscious, reveals that “psyche and matter are two diﬀerent aspects of one and the same thing” (Jung, 1972: 418).
Therefore, each and every disease ﬁnds expression in the body and the psyche simultaneously. What drives a patient to seek a doctor or a psychologist is the degree of suﬀering at one pole.
Jung proposes a ﬁnalist approach together with the method of ampliﬁcation so that we may better understand the unconscious phenomenon. For him, the basic purpose both of neurosis and of any manifestation of the unconscious would be to compensate a unilateral attitude of consciousness, showing the attitude necessary so that the ego may integrate the repressed material.
Extending the concept of compensation to the area of organic illness, we would say that such illness is a symbolic expression that aims to compensate a one-sided attitude of the conscious. Organic illness would be the organism’s reaction in compensation, with the object of forcing the individual to integrate the repressed, reconnecting the ego to its axis with the Self.
To Ziegler (1983), who developed this thesis extensively, understanding of a disease will be complete only when we leave the solid ground of empirical medicine, for:
as experience has shown, categorizing pathologies according to
disease entities does not allow for an appreciation of the mutual
dynamic of health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and disease.
(Ziegler, 1983: 24) We will be talking about disease images, not empirical constructs
in which symptoms are more or less arbitrarily lumped together
on basis of statistical frequency.
(Ziegler, 1983: 23)
To Ziegler, somatization would be the limit imposed by nature faced with an excess of energy channeled unilaterally. Nature counterbalances this tendency via the body, as if it sought a more eﬀective means to realize its goals. “The insensitivity of our health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)s determines our illnesses. Our lack of concern and attention can only go so far before meeting set limits” (Ziegler, 1983: 13).
Here, the causal factors – genetic or social, for example – are considered instruments through which the compensatory mechanism acts. An allergic reaction, for example, on handling a substance at work, may reveal an unconscious inﬂammatory hypersensibility to this work, expressed by the allergy. This “somatization” may then be comprehended as a form of compensation that leads the sick person to correct his exaggeratedly one-sided relationship with his environment.
Given this analytical conception, we now take up the psyche–body question again and situate it within the modern scientiﬁc holistic model.
In what follows, we will present a summary of this model, developed within analytic theory, in order to apply the model to the understanding and treatment of organic disease.
One thing, however, I should like to ask of you, namely, to aban
don the distinction between “mental” and “organic” in corres
ponding with me . . . in essence both mean the same, both are
subject to the same laws of life, both take their root in the same life.
(Groddeck, 1949: 119)
By recognizing the transcendent element, the transducer, in the psychic apparatus, analytic psychology considers once more the question of the meaning of disease, both physical and mental, and introduces a new methodology in accordance with current scientiﬁc parameters.
The concept of symbol as third factor in the psyche–body phenomenon, as well as the goal-oriented view and the compensation mechanism, complements the question of duality and of psychophysical causality and renders obsolete the term “psychosomatization”. Although the use of this term may still be nearly unavoidable in clinical practice, we need to remember that its use takes us back to a classical, mechanistic, reductionist biomedical tradition. Constant eﬀort is needed for us not to fall into a model outdated much more in theory than in practice.
For didactic purposes, we may summarize the ideas developed so far as follows.
1 The ﬁrst association tests proved that every psychic phenomenon has a physiological correlate. Technical developments in physiological instrumentation have proved this fact over and over again, as have hundreds of research studies that show the relationship between stress and physiological changes.
2 Somatic or psychic symptoms may have their origin in the complexes. The constellation of a complex synchronistically triggers an alteration on the physiological and psychological levels, whether or not the individual perceives these alterations.
3 Each complex has a speciﬁc pattern of images and sensations rooted in the archetype. For this reason, the physiopathological and psychopathological manifestations of a complex exhibit a degree of universality. Compatible studies that try to correlate personality traits with disease have had interesting results: for example, personality Type A with cardiac diseases; personality Type C with diseases of the immunological system.
4 The egoic complex is formed along the length of the ego–Self axis and develops by means of a process of de-integration and of symbolic function also known as a transcendent function or transducer function. A secondary complex is a deviation in the development of the ego–Self axis and also manifests itself symbolically.
5 The archetype may be experienced as a physiological dynamism and may enter consciousness as an image, showing that psyche and body are diﬀerent aspects of the archetype, because the archetype is located outside of the psychic sphere. There would be a graduation, a spectrum, with the instinctive contents at one end and the conscience at the other. The dynamism of instinct would be, as stated by Jung, in the infrared part of the spectrum, whereas the image of instinct would be in the blue part (Jung, 1972: 414). The awareness and assimilation of the instinct would never occur at the red point, i.e. by absorption on the instinctive sphere, but only through integration of the image that means and, at the same time, invokes instinct.
6 The real nature of the archetype may be transcendent: it is not to be made aware. It would be in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, a mixture of blue and red. All we know about archetypes is behaviors, visualizations, thoughts, inferences, images or concretization that belong to the ﬁeld of consciousness.
7 Both the behavioral expression of health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and that of disease may be seen as symbolic representations of the relationship ego/Self.
8 Each and every symptom is a symbolic expression, a symbol that reveals a dysfunction along the ego/Self axis. An understanding of the meaning of this symbol reveals the correction to be made (compensation mechanism). In this way, we once again take up earlier models of cure without getting attached to them.
9 The symptom/symbol compensates for the “error” and synchronistically points to the “correction” to be made, i.e. what unconscious content needs to be integrated into consciousness.
10 In the organically ill individual, coenesthetic impressions, the bases of ego and complexes, are split from their abstract representations.
11 We may hypothesize that the patient who expresses this dysfunction by an organic symbol has split oﬀ his fantasy life from the coenesthetic impression, expressing himself by means of preverbal symbolic functioning. Another hypothesis is that the conscious has diﬃculty integrating the emerging symbol due to its complexity. We can observe that a profound or traumatic existential situation may bring about questioning that the ego is induced to somatize when it cannot integrate the questioning on the abstract plane.
12 The disease/symbol may be transduced into diﬀerent systems, all probably synchronistic and expressing the same archetype. To understand the meaning of this symbol, it is not enough for us to search for the cause; we must research into the disease’s/ symbol’s goal. Why? and To what end? complement one another, enhancing our knowledge.
Note that the word “symbol” comes from the Greek syn (together)
+ ballein (to throw), which means a joining of opposites, combining the known with the unknown, unconsciously. “Symptom” comes from syn (together) + piptõ (to fall), or “two things falling together” (Funk and Wagnalls, 1950), while “to be a clinician” means “to bend over the one who has fallen” (i.e. the ill, and their symptoms). To the extent that symbol implies the union of something conscious with something unconscious, it always stimulates “emotion” (e + movere), meaning “to move” or “movement outside” of the vegetative nervous system, whether in the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. This gives us the key of psychosomatics: by using a symbol we can reach the deep, inaccessible organic layers of the conscience.1
In concluding these considerations of the analytic model, we summarize that the organic symptom may correspond to a split in the representation of a complex/archetype, in which the abstract/ psychic part was repressed. On being disconnected from the ego, this symptom recurs compulsively, trying to integrate into the conscious so that the individuation process may continue.
The question that we pose here is: can it be that becoming conscious of the complex’s abstract pole – in other words, transducing the symbol from its pathological organic to its psychic/abstract pole – would diminish its pathological organic expression? That is, would transduction of the symbol from its organic pole to its psychic/ abstract pole bring about a waning of the organic symbol, improving the patient’s health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)?
We know that in the treatment of neuroses and psychoses the method of amplifying on the symptom/symbol leads to an increase in the conscious and to greater integration of unconscious content into the ego, transforming the ego/Self relationship. This ampliﬁcation may take place on the personal level through externalizing the symptom and through active imagination; on the collective level, this occurs through the comparative study of myths, tales, folklore, art and religion.
The proposal here, therefore, is to observe during the psychotherapeutic process the eﬀect on the organic symptom’s development of applying the analytic model. Our hypothesis is that:
|1||organic disease may have a goal and a meaning|
|2||in some cases, this meaning is a symbol|
|3||understanding and integrating this symbol into the conscious|
|leads to improvement in the general state of the patient’s health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com).|
For these observations, we shall utilize the study of research in psychosomatics, as it furnishes a basis for the observation of the psyche– body phenomenon. We shall utilize these data in the elucidation of the clinical cases presented.
Nor will the quiet life be more temperate than the unquiet, seeing
that temperance is admitted by us to be a good and noble thing,
and the quick have been shown to be as good as the quiet.
(Plato, Charmides: 380 )
The study of the psyche–body phenomenon and how emotional experiences, personality, and lifestyle can inﬂuence health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) goes back, as we have seen, to ancient times. The relation of these factors with susceptibility to disease and its growth is a fact found in the most diverse clinical observations.
As noted above, however, the discovery approximately a century ago of pathogenic agents as a cause of infectious diseases led the principal focus of research to the biomedical and pharmacological model. Only in the past 30 years has there been a progressive and accelerated resurgence of interest in the emotional factors in diseases in general – primarily among cardiac and autoimmune diseases, as well as cancer.
Research carried out in the area of psychosomatics over the past 20 years shows a wealth of material and development. As mentioned above, there is no theoretical body to support such research, although the vast majority of the ﬁndings reveal highly signiﬁcant data.
Evidence of a psychophysiological intersection is accumulating, which, according to Myers and Benson (1992), may be divided into three diﬀerent levels. The ﬁrst involves the countless correlations between psychological factors and physiological eﬀects, and research that seeks to establish a relation between typology and a disease. It also includes observations of the relaxation response resulting from speciﬁc patterns of thought, which gives rise to physiological alterations such as diminution of oxygen consumption, elimination of carbon dioxide and changes in blood pressure, and how the presence of a person to assist before and during childbirth greatly diminishes the amount of time between admission and delivery, as well as the incidence of perinatal problems.
One of the most interesting phenomena at this level of research is the placebo eﬀect. Regarded merely as part of an experimental design to test a new drug, the placebo eﬀect was, until recently, generally disregarded. Today, hundreds of studies involving the placebo eﬀect are being developed, proving the action of psychic factors on the body (see the Appendix).
The second research level shows a correlation between a psychological event and a biomolecular eﬀect. We know, for example, that the lymphocytes of spouses in mourning show a marked reduction in activity compared to control subjects.
A third area of growing research is at a cellular level. Rossi (1986), among others, has shown how intercommunication develops between the nervous, endocrinal, and immune systems. Immunological cells carry hormonal receptors and substances similar to the hormone originating in the immunological cells. This type of research is beginning to show some possible paths to psychophysiological interaction at the organic level.
This chapter will concentrate on research concerning heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, which are found within the ﬁrst level, and will include some references to research in the second level. This review will by no means be exhaustive (the ﬁeld is developing into a highly active sector); rather, the studies cited here are those that best substantiate, even indirectly, the analytical point of view.
Friedman and Rosenman (1974), in describing the neurogenetic factors in the pathogeny of cardiac coronary disease, opened up fertile ground for research, which today probably constitutes the area of greatest investigative activity. Studying cardiac patients, they reported a multidimensional pattern of behavior characterized by: According to these authors, this combination of behaviors forms a personality trait they described as Type A, which has a high correlation with cardiac disease. Some authors even indicate that Type A men have a signiﬁcantly higher excretion of testosterone glucuronide, which may represent a mechanism for the elevated incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) in Type A men (Zumoﬀ et al., 1984). Several subsequent studies applied personality tests such as the Multiple Multiphase Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale (CMHS), and a structured interview was developed to diﬀerentiate cardiac patients from the normal population. As the studies were improved, however, one single trait was in evidence – hostility – that, as we shall see, includes some of these behaviors up to a certain point.
|1||driven behavior oriented to attaining goals|
|2||excessive involvement with one’s job|
|3||an exaggerated sense of urgency|
|7||vigorous linguistic and motor activity.|
Research by Dembroski et al. (1985), Costa et al. (1987), Siegman et al. (1987) and Hecker et al. (1988) on the psychological factor of risk in CHD points to an antagonistic hostility trait deﬁned as “a style of disagreeable and/or non-cooperative interpersonal interaction, that includes expressions of arrogance, argument, a sharp demeanor, and bad humor.” Among individuals displaying a high level of this trait, for example, a greater diﬃculty in recovering from stress was discovered, along with a tendency for a considerable increase in blood pressure.
Other studies showed that people with either a high or a low degree of hostility present diﬀerences in cardiovascular reactivity during episodes of great interpersonal conﬂict. Suarez and Williams (1990) showed that very hostile men have a tendency to greater systolic pressure during episodes of great emotional conﬂict because they react rapidly with irritation and anger. Other results also indicate that anger and irritation lead to major changes in cardiovascular parameters, primarily in individuals with a high degree of hostility. In studies by Williams et al. (1991), Chesney et al. (1990), and Van Egeren and Sparrow (1990), there is evidence to suggest a signiﬁcant link between frequency of anger and CHD. Hostile individuals that are involved in interpersonal conﬂict would be at greater risk than those who live in less challenging environments, conclude the authors. Results are more valid for men in the 35 to 55 year age group (Engebretson and Matthews, 1992).
In a study conducted over a period of 35 years by Harvard University, 126 university students were examined to determine the predictive value of previously studied psychophysiological standards in response to experimentation with stress in a laboratory. The most reliable variable in terms of an increase in susceptibility to CHD was “high anxiety”, deﬁned here as resulting from hostile impulses projected on others. Also signiﬁcant were inter-punitive and extra-punitive expressions, associated with diﬀuse guilt (Russek et al., 1990).
For 25 years, researchers Almada et al. (1991) studied 1,871 middle-aged male employees from the Western Electric Company, using MMPI. The only trait with a positive correlation with death by heart disease was that of cynicism, here described as chronic antagonism, stubbornness, and a rude and vengeful nature. Studies by Jamner et al. (1991) and Pope and Smith (1991) also show that men who are chronically hostile and more defensive present greater cardiovascular and neurohormonal reactivity, which, in turn, may initiate or worsen cardiovascular disease. Other studies such as Jorgensen et al. (2001) and Niaura et al. (2002) support this ﬁnding. Both found that hostility, alone or combined with high social defensiveness, is related to the development of coronary artery disease.
It is possible that hostility, characterized by cynical and denigrating cognitions, may serve to increase CHD risk by increasing the expectation that events will require an anger response. This would likely increase exposure of the subject to an anger-generated CHD risk. Accordingly, research that investigates the relation of anger to incidence of heart disease shows that both “anger out” (the likelihood of anger being expressed toward someone else during an extreme anger episode) and “suppressed anger” (the likelihood of anger being repressed or not expressed during an extreme anger episode) were positive predictive factors in the incidence of ischemic heart disease (Gallacher et al., 1999). Along these lines, a study carried out in South Australia by Atchison and Condon (1993) indicated that the psychological factor that best predicted CHD was quicker experience of anger with greater verbal expression. Another interesting observation, made by Siegman et al. (2000), indicated that while full-blown outward expression of anger and dominance are risk factors for CHD in men, the more subtle expressions of antagonism (indirect challenge) are risk factors for CHD in women.
Clearly, it seems that hostility and anger are both closely related to the incidence of CHD, with the former now considered as a predictor of increased risk of myocardial infarction and death. These results have been observed in both genders (Lahad et al., 1997; Chaput et al., 2002) and in diﬀerent cultures such as Denmark (Barefoot et al., 1995), and Mexico (Gloria et al., 1996), leading us to conﬁrm the hypothesis that these phenomena are of a psychological nature, independent of cultural environment characteristics. In the Netherlands, for instance, Meesters and Smulders (1994) investigated patients with a ﬁrst myocardial infarction who were later compared with a neighborhood control group. Their results indicate that hostility only constitutes a risk indicator for a ﬁrst myocardial infarction in men who are younger than 50 years of age.
We may conclude that converging evidence from studies using different instruments suggests that hostility is the only predisposing component for a Type A behavior standard.
This type of study led to the development of techniques for behavior modiﬁcation, the basic objective of which was to control or eliminate all manifestations of hostility through reinforcement and punishment, breathing exercises, and increased self-esteem (Ulmer and Friedman, 1984). Although these techniques may have some eﬀect, the great problem is that dealing only with the symptom of concrete polarity makes the patient vulnerable to the unconscious dynamism that is synchronized with this behavior. The techniques control the behavior and disease, but do not promote the cure.
We might view the trait of “hostility” as just one aspect of the persona that acts defensively, leading to unilateral development of the conscience. The fact that these persons have an aggressive and hostile relation with the environment may only be the best expression of a speciﬁc complex and, as such, we should operate within this framework so that a cure may be found.
There is cumulative evidence that other negative emotions such as depression and anxiety may precede the onset of acute coronary syndromes and inﬂuence the course of such diseases after their appearance (Appels, 1997; King, 1997; Kaufmann et al., 1999; Williams et al., 2002; Wulsin and Singal, 2003).
For example, Frasure-Smith et al. (1999) showed that depression in hospital after myocardial infarction is a signiﬁcant predictor of one-year cardiac mortality for both women and men, and its impact is largely independent of other post-myocardial infarction risks. Lespérance et al. (1996) state that 40 per cent of those having a prior history of depression died within 12 months, whereas only 10 per cent of the patients who were experiencing their ﬁrst episode of depression subsequently suﬀered this fate. It seems that depression not only poses a considerable risk for cardiac mortality and morbidity in patients with CHD, but has also been found to inﬂuence more general indicators of distress, disability, and quality of life (Sirois and Burg, 2003).
In a comparison of depression and anxiety, Strik et al. (2003) reported that while both are associated with cardiac events, anxiety alone was considered an independent predictor of cardiac events and increased health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)care consumption. The authors suggest that there may be more direct links between emotional states and the functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system, the immune system and heart rate variability. Decreased heart rate variability, seen as a lack of ability to respond by physiological variability and complexity, makes the individual physiologically rigid and, therefore, more vulnerable. This phenomenon was also observed by Horsten et al. (1999), who found that heart rate variability is lower in persons who are socially isolated and unable to relieve anger by talking to others.
It is highly likely that here we are seeing the activation of a complex, which, in addition to provoking the abovementioned physiological changes, simultaneously reveals defensive attitudes such as anxiety, heightened displays of anger, and social isolation.
In recent years we have also witnessed a growing interest in the impact of social support or social bonds on CHD (Cohen and Syme, 1985; Cohen, 1990). The line of research that helps to clarify this point has tried to establish a relationship between social support, job strain and cardiovascular reactivity. It essentially leads us to conclude that when the individual has emotional support, the probability of myocardial infarction occurrence is smaller when facing stressful situations (Gerin et al., 1992).
Social support seems to oﬀer stability that protects the individual in moments of transition and stress. Gore (1978) studied 110 men who lost their jobs when a factory closed down. He discovered that those who received strong support from their wives, relatives or friends had fewer heart problems than those who were isolated. Kamarck et al. (1990) proved that even in laboratory situations, subjects who were alone showed greater heart rate reactivity than those who were accompanied during a stressful situation. The presence of a friend had a calming eﬀect on cardiac activity.
A study in Sweden conducted over ten years examined the signiﬁcance of psychosocial risk in 150 Swedish men, concluding that the more precise independent predictor of mortality was the absence of social support, encountered mainly in Type A individuals (Orth-Gomér and Undén 1990). Probably owing to attitudes and hostile behaviors, this type rejects, is rejected, and has few or no loving relationships.
Another source of information in this respect comes from statistics indicating that susceptibility to disease is two or three times greater among single, separated, divorced, or widowed persons (Lynch, 1977, 1985). Matthews and Gump (2002) found that marital break-up increases the risk of post-trial mortality in men, while Gallo et al. (2003) proved that marriage appears to confer health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) beneﬁts on women, but only when marital satisfaction is high. According to Orth-Gomér et al. (2001), marital (not work) stress oﬀers a poor prognosis for women aged 30 to 65 with CHD, although after a population-based control study with women (Wamala et al., 2000, 2001), it seems that cumulative exposure to socio-economic disadvantage also results in greater likelihood of CHD risk.
The discovery of Type A thus stimulated considerable research and established a relation between psychological events and the heart. Accordingly, we can add that behavior and psychosocial factors are demonstrably related to CHD. While we may label this as a “coronary-prone behavior”, it does not represent a personality pattern such as supposed in the studies of Type A.
Although proliﬁc and abundant, the literature that reveals the link among psychosocial factors, social bonds and cardiovascular risk does not clarify the mechanisms that produce it. These studies seemingly reveal and identify the phenomenon, but do not explain it. The mechanisms that explain such a relation remain unexplored. The reason that widowers and solitary and hostile individuals show a greater probability of developing CHD remains unknown.
Another question arises when we evaluate these studies: why, under the same stressful conditions, does a hostile individual have a greater probability of becoming ill than a non-hostile person?
We must try to understand how lack of social support can translate into myocardial infarction and, conversely, a loving, non-hostile attitude into a health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)y heart. This will require studies focusing more on the psychic complex mechanisms than dwelling exclusively on social and conscious behavior.
At this point we can suppose that the onset of a complex can trigger the frequent psychological perception of threatening social phenomena, and, as a consequence, a reaction of anger, hostility or anxiety, which can be translated into a constricted artery or change in heart rate, for example.
An immune system that is functioning in a hyperactive mode may not be able to distinguish between the cells of the body and those that are foreign to it. The body will begin to attack itself and thus give rise to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and cancer (Solomon, 1990).
In recent years, a growing number of studies and research ﬁndings have shown the possibility that mental events may have an eﬀect on the immune system and its dysfunctions. In the following paragraphs, we shall focus on the studies that pertain most closely to our inquiry.
Although the relation between RA and speciﬁc personality traits has not been shown in the scientiﬁc literature, Solomon (1981) and Moos (1964) observed that subjects with autoimmune diseases tend to be quiet, introverted, trustworthy, consenting, restricted in expressing emotions, rigid, conformist, highly active, and self-sacriﬁcing. The observation that these characteristics are more common in women has been supported not only in my own clinical practice but also through several studies. According to a report produced by Symmons et al. (2000) for the World health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) Organization – Statistical Information System (WHOSIS), women are almost twice as likely as men to be aﬀected by this disease. More recently, an epidemiological study by Doran et al. (2002) observed the incidence of RA in a cohort group of 609 patients in Rochester, Minnesota, of which 73.1 per cent were women.
An interesting study in this area is that of Cabral et al. (1988), who observed an obsessive and hyperactive relation of women with RA towards work, primarily when working at home. This study on 59 women patients between the ages of 18 and 55 showed that work in the life of an arthritis patient represents an attempted ﬂight from emotional conﬂict. This hyperactivity would be the product of an obsessive personality characterized by being organized, methodical, and rigid in conduct and duties. The authors interpret these data as a reaction to the low degree of worth attributed to housework. This conclusion was supported by research carried out by Marcenaro et al. (1999), who observed that obsessive-compulsive personality disorder was present in 40 per cent of their sample.
We may speculate that this result is not due to possible hormonal or genetic factors alone, but also to a feminine pattern of typecast victimization. This leads to the image of a woman with great creative potential, but whose daily activities are restricted to domestic chores or repetitive, monotonous jobs. This unrealized potential and its underlying energy will need to ﬁnd a means of expression. The frustration of not ﬁnding a creative outlet for this energy may result in an obsessive-compulsive behavior, hence the exaggerated importance given to housework. On the other hand, it is likely that women who are able to develop a career or any meaningful creative activity may feel that they are more in control of their lives, as opposed to women who are limited to the execution of constant and repetitive tasks for their family members or demanding bosses.
The eﬀect of employment pattern on health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) among women diagnosed with RA was also observed by Reisine et al. (1998), who found that employed women had better health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) status than those who were unemployed. They also noticed that those who had lost their jobs displayed the worst health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) of all. The authors state that employment has a protective health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) eﬀect at the onset of a disease, and also a positive eﬀect on pain relief, psychological distress and physical disability.
On the other hand, countless studies show that this disease seems to appear following a severe, stressful situation such as the loss of a loved one, or a switch from an established standard of living (Anderson et al., 1985). In the abovementioned study of Marcenaro et al. (1999), the authors found that macro and micro stressful events preceded the onset of RA in 86 per cent of the subjects. They also found a correlation between stressful events and the outbreak of the disease in 60 per cent of the cases.
A study by Latman and Walls (1996) placed patients diagnosed with deﬁnite RA against patients with osteoarthritis, and found that the former exhibited more stress at the onset of the disease than the latter. Zautra et al. (1999) and Zautra and Smith (2001) carried out a series of studies proving that depression might be related to elevations in pain, whereas stressful life events are positively related to RA ﬂare-ups, in the sense that interpersonal stressors were predictive of increases in disease activity.
One study seems to be less conclusive in terms of the hypothesis that exposure to stressful events and adverse experiences in childhood may play a signiﬁcant role in the etiology of RA. Carette et al. (2000) conducted a retrospective study seeking to investigate whether early life events among a group of 116 subjects had any correlation with the development of RA. The authors noticed that termination of pregnancy was the only speciﬁc event individually associated with a higher risk of developing RA.
Until now, most of the research on this disease has employed intervention methods whereby the psychological treatment is evaluated in terms of immunological function. These interventions involved use of cognitive and behavioral techniques and focused on stress control.
Bradley et al. (1987) carried out an extensive study testing diﬀerent types of treatment, and concluded that cognitive intervention with biofeedback and relaxation was eﬀectively able to diminish levels of the rheumatoid factor and, consequently, inﬂammation of the joints. More recently, Sharpe et al. (2001, 2003) conducted a study on 53 patients with less than a two-year history of RA. All patients had received routine medical treatment, but 50 per cent of these also received eight weeks of cognitive and behavioral intervention. The authors reported improvements in both the depression index and joint functions of these patients, as well as a transient reduction in their C-reactive protein levels. Although these improvements were not maintained at six months’ follow-up, as reported by the researchers, we may consider this information as important evidence that psychotherapy does have an eﬀect on the physiological functioning of human beings. This temporary eﬀect was probably due to the use of cognitive–behavioral techniques, which tap only the symptoms and do not promote deep psychological transformations.
On the other hand, when 15 patients were submitted to analytical insight therapy for 60–90 minutes each week over an average period of 3.3 years, six showed a major and continuous improvement in both their physical and their psychic state throughout a lengthy period after therapy. The other patients showed similar improvements after a longer period of therapy, but the authors noticed that the course of their disease became more variable after deeper emotional focus had been touched (Lindberg et al., 1996).
Therefore, we may conclude that although the study of the inﬂuence of psychological factors on RA began fairly recently, one characteristic has been clear in rheumatic disease: it is more frequent in women, and in those with compulsive hyperactivity and obsessive rigidity regarding work. Stressful situations appear to bring about both the onset and aggravation of symptoms. It seems that those women who are victimized by monotonous, repetitive activities that oﬀer few outlets for creativity are trapped in a complex that impedes behavioral change. In this case, the best expressive means in the organic polarity for this complex would be a gradual stopping of the movements, which symbolizes a psychic slowdown and acts as a compensatory mechanism, obliging patients to stop their aimless and compulsive hyperactivity. Studies conducted among a group of men could clarify whether this is a gender-speciﬁc pattern.
Over the past few years, numerous researchers have tried to establish links between cancer and psychological variables. Due to the complexity of the variables involved, the results have been inconclusive. Critiques of the methodology employed have been one of the predominant factors in the analysis of the results and in the more positive use of the data.
As we will see, in getting a signiﬁcant number of subjects for application of the statistics, the epidemiological studies fail to understand the psychodynamics involved. On the other hand, more detailed studies, which do not allow a quantitative analysis due to a smaller number of subjects, have had their validity questioned.
The following paragraphs highlight those studies that have investigated the behavioral variables most relevant to our inquiry.
There have been countless suggestions in the literature that expressions of anger or, more precisely, the degree of emotional expression of a patient, have a bearing on the onset and progress of cancer. Reports of descriptive cases date from the 1950s, with a lower survival rate observed in depressed, resigned patients than in patients who are better able to express negative emotions such as anger.
Greer and Morris (1975) discovered that women diagnosed with malignant tumors in the breast experienced greater diﬃculty in expressing anger than those whose biopsy showed a benign tumor. Derogatis et al. (1979) reported that cancer patients regarded by the hospital staﬀ as less cooperative lived signiﬁcantly longer. These data contribute to another study by Greer et al. (1979), where breast cancer patients with “a ﬁghting spirit” lived longer than those who showed a lack of hope and had a lack of support. Hislop et al. (1987) and Goldstein and Antoni (1989) found similar results among patients with breast cancer.
Some authors have sought a personality trait that might explain this “ﬁghting spirit”. Dattore et al. (1980), for example, used MMPI to test the hypothesis of a cancer-prone personality in a group of 3,000 US Army veterans from 1969 to 1978. Of this group, 75 men developed cancer. Compared with the control group, the researchers found that those with cancer had greater repressive tendencies.
Temoshok et al. (1985) put together the “expressive versus repressive” variables in terms of a Type C behavior standard. Temoshok and Dreher (1992) deﬁned Type C as a cooperative, non-assertive patient that suppresses negative emotions, particularly anger, and that submits easily to external authority. As we can see, this standard Type C behavior is in contrast to Type A behavior. The authors carried out an extensive investigation on the relationship between Type C and the thickness and depth of the melanoma tumor. They found a signiﬁcant correlation between the measurements of the tumor and Type C, particularly in patients under the age of 55.
Shaﬀer et al. (1987) conducted a study with 1,337 male medical students at Johns Hopkins Medical School, using 14 personality measures. Subjects were followed over a 30-year period to determine the cumulative survival rate (proportion of subjects remaining free of cancer) in each group. Statistically signiﬁcant group diﬀerences in the survival rate were found, with the group characterized as outward and emotionally expressive having the most favorable results (less than 1 per cent developing cancer). The group characterized as “loners”, who may well have suppressed their emotions, had the poorest results, and were 16 times as likely to develop cancer as the outward, emotionally expressive group.
The importance of expressing emotions to maintain health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) has been conﬁrmed by some other studies. Faragher and Cooper (1990), for example, discovered that of 2,163 women who had undergone a breast cancer biopsy, the 171 diagnosed with malignant cancer tended to suppress their feelings and maintain few interpersonal relationships outside of the home or workplace, in comparison to the group of 1,110 women whose cancer was diagnosed as benign. Bleiker et al. (1996) investigated personality factors among 9,705 women in Holland who underwent a mammography during 1989– 1990. After six years of monitoring these women, the researchers reported a weak association between a high score on the anti-emotionality scale and the development of breast cancer.
Tijhuis et al. (2000) investigated the relation between emotional control and the development of cancer in a study group of 590 men over a ten-year period, using the Courtauld Emotional Control Scale (CECS). Based on results showing 119 cases where cancer appeared, and 71 deaths linked to cancer, researchers discovered that the intermediate control of depression (a tendency to suppress the expression of one’s depressive states) was related to cancer incidence, while both intermediate and high controls of depression were linked to cancer-related deaths. A recent meta-analysis has found that emotional repressiveness is a predictor of cancer incidence (McKenna et al., 1999).
Studies that show what happens when individuals actively repress their emotional expression could explain the above results. Pennebaker et al. (1989) showed that these individuals displayed an increase of excitation in certain autonomous channels, such as in the electrical conduction of the skin. The authors observed that if an inhibitory process is maintained over a long period, it serves as a cumulative long-term stressor, augmenting the probability of falling ill. One particularly insidious form occurs when individuals experience a traumatic event and are incapable of sharing it with others. For example, studies show that individuals that suﬀered traumatic sexual experiences as children show greater probability of having later health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) problems if they do not discuss their experiences with others (Pennebaker and Susman, 1988). Also, those whose wives committed suicide or died in accidents were health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)ier one year subsequent to the death if they shared the event often enough (Pennebaker and O’Heeron, 1984). In two other studies (Pennebaker et al., 1988), university students classiﬁed as “most revealing” showed a drop in the level of skin electrical conduction while they told of their very traumatic experiences. Over the long term, those revealing traumatic experiences showed a reduction in number of visits to the local health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) center up to four months following the study, and an increase in immunological functions up to six months after the experience. Studies with survivors of Nazi concentration camps reporting on their traumatic experiences showed that those who were less inhibited while reporting, measured by the drop in level of electrical conduction of the skin, were in better health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) than those who were less revealing (Pennebaker et al., 1989).
All of these experiments support the results obtained by C.G. Jung during his association tests conducted at the beginning of the twentieth century. At the same time, they supply an important support for therapeutic activity by reinforcing the importance of reporting traumatic experiences and the expressiveness of emotions associated with them.
Hundreds of studies in recent years have investigated the relation between stress, depression, and immunological function. Although we will not delve deeper into the subject at this time, we will include some of the data drawn from psychoneuroimmunology.
It would seem that the immune system reacts in a diﬀerent way when exposed to acute or chronic stressors.
Some interesting studies on acute stress (that which is associated with a single event) have been completed with university students during exam time. Kiecolt-Glaser et al. (1984, 1986) carried out a series of studies to investigate a variety of immunological changes resulting from stress over school examinations. The results showed signiﬁcant alterations in the immune systems of the students. Naliboﬀ et al. (1991) subjected health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)y individuals to a stressful situation in a laboratory, and found that the response to a threatening situation is an increase in the production of NK cells (“natural killers”) and of lymphocytes, as if the body were preparing itself for a reaction of ﬁght or ﬂight. Esterling et al. (1990) found similar results with individuals who had to write down or who had to remember and to tell an intense emotional experience (Knapp, 1980; Knapp et al., 1992).
When facing a situation of acute stress, the body reacts by activating its immune system, in the sense that it protects itself against an invasion. Diseases, however, do not necessarily follow these changes. The data show that great variations in immunological activity are possible without the onset of a disease.
During events of chronic stress, however, the reaction seems to be diﬀerent. Prolonged unemployment, depression, and mourning are the chronic stressors that have been most studied. All seem to produce a lowering in lymphocyte response, with cases of prolonged immunosuppression (O’Leary, 1990). Sephton and Spiegel (2003), in their review of the neuroendocrine–immune pathway from stress to cancer, discuss the emerging data in the literature, which show that circadian regulation may also be an important prerequisite for the maintenance of host defenses against cancer. Stress-related circadian disruption, often present in states of chronic stress, may have negative implications for cancer prognosis.
Studies on stress related to mourning for a loved one, as well as the break-up of a relationship, have frequently associated it with the onset of malignant tumors. Autoimmune diseases usually become apparent after a person undergoes severe psychological stress that has totally changed his or her lifestyle (Solomon, 1990).
Temoshok (1985) discovered that melanoma patients classiﬁed as under great psychosocial stress were subject to more rapid progress of the disease, while Ramirez et al. (1989) reported that severe stress had a marked inﬂuence on the risk of a breast cancer relapse. Schleifer et al. (1983) tested the immune system in men whose wives were dying of breast cancer. They discovered that in the two months subsequent to their wives’ deaths, the immune systems of the husbands were signiﬁcantly depressed, but that they returned to normal from four to 14 months later. This discovery seems to be associated with the capacity to express pain; that is, those who wept in mourning recovered more rapidly than those who repressed it. These ﬁndings match those of Pennebaker and O’Heeron (1984) and Pennebaker et al. (1988), conﬁrming that there is a relation between the inability to demonstrate suﬀering and concomitant suppression of the immunity. This may explain why there is an increased cancer risk among persons in mourning (Maddison and Viola, 1968; Solomon, 1990).
Geyer (1991, 1993) examined women aged 25–60 who had undergone a biopsy for breast cancer. Of these, 33 were diagnosed with a malignant tumor while 59 had a benign tumor. The conclusion was that the most severe life events – those associated with loss – were more common in the cancer group. Among this group, severe events were four times higher based on the scale used in relation to the control group. Serious, chronic diﬃculties were also more frequent in the group with cancer.
Kvikstad et al. (1994) conducted a study on the possibility of cancer risk increasing after the death of a spouse or divorce in a group of more than 600,000 Norwegian women born between 1935 and 1954. Of these, 4,491 developed breast cancer. The statistically adjusted results showed no clear evidence that the death of a husband or divorce had any bearing on increased cancer risk for these women. A similar study conducted in England (Jones et al., 1984), showed little evidence for an increase in reported cases of cancer after the death of a spouse, and just a small increase in the number of deaths caused by cancer. Kvikstad and Vatten (1996) also observed that the risk of, and survival of, cancer were no diﬀerent among women who had experienced the death of a child as compared to women without this experience.
Diﬀerent results, however, were obtained by Levav et al. (2000), who investigated 6,284 Israeli Jews who had lost a son or daughter in the Yom Kippur War or in an accident between 1970 and 1977. The scientists reported a greater incidence of lymphatic and hematopoietic cancer, and melanoma, among those who lost a child than in the Israeli population as a whole. Also, the risk of respiratory tract cancer was greater among the former group. The survival study showed that the risk of death was increased by bereavement if the cancer had been diagnosed before the loss, but not after. Martikainen and Valkonen (1996) examined excess mortality among Finns after the death of a spouse and found a moderate (20–35 per cent) increase in the incidence of lung cancer, supporting the hypothesis that the loss of social support or the inability to cope may increase the probability of cancer.
The apparent contradictions between the results of these studies arise from the great diﬃculty of studying the mourning process. These studies did not consider the means by which these individuals handled the mourning, including religiousness and other variables. Furthermore, expressiveness and/or repression of pain would certainly have diﬀerent internal repercussions for these people. Accordingly, stress-related studies ought to consider the emotional expressiveness and meaning attributed to the event, regardless of its origin.
On the other hand, studies that seek to measure the eﬀects of acute stress on the onset of cancer have encountered great methodological diﬃculties because the data for onset of malignancy is inconclusive, and it is almost impossible to know whether a stressful event preceded or followed the genesis of cancer.
An extensive epidemiological study of 2,020 employees of the Western Electric Company (Shekelle et al., 1981; Persky et al., 1987), observed that depressive symptoms in MMPI were linked to a doubling of the risk of death by cancer 17 years later, and an incidence above normal for the ﬁrst ten years. A critical review of Shekelle’s ﬁndings by Bieliauskas and Garron (1982), however, showed that the grades in depression reported as high were not within the pathological range. More recent studies also failed to show such links. Hahn and Petitti (1988) discovered no correlation between depression measured by the MMPI and breast cancer in 8,932 women during 14 years of observation. A ten-year study by Zonderman et al. (1989) also failed to reveal signiﬁcant depressive symptoms that might predict mortality by cancer. A more recent study, however (Irwin et al., 1992), showed that in depressed individuals, activity in the immune system is considerably reduced, such that reduction in NK lymphocyte activity seems to be more reproducible (cytotoxic activity of this lymphocyte is involved in recognizing and destroying cells, both malignant and those infected by a virus).
Andersen et al. (1998) supported these ﬁndings in a study carried out on a group of 116 breast cancer patients who were assessed after receiving surgical treatment. The researchers reported that the stress level of these patients was linked to lower cytotoxicity of the NK cells and with lower lymphocyte proliferative responses.
Although depression may alter the functioning of the immune system (as with stress), this does not mean that it will necessarily lead to the development of cancer in all such patients.
In general, in examining depressive states, the majority of studies fail through a lack of speciﬁcation. Most investigators do not diﬀerentiate between the several depressive disorders, nor have they examined the depressions in terms of past history, duration, or treatment eﬀected. Thus, through these studies, we cannot know the extent to which depressive states may or may not inﬂuence the onset of cancer, as the comparison of the results of diﬀerent means to measure depression are problematical. The studies did not specify whether the “depression” being measured referred to a trait, a state, or a depressive disease.
When chronic depression was studied, the results indicated a clear correlation with cancer. Penninx et al. (1998) examined 4,825 Americans over the age of 71 with diagnosed depression, based on the classiﬁcation by the Center for Epidemiological Studies (CES-D). After adjustment for age, sex, race, disability, hospital admissions, alcohol intake, and smoking, it was found that the excess risk of cancer associated with chronic depression was consistent for most types of cancer and was not speciﬁc to cigarette smokers. The researchers concluded that when present for at least six years, depression was associated with a generally increased risk of cancer.
Jacobs and Bovasso (2000) conducted a study of 1,213 women in an attempt to establish a link between death of parents/chronic depression and the development of breast cancer. The women were ﬁrst examined in 1980, and again in 1995. Within this period, 29 women were hospitalized with breast cancer and ten died from cancer-related causes. According to the researchers, the psychosocial variables that suggested an increased breast cancer risk were death of the mother during infancy and severe episodes of chronic depression. The scientists also pointed out that the causative factors of breast cancer occurred and grew over a period of 20 years or more, indicating that recent events did not appear to increase the risk of cancer.
It is possible that a number of diverse childhood experiences may be associated with both depression and cancer. For instance, Felitti et al. (1998) found that four or more such events were associated with a relative risk of depression and of contracting any cancer.
Gallo et al. (2000) spent 13 years studying a group of 2,017 adults from Baltimore, Maryland. The ﬁndings showed a link between major depression and the onset of breast cancer among the women.
In research by Loberiza et al. (2002), 193 patients receiving hematopoietic stem-cell transplants were monitored over 24 months and were asked to complete questionnaires beginning six months after the transplant. The study concluded that depression was predictive of early death for those patients that survived less than 12 months after the treatment.
Another factor that has been studied in relation to cancer is hopelessness, which is a facet of depression. A study by Everson et al. (1996) analysed desperation as a factor linked to death and to the incidence of myocardial infarction and cancer in a group of 2,428 Finnish men, using a scale that measures this factor. They found that moderate and high scores of hopelessness gave rise to more than a twofold increase in the risk of cancer-related death.
Spiegel, one of the leading researchers in the ﬁeld, considers that while the literature on depression as a predictor of cancer incidence is mixed, chronic severe depression may be associated with elevated cancer risk (Spiegel and Giese-Davis, 2003). According to Spiegel (1996), depression not only complicates coping with cancer and adherence to medical treatment, but also aﬀects aspects of endocrine and immune function that may aﬀect resistance to tumor progression.
We cannot say, based on these studies, that a speciﬁc type of personality will have a greater probability of developing cancer or RA. What the examples illustrate is that the non-expression of a strong, negative emotion, stemming from mourning, relationship break-up or a traumatic situation, is a factor that predisposes an alteration in the functioning of the immune system, rendering the body more vulnerable to the development of malignant tumors.
Stress, in itself and whatever its nature, is an aggravating factor when there is no possibility of expressing the emotions associated with it. However, studies that seek to measure the eﬀects of acute stress on the onset of cancer have encountered great methodological diﬃculties because the data regarding the onset of malignancy is inconclusive, making it almost impossible to know whether a stressful event preceded or followed the onset of cancer.
Some studies have established a link between the immune system and psychological events. However, as the great majority of these studies were conducted by doctors and psychologists with experimental, social and/or physiological leanings and employed the use of tests and questionnaires, they were conﬁned to social and conscious behaviors. The issue of how mourning, suﬀering, or compulsive attitudes may “relate” to the immune system can only be answered by means of studies that go deeper into more complex psychological patterns.
If on one hand the study of a placebo shows how a concrete symbol may act on the body, then on the other hand historical studies support the psyche–body interrelation in diﬀerent systems and situations. However, both study types lack a theoretical framework that will integrate the two. The absence of theoretical referential bases limits these ﬁndings to the circumstances described, without allowing a deeper and more coherent understanding of the phenomenon. Certainly, these data will make sense and be of greater use when they are interpreted in the light of a theory.
To respond to these issues, nine clinical cases will be presented. They will be analyzed and interpreted based on the analytical model, and the research described above will be used as a reference. The ﬁrst three cases (Chapter 5) will be presented in more detail; the others (Chapter 6) will describe the core therapeutic work.
But the sickness is also a symbol, a representation of something
going on within, a drama staged by the It, by means of which it
announces what it could not say with the tongue.
(Groddeck, 1949: 101)
The cases described herein were selected mainly for their psychosocial signiﬁcance. Diseases both coronary and of the immunological system have been seen as diseases of our era, both in numerical terms and in terms of the enigma they represent. We may consider the work with these patients as a paradigm for each of the diseases presented herein.
The therapeutic cases were analyzed in accordance with analytical methodology. Owing to the extent and complexity of the clinical material, the most illuminating analytical moments were selected. When possible, reliable transcriptions were made of the patients’ dialog annotated during sessions, as also of their dream material.
The names and some personal data of the patients were modiﬁed to avoid any possible identiﬁcation.
The patient, a 57-year-old engineer and senior executive in a multinational corporation, was referred by his cardiologist after having suﬀered a myocardial infarction about three months previously.1
Arthur is an only child; he says he was always a model pupil, never caused trouble for anyone. He aﬃrms that he always adapted quite well to the most varied situations and never suﬀered any trauma or conﬂict. He lives in harmony with his wife and three children, enjoys a comfortable lifestyle, and says nothing upsets him, apart from this recent illness. He has had no prior illness except those of childhood. Constantly traveling to diﬃcult business engagements, he enjoys this activity because he “can prove how good [he is] at competing.” About three months ago, he began to feel “some sharp pains in the chest,” but went to the doctor only when the pectoral pain increased, whereupon he was hospitalized with a myocardial infarction. Thus he discovered that he suﬀers from arterial hypertension, the probable cause of the infarct. He takes medication to control his blood pressure. He was referred to analysis for resisting the doctor’s recommendation of cutting back on his work pace and of changing his lifestyle. The patient took the suggestion that he make time for more leisure to mean that he should increase his sports activities. He took part in a sports tournament that aggravated the hypertension.
The ﬁrst impression of Arthur is of a well-dressed man, slim and elegant – a persona of the perfect, successful executive. He seems very ill at ease during the ﬁrst interview and resistant to the idea of therapy, “seeing that I don’t have a single problem; my doctor ordered it.” He shows himself to be closed oﬀ by speaking rapidly of his work and the challenge it represents. He is proud of his past and of having achieved everything with “much struggle and courage,” because his parents were of humble origins and poor. He does not understand the relationship between the infarct and any sort of psychological problem, but is willing to investigate in order to “eliminate this disturbance.” What seems to most discomfort the patient is the loss of control over his body and needing others to take care of him. Therefore, initially he agrees to therapy with the idea of thus ridding himself as soon as possible of his “discomfort.” Any description of Arthur ﬁts perfectly into the personality Type A discovered by Friedman and Rosenman (1974): aggressive traits, always involved in a chronic and unceasing competitive struggle, suﬀering from hostility and hurry.
The therapy focuses initially on his work, to which he devotes about 14 hours a day, not including weekend work. Having reached the pinnacle of his career, he feels little motivation, for he does not encounter as many challenges as he would like. He is highly competitive, walks and speaks rapidly, using aggressive and hostile words about his employees and colleagues. He demands the maximum of them, as if they were always in a championship.
He has insomnia; he always wakes up at 4:00 a.m. and studies the company reports. At 7:00 a.m. he is already in the oﬃce. He says he has no friends because he has no time “for idle talk.” Of his wife and children he demands discipline and that they complete their duties; in this he says he has been obeyed. Apparently he is not conscious of how they live or what they feel. He sets up relationships unilaterally, issuing orders without hearing the replies. Even his amorous and sexual life with his spouse is rule-bound and disciplined, “to not upset the mind.”
The same attitude characterizes Arthur during analysis. After relating each incident, which he usually reads from the detailed account in his appointment calendar, he raises his head and asks anxiously, “How about that?,” “What do you think?,” or “What do you make of that?” Since I do not react according to his expectations, despite his “striving to the maximum to be the best patient you ever had,” Arthur leaves the sessions frustrated at times and apparently annoyed by my “ineﬃciency.” His appointment calendar acts as middleman in our relationship, for it is there that he notes the interpretations. Empathy is diﬃcult to establish, because Arthur takes pains to avoid any emotional contact. He sits on the edge of the armchair as if he were ready to stand up, which he does precisely when the time allotted to the session is up.
To the ﬁfth session, Arthur recounts the following dream:
I went to a business meeting, but it was taking place in a kind of amusement park. In a shooting gallery I get a nasty shock when I see my youngest daughter held fast as the target in an arrow-shooting contest. The arrows just miss her, and I wake up screaming.
Associations: the youngest daughter, aged 11, is his favorite. She is the only person that he is able to kiss, because she is not afraid of him and approaches him more spontaneously than do the others. When he was 11, his maternal grandmother, who was quite aﬀectionate, died. From then on, he became more obedient and rigid, because she was the only person who protected him from his strict and demanding father.
He was greatly afraid of his father, who was “most correct and honest,” although distant and given to explosions. His mother passed all her time completing domestic tasks with “incomparable precision.” She spoke little and never expressed her emotions. He learned from her how “vulgar” it is to express emotion. Both parents expected their son to be brilliant, at least, and did not accept any evidence of inferiority.
Interpretation: this dream led the patient to speak for the ﬁrst time of his childhood and his parents. Through this dream, we can see the origin of his hyperactivity and of his inﬂexible attitudes (which, however, do not bother him). Arthur continued to think, “that’s the right way.” The only thing that really upset him was the threat to his daughter, which we understand as the threatened loss of his emotionality. His anima, still in the infantile stage, ﬁnds itself threatened by arrows in a work environment (business meeting). The conﬂict seems to be set up between logos (work) and eros (anima), between the formal and rigid persona and the infantile and maternal (grandmotherly) emotional side. The arrows may be the hostile and aggressive attitudes, which are normal in his daily life. They may kill what is most dear to him. We might amplify the dream here. In a mythological context, arrows in the heart would represent an acute (sharp?) amorous suﬀering of which the patient is absolutely unconscious. The arrows would correspond to the cardiac symptom he was feeling a few days before the infarction (stabbing in the heart). Needing to “be Mr Tough,” he did not pay attention to the symptoms until they became worse, forcing him to lie down, something he didn’t like to do (insomnia, state of “constantly alert”).
The psyche, by forcing him to lie down, to incline, forced him to the clinic, making him face a conﬂict, the fruit of an infantile complex. Insofar as he was unconscious of that conﬂict, the concrete polarity moved into his body as an infarct, visible in the symbol of “arrows piercing the heart.”
Other dreams of similar cast followed that one. We began to perceive that the repressed desire for love had imprisoned him in a cold and objective world. The more he tried to rid himself of love, the more threatened he became. Here we remember the myth of Shiva, the Hindu god of creation. Lost in his meditations and daydreams, Shiva cuts himself oﬀ from nature, thus not allowing it to reproduce and blossom. Only the arrows of the god Madana in Shiva’s heart awaken him. And thus, in an act of love, Shiva unites with Existence, giving form and matter to his thoughts (Albrecht, 1979; Ramos, 1990).
During the eleventh session Arthur mentions that, despite the medicine he takes to control it, his blood pressure is dangerously high. So we work with his symptom using the technique of active imagination.
I request that he try, with eyes closed, to “see” what was happening inside his body and where had this high pressure started. After about 30 seconds Arthur relates the following image:
There is a man running down narrow streets. They seem to be channels, everything is very red. I think they’re my veins. This man is running a lot and has a grenade in his hand. He can’t stop, he always has to ﬂee. Were he to stop, the grenade would explode.
This image explains why Arthur constantly had to be on the run. If the outside pressure (pressing business) were to abate, the internal pressure would be unbearable. Now Arthur can see that he always needs to be ﬂeeing, running. He does not know exactly what he fears, but he is afraid to stop. We realize that he fears the emotionality associated with the feminine. He was afraid of becoming less a man, of weakening and becoming less eﬃcient. That’s why he ran, out of fear. The man with the grenade in his ﬁst was associated with the strict and “explosive” father who punished him (he now remembered) for the slightest imperfections. The analysis, by touching on this complex loaded with energy and emotionality, worsened the cardiac symptom, in a way. That is, by making him more conscious of the conﬂict, the analysis made his fear more conscious, increasing his blood pressure; without a doubt, a normal ﬁght-or-ﬂight reaction when confronted by any danger.
Therefore, medication or lifestyle changes would have brought only temporary relief to this patient. Actually, he would not have been able to change his lifestyle in any deﬁnitive way, because a complex much more strong and dangerous than heart disease threatened him. Had we not worked with him, any other treatment would have been in vain.
This ties in with the observation of cardiac patients themselves that, although they know precisely what to do, they cannot follow the doctor’s recommendations. Nor could it be otherwise, for a symbol far greater than consciousness is present: the symbol of the wounded, injured heart, which needs to be integrated into consciousness to bring about a real transformation.
Behavioral techniques based on punishment to control Type A behavior, if applied to such a patient, only reinforce neurosis and increase blood pressure.
The technique used to deal with the “human grenade” was also active imagination. I now propose to the patient that he enter into a dialogue with the “human grenade” (HG):
At this moment, showing obvious fatigue, the patient stops and, moved by his emotions, speaks of the fear he had of crossing his father and of his aggressive explosions. We might be able to understand the “human grenade” as an aspect of his shadow that emerged in daily life as contained hostility and uncontrollable competitive impulses. With such a shadow, the patient had to stay constantly vigilant, ready to ﬂee or ﬁght, as his organic symptom revealed.
In the following sessions, we worked using the active imagination technique with the images that emerged spontaneously: the father in the door to his heart; the injured, bleeding heart; physical ﬁghts with the father; the free and empty heart; his daughter embracing his heart; and ﬁnally the warm heart, beating slowly.
During this phase, the patient presented a few episodes of arrhythmia and peaks of blood pressure.
Last dream of the analysis (29th session):
I was cruising in an enormous gilded boat down a long canal. The boat was moving harmoniously, following the water’s movements. And, at the same time, the banks of the canal grew wider and narrower, helping the boat to pass.
Associations: Gilded boat, boat of the twilight of middle age, which brings a sensation of pleasure and peace such as he had never felt before. The canal that moved reminded him of the rhythmic movement of the vaginal canal during birth. And it was thus that he felt himself, being born.
Interpretation: Already given by his own associations. Any addition would be redundant or reductionism. This dream reveals the birth of a new consciousness and a new rhythm in his psychic life. The canals (veins and arteries) were now free to oﬀer passage to a renewed ego (boat).
After this dream, three more sessions followed in which his process was reviewed and conﬁrmed. The patient asked to halt analysis, which was granted. At the present moment, 17 months later, he remains without further analysis. We know from his doctor that he no longer presents any symptoms, with his blood pressure normal.
There were a total of 32 sessions, two sessions weekly of 50 minutes each.
We might say that this was a brief analytic process, focused on an organic symptom and which led the patient into his process of individuation (see Figure 5.1). When approaching middle age, in the metanoia, the individuation process blocked by a neurosis that the patient with resistance refused to acknowledge emerged as a symbol at the concrete, corporeal pole, forcing the patient to confront his complexes and correct his one-sided development. What might have been lived on the abstract plane had to be experienced synchronistic-ally on the concrete plane, due to his lack of consciousness, in order to be integrated into his consciousness.
His becoming conscious of the parental complexes and the perception of the shadow as a hostile and destructive aspect, the “human grenade,” were the core realizations in this process. From the moment when he became conscious of this shadow, his anima could be liberated, albeit in an infantile stage, and a more balanced and loving attitude could be developed.
Beth is a 49-year-old housewife who has been suﬀering from rheumatoid arthritis for ten years.2 She sought treatment with psychotherapy because she felt very depressed and useless.
Beth is a married mother of four children, of ages ranging from 20 to 28 years. Her husband is in business and keeps his family on an average socio-economic level. She began to feel pain in her hands and knees around ten years ago, but did not get upset about it until the freedom of her movements diminished. She walks with a certain degree of diﬃculty and fatigues rapidly. The hand joints already suﬀer rather visibly from deformities. The joints of the wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, and toes have also been aﬀected, but to a lesser extent. She notes that the symptoms worsen when she is tense and irritated. She has been treating the condition with medicine for six years without any improvement. She has tried acupuncture and homeopathy, also without noticeable eﬀect. Occasionally she takes anti-inﬂammatories to relieve the pain.
Beth seems intimidated and ill at ease. She extends a greeting by stretching out one hand and hastily withdrawing it, as if she were afraid she would not be greeted in return. Her touch is light and evasive. She sits down on the very edge of the armchair ﬁrmly holding on to her purse on her lap. She speaks in a low voice, looking down at the ﬂoor. Her appearance is frail. Her hair is bound in a tight bun, her clothes are stretched, and her white wrinkled hands convey the impression that she just emerged from a bath of chlorine. This impression is accentuated by the odor of chlorinated water emanating from her hands. She says she would never have imagined that some day she would require help, for she had always managed everything on her own. She works a great deal at home and at a church where she sews for the poor, so that she did not know how she was going to ﬁnd time to take care of herself. She decided to go for treatment owing to the insistence of her youngest daughter, and there she was “at my orders.”
Beth commences her ﬁrst sessions with a description of her household duties, with much precision and in detail, to tell of all the care she devotes to her family. She says her form of expressing love is, for example, to butter the bread and have the coﬀee and milk ready in each one’s cup so that they will not be late in the morning. Clothes washed and pressed, a clean, organized house, and delicious nutritious food are, according to the patient, her way of conveying her aﬀection.
Although she can aﬀord to pay for a maid or domestic help, she refuses to do so “because nobody else knows how they like it done.”
Her obsession with cleanliness is such that she will only go to sleep after everyone else, so that there will be no print of a shoe on the polished ﬂooring of her hallway. She says that to go on doing all of this, even in pain, is the best way to show, even further, her love for her family.
Her relationship with her husband is cold and distant. She feels very hurt because he does not comprehend this form of aﬀection and insists on frequent sexual intercourse, even when she is ill or tired. This seems a formal relationship where the husband amuses himself with his friends while his wife cooks and takes care of the children. The children have become her refuge and her reason to avoid the husband. She associates the onset of “pins-and-needles” and of burning in her knees and hands with her youngest daughter’s leaving home. At that time her life became more solitary.
During analysis, she started to associate her excessive work with a defense mechanism against the fear of being abandoned. She realized that she increased her workload to shut out the feeling of loss and solitude. However, she never complained or argued in order to avoid annoying anyone. Her basic attitude was one of subservience and modesty. She never spoke back, even when she was sure that she was right. She was horriﬁed by conﬂicts and avoided them by “shutting up.” In fact, permanent muscular constriction of the oral area could be observed, with “pursing” of the lips.
We began to talk more of her conﬂicts and resentment, of which she seemed to be gaining awareness for the ﬁrst time. The patient, however, often fell silent, saying she had nothing more to tell. We gradually became aware that this mutism hid her fear that she might be annoying me with her complaints, and that I might consider her “ungrateful.” Negative maternal transference was thus gradually established and, by degrees, the patient could perceive that she was reacting as though I were her repressive and critical mother, who, indeed, would not allow “whining and complaints.”
The negative maternal complex of this patient had created a rigid personality structure with a weakened and split ego. Her desires, always considered “lesser things,” were so repressed that they were inaccessible to the patient herself. Revealing her sentiments was at times accompanied by worsening pain. It was as if each repressed emotion corresponded to a contracted muscle, and the possibility of expressing it might be followed by punishment (as her mother used to punish her). The patient began to reveal deep sadness about her desires put aside, their place taken by the sense of duty (which guaranteed that she would be accepted), and spent innumerable sessions weeping copiously.
Beth began to realize that her masochistic and depressive structure had led her to sacriﬁce herself continually for others, to the point of dressing in old, mended clothes, much beneath her buying power, which would preclude “the danger of criticism for spending too much.”
During this period, the patient brought the following dream:
I am in an ugly street full of holes and gutted by the rains. There
are two trucks loaded with cartons of eggs. They are trying to go
uphill, but they are top heavy and skid downwards. The drivers
are forcing the engines to such an extent that they are overheated,
and there is threat of ﬁre.
Associations: The patient associates the steep slope with her parents’ street where she was brought up. The torrents of water would be associated with her mania for cleanliness and her continual eﬀorts washing down the back yard with a hosepipe. The trucks, laden, refer to her permanent feeling of body weight and diﬃculty in walking. She associates eggs with something new to be developed.
Interpretation: Through this dream, we were able to begin to perceive how her continuous eﬀorts in “washing” were producing “holes” that impeded a normal ﬂow of traﬃc. Although as a ﬁrst dream we may observe a positive possibility for analytical development through the eggs, an excess of it also brings diﬃculties. Potential of such considerable weight, but unused for so many years, implies that there would have to be some loss for possible use of it. That is, some eggs would have to be set aside and the ﬂoor would have to be less clean so that the trucks would be able to reach their destination. The patient herself came to this conclusion, and we talked about how this might take place in her day-to-day life. To force an ascent with a full load under these conditions would mean the outbreak of ﬁre, and at this time, the patient remembered a burning feeling in her joints. She realized that when she tried to force the “uphill drive” by trying to excess, the sensation of burning and pain in the joints was augmented.
On the other hand, to relinquish hold of her newly found wishes was no easy task. And to carry on, bitter and resentful, not having fulﬁlled them was also, seemingly, not the best way out.
The patient began to recollect how she used to enjoy music and dancing as a child, and how she had denied herself these pleasures because she felt awkward and stiﬀ. It was as if all that was life and ﬂexibility had been tied up and the patient, imprisoned in chains, was restricted to rigid and limited movements. Her self-sacriﬁce had only been halted by the illness, which had worsened in the past few years.
Until then, she had blindly obeyed all outside requests. Her altruism turned obsessive, and when she could not complete a given task she was possessed by a feeling of unbearable anxiety. She then realized that her body was defending her from further abuse because she had never said no.
Ziegler (1983) associates rheumatoid arthritis with the Stoic philosophy, in which patience, obedience and altruism played predominant roles. The Stoics, like the patient, belittled the body and subjected themselves to the most severe physical conditions with the idea of reaching a superior state. They were self-suﬃcient and avoided emotions, impulses, and desires.
Slowly we came to realize that the patient was not able to give up her stoicism, for this was the only form of power she exercised. Being above desire gave her a feeling of superiority, a sentiment that could not be substituted. Her limitless physical activity, although senseless and useless, aﬀorded her a sensation of superiority. “Needs” were something inferior, belonging to less evolved beings.
I am on a motorcycle. I stretch the rear part and out comes a
cover on which a woman and a girl sit. I set oﬀ at high speed. On
the way, there are ever so many slats and boards. There is only
one narrow curved passage along which I travel. I leave the two
women. I take a car that a man is driving. He goes up a very
steep slope of dark earth. He goes too high and falls, but the
road goes on normally.
A black car is going up a steep slope and boils midway. It
almost goes on ﬁre.
Associations: The patient sees a motorcycle as a swift agile vehicle, but has never ridden on one. The two women are reminiscent of herself and her mother. The man is unknown, and the steep slope resembles that of the former dream. A black car resembles her father’s old car back in the 1950s.
Interpretation: We may observe that analysis has liberated an enormous quantity of energy (imprisoned in the maternal complex), represented by a swift and ﬂexible motorcycle. However, when she leaves the women and is being driven by a man, he forces his way up and the fall occurs. We began to realize that when her masculine side had taken over control, it had forced her into a stoic attitude, which led her to disaster.
The patient remembered that her mother only paid attention to her when she did her chores right, and the relationship with her father centered even more on her scholastic and domestic achievements. She had strived too much to be loved by him; he admired “objective,” “thrifty,” and “unemotional” women. She thereby assumes a paternal repression as to her femininity, an issue clearly evident in the following dream:
I open an antique wardrobe. It is full of old men’s jackets. These are male coats without the trousers.
Associations: Old jackets would be the father’s jackets. There are no trousers because she feels she donned only the top part. “The top half, I am a woman. I have children to prove it when my husband complains I am not a woman.”
Interpretation: These paternal jackets would be the armoring that the patient herself uses in her relationships. These are jackets that compel her to be distant and “objective.” However, they are old, as an attitude that is already worn and close to consciousness. One part of her feminine identity was preserved in maternity.
In the 37th session, the patient reported in surprise that it was days since she had remembered her arthritis. Although it was winter, the pain had diminished considerably, to the extent that she had forgotten about her illness.
I proposed to work directly with the illness, once its regressive aspects became more conscious. The patient concurred.
I ask her to sit comfortably and concentrate, eyes closed, on the most painful joint. The patient says it’s her knee. I ask her to concentrate on this point, trying to observe what is happening there. The patient states that it’s a type of “distress” along with certain “soreness.” “A weird soreness that gets better when I put my knees together.” As she touches her knees together and then spreads them, she realizes that this is a defensive movement against an invasion – sexual invasion by her husband. At this point intense hatred for her husband surfaces, mixed with nausea and revulsion; sentiments she had never realized before.
She remembers countless times when she was indisposed or resentful of her husband, but nonetheless had sexual relations “because it was my wifely duty” and a form of “guaranteeing that he won’t look for another woman.”
We began to understand that the hardening of this joint was a defensive mechanism against movements imposed against her will. In reality, the arthritis in her knee was a defense that aimed at protecting her against this violation and, at the same time, the best way to express her Self, given the conﬂict between the wish for power (keep her husband) and eros (hate her husband). Restriction of movement protected the patient from a greater evil, continuing a hateful relationship.
She brings the following dreams to the next session:
I see a leafy tree, but all dried up on the outside. I cling to a vine full of sap to grab two yellow fruits which are in the treetop. A friend’s father welcomes me with aﬀection, bestowing love on me.
Associations: “I myself, as the world sees me, am the tree. Dry, lifeless. But inside I have sap and can bear fruit, only it is still diﬃcult to get to them.” “I envy a friend who had a father who was always a companion to her and aﬀectionate.”
Interpretation: The patient begins to realize the dissociation between how she expresses herself and her inner world. She is surprised to realize that she has “sap,” i.e. creative life within herself. At the same time we might say that there is an improvement in the paternal complex, which now appears in its positive polarity.
In the succeeding sessions, we continued working on the joints’ symptoms, giving them voice. As will be seen in the account below of a session, anger is the predominant emotion that surfaces from the technique of active imagination.
42nd session: The patient, already more conscious of the tensions in her knees, proposes investigating the pain in her right wrist, which has particularly bothered her in the past few days. Eyes closed, she concentrates her attention on this point. She describes a heightening of the pain, as if there were a handcuﬀ tightly securing her wrist. I ask her to imagine this handcuﬀ tightening even more and then to try to “see” who is on the other side of it. The patient feels the heat rising, as if the handcuﬀs were scorching her skin, and “sees” her husband laughing, sadistically holding a key. The image of the husband is mixed with that of her father, and the patient weeps with anger, feeling herself powerless. Faced with the power of the two men, she could do nothing.
I am a marionette tied at the wrists and ankles, which dances to the tune they play. I have no will of my own. I walk and jump incessantly at their will. No one protects me. I have to do as they command.
The patient emerges from her active imagination crying a great deal and gets up, wanting to leave before the end of the session. She feels her wrists and ankles are burning and complains that now it is much worse than it was before she began therapy.
I ask her to go back to active imagination and try to talk with her father/husband, which she does somewhat reluctantly. After a few seconds, the patient opens her eyes saying that it’s useless to continue, that there’s nothing to do. We stay this way, with this impotent feeling to which we refer later in other sessions and which was reinforced by the image she had had previously, upon falling asleep: “I was having trouble falling asleep. I breathe with diﬃculty. I see my wedding ring restricting my chest, keeping me from breathing more freely.”
57th session: During active imagination, I propose to the patient that she concentrate on her body and the joint that calls out the most. The patient directs her attention to her atrophied ﬁngers. She is hardly able to open them, so painful is any movement. There returns the sensation of handcuﬀs on her wrists and she realizes that she will have to use her ﬁngers to get free of them. Neither her husband nor her father will come to her aid. She will have to do it alone. I realize that the patient is beginning, with great eﬀort, to move the ﬁngers of her right hand, as if she were opening a padlock on her left wrist. She repeats the motion with her left hand. Her motions are slow and apparently painful. She ends the eﬀort smiling. She knows that she is not free yet, will have to repeat this movement again and again, which she does spontaneously at home, various times each day.
In the following sessions, Beth states that she is able to move her painful ﬁngers for the ﬁrst time in years. She feels that the sap of life is ﬂowing toward the outer limbs and the dry tree is starting to come alive. She is already more able to reach out, and begins to ﬁght with her husband and children.
I oﬀer guidance that she should exercise at home with an image of this sap ﬂowing throughout her body, centering on the regions more aﬀected. After a few weeks, we could see a considerable improvement in the inﬂammation and the pain, principally in her knees, wrists, and ﬁngers.
At the same time, her ﬁghts with her husband become more aggressive, and he refuses to go on paying for his wife’s treatment, in retaliation to what he describes as a terrible worsening. Without any professional preparation whatsoever, the patient cannot ﬁnd a job, and, after some sessions, treatment is suspended.
Beth returns once a month for one year, reporting on her battles with her husband and the new social position she has attained. She gets a job as saleswoman in a shop and changes in the way she dresses. Her appearance now is far more jovial and cheerful. She says she can “maneuver” her husband and does as she pleases. Although the rheumatoid arthritis has not gone away completely, she no longer feels pains and the inﬂammation emerges in her hands only when she is tired or stressed.
She understands that the illness may return if she detours from the “path of her Self,” if she stops “obeying herself” and begins to “obey the others.”
We realize that the rheumatoid arthritis, from being a symbol, has changed to being a sign – a sign that advised her when she was exceeding a limit and losing her balance (see Figure 5.2).
There were 79 sessions, of 50 minutes each, over the course of two years.
Some of this patient’s aspects correspond to the descriptions in the literature on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, i.e. she showed a rigid, complying, overactive, and self-sacriﬁcing personality.
According to the patient, the triggering stress factor was loneliness aggravated by her youngest daughter leaving. However, as we were able to observe, the frustration and anxiety predated the daughter’s departure, and there were dysfunctional signs long before that event.
Arthritis, as a symbol, is here associated with the parental complexes. Her compliance and subservient behavior were the mechanisms used to protect her from the possibility of rejection, with false altruism used to defend against the anxiety of not being loved.
The illness, by stopping her movements, also stopped the continuation of her defensive, obsessive, and servile hyperactivity. If, on the one hand, repression of desire created a feeling of superiority, on the other hand it produced intense sorrow and resentments, which were accumulating in the joints.
By stopping, the organism rebelled against detouring away from normal development. Nodules of sorrow accumulated in the body, signaling the need for transformation. Paradoxically, this illness saved her from a worse evil: continuing to live without desires, unconnected with her Self. We might note that the inﬂamed joints revealed the “inﬂamed psyche,” her silent revolt against the constant violation of her essence.
If the stiﬀness revealed, from one point of view, the stiﬀness of her psyche, from another it was the symbol by means of which the patient was able to retake control of her process and let the “sap ﬂow once more.”
Cecilia is a 32-year-old teacher who seeks analysis because, after surgery to remove a melanoma,3 she is very afraid of dying.
Cecilia is single and lives with her mother. About two months ago, the birthmark that she had on the left side of her right leg thickened and began to itch and bleed. She went to a doctor who diagnosed a melanoma, which was then removed. She states that she was very depressed for months before the cancer appeared, because she and her ex-ﬁancé had broken up about seven months previously. The plans for the wedding had already been made when he decided to go back to his former wife. Unable to accept these facts, she fell into despair, pursuing him at work and at home. During this time, there were days when she did not have the strength to go to work and stayed at home weeping. Subsequent to surgery she was somewhat more at peace and more resigned. She attributed the illness to her emotional suﬀering and death wish. The illness startled her, and she decided to react, although she still fell into profound states of depression and, at times, the idea of killing herself reappeared. She claims that “if I go on this way, I really will die,” and “the disease will take over and there will be nothing to stay its course.” She hopes that analysis will somehow help her to “feel better or to die more quickly and without pain.”
Cecilia seems older than her actual age. Her face marred by wrinkles, her graying hair and the sadness in her expression make her seem worn and bitter. She cries a good deal as she tells of the pain of separation, and is calmer only with the fantasy that “one day he will be sorry and come back once more.” When she discovers that this is quite impossible, she falls into depression once more and cries.
Analysis in the ﬁrst sessions consisted of taking in the patient’s suffering. Her continuous desperate weeping prevented any analytic intervention. A psychiatric consultation was suggested for antidepressive medication, which the patient refused. She said she could “hang on” and, on the other hand, she was sure that once she was in possession of the medication, she would not resist the temptation and would use it to kill herself.
The ﬁrst analytic dream (ﬁfth session) placed the process in a positive perspective and, in part, reassured the analyst, who feared that the patient would commit suicide:
I was at sea with other people. I had to cross over to the other side to a beach that was in front of the beach where I was. The waves were extremely high, and in the sea there were some white animals that seemed like seaweed burning. I already had a burn on the back of my right hand. Where the waters from both beaches met, there was a great impact of water. But, I had to get over to the other side, and I kept trying. I knew that if I could traverse this stretch, it would be easy enough to reach the other beach. I made it. A girl came out of the water, naked, with me. There were a great number of mosquitoes. We went on as far as the road, and I asked for help. A car stopped, gave the girl a towel and we left in the car.
Associations: The sea gives a sensation of crossing. She has to undertake a crossing: white dangerous animals threaten her and she recollects that, as a child, she had suﬀered jellyﬁsh burns while walking barefoot on the beach. The father had, at this time, just left home to live with another woman. A burn also makes her think of melanoma.
Interpretation: As an initial dream, we may understand it as a positive prognosis in the analytic process. The crossing is diﬃcult; however, the dreamer can make it. There are burns and bites from primitive animals, but that can be overcome. That is, along the way there will be painful situations, but results are positive in the sense that from the sea there emerges a naked girl divested of her persona, and both follow along the same way. Memories of the father are painful and are associated with abandonment. It is probable that there is a strong paternal complex associated with the shadow as an abandoned little girl.
Cecilia always had several birthmarks distributed around her body, which she associated with her father, as he had similar marks. Upon removing the melanoma, she thought she was cutting a link to her father, breaking a connection to him, and felt relief on the one hand and great fear of losing him on the other.
Her parents’ separation happened when the patient was 11 years old. It was a very diﬃcult event, because her mother did not accept the separation and made “scandalous scenes” to get the father back. Her mother never recovered, got depressed, acted as an abandoned child, and created a series of diﬃculties for her daughter and for the younger brother. This brother lives abroad and for years has not been in touch with the family. From a very young age, he would be away from home and would spend more time at the house of friends. The patient would then feel responsible for the mother and feel guilty when she left her on her own.
She considers the period when she was with her ﬁancé (one year) the happiest in her life. He accepted her mother, and she even felt that the three might live together. She developed a series of fantasies as to how they would live and could not understand the reason for their breaking up, as they rarely quarreled. She attributed separation to pressure from her ﬁancé’s ex-wife. However, later she realized that he really couldn’t care less about her. To him, “it had been no more than a pastime and sexual attraction.” It was at this time that she fell into depression.
The patient recounts numerous dreams that have a common pattern: accident, illness, and death.
I was at home: my mother was in another room. I am very afraid of burglars. I had died, and they had only found my body two days later. At ﬁrst, I thought it was suicide, but later they found an arm and a leg broken. But I still thought it was suicide, for I had been dead for two days and bones break very easily.
They are digging a grave in the cemetery. They take away all the earth. I can see a coﬃn: it resembles a crate. In it is the body of a girl. In the tomb are two older corpses. They walk along with the coﬃn past one of these shelves with a corpse. They say it smells bad. I look on from without. A girl cousin of mine tampers with one of the coﬃns, and I can see the face. It is a skeleton of one of the corpses.
An enormous crash. It’s a collision of two trains that are moving backwards. (25th session)
Associations: The patient was much moved by these dreams and associated them with a feeling of solitude and loss. A cemetery is a place where she likes to go. “I should like to be able to get inside a tomb and go to sleep.”
Following these associations, the patient was quiet. With lost gaze, she seemed unreachable for some moments. On her return, she said that she felt as if she were in this tomb and that there, although it was cold and malodorous, was where she wanted to be.
Interpretation: Although the patient was not yet in a state to absorb any deeper analysis, we could understand these dreams as a portrait of the trauma that the patient underwent when her love relationship ruptured. On the other hand, through analysis Cecilia began to discover past situations when she had probably already felt the same suﬀering, which left her lacking energy and depressed. The trains moving backwards and crashing might indicate conﬂictive regression: a catastrophic collision similar to the clash of the two seas in the previous dream, only now on a more conscious plane. The hypothesis that in this break she would be reliving abandonment by the father will soon be conﬁrmed.
I ask Cecilia to try to recollect when she might have felt as if she were in a cold, malodorous place. She remembers sitting on the steps in the backyard of her house watching her father packing his suitcases into the car. She can say nothing. She would like to stop him, but she cannot move. The mother is making a “scene” and would like her daughter to do something about it. She feels cold and cannot move. All she would like is that her mother would stop talking. She would like to go to a place where it was quiet, without shouting. She does not want to go on talking. She feels pain where she had the surgery.
We begin to disinter the corpses. One of them is her father’s. She had to be “hard.” She could not fall into despair, as had her mother. She had always hidden her suﬀering, pretending that all was well to “cheer up” her mother. She had always been a model pupil and daughter, accepting all aggression without responding in kind, not touching on the subject of “father,” and avoiding involvement in confused situations, in order not to make her mother even more “nervous.” She rarely got together with her father, and on these occasions, fearful that he would not return, she tried also to talk only of “good things, to not irritate him.”
We could see here that this patient possessed personality traits similar to those described in the literature as Type C. Loneliness, self-sacriﬁce, and resignation had been her defense. And her personality had been structured along these lines.
We worked thoroughly on these aspects, and anger began to emerge. She returned to the moment of her father’s departure, using active imagination, and was able then to express all her emotions and resentments. In these moments she complained of pain in the region of the surgical scar, for which there was no medical reason.
We also began to realize the similarity between the situation experienced with her father and that with her ex-ﬁancé, with whom she clearly showed the wish to resolve what the child had not been able to do with the father.
On one hand, she was her father’s daughter; the intellectual, a good student, and disciplined, who had abdicated from the more erotic aspect of life to devote herself to her profession. On the other, she was possessed by a negative identiﬁcation with the mother. “She was horror-stricken” at resembling her, a “weak and dependent woman” and, nonetheless, in the case of her ﬁancé, she found that she had spoken much as had her mother.
The negative maternal complex had constellated in her diﬃculty in making female friends, in viewing all women as inferior to men and in her alienation from her own body. She took care of her body as a duty, rather than with pleasure. She kept it “clean, hygienic, and health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)y” as an obligation.
I can see three black police dogs. A woman is holding them by the collar. They escape and attack me. I look through a window at ballet dancers going through their paces. They repeat the movements until they are perfect. (40th session)
Associations: “Fear of dogs, mainly of police dogs. I invariably have the sensation that they are going to attack me for no reason. They are angry. Something is going to break loose out of control. I cannot trust a woman. Ballet dancers are perfect, light. They must kill themselves before they attain perfection.”
Interpretation: A liberation of anger has begun (that she sees in the dogs). She is afraid of losing control and hurting somebody (or herself?). A desire for perfection comes from a paternal complex. She has always tried to be “perfect” like he is, a perfect man. The ballerina is one who transcends perfection, who carries out her duties, even if for such she must repress her body and distort it to achieve “superior movements.”
In another dream:
A very important man is going somewhere, but does not want to be seen. Then, there is a ﬂeet of black cars. Three men are dressed the same way, and get into three parallel cars. One of them is the chief. This was one way to throw the others oﬀ the track. Many black cars follow along to protect him; however, the enemy ﬁlters through in disguise, in amongst the cars. All make their way to a tunnel, but the three cars are blocked. I tell somebody that there is no point in going on because the cars have been blocked.
Associations: “Black cars are Maﬁa cars. They are trying to protect the Big Boss. I don’t know whether the enemy is the police or another rival group. A feeling that there is no way out. Danger. My father’s car is black. It reminds me of the scene of the wedding of the daughter of the Maﬁa Big Boss in the ﬁlm The Godfather. I ﬁnd the women are submissive to the power of the men and have no way out.”
Interpretation: The paternal complex in its negative polarity is manifest here as repressor and controller. Retaining power, he is not going to forfeit his daughter very easily. On the other hand, in the dream, this power is under threat. The conﬂict blocks a channel of energy (tunnel), but is closer to consciousness. How to tackle this power is the next question.
I am an Indian. They kill my boyfriend. I am about to drink water, and I ﬁnd him dead in the tank. I am shocked. There is an enormous Indian beside me. I say I will bury him. I roam over the land. There is somebody with me. I say I want to bury him alone. I don’t need the help of the people down below. Some domestic animals follow me. A duck and a sweet little donkey. I know the enormous Indian is going to carry my boyfriend so that I may bury him.
Associations: “Indian, a strong primitive man. I believe he was shot dead by the police. It’s like the Wild West ﬁlms. The Indians being shot by the army.”
Interpretation: If we take the ﬁgure of the Indian to be the animus, his death by patriarchal power once again represents the imprisonment of the patient by the paternal complex. The positive aspect of
this dream is the presence of other primitive forces (Indian and animals) that help her on her journey. The patient feels blocked and bereft of energy. Absorbed as yet in pain, she cannot produce and work. Dreams:
My house is on ﬁre. I watch from a distance. I am in a car with my mother. Everything is very dark: we are on the expressway. I have to stop the car because I cannot see a thing.
The car battery has given out, so I will plug into the electricity. (49th session)
Associations: “It’s exactly as I feel, devoid of strength, with no will. I don’t know how to plug the car into the electricity.”
Interpretation: The patient is depressed and perceives uncontrolled emotion (ﬁre) destroying her life, and in the absence of her own energy, she tries to connect herself up to a social source (electricity network) that, nevertheless, depends on a connection and does not permit her to move very far. She comes to the conclusion that, at this time, this would be the best solution, i.e. to connect through to what society has to oﬀer.
I am leaving the house to take my grandmother some place. I am in the car with my mother and another two girls. I sit in the back seat, and my grandmother sits in the driver’s seat. I tell her it is impossible to drive like this. I show my mother that I cannot reach the steering wheel and the foot pedals. Then, with difﬁculty, my grandmother moves into the back, and I move up front. We have to climb a mountain and on the way, my grandmother begins to cry. She doesn’t want to go up, she is in her dotage. We try to convince her. She falls.
Associations: “My grandmother is very traditional. She is always submissive to her husband and always an excellent housewife. She is distant and not very aﬀectionate. I remember the Japanese legend about carrying the old people to die on the mountainside. My grandmother is already very old. I believe she will not last out very long.”
Interpretation: The grandmother represents the ancient outdated maternal attitude. On taking the driving into her own hands, the patient assumes control of her own process and leaves what is outdated behind. Here we have a relationship with the Maﬁa dream. Her grandmother was Italian and used to tell stories about the Maﬁa. In this way, it would seem that the patient begins to face the parental complexes by taking it on herself to drive her own life “car.”
I am ﬁghting with a man. He seems to be a man of wax. His
belly is gaping open, and I can see his intestines and his heart.
I pick up a chalice, and I drink his blood. He tells me that if
I drink of his blood, I will know his name, and that if I tell
everyone, he will lose his power.
Associations: “It reminds me of a fairy tale where the princess has to discover the name of the dwarf so that he will not take away her child. I never saw anything resembling this dream. It seems like something very profound and strange.”
Interpretation: A lack of references and the strange feeling as to this material raise the hypothesis that the dream refers to contents that are very unconscious. On entering into contact with the “blood”,
i.e. with the essence of this complex, its signiﬁcance comes to the surface, probably associated with the paternal ﬁgure.
This interpretation was conﬁrmed with successive analysis of diverse situations relived with the father. The patient gradually became aware of the intense relationship that she had with him and the extent to which she had shaped herself to resemble him.
In this period, the patient at times complained of pain in the region operated on and experienced fantasies of being run over or of being in the hospital and of dying.
While working with active imagination, I asked her to concentrate on the operated region and try to see what was happening. The patient soon related a scene in which her leg was being stung by many insects, causing great itching. The patient associated the mosquitoes with burns and her father’s going away. Each insect had a name. It was necessary to discover each of them.
In the subsequent attempt at active imagination, the patient concentrates again on the operated region and afterward reports the following:
I was walking alone along the beach. I was very sad. I had no one to talk with. My father had gone away. I wanted him to come fetch me to play with him in the ocean, as he had always done before. But he didn’t come. I walked and walked; I don’t know how I stepped on the jellyﬁsh. It startled me. I wanted my father. I wanted him to come save me. I went back home, but my mother didn’t know where he was. I thought that this pain might bring him back. But it didn’t work. I cried a lot. I thought that my surgery [on the melanoma] would bring him back, but that didn’t work either. A birthmark looks like a burn, don’t you think so? When it began to itch and burn, I now remember that I thought of my father. I also thought that if my ex- ﬁancé found out that I had cancer, he would pity me and return.”
The memory of the fantasies that occurred when the cancer was diagnosed begins to emerge and we now realize more clearly the relationship between the burn, the paternal rejection, and the melanoma. Just as the patient had fantasized as a child that her father would return to cure her, thus as an adult, feeling rejected by her ﬁancé (father), the same symbol (melanoma/burn) emerges to express this suﬀering and the attempt to recover paternal love.
The shadow, in the guise of a needy and abandoned girl child, also becomes more conscious, as we could observe through a series of dreams containing the maternal ﬁgure and babies. In most of them, there is diﬃculty giving birth or the baby dies.
My mother gave birth and died. The baby is health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)y. She knew she was going to die and for this reason she had everything ready.
My cousin was going in for an abortion. A friend is pregnant: she tells me she feels awful. A man attacks a woman with a knife. She runs through the
house in an attempt to open the doors, but has a certain amount of diﬃculty with the locks. She ﬁnally emerges out in the street. When I look from the street up at a window, I can see my mother at a window up above in my grandmother’s house. She covers her face with her hands. There is a great deal of suﬀering in her countenance.
(65th, 66th, and 67th sessions) Associations: “My cousin has had several abortions. I would like to get pregnant. I even tried to get pregnant, to hold onto my ﬁancé, but he realized this and took care. I have no patience with children, and I don’t believe I shall ever have children. I was annoyed when my friend got pregnant. I am not in the least sorry about her suﬀering. My father hurt my mother a lot.”
Other dreams of similar content:
My daughter died: I was single.
I am changing her diaper for the ﬁrst time. I think of leaving the window open so that she will catch a cold and die. I can see her going down and drowning.
My daughter is grown up. She is run over and dies.
Associations: “My mother uses me for her own needs. She is selﬁsh and only thinks of herself. She is not concerned about what I might need. Ever since my father left, I became company for her. Everything is to do with me. I am sorry, for her, but it annoys me. I cannot leave the house, nor have any friends. I can’t stand it any longer.”
Interpretation: The constellation of the maternal complex brings to the surface negative material, hate in relation to the child and towards the mother. As “her father’s daughter,” she rejects maternity, here associated with the shadow. Through this dream material and its associations, we can observe that in the shadow of this patient there is a destitute, rejected and abandoned little girl.
There follows a succession of dreams, fantasies and thoughts where the prime content is her own destruction. Dreams:
I am in a hospital. There is a girl seated crying. I go up to comfort her. The blood from her wound squirts in my face. I can taste blood.
I can see I. (a friend). She has a rare disease: it seems to be progressive muscular dystrophy.
I died. Somebody advises my mother. I believe it is I myself who bring her the news. First I tell her that I have suﬀered an accident, so that she will gradually get used to the idea of my dying.
Associations: “The sensation of being weak, ill. Devoid of energy.
I. is an unhappy, lonely person.”
There follows the remembrance of scenes in which she had been rejected and used by her mother. The patient feels her vitality is gone. She constantly fantasizes a recurrence of the illness. The patient continues to be depressed and lacking energy for any activity. Resigned to her failure, she constantly wishes to die. She imagines herself dying in the most diverse ways.
The positive transferential relation to the psychotherapist is the patient’s only link to love, and, according to her, is what keeps her from killing herself.
In the following dream, we have a reference to this stage of the process:
I am with D. (therapist) in a tank ﬁlled with water. The water is
in movement making waves. D. compares this movement with
a dream about the sea.
We might say that this dream is in reference to the ﬁrst. In this way, we would be in the center of the process, where the waves met. The fact it is a tank in place of the sea is positive, for it is indicative of a more controlled, more conscious situation, built by humans.
On the right side of my forehead, I have an enormous abnormal
growth, which looks like a mushroom. The doctor is thinking
about removing it.
Association: “Can it be that I’ll get another tumor?”
During the week of this dream, a gynecological exam turns up a cyst4 on the right breast.
According to the doctor, the cyst’s characteristics and the results of some exams indicate that it is probably malignant.
At ﬁrst the patient reacted with panic and fear of death; later, with relief. The emergence of this cyst caused her emotional pain to diminish. There were moments when, to her surprise, she forgot about the emotional pain.
We raised the hypothesis that her psyche already knew of the existence of a tumor before it was visible. However, since in the dream it was a mushroom, we thought at the time that it would be less threatening; perhaps merely a temporary growth, fragile, as are mushrooms.
And, most importantly, it grew out of her head, reinforcing the hypothesis that it was of emotional origin.
Soon after, she had this dream:
A baby (a few days old) is brought back to life when a doctor spreads cream over its body. (89th session)
Association: “I don’t want surgery or cuts, what I need is aﬀection. The sensation of cream being spread by the doctor is one of relief and of freshness. It is as though I were burned and with the cream, I felt better.”
Interpretation: This dream refers to her lack of a father. Here the doctor is the ﬁgure of the father who brings the baby back to life, rendering conscious the shadow of a little girl abandoned.
The patient began to perceive her transferential relationship to her oncologist. She wanted the doctor to pay attention to her as a daughter, and simultaneously she felt that he wanted to “cut” her, immediately recommending surgery and advising her, were the tumor to prove to be cancerous, to remove her ovaries as a preventive measure. She felt the doctor was like her father, objective and removed, quickly doing what was needed without concern for feelings.
The patient reacted to her doctor’s orientation with despair. She was young, still dreamed of marrying and having children. These surgeries (breast and ovaries) would certainly mutilate her. She consulted her father about the situation, and he took an attitude similar to that of the doctor.
A man is driving along arm in arm with a woman. Somebody
shoots and kills the woman. The bullet travels through the
I have eggs of various animals that are beginning to hatch. I
have two small caimans and an assortment of snakes, of which
I am afraid. I don’t exactly know what to do about them. I put
the caimans into a lake near my house, with a net over them so
they won’t attack anyone.
My arms and chest are all covered with green crabs. I scream
in horror for someone to help me, but nobody comes.
(93rd session) Associations: “Fear of the biopsy and of the surgery. I cannot keep up a relationship. I am always killed in the end. A man will always wound me. Children today are caimans. They come from eggs, not from the womb. Caimans and snakes are reminiscent of primitive animals that kill in cold blood. They are in a lake close to the house. That’s where I am going to die, never having given birth to anything. I have bred only snakes and lizards. I don’t trust my doctor.”
Interpretation: Mutilation would be viewed by the patient as the death of maternity, of the possibility of getting married and of having children. Here the patient realizes how vital these desires are and how mutilation of the body is associated with her shadow.
The needy and abandoned girl child had to die because it was not cared for. She now realizes that if she wishes to live she will have to change her attitude immediately and take care of her “child” without passing the child to others to care for.
Also, Cecilia re-experiences through the doctor the wound of paternal abandonment by feeling the doctor to be an aggressive and destructive man and, at the same time, that she pushes him into this role. The oﬀspring are destructive reptiles that may well turn against her who ﬁrst produced them. There is no maternal identiﬁcation, nor the present possibility of breastfeeding since the oﬀspring are not mammals. All takes place at an extremely primitive and archetypal level. On the other hand, the fact the eggs hatched is a possibility of contact with the contents that were formerly unconscious.
Parallel to this, owing to the negative transferential relationship established with the doctor, the patient was forwarded to a gynecologist. She was more understanding and requested a new batch of tests.
In therapy the emergence of maternal contents becomes pronounced. The patient feels that her body is against her. She feels that she will die because her body doesn’t like her. I ask her to use active imagination to try to talk with her body and ask why it wants to destroy her.
The image of a gigantic woman appeared. This woman was terrible and hated her. The patient tried to escape. Wherever she ran, the earth opened up into craters. As she tried to hide behind some boulders, rain and lightening bolts fell on her. She left therapy deeply afraid and without any resolution. No dialogue was possible (107th session).
The patient then drew the witch-woman (Figure 5.3) and saw that she was powerless against this terrible woman who desired the patient’s death simply because the witch was evil. There was no escape. The patient would die in any event. The maternal complex, in its negative aspect, elicited the maternal archetype, also in its negative aspect as the witch–mother ﬁgure. The destructive mother, present in the body of her daughter, wanted the daughter’s destruction. The three women who appear in the drawing are the patient trying to talk with the giant and then, ﬁnding her eﬀort in vain, the patient giving up and preparing to die. How could she ﬁght against the witch–mother invading the daughter’s own body? It was as if the cells of her body had revolted against her. How can you identify the enemy when it is part of yourself, when it is your mother? Some cells tried to destroy the patient; how could she identify them?
In Figure 5.4, the patient has sketched herself lying down, defeated, with an enormous bleeding wound threatening to crush her. At ﬁrst glimpse, she imagined it to be an open breast, with dark spots inside. But then she saw that the spots looked like birds gathering, ready to ﬂy. She reinforced the forms with black ink and took heart at the newly emerged symbol. Even without understanding it, she felt it to be positive.
In this period, owing to her intense anguish in face of the biopsy that was to be completed, the patient had daily sessions for ﬁve days.
Figure 5.5, drawn in one of the following sessions, results from the suggestion of imagining the cyst in her right breast. The drawing represents the same crushed and defeated woman, imprisoned among the lactiferous ducts. “Nothing can ﬂow from my breasts. They are clogged up. There’s no milk, just blood. I have no energy to rise. The woman is crushed. I need help.”
But who could help her?
Dreams at this stage reveal intense suﬀering:
A family is seated around a table. A man comes up with a small net, and in it a species of red insect. He says the insect, just by being near, would kill all around it. First they would feel dry in the mouth, and they would burn to death. The father attempts to run away to plead for help; however, the man runs after him and catches him. Only the maid manages to escape.
I suﬀered a car accident. I broke my right arm, but I am bandaged from the waist up. I ask them to call my ex-ﬁancé, but they cannot get through.
My family and myself have our wrists cut; however, there is no blood. My cut is the deepest. (109th session)
Associations: A feeling of being broken, wounded. The maid is the simplest person, but the most direct. She says what she thinks and cries for any reason.
Interpretation: It is not possible to take up the link with the ﬁancé once more, nor with her parents, who have aged and are weak. The maid is her most expressive and direct shadow aspect, which must be rendered aware, for only she can save. The insect reminds us of the ﬁrst dream with insects and a burn. Are we in the middle of the process?
Figure 5.6 is a reply to the question “who could help?” There appears here a “devouring monster.” “He will eat the tumor. Only he can combat the witch. Only another equal to her could defeat her.” The crushed woman continues in the lower right corner of the drawing, now praying and asking for help. According to the patient, the monster is not benevolent; it merely wants to thwart the witch, and therefore will help her. “He eats the tumor.”
I ask the patient to imagine, several times per day, the monster devouring her cyst. The patient repeats the image frequently (ﬁve to six times per day) and says she feels heat in the cyst’s region.
Within the breast of Figure 5.7 we have an oval personage between the ducts, in the region of the cyst. The body is that of the monster, but the head is a caricature. “I like him. He’s funny. He has a sense of humor and controls the monster. The monster ate the tumor already, it’s just that he could feel himself powerful and got out of control, attacked me as did the witch. But here he can do nothing, because the guy on top is laughing and putting him in the proper perspective. He says the monster gives no orders. It is transformed into Tipsy Fool [an inﬂatable weighted toy], who gets pushed from one side to the other, but doesn’t give any orders.”
Cecilia started to realize that her emotional reaction to the loss of her boyfriend was tragic out of all proportion to what had really happened. That reaction had been much more an acting-out of the pain of parental abandonment, and thus she might develop a certain sense of humor and laugh when remembering certain “tragic” scenes with her ex-ﬁancé. She was able to see herself as a person who had now discovered her role and why she had been compulsively drawn to repeat certain patterns. It emerged ever more clearly that the unconsciousness of suﬀering, due as much to the maternal as to the paternal complex, both of them negative, had made the suﬀering impossible to express on a conscious, verbal plane and therefore caused its expression on a more concrete and corporal plane.
The mammary cyst was the cyst of the maternal relationship, which had “clogged up” her relation with the feminine/maternal and, at the same time, was an expression of that dysfunction.
The leg cyst was the cyst of the paternal relationship, its corporal identiﬁcation with the rejecting father. Dream:
A child falls into the water. She was playing on the ice when it broke. I run to help, and stretch out on the ice so that it will not break and give my hand to the child. I ask someone to hold on to my feet so as to make a chain.
Association: “I was on the ice. Now I feel as if I were emerging, but it is not at all easy. I am afraid to dive and not to make it up to the surface again.”
Interpretation: We can see here the child on the ice with her shadow aspect wounded, without aﬀection, which still runs the risk of being killed. Her desire, however, is to save the child.
When she has to ﬁght for her life, the patient assumes an active attitude and makes an eﬀort to survive. We remember the “cold” here that she felt at her father’s leaving home.
Two days after this image and this dream, the biopsy revealed that the cyst was benign. The doctor attributed the diﬀerent diagnosis to an error of the previous doctor. The patient attributed it to the analytic work carried out. The question remains open as to whether or not the intense analytic work of this period brought about an alteration on the cellular level.
I am at sea. The waves are strong, but I manage to swim. I have to contend with the waves a great deal so as not to drown. Someone throws a tennis ball at me hard. The ball strikes me on the breast, and I break a rib. We are on a distant beach. I ﬁnd a telephone on the road, but do not know the name of the beach so as to advise the police. Finally someone tells me the name of the beach. I get home. My wound is sore. My mother is sad. I ask her what the matter is? She says that my father is very ill, in hospital. I did not worry, for I remembered that a clairvoyant had told me it would be an attack of no importance. I thought of visiting him to make use of the occasion and to care for myself.
Associations: “A tennis ball – I learned how to play tennis with my father. It’s a sport he likes. I have suﬀered ever since I was a child with fantasies of this type where my father or else my mother was sick or dead.”
Interpretation: This dream makes clear reference to the ﬁrst dream where, following great eﬀort and several wounds, the patient manages to leave for a new beach. Reﬂecting on the present situation, we might say the patient is through the most conﬂicting stage of the process. She has yet to deal with the wound produced by aggressivity and paternal rejection (the tennis ball). The place where the father is (in hospital) is the most appropriate for this purpose, without there being apparently greater risk.
In subsequent sessions, the paternal ﬁgure is worked out in depth. Dream:
I am in a car driven by a man, my boyfriend. We try to get the
car out of the snow, but it skids with wheels held fast. It goes
forwards and backwards. Only with great eﬀort do we set the car
free and get out of the snow.
Association: “I do not know the boy in the car. He seems to me to be strong and good-looking.”
Interpretation: Here there arises the ﬁgure of the positive animus who drives and warms, for it is through his ability that the patient comes in from the “cold” and the possibility of a new life emerges. Probably, the liberation of the negative paternal complex rendered possible a connection through to the animus, as also to the conscious awareness of the rejected child formerly situated in the shadow. This reminds us of the dream about the child who falls into a frozen lake, and the ﬁgure of the Indian (animus) killed by the police (father).
The patient described how at this stage, for the ﬁrst time, she engaged in an intellectual ﬁght with a colleague and, to her surprise, upheld ideas diﬀerent from those she had up to then.
The image of the child who needs to be cared for and supported was worked on intensively. The patient realized that when she didn’t take care of “her,” the pain in the region of the scar appeared, as well as fantasies of cancer and death.
In the concluding sessions of this process, the patient was better able to elaborate the relation between the unconscious and the insufﬁcient expression of her conﬂicts, and how these factors led to the formation of her organic symptoms.
The information available to me, two years after her discharge, is that the patient is well, working, participating actively in a social group, and does not present any further symptoms.
There were a total of 167 sessions spread over two and a half years, with an average of two sessions per week.
We can look at this case, like the previous ones, at various levels.
At the most superﬁcial level, as a personality trait, this patient ﬁts into Type C: an apparently well-intentioned person, helpful, always ready to sacriﬁce herself for others. Present in this patient are diﬃculty in expressing anger and an attitude of resigned defeat, which are identiﬁed by others’ research as frequent in patients with melanoma and other types of cancer.
On the other hand, the patient, after the break-up of her romance, underwent an experience we may categorize as chronic stress, because, as we have seen, this event was a re-experience of her father’s abandoning her. The fact that she could not, at the time, express her sentiments turned her suﬀering unconscious and chronic.
At the most profound level, we verify the existence of two negative complexes taking part in the formation of her organic symptoms, namely the negative maternal and paternal complexes. Both expressed themselves symbolically at the bodily pole as symptoms, given that unconscious mechanisms impeded their integration into consciousness. The following schemes help us to summarize partially the great number of images produced by this patient (Figures 5.8, 5.9 and 5.10).
If we take the disease “melanoma” as a symbol, we can clearly see its signiﬁcance in this process. Wrapped up in painful mourning, the patient relives abandonment by her father through the abandonment by her ﬁancé, and reopens a wound coincident with her paternal identiﬁcation. The “spots” take on the sense of a link to her father, and we might interpret their malignancy as the malignancy of the paternal relationship.
Curiously, the need for an operation indicates the need to wipe out this identiﬁcation. Since this wiping out cannot take place on an abstract level, it happens concretely in the body. The fantasies and dreams of the patient at the time of the surgery are proof of the paternal relation, as is also the constant pain in the scarred region when remembering her father painfully.
It is interesting for us to observe here the partial congruence of the symbol “melanoma” with the paternal complex (Figures 5.8 and 5.10), as well as the congruence of the symbol “mammary cyst” with the maternal complex (Figures 5.9 and 5.10). The various common features conﬁrm that both symbols are expressions of the negative paternal complexes.
The shadow (Figure 5.10) expresses itself in the symbols of the injured, sick, and dead girls, unconscious to the patient, who in her persona appeared independent and always ready to help (never needed anything, never had any problem). Here the shadow is active within the body as organic symptoms, showing how serious the injury has been.
Regarding the mammary cyst (Figure 5.9), we were able to see how the negative maternal complex activated the archetype of the Great Mother in its negative aspect, threatening the body’s existence. As it aﬀected an essentially maternal area, the patient was forced to aﬃrm a desire that had been denied until then: the desire to be a mother. While previously she had belittled and ridiculed this desire, partially because of identiﬁcation with the father, now she was forced to struggle for its fulﬁllment, if she wished to experience this archetype as a mother.
The struggle against the negative Great Mother took place on various levels, but the turning point came with the aid of the
archetype of the Father. The emergence of a masculine archetypal symbol, the ﬁgure of the “devouring monster,” signiﬁes a struggle between the parental archetypes, necessary if the patient was not to stay totally under the thrall of the evil mother.
The process seems to come under conscious control when the patient realizes that she can also control the unconscious “monster.” Consequently, there emerge the ﬁgures of the positive animus and logos.
At this point the patient takes ownership of the process, without, however, considering that her power is relative. Later, she realizes that keeping her psychological balance will depend on constant renewal of the link between ego and Self, through the emerging images. She also realizes that this is the best, and perhaps only, prophylactic against unconscious invasions on the most varied levels.
Repressed anger becomes a revolt listened to, but not communicated. Wherever it is present, it is active, creating destructive behavior out of control. Since there is no vent for externalizing it, repressed anger will act in some form, synchronistically at the unconscious organic and psychic levels.
The deeper structures, at the infrared pole of the instinctual spectrum, are where we will ﬁnd repressed anger, turning against that which keeps it prisoner in the body. Friend and enemy get mixed up. Once again we observe the disease as having an evolutionary goal, forcing the individual to contact the unknown and expand her consciousness.
The body knows things a long time before the mind catches up
with them. I was wondering what my body knew that I didn’t.
(Kidd, 2002: 69)
Various cases have been treated using the analytic model. We will present here, as examples, principal moments in the process of six patients with diﬀerent symptoms. As mentioned above, one of the main aims is to develop techniques that allow for brief therapy, focused on the illness, to be used with hospitalized patients or those who wish to get rid of the disease and are not interested in deeper analysis. Nevertheless, healing presumes an awareness of certain conﬂicts and of unconscious mechanisms, so that brief therapy is not always possible. The time of treatment depends largely on the ego conditions of the patient facing the power of complexes and defense mechanisms that surround the symptom.
Daniel, a 36-year-old public relations man, had been aﬄicted with allergic symptoms and other dermatological problems ever since he was a child. At around 22 years of age he received the diagnosis of acne rosacea, a chronic skin disorder that aﬀected most of his face and was characterized by redness and inﬂammation.
His job was adversely aﬀected, as it depended very much on physical appearance to please the clients, and for days he had been ashamed of showing himself in public. He underwent various skin treatments that resulted in temporary relief. Daniel was aware that the symptoms worsened after family ﬁghts. Usually quiet and introverted, Daniel did not react to brotherly provocations and always tried to keep ﬁghts among his brothers from getting out of hand. Quite a few times, he intervened to keep them from getting more aggressive towards each other. He was considered a family mediator and was called on many times to intervene in conﬂict situations. According to Daniel, his marriage was ﬁne; his wife was very demanding but he knew how to avoid quarrels, so they could have a “harmonious marriage.”
This was one of the cases that was treated in a few sessions using the sandplay technique.2 We will relate two scenes that portray Daniel’s process.
In the ﬁrst scene, Daniel puts his hands on the sand, leaving deep imprints (Figure 6.1). He has the sensation that a protective uterus is there, and feels sheltered. The hand prints here also depict Daniel’s recognizing his own self and taking possession of a territory. Being the middle son in a family of various siblings, he never had his own space and always gave up his place to stronger, more aggressive brothers. Daniel is moved by the image of the hands, and realizes how little they have been used to express his emotions.
In the second scene, Daniel draws a volcano spouting powerfully (Figure 6.2), and cries a lot after ﬁnishing. Around the volcano there is a racetrack. The cars race around the volcano without paying attention to the danger. The symbol of the volcano becomes central to the process, and could be seen as a metaphor for his acne.
Through it we are able to perceive how much Daniel has been repressing his emotions by always being submissive. He has had great diﬃculty in expressing his feelings and repressed anger, for this is how he has been raised. As a fervent Roman Catholic, he thought he should always imitate Christ by “turning the other cheek.”
The cars run close to imminent danger, representing his idealized persona, which, indiﬀerent to danger, sought always to appear calm and in control of the situation. To maintain his eﬃciency at work, Daniel was always smiling and showing himself to have a phlegmatic nature, which won him praise. However, Daniel now realized the acne rosacea to be an exploding volcano and the pus that ran down his face a lava of emotions he had repressed for so many years.
If we understand acne rosacea as a symbol, we have the above (Figure 6.3).
After perceiving the volcano as a liberating force for feelings repressed throughout the years, Daniel began to voice his anger, no longer serving as a mediator of family conﬂicts. Quite the contrary, in giving his opinions and talking of his feelings he destabilized family relations, which counted on his apparent good sense. As he began letting go of his aggression, at times actually in “volcanic crises,” his skin began showing signiﬁcant improvement, with his doctor putting an end to treatment. The repressed volcano had gone into erruption on his face as the best means of emotional expression found by the Self.
The conscious transduction of the physical symptom to an expression of anger, ﬁrst in the sand and then verbally, allowed for a quick tuning in to his feelings and permanent relief from his symptoms.
Elise is 54 years old, obese and apparently childish. She was sent by the doctor treating her for pneumonia, after having been examined by several other doctors due to diﬀerent symptoms. Elise used to see a minimum of two doctors a week, always with varied symptoms. Her latest doctor, perceiving a lack of aﬀection as the root of the search for attention, recommended psychotherapy. Elise did not complain of any emotional problems, stating that she suﬀered only from chronic constipation and shortness of breath. She only went to therapy because her doctor, whom she saw as a father ﬁgure, insisted on it. All other doctors she termed incompetent, for they “never found anything wrong.”
Elise used to have fecalomas and occasionally had to go to the emergency unit to have them removed. The cause of the fecaloma was a prolonged constipation that provoked an urgent need to defecate that was impossible to carry through, causing pains in the rectum, anus and abdomen.
She was very repressed in her speech and gestures. She was afraid of letting go of her emotions and losing her aﬀective connections. Because of this, she never fought back and let herself be abused by other people, so as not to lose them.
Elise spent the sessions describing her diﬃculties in going to the bathroom and conﬂicts with her maid. She lived alone and, apart from her domestic staﬀ, doctors were her only other contact with other people. The maid had a central role in her life. Besides preparing her meals, she gave her injections and enemas. These became Elise’s only means of physical contact in a very lonely world. Her voracious eating made her obese, a state that was aggravated by her refusal to move around. She always wanted to be served, and kept various house servants at her beck and call.
In this context, we can see her chronic constipation as physical and emotional immobility, a desire to keep everything that she could get (felt always as “too little”). On the other hand, her need to be cared for due to her health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) problem required that other people move her passive body and meet her unconscious desire for physical contact. Elise was a big baby, as fragile as she was heavy, insatiable and constantly calling for attention.
She didn’t remember her dreams and refused to do any expressive work in therapy, showing a strong resistance in dealing with her emotional hardships. She put all the blame on the body and refused analytical interpretation. Her passive behavior was at the same time highly aggressive, with imminent risk of putting a stop to treatment. Nevertheless, Elise received with enthusiasm the idea of looking at pictures and thus we spent a few sessions going over photograph albums, recalling a totally forgotten past.
For the ﬁrst time in her life Elise started talking about her parents and, in recalling her mother’s rejection of her, urinated on the chair, losing control over her body. She now remembered that her mother left her in the care of various nannies, and could not recall a single instant of being caressed by her or her father. He was a highly successful doctor who traveled a lot, giving speeches throughout the world. Abandoned, Elise entertained herself with servants and could not make friends. The death of her parents worsened the situation, isolating her even more from social life.
Along with the rising recollections and the discomfort brought on by conﬂictive situations, Elise began to feel intestinal movements. At a certain point she said that I, her therapist, was the “best purgative, better than any medication.” Many times during or after analysis she had to run out to defecate.
Elise would traditionally be classiﬁed as an alexithymic patient, and therefore not one to undergo any psychotherapeutic treatment. However, as we saw, her body was the symbolic expression of her unconscious process: an enormous, authoritarian appearance hiding in its shadow the hurt child, abandoned and highly deprived (Figure 6.4).
Her fecaloma could be viewed as a symbolic expression of her desire to retain all she had acquired (always insuﬃcient) and at the same time a paralysis, which as a secondary gain allowed her bodily contact and physical care.
Nevertheless, the awareness of these factors and the gradual strengthening of her ego, along with improvement of the intestinal system, were felt as a threat by the maid, who began to refuse to bring the patient for treatment. Despite several interviews with the maid, she was set on boycotting analysis and the patient gave up treatment through fear of losing her only companion. I found out from her doctor that around two years later, though cured of fecaloma, the patient died from respiratory problems.
Fiona is 32 years old and complains of cold hands and feet even during summer. During winter (average temperature 15˚C where she lives) her toes are almost frozen. She cannot stand the cold. Fiona also complains of terrible back pain. She feels depressed and has not been able to succeed professionally. She remembers that ever since she was young she always needed to wear a sweater. She had diﬃculties sleeping because “the bed was cold.” She was given the diagnosis of Reynaud’s syndrome, and had already undergone various treatments with temporary results.
Fiona is very unhappy in her marriage, but remains married from fear of being alone. Her husband is an alcoholic and has mistresses, but Fiona feels weak and unable to make a decision to change her life.
Her appearance, however, is strong, muscular and highly masculine. She cannot recall ever wearing a skirt or dress in her life. She had little contact with her mother, who abandoned the family when the patient was seven years old.
In this case we have two main symbols: constant pain in the back and Reynaud’s syndrome.
As the patient had already undergone various psychotherapeutic treatments and was familiar with active imagination, after a few preliminary sessions we used this technique, aiming to reach her symptoms directly.
With her eyes closed, Fiona reported the following image: I am riding a very tall horse. I don’t want to get on the horse but my father is making me do so. I am very afraid. The horse bolts and I hold onto his neck. I feel very frightened.
The patient had completely forgotten this situation. Remembering it, she became very angry with her father and at the same time she felt an acute pain in her back and neck. We perceived here the activation of a complex that synchronously produces an image and a pain.
The father always demanded that she be a hero. As the eldest of three children she always had to be the ﬁrst in all activities. She was a model student and sports player. She worked hard at getting ﬁrst place, which happened frequently.
We could say that her father complex was in the contracted muscle in her back that protected her from a “deadly fall.”
I am swimming in a frozen lake under the ice. I try to come up but I can’t ﬁnd the way out. I feel more and more frozen.
During this exercise the patient became increasingly pale. Her ﬁngers turned light blue. As much as I (the analyst) tried to break the ice, nothing seemed to help. We thought of a pick to break the ice but the patient did not have the strength to hold it. I also felt cold. There was as well the risk of the pick hurting her, for it was not possible to know for sure what her position was in the water, under the ice. In her imagination the patient was suﬀering and felt that she could die as she saw no way out of this dangerous situation.
On the other side, on top of the ice, I also felt impotent, not knowing how to help her. Then it occurred to me to move close to the patient’s hand (without touching) to try to warm her. Of course! It was the heat (love) and not the pick that could melt the ice. The pick would have been a very aggressive solution (more masculine and logical). I realized that I also had to break the ice and move closer. I could only help her if I was able to transmit my warmth rather than interpretations that only reaﬃrmed her sense of abandonment and strengthened her positive father complex (positive here in the sense that she was extremely linked and dedicated to her father, trying to imitate him in all possible ways). The feminine, maternal side had been repressed together with ambiguous feelings regarding the abandoning mother.
In this case we can see clearly that the two organic symptoms were linked with the father and mother complexes (Figure 6.5). In the shadow, compensating for the eﬃcient, professional and winning sportswoman, remained the girl almost frozen from lack of aﬀection and warmth. While the back pain expressed the authoritarian, demanding father complex, Reynaud’s syndrome mirrored the coldness of her aﬀective relations, of which the patient was not conscious. In the transduction of this symptom to the ice image, the
patient was able to express the grief that she denied in her mother’s abandonment. Exercises following this image, where the patient saw herself giving love and warmth to the child of her imagination (shadow), slowly alleviated her symptoms until they were gone.
Georgia, 42 years old, suﬀered from recurrent gynecological infections without her doctors being able to discover the cause or how the patient was always getting infected. The gynecologist’s main hypothesis was that the patient suﬀered from some immunological weakening that left her prone to these infections. However, it was intriguing that this disturbance only manifested itself in the genital system. She was referred to me by her doctor, who thought she was depressed.
Georgia seems a princess, ﬂoating and untouched. She looks very young but is expressionless. Her beautiful hands call attention; it is as if they were never used. The patient actually comes from a very rich family and has never done any domestic activities. She spends her day reading novels and dreaming that a strong man will one day come and rescue her from her dull life.
In the beginning she did not complain of any conﬂict. Her only problem was her terrible fear of dogs. She avoided walking on the streets for fear of them.
Georgia was also very religious. Every day she went to a spiritual center and to church for the communion service. Her marriage was “normal,” in her own words, and she said she had sexual relations with her husband only to please him, for she felt no pleasure in the activity.
This case was treated with the sandplay technique. In the beginning, Georgia avoided touching the sand so as not to “dirty my hands.” With time, she became less inhibited and moved the sand freely. Concurrently, she began to learn to cook, showing great pleasure especially in working with meat. She brought me a turnover made with her own hands, with great pride.
Two main scenes illustrate this process, as follows.
A dog is talking to a girl and a strong, fat Buddha (Figure 6.6).
The dog asks the Buddha to get out of the doorway of the house
so that the girl can come and play with him in the forest. The
Buddha says that the girl cannot come out; she has to stay inside
praying and meditating.
A prostitute, a woman in red, is upset because the priest will
not let her enter the church (Figure 6.7). There is an abandoned
baby under a fruit tree. The baby is crying from hunger, but he
can’t eat the fruit. There are some big insects behind the rock
that might attack the baby.
We can see in these two scenes that the patient’s father complex (represented by the priest and the Buddha) prevents her from leaving, from going to the forest to play. Here the dog represents her instinctive and sexual life that threatens her, and the girl is her
shadow imprisoned by religious authority. Her shadow also appears as a prostitute and abandoned baby. She feared that liberating her sexuality would transform her into a prostitute.
When we worked with the dog symbolism her fantasy was that it would jump panting on her breast, without biting her. Through active imagination we realized that this image caused a certain sexual excitement that left her quite disoriented. She actually remembered a small dog in her childhood that used to masturbate itself on the furniture and once ejaculated on her leg. Slowly, the patient was able, to her surprise, to perceive the sensuality of her own body and other sensations of which she had never been aware.
The transduction of the organic polarity symptoms was helped here by work in the sand, where the patient could concretely deal with her unconscious conﬂicts (Figure 6.8).
Various dreams followed these representations. Georgia was able to see that her extreme religiosity was a defense mechanism against sensuality and eroticism. Coming from a highly traditional, strict family, she had had a convenience marriage and now was ready to reevaluate her life. She took up gardening on realizing the great pleasure she got from messing with earth. There were no more infections, according to her doctor, two years following the end of therapy.
Helen, a 49-year-old woman, was a famous professor who had suﬀered from migraine headaches for about ten years, treated with various procedures giving only temporary relief. Although she was taking the most modern drugs for this illness, at least three times a month she was unable to work or even to open her eyes.
The patient had a deep maternal wound. At the age of 14 she had discovered that she was the daughter of her mother’s lover. However, she recollected that even as a very small child she had noticed her mother’s aﬀairs. She was always terriﬁed that her “lawful” father would discover them and murder her mother, because he had a violent personality. Her mother had forced her to be her silent accomplice, a fact that was hard for her to reveal even in analysis.
She refused to get married but had many aﬀairs, always breaking up the relationship upon falling in love with another man. Usually she got interested in married men until she succeeded in getting them to wreck their marriages.
During the analysis we were able to work with her hatred of men and of her mother. She had a strong, seductive defense mechanism and, at the same time, identiﬁed strongly with her mother.
During an acute migraine incident, I asked her to close her eyes and increase the pain in her head.
Helen grew redder and redder, and the veins on her forehead became very prominent. Suddenly she opened her startled eyes, saying:
I was in a village, being judged in a public square. Someone squeezed my head with a tourniquet to make me confess my guilt.
Helen returns to the torture scene and screams to all that she is not guilty. But she rids herself of the tourniquet only when she denounces the truly guilty party: her mother. As she does so, to my surprise, the color of her skin returns to normal and the patient attains complete and immediate relief from her migraine.
Of course, the migraine returns in a few days. But, after she confesses other “guilt” feelings, her symptoms gradually fade until they disappear completely.
This was an extremely serious situation and therapy ran for three years (Figure 6.9). The repressed suﬀering and terrible fear of what discovery of the betrayal might entail created in the patient a constant feeling that a bomb might explode at any second. Helen remembered that on coming home at night she was so afraid that her father might discover the truth that she would hide in bed with terrible headaches. She also feared that her looking like her biological father would betray the situation and thus tried to change her looks to the maximum, hiding her face with hair and big glasses. At the same time she hated men, whom she blamed for the confusion and anguish in her life. She used her seductive powers (gained from her mother) to get money and destroy her companions, acting out a type of “Don Juanism” of which she was initially very proud.
The migraine here was the symbol that best expressed all her complexes. Helen later told that she had to control her memories and lies so as not to confuse herself, and that many times she could not remember what she had said. This lying behavior, used in the beginning consciously, became with time a defense mechanism, which protected the patient from a possible death situation. For, within her perception, due to her complicity she would be killed along with her mother. While involuntary, this complicity, even though it protected her mother, generated an unconscious feeling of guilt that tortured the patient. Her organic symptom could only be relieved when she denounced the original conﬂict and told of the traumatic situation in which she lived. Permanent relief took more sessions due to intense feelings of terror and hatred associated with this. The defense mechanisms surrounding the symptom protected the patient from a deeper pain: that of being herself betrayed by her mother, who used and abused her love and loyalty.
Isabel was 28 years old and had had successive miscarriages. In the past six years she had suﬀered four spontaneous abortions. During the past two pregnancies she had been bedridden, under the care of medical specialists. Nevertheless, in the sixth month of pregnancy she lost the babies. Clinical exams on the fetus and on the mother were unable to detect any organic problems that could explain what had occurred.
We worked with imagination and, with her eyes closed, Isabel, in touch with her body, “saw” a smelly, dirty uterus. During an exercise of imagination she visualized that she pulled a rope from within her uterus. Slowly coming out with the rope were pieces of a noxious and putrid fetus.
At this moment Isabel started to remember that when she was a child her mother put her to sleep after lunch in the same room with her grandfather. She recalled that her grandfather fondled her and obliged her to fondle him also (she had forgotten these facts completely).
At ﬁrst she thought the situation pleasurable but as time passed, the grandfather became more abusive and she did not want to lie down with him anymore. As the mother did not understand her behavior, she had to obey and go to “sleep.” Isabel remembered subsequently that when she was not able to sleep her maid used to masturbate her to calm her down (at about six to seven years of age).
Today all these situations are remembered with repugnance and revulsion. Another fact is also signiﬁcant: When Isabel was 12 she saw her father kissing the maid. The father denied the fact and the mother accused her of trying to destroy her marriage. Nevertheless, the father later left the house to marry the then pregnant maid.
All these facts were extremely painful to the patient. Many times she thought that she had hallucinated and that she was going crazy. Other times she thought that she was bad and mean. How could she have such bad thoughts about such nice people? She felt that the dirt was in herself, not in other people. Isabel felt also that her uterus was the place that was bad and dirty because it was there that the “crime” had happened. Nothing good could live there. Her uterus was contaminated and rotten.
The therapy consisted of “cleaning the uterus” through imagination techniques and relieving the repressed unconscious emotions associated with the images that started to pour out. Memories of incest and lies, which hid illicit sexual situations, were the ﬁlth that contaminated her uterus.
After eight months of therapy Isabel got pregnant and had a normal pregnancy. She refused to rest and take hormones. She felt now that her uterus was a clean and beautiful nest where a baby could grow and live. Today she has three health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)y children.
We see in this case the power of the symbolic body in the form of the pregnant and contaminated uterus. This image impregnated in the patient’s organism informed her that there was no place for pregnancy, for her uterus was already ﬁlled by a decomposing fetus. The gross feeling and the rejection of all that was linked to the uterus were mirrored in various involuntary abortions. No matter how much she wished for a child, the memory registered in her body’s cells defensively avoided a new traumatic situation. We could even say that the abortions were a defense protecting Isabel from an “incestuous pregnancy,” in that her being was highly contaminated by incestuous and abusive relations.
Our little Spaceship Earth is only eight thousand miles in diameter,
which is almost a negligible dimension in the great vastness of
space . . . Spaceship Earth was so extraordinarily well invented and
designed that to our knowledge humans have been on board it for
two million years not even knowing that they were on board a ship
. . . Now there is one outstandingly important fact regarding
Spaceship Earth, and that is that no instruction book came with it.
(Fuller, 1963: 4)
We were able to observe, in the cases described in Chapters 5 and 6, that when an emotion was evoked or expressed, a physiological change also took place. In Arthur’s case, the remembering of emotional situations was accompanied, innumerable times, by change in blood pressure and arrhythmia; in Beth’s case, the burning sensation in the joints was constant. With Cecilia, due to the complex phenomena at work, the transformations were less immediate and less visible. Nevertheless, in this case also, the pain evoked by the paternal image in the region of the surgical scar is proof of the relation between emotion and physiological change.
It was also clear that the somatic symptoms had strong connections with the parental complexes, both in their origin and in their development. In almost all cases, the constellation of these complexes in current situations (evoked by transference or otherwise) happened concomitant with alterations on both the physiological and psychological levels, observable in changes of mood, emotions, images, fantasies, muscular contractions, inﬂammations, pain, arrhythmia, etc.
The stress factor present in numerous research studies is here seen only when current situations mirror a conﬂict similar to that which gave rise to the primary split. At such moments it is as if the memory of the emotion reappeared in the body. The interaction or non-interaction of a complex with a stressful event could thus explain the controversial results of many studies. That is, a stressful event has a pathological eﬀect only when it strikes a complex. When it does not, it will only cause an emotion that can be consciously elaborated without getting stuck in the body.
At the start of the analytical process, no patient associated the appearance of the disease with emotional conﬂicts. If instinct is located at the infrared end of the spectrum, and is therefore not accessible to the consciousness, direct contact with it is impossible. Thus, orientation that is direct, or that proceeds through consciousness, would be useless. The patients had no access to the organic mechanisms that aﬄicted them. In the three main cases (Chapter 5), as well as in the vignette cases (Chapter 6), the coenesthetic impressions that emerged as the complexes manifested themselves were split from their abstract representations, i.e. the patients did not perceive what was taking shape on a psychic plane when their organic symptoms appeared. By working with the psychic contents synchronously with their organic symptoms, the patients gradually became conscious of this relation.
This work took place through use of active imagination, sandplay, and expressive and interpretive techniques, which allowed for consciousness of the emerging images that referred directly to each patient’s organic symptoms. In Arthur, for example, there was the image of the human grenade when he focused his attention on the veins and arteries. In Beth, concentration on the joints led to seeing images of strings (marionettes) and handcuﬀs that impeded the patient’s movements. In Cecilia, there emerged a terrible, gigantic maternal ﬁgure that threatened to destroy the patient. By comprehending these images, among others, it was possible to perceive the nature of the dysfunction in the ego–Self axis.
We could also observe in all the cases presented here how the symptom/symbol mirrored the psychic structure and/or vice versa. In Arthur, the repressed and constricted love life was mirrored synchronistically by the cardiac pain and pathology. Or should we say that the constriction in the veins and arteries was mirrored in the love constriction? In Beth, sadness, accumulated resentment and anger were expressed at the organic level by the gradually paralyzing inﬂammation. The psychic paralysis synchronistically revealed itself in the body as arthritic “paralysis.” And in Cecilia, desperation and revolt over a love loss, felt as a death, were portrayed as revolt and the threat of death on a cellular level.
As the images took shape, the symptom’s signiﬁcance was clariﬁed. Because of disturbances present in the primary relationship in almost all cases, it could have been that a split occurred between fantasy life and coenesthetic sensations, preventing the patients from expressing their conﬂicts verbally or through eidetic images. However, we have proved that none of these patients could be classiﬁed as alexithymic. The richness and profusion of images present in all the cases is proof of this.
It is possible that for these patients the primary parental ﬁgure that is critical in modulating the infant’s psychological and physiological arousal, by not mediating between psyche and body, made the symbolic, transcendent function stay stuck fast in the body, rather than transforming itself into fantasies and images that could be assimilated by the ego. Research in the ﬁeld of psychoneuroimmunology probably will prove that during critical periods of maturation, environmental and family stress may lead to deregulation of hormone stress level, especially in the brain, resulting in diﬀerent pathologies.
Our work enhances research data evidencing the eﬀect of stress and emotional expression on the onset and treatment of various diseases. The repression blocking the ability of our patients to express emotions led to the imbedding in the shadow of conﬂictive contents and complexes associated with bodily sensations and images. Thus, the shadow human grenade is the anger contained for years. In Beth, the sadness and the unconscious anger and resentment present in the shadow are experienced as nodules, which prevent movement. In Cecilia, the needy, injured, abandoned child takes up residence in the body as organic fragility and vulnerability. The psyche induces somatization of those conﬂictive and traumatic situations that could not be integrated on the conscious plane.
The activity of a compensatory mechanism was also responsible for the meaning of the symptoms. In Arthur, hostility and the attempt to suppress emotional life were compensated by the exuberant manifestation of the heart (stabs). In Beth, hyperactivity was compensated by the blockage of movements, and in Cecilia, the repressed anger exploded in cells out of control. The emergence of the symbol at its concrete, corporal pole forced the patients to confront themselves and their complexes and to correct their one-sided development.
We saw also the quantity and quality of painful information repressed and denied in the patients presented here: repression and denial that, while protecting the organism from unconscious, unbearable, painful information, at the same time reproduce error. The information that cannot be consciously transformed is encapsulated in the complex, producing repetitive pathological symptoms. The disease thus installs itself in the organism and makes it suﬀer from a lack of coherence on multiple levels. According to Conforti, “the repetition stands as an autonomous event, morphogenetically coded, with an information rich set of directives embedded in each and every system about its developmental trajectory” (Conforti, 1999: 110).
“The repetition creates a number of crucial dynamics in the individual’s life” (Conforti, 1999: 112) and may explain certain observable patterns of personality related with some diseases. Probably the somatopsychic archetypal structures give the base for a certain homogeneity of the symbolic body, limiting the organism’s possibilities of expression. Arthur at ﬁrst shows personality traits similar to those denominated in the literature as Type A, while Beth and Cecilia have similarities to Type C. Since all complexes have a universal archetypal basis, perhaps individuals with similar pathological traits have similar somatopsychic structures. That is, similarities in the type of pathology would reﬂect similarities in dysfunction of the relation between ego, complex, archetype and body, which relation, in turn, has a limited range of representations. Therefore, studies that relate personality traits to diseases may be pointing to a universality in the synchronicity of physiopathological and psychopathological manifestations.
Studies on the symbolism of the body prove this by revealing a relatively limited and universal number of possible projections attributed to each part of the body. For instance, by studying the symbolism of the heart in many diﬀerent cultures, from pre-history until today, we realize that most myths and images related to this organ refer to a loving and feminine pattern. This archetypical pattern is quite visible in patients with heart disease (Ramos, 1990). The study of the symbolic body thus complements cognitive and empirical studies, in the search for a uniﬁed theory.
As a result of all of the above mechanisms, the patients were led to a process that brought them to individuation and to integration of emotional contents. In Arthur, the cardiac suﬀering led to the perception of amorous suﬀering and to opening up the love life. In Beth, pain, deformity, and immobility led to her becoming conscious of the denial of desires and the need to enact those desires so that the patient would once again be able to move. And in Cecilia, the wound and the tumors led to her integrating the injured, rejected girl shadow, interrupting a self-destructive process.
We can aﬃrm that in the cases studied (including the vignettes), the organic symptom corresponded to a split in the representation of a complex, where the abstract, psychic part was repressed. The symptom/symbol began to develop automatically and out of control, revealing its complex and unconscious character.
The use of the analytic model in the patients led to the discovery and integration of the abstract pole of the complexes involved. That is, through the analytic model and its psychotherapeutic techniques, it was possible to transduce the symptoms from their organic pole to the abstract, leading their pathological expressions to diminish gradually and bringing about improvement in the patients’ general health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com).
We would, however, like to make it clear here that the signiﬁcance of a disease is not a datum a priori, but a possible result of the process of reﬂecting and bringing into consciousness. The obligation to ﬁnd signiﬁcance in every disease would lead us to another type of reductionism. The message is rarely clear and there are great variations. Faced with phenomena as complex as health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) and disease, an absolutist posture would be extremely simplistic. If totality implies health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) plus sickness, then sickness is an inevitable part of the process of individuation as we encounter it. By so saying, we wish to reinforce once more the idea, described above, that a disease is not necessarily linked to a psychopathological process, but may be indicative of a new symbol. It may or may not be the expression of a new de-integration (personal or in the environment), which needs to be made conscious, always remembering that the more we approach the Self, the more the health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)–illness polarity may emerge. Creativity, as an instinctive force, may lead as well to health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) as to disease.
These considerations round out the results obtained here and extend the contribution that the analytic mode may make in this area. The introduction of the concept of disease as symbol resolves the secular psyche–body dichotomy; it also stimulates reﬂection on redeﬁning the limits of the psychological and the biological, of psychology and medicine: a reﬂection/redeﬁnition already happening in clinical practice.
Laszlo (2003) in his lecture at the Assisi Conference, when talking about the relationship of psychology, biology and physics, explained the mechanisms that underlie the formation of a malignant cell as an information error: that is, the cancer cell has impoverished information that makes it reproduce itself in a pathological way. What is necessary is to give new information to this cell, and this can be done on diﬀerent levels. Medication and placebo are two of these; the other is the symbol.
If we understand health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) as a well-balanced, integrated system, to be health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)y is to have a balanced and ﬂuid integration among diﬀerent systems. A failure in one of them may provoke an imbalance in the whole. The information of an error in the environment, for example, is transduced in the diﬀerent systems and – according to the level of consciousness of the organism – it may or may not be absorbed in a health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com)y way.
If we understand disease as a communication breakdown, the question is how to change this process. The interference can be made in any level, or in diﬀerent levels at the same time. We have to ﬁnd out which one is most suitable in each case. The use of the symbol as information that may interfere in the dynamic system of the organism is without doubt a possibility that will allow for great advances in interdisciplinary work and research.
What is necessary, therefore, is not merely the production of more scientiﬁc data for its own sake, but a theoretical attitude, a language that may serve as a guide for research and clinical practice, keeping the individual as its focus and technology at its service.
We have proved here that the application of the analytic model in diﬀerent types of disease supplies these theoretical and technical substrata, enhancing various ﬁelds of knowledge and widening our comprehension of the complex psyche–body phenomenon.
The extent to which science has come to disregard psychological factors can be seen in its disdainful treatment of both the placebo eﬀect and so-called miracle healings. Though part of our culture from ancient times to the present age, healing through faith (or through belief in the doctor or medicine) has not yet been adequately studied by modern science.
Used frequently in reference to sugar pills, pills that are apparently chemically inert, or any procedure that does not have intrinsic therapeutic value, the word “placebo” literally means “I shall please.” It is associated with the idea of pleasure or placating the suﬀering of the one who takes it (Pei, 1962).
To A.K. Shapiro (1964), a pioneer in placebo research, placebo is any therapeutic procedure, or speciﬁc component of a therapeutic procedure, for which there is no objective evidence of a speciﬁc activity on the symptom that is being treated.
While there were moments in history in which this type of healing was considered, such as the Romantic period, in the twentieth century the placebo factor was put aside by most research. When it is taken into account, it is interpreted as “spontaneous remission” and never as a result of the inﬂuence of the psyche. The concept of transference was restricted to the ﬁeld of psychological illnesses and was never used eﬀectively to promote healing of organic diseases. Biochemists and doctors, in testing medication (for instance, in the treatment of peptide ulcers), declare that it should be 20 percentage points more eﬀective than the placebo, curing 50 to 60 per cent of the patients (Ornstein and Sobel, 1987). The fact, however, that the placebo has relieved the symptoms of 30 to 40 per cent of the patients goes by, generally, unheeded, drawing no further reﬂections, and conﬁrms the resistance still met with today. Yet, what wonderful “drug” is this that cures 30 to 40 per cent of the patients with “nothing”?
More scientiﬁc studies, in which neither the patients nor the doctors know they are using the placebo, have shown that 35 per cent of the patients within a wide range of postsurgical pains have obtained signiﬁcant relief with the placebo. In some studies pain relief has reached 50 per cent. More highly controlled research has discovered consistently that around one third of the patients attain more than 50 per cent relief (Evans, 1985).
Evans (1985), in his experimental studies, concluded that the eﬀectiveness of the placebo, when compared with standard dosages of diﬀerent analgesic drugs, in double-blind circumstances, seems to be relatively constant and proportional to the apparent eﬀectiveness of the active analgesic agent. In an analysis of various studies, Evans concluded that the placebo is 55 to 60 per cent as eﬀective as active medication, regardless of its potency.
As such, while the placebo eﬀect is still rejected by many as a “disturbing factor,” incomprehensible and insigniﬁcant, to others it has been worthy of attention as a fundamental element in the healing process. Its study allows a new perspective in understanding the psyche–body communication and how the psyche can bring about biochemical changes, essential in the mobilization of body defenses.
If we start giving the placebo its due attention, we will very likely discover it to be a powerful therapeutic instrument whose eﬀects are an integral part of daily clinical practice (Straus and von Ammon Cavanaugh, 1996). A.K. Shapiro (1960) has frequently been cited as having said that the history of medical treatment can be characterized as the history of the placebo eﬀect, since until recently all medication was placebo (Ornstein and Sobel, 1987).
Throughout the ages there have been a variety of highly improbable medications, such as animal excrement, mummy powder, bat blood, dried snake, toad sperm, and so on. Despite (or perhaps because of) their improbability, these potions have made people feel better. Rossi (1986) observes in such cases that there must be some reason for the healing of the sick person. The ﬁrst possible reason is that these unlikely medications contain some physiologically active ingredient. The second is that most diseases end of their own accord. They follow their natural cycle, with or without medical intervention. As most people consult the doctor at their worst, when they get better, the cure is attributed to the treatment and not to the natural cycle of the disease.
Another explanation for the unexpected recovery is that perhaps it is not the medication that cures, but rather the belief in the medication and in the healer sets oﬀ some powerful mechanism of self-healing within the body (Rossi, 1986).
As such, we may consider the placebo as a tangible symbol that something is being done to help the patient. It triggers a network of powerful personal and cultural expectations that the patient will get better. In our society, with its belief in a better life through technology and chemistry, what could be better than a pill, an injection or even a surgical procedure? These meet our needs for something tangible, visible, to which may be attributed a cure.
According to Ornstein and Sobel (1987), there are some myths about placebos that must be dispelled.
1 Placebos are physiologically inert and therefore work only for psychological symptoms. There is clear evidence that this point of view is fallacious. Henry Beecher, of Harvard Medical School, reviewed a great number of studies and discovered that, on average, one-third of those who received placebos reported relief from their symptoms (Beecher, 1955). The symptoms included pain in the post-surgical wound, nausea, headache, cough, anxiety and other problems. Even knowing that the pain experience is subjective, we could not aﬃrm that post-surgical pain is not organic.
2 The placebo eﬀect is very weak. On the contrary, there are at least some indications that the placebo eﬀect is strong enough to surpass the known pharmacological activity of a drug (Wolf, 1950).
3 Placebos are always good. In fact, not all placebo eﬀects are positive and therapeutic, and a negative eﬀect is known as nocebo (from the Latin “I shall harm”). When the patient attaches negative meanings and emotions to a treatment, a range of disagreeable symptoms can arise, including palpitations, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, nausea and skin lesions (Frank, 1975; Margo, 1999, Papakostas and Daras, 2001).
But what is it that makes a placebo function or not? It seems, according to Sobel (1990), that some people have a greater response to placebos than others, though there is as yet no data to determine whether a personality trait is involved. Most likely, the same person may respond to the placebo under certain circumstances and not others, for motivations or symptom meanings brought by a person to a speciﬁc situation have greater weight than personality traits, though the two may interact. This observation was conﬁrmed in the laboratory, where a study under strict control of variables showed that motivation, rather than expectation, is the predominant factor in perceiving a change in the symptom (Jensen and Karoly, 1991).
Our beliefs in the nature of the treatment and its physical characteristics can also aﬀect the placebo eﬀect. It seems that famous brands and doctors, the doctor’s enthusiasm and conﬁdence in the eﬀect of the drug, and injections as opposed to pills, increase the placebo eﬀect (Sobel, 1990). The message given with any treatment can also inﬂuence the speed with which it gets results. In a study of 30 patients in relaxation training to lower blood pressure, half were told that their pressure would lower immediately after a session, while others were told that this would happen only after the third session. Those who expected an immediate response showed a seven times greater reduction of the systolic arterial pressure compared to that of the other group (Agras et al., 1982).
According to Benson and Friedman (1996), the placebo eﬀect yields beneﬁcial clinical results in 60–90 per cent of diseases, including angina pectoris, bronchial asthma, herpes simplex and duodenal ulcer. Double-blind randomized controlled trials have shown that placebos can have healing eﬀects in such diverse conditions as angina pectoris (Benson and McCallie, 1979), epilepsy (UK Gabapentin Study Group, 1990), pain treatment (Turner et al., 1994) and cancer (Downer et al., 1994).
Research (Rossi, 1986; Benson and Friedman, 1996) has revealed that the placebo response is a healing factor in various diseases involving:
1 the immune system – cancer, warts, herpes simplex, common
cold, fever, vaccines, bronchial asthma, multiple sclerosis and
rheumatoid arthritis 2 the autonomic nervous system – hypertension, pupillary
dilatation, blood cell count, headaches, epilepsy and stress 3 the endocrine system – diabetes, ulcers, gastric secretion and
motility, colitis and menstrual pain 4 the circulatory system – angina pectoris, congestive heart failure,
and mortality in coronary artery disease.
It is also a healing factor in surgical or psychological treatments, such as conditioning (systematic desensitization), and perhaps in all types of psychotherapy (Shapiro and Morris, 1978; Rossi, 1986; Papakostas and Daras, 2001). Although some symptoms seem more prone to the inﬂuence of placebos than others, it appears that no system is immune to the placebo eﬀect. It is thus impossible, for instance, for a doctor to use a placebo to distinguish between psychogenic pain and pain due to organic causes.
The implication of these discoveries is that there is a placebo response of 55 per cent in many healing procedures. Such a degree of consistent placebo response suggests that an underlying common mechanism or process is responsible for mind–body communication and cure, independent of the problem, symptom or disease.
The mechanism by which belief in the placebo is translated into positive physiological changes is still unknown. There is evidence that links placebo anesthesia to the liberation of endorphins. The more the physiology of the placebo is understood, the more we will be able to elaborate therapeutic interventions that trigger these intricate healing systems.
While the placebo eﬀect provides evidence that there are certain self-healing mechanisms within us, intrinsic healing systems that can be mobilized if given the appropriate environmental and situational signs, it is also one of the best proofs of the psyche–body phenomenon.
Up to now, we have mobilized these dynamics in an unconscious way, through magic, suggestion, beliefs. Our diﬃculty in dealing with the non-measurable, the intangible, leads us to attribute to the external and material the power that belongs to the psyche. The pill is necessary in a culture that feels uncomfortable with the “invisible” and would rather think that any internal eﬀect must have an external cause. The placebo can transform the “desire to live” into a physical reality, just as emotional conﬂict, expressing itself somatically, does so. That is, ﬁnding it hard to express a conﬂict on the abstract level, the organism “materializes” it, making it thus more “accessible,” more “visible.”
To sum up, these studies show how a symbol can act on a body, triggering a symptom or helping the healing process. The placebo intermediates the psyche’s activity over matter, and, as such, is a concrete, facilitating symbol in the psyche–body phenomenon.
The challenge that follows is to develop alternative means by which to begin to understand the dynamic mechanisms of these intrinsic systems and learn to mobilize them in healing, since they certainly participate actively in forming the disease.
1 Many of the ideas developed here approximate those of Mara Sidoli (2000). As Sidoli was probably unaware of my hypothesis, which had been published only in Portuguese, the similarity of ideas is surprising and supports the model described here. I therefore recommend her book as complementary reading to this one.
1 Alexithymia: from the Greek alexo, to separate, expel; and thymos, soul, desire; literally, drawing away from desire or from the soul.
1 For a more detailed discussion of this subject I recommend Jacoby (1999).
1 For a detailed study on symbolism I recommend Kast (1992).
1 Myocardial infarction is gross necrosis of the myocardium as a result of interruption of the blood supply to the area; it is almost always caused by atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries, upon which coronary thrombosis is usually superimposed. The word “infarct” comes from the Latin infarcire meaning “to plug up or cram.”
2 Rheumatoid arthritis is usually a chronic disease and is considered an autoimmune disease. It is a disorder of connective tissue, characterized by inﬂammation, degeneration, pain, stiﬀness, swelling, and sometimes destruction of joints.
3 Melanoma is a skin tumor containing dark pigment and with high malignancy that starts in melanocytes of normal skin or moles and metastasizes rapidly and widely.
4 A mammary cyst is an abnormal sac in the mammary gland, ﬁlled with a ﬂuid or semisolid and enclosed in a membrane.
1 Acne rosacea is acne involving the skin of the nose, forehead, and cheeks and is characterized by congestion, ﬂushing, telangiectasia, and marked nodular swelling of tissues, especially of the nose; also called “rosacea.”
2 Sandplay is a non-verbal Jungian technique developed by Dora Kalf in the 1930s that uses sand and water in a tray in which toys or miniatures are placed. H. Friedman and R.R. Mitchell are working on the relationship of sandplay and the eﬀects of trauma on the brain (lecture given at Pontiﬁcia Universidade Catolica de São Paulo, 26 September 2003).
3 Fecaloma is an accumulation of inspissated feces formed in the rectum or distal colon with the appearance of an abdominal tumor.
4 Reynaud’s syndrome is a disorder of blood circulation in the ﬁngers and toes that is aggravated by exposure to the cold. The disorder is sometimes called white ﬁnger, wax ﬁnger or dead ﬁnger. Why it occurs is not well understood. Normally, the body conserves heat by reducing blood circulation to the extremities, particularly the hands and feet. This response uses a complex system of nerves and muscles to control blood ﬂow through the smallest blood vessels in the skin. In people with Reynaud’s syndrome, this control system becomes too sensitive to cold and greatly reduces blood ﬂow in the ﬁngers.
5 Pelvic inﬂammatory disease is an infection of the female reproductive tract that results especially from microorganisms transmitted during sexual intercourse. It is marked by lower abdominal pain and abnormal vaginal discharge.
6 Migraine is a condition that is marked by recurrent, usually unilateral, severe headache, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. It is of uncertain origin, though attacks appear to be precipitated by dilatation of intracranial blood vessels.
7 Miscarriage is a spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus before it is viable, especially between the 12th and 28th weeks of gestation.
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page numbers in bold type represent ﬁgures/diagrams
abandonment: fears 33, 78; feelings
87, 89, 90, 94, 98, 102, 106 abortion 58 see also miscarriage absolutism 131 abstract expression: complexes 35,
131; conﬂicts 32–3, 35, 131; symbols 34, 35, 47, 48 see also emotional expression/repression
acne rosacea, case study 110–113; anger expression/repression 112, 113; and family relationships 111; sandplay 111, 112; symbolism 113
active imagination 42, 48, 128; depression/cancer study 93–4, 102; heart disease study 73–5; miscarriage study 124; pelvic inﬂammatory disease 121; Reynaud’s syndrome 116–18; rheumatoid arthritis 82–3
adaptation syndrome, general 19, 20 Aesculapius 11 aggressive behavior/traits see
hostility Alexander, Franz 21, 22 alexithymia 22, 23, 33 see also
emotional expression/repression allergies 44 American Psychosomatic
Association 18, 19 ampliﬁcation, symbol 42, 43, 48 analysis, case study: depression/ cancer 86–90; heart disease 71–5; migraine 122; of research see research; rheumatoid arthritis 77–84; see also dreams
analytical associations see associations
analytical insight therapy 59
analytical interpretations see interpretations
analytical psychology model 4, 7, 27, 28–44; compensation mechanisms 43–4; complexes 30–1, 131; experiments 28–30; symbol formation 31–3; symbol as third factor 38–40; symbolic process 33–8; symptom reduction 48, 131; synchronicity 42–3; transcendent function 40–2 see also case studies; Jung
anger, expression/repression 83, 89, 105, 109, 112, 113, 117 see also hostility
anima/animus 72, 76, 91, 109
antagonism see hostility
anxiety, and heart disease 52, 53–4 see also depression
archaic/collective symbols 32, 33, 36, 48
archetypes 14; images in analysis 98, 99, 107, 109; psychotic expression 32; somatopsychic 130; transcendent/unconscious 46
arrythmia 75, 127 see also heart disease; hypertension
art 48; produced in analysis 99, 100, 101, 102, 103 see also images; sandplay; symbols
arthritic paralysis 128–9 see also rheumatoid arthritis
associations, analytical: depression/ cancer case study 87, 88–93, 95–8, 101, 103–5; heart disease case study 71–2; rheumatoid arthritis case study 79, 80, 81, 82; word tests 28, 45, 62
attitudes and disease: cynicism 52; defeatism 105–6; hopelessness 66–7; inﬂexibility/rigidity 72, 78, 84 see also behavior; personality traits
autoimmune disease, psychological factors 49, 56 see also immunological function
awareness: of conﬂicts 110; of unconscious 22 see also consciousness; insight
babies see infants
Babylonian civilization 9
back pain 116–17, 118
behavior: competitive 50, 70, 71, 74; conformist 56; cooperative 60; driven/impatient see urgency; inﬂexible 72; modiﬁcation 53; therapy see cognitive–behavioral therapy; Type A 51–3, 55, 70, 130; Type C 60, 89, 105, 130 see also hostility; personality traits
bereavement/mourning 63, 64, 67
Bible stories 8
biochemistry, psychically induced changes 134
biofeedback, for rheumatoid arthritis 58
biomedical model 15–17, 23–4; experimental approach 15; and infectious disease 49
biomolecular research 50
blood pressure, high see hypertension
body and mind see mind–body relation
body language 78
breast cancer 60, 61, 64; and depression 65, 66; relapse 63; and stress 66; symbolism 107 see also cancer
breath body 39, 40
breathing: exercises 53; measuring 29–30
brief therapy 110
Campbell, Joseph 6
cancer 3, 4, 32, 49, 59–67; case study see depression/cancer case study; circadian disruption 63; and depression 61, 65–7; emotional expression/repression 60–2, 63, 64; ﬁghting spirit 60; formation mechanisms 131–2; hopelessness 66–7; lung 36; mourning/ bereavement 63, 64; and personality 40, 56, 60; prognosis/ mortality 60, 63, 65; and psychosis 36; research 59, 60; and social isolation/support 61, 64; and stress/life events 61, 62–5, 66, 67 see also breast cancer
cardiovascular disease see heart disease
Cartesian dualist model 2, 11, 12–13, 18, 19, 21
Carus, K.G. 14
case studies 4; about speciﬁc illnesses see acne rosacea; constipation; depression/cancer; heart disease; migraine; miscarriage; pelvic inﬂammatory disease; Reynaud’s syndrome; rheumatoid arthritis
causality of illness 2, 45; emotional 3, 21–2; organic 3, 11, 24; and quantum theory 25
Chalsean civilization 9
CHD (coronary heart disease) see heart disease
childhood see family history/ relationships; infants
Chinese, ancient civilization 9 chronic fatigue syndrome 17
circadian rhythm disruption 63
cognitive–behavioral therapy, for rheumatoid arthritis 58
collective unconscious 14, 27, 48; and disease 32; symbols 32, 33, 36, 48
communication/information breakdown, disease as 131–2
compartmentalization see de-integration
compensation mechanisms 43–4, 45, 46–7, 129
competitive behavior 50, 70, 71, 74
complexes 1, 30–1, 110, 131; abstract expression/repression 35, 131; archetypal 130; and dreams 35; experimental work 28, 30; and fantasy 35; feeling-toned 29; and imagination 35; organic expression 29, 30–1, 35, 46, 129, 131; parental 87, 90, 91, 93, 95, 98, 104–7, 108, 109, 127; pelvic inﬂammatory disease 119; and psychophysiological changes 127; psychotic 30; Reynaud’s syndrome 117, 118; rheumatoid arthritis 78, 81, 82, 84; secondary 46; theory 30–1
concrete expression see organic expression
conﬂicts, emotional: abstract expression 32–3, 35, 131; awareness 110; and heart disease 51–2, 72, 73; and neurosis 36; organic expression 32–3, 35–6, 128, 131; and pelvic inﬂammatory disease 119, 121; repressed 29; and rheumatoid arthritis 57, 78
conformist behavior 56
consciousness: body 31–2; development 7; heightened 5, 27 see also awareness; insight
constipation, case study 113–116, 115; aggression 114; emotional expression/repression 114; family relationships 115; symbolism 115
conversion: concept 20; mechanisms 17 see also organic expression
Cook-Medley Hostility Scale (CMHS) 51
cooperative behavior 60
coronary heart disease see heart disease
corpus gloriﬁcatus 39, 40
corpus subtile 39
Courtauld Emotional Control Scale 61
creation myths 8, 9
creativity 131 see also active imagination
cultural comparisons, heart disease 53
curative model 24
cure see healing; self-healing
cynicism, and heart disease 52
death: acceptance 21; fears 129; wish 2, 86, 88, 89, 96, 98, 105
defeatist attitudes 105–6
defense mechanisms 110; and heart disease 52, 54; and migraine 123–4; and miscarriage 126; rheumatoid arthritis 81, 82, 85
de-integration, ego/self 7, 13, 17, 19, 24, 31, 35–6, 46–7, 131; symbol formation 32, 33
denial 130; of desires 78, 131
Denmark: cancer and schizophrenia 37; heart disease 53
depression 17; chronic 66–7; and cancer 61, 65–7; case study see below; and heart disease 53–4; and immunological function 65, 67; and Reynaud’s syndrome 116 see also mourning/bereavement
depression/cancer, case study 85–109, 127; abandonment feelings 87, 89, 90, 94, 98, 102, 106; active imagination 93–4, 102; analysis 86–90; analytical associations 87, 88–93, 95–8, 101, 103–5; analytical interpretations 87–93, 95, 97, 98, 101–2, 104–6; anger 89, 105, 109; animus 91, 109; archetypes 98, 99, 107, 109; cancer 87, 94, 96, 97, 101, 105, 106, 107; chronic stress 106; clinical observation 86; compensation 129; complexes 87, 90, 91, 93, 95, 98, 104–7, 108, 109; death wish 86, 88, 89, 96, 98, 105; defeatist attitude 105–6; depression 86, 88, 89, 92, 106, 107, 108; drawings 99, 100, 101, 102, 103; dreams 86–7, 88, 89, 90–106; emotional expression/ repression 89, 109; family history/ relationships 86–9, 92–5, 98, 101; individuation 109; medication 86; personality traits 89, 105, 130; positives 87, 91–2, 109; regression 89; repetition/re-enactment 103; self-sacriﬁce 95, 105; shadow 95, 98, 101, 107, 108; symbolism 97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 106–8, 109; transference 96, 97, 98
Descartes, René 11, 12, 13; Discourse on Method 12; Passions of the Soul 12
desires, denial 78, 131
determinism 15, 24; and quantum theory 25
Deutsch, F. 18
development, one-sided 129 see also individuation
Discourse on Method 12
disease: attitudes inﬂuencing 52, 66–7, 105–6; biomedical concept 15; as imbalance 13–14, 129; infectious 49; as information breakdown 131–2; natural cycle 134; psychic 22; terminal 4 see also causality of illness; healing; models; organic expression; symptoms and speciﬁc diseases
dissociation see de-integration
divine in healing 8–12
drawings see art
dream body 39, 40
dreams 1; analysis 9, 71–2, 79–82, 86–7, 88, 89, 90–106, 121; foretelling disease 41–2; lucid 41
driven behavior see urgency
dualism, Cartesian 2, 11, 12–13, 18, 19, 21
Dunbar, H. 18, 19
early life events, traumatic see family history/relationships; stress
ego 7; constellated 28; dysfunction 128; integration 27, 47, 48, 130, 131; psychic basis 31; –Self axis 31, 36, 40, 43, 46; somatic basis 31; structure 30; symbolic representations 46, 48 see also de-integration
Egyptian ancient civilization 9
emotional expression/repression: cancer 60–2, 63, 64; complexes 35, 131; conﬂicts 29; constipation 114; depression 89, 109; and health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) 20, 21, 49, 129, 130; heart disease 52–4, 72, 73, 128; immunological function 54, 62, 67; parasympathetic nervous system 54; physiological changes 127; rheumatoid arthritis 77, 78, 79, 85 see also abstract expression; anger; organic expression
emotional tone, measuring 29–30
employment, protective health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) eﬀect 57
endocrine/immunological–nervous system links 50
energy transduction see transduction theory; see also compensation
evolution: human 3, 6; theory 25
examination stress 62
experimental approach: biomedical model 15; Jung 28–30
expression/repression of emotion see emotional expression/ repression
fairy tales 48
faith healing 133 see also placebo eﬀect
family history/relationships 2; acne rosacea 111; cancer 62–5, 66, 67, 106; constipation 115; depression/ cancer 86, 87, 88, 89, 92–5, 98, 101; heart disease 70, 72, 73, 74; miscarriage 124–5; rheumatoid
arthritis 58, 76–7, 78, 81–2 fantasy 35 fatigue, chronic 17 fears: abandonment 33, 78; death
129 fecalomas see constipation ﬁghting spirit 60 ﬂight/ﬁght reaction 73 folklore 48 Fordham, M. 7 French, Thomas 21 Freud, S. 20, 21 Fuller, B. 28
gaia hypothesis 24 galvanic reﬂex, measuring 29–30 gender: and heart disease 52–3; and
rheumatoid arthritis 56, 59 general adaptation syndrome/stress
syndrome 19, 20 genetics 25 Gestalt psychology 19, 21 see also
Greek: ancient civilization 9; healing model 9–11; music 10; Nous 10; scientiﬁc approach 9
grenade image 69, 73, 74, 76, 128,
129 Groddeck, G. 40, 69 guilt 20, 122, 123, 124
hallucinations 16 handcuﬀs image 82, 83, 128 Harvard University 52 haste see urgency healing 110; divine 8–12; faith
healing 133; models see models, health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com); power of symbol 132; self 27, 135, 137; transference in 133 see also medication/medical treatment; placebo eﬀect
health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com): attitudes to 3; deﬁnitions 24, 132; –illness polarity 131; and lifestyle 49
heart disease 2, 3, 4, 50–6; case study see below; and conﬂicts 51–2, 72–3; cultural comparisons 53; defense mechanisms 52, 54; and depression/anxiety 52–4; emotional factors 49; and gender 52–3; hostility/anger 2, 50–6, 70–4; inﬂuence of attitudes 52; and marital satisfaction 55; mortality 53–4, 55; and personality traits 40, 46, 50–4, 55, 70, 130; social isolation/support 54–6
heart disease, case study 1–2, 69–76; active imagination 73–5; analysis 71–5; analytical associations 71–2; analytical interpretations 72; anima 72, 76; clinical observations 70; compensation 129; competitive behavior 70, 71, 74; dreams 71–2; emotional expression 72, 73; family history/ relationships 70, 72, 73, 74; hyperactivity 72, 73; hypertension 70, 73, 74, 75, 127; individuation 75–6; inﬂexibility 72; insomnia 71; love, need for 72, 76, 130; medication/medical treatment 70, 73; rebirth 75; shadow 74–5, 76; symbolism 74, 75–6
heart symbols 130
high blood pressure see hypertension
Hindu civilization 9
Holism and Evolution 25
holistic model 24–7 see also unity/ wholeness
hopelessness, inﬂuence on disease 66–7
hostility: behavior modiﬁcation 53; and cancer 60; and constipation 114; expression 52, 54; and gender 52–3; and heart disease 2, 50–6, 70–2, 74; and interpersonal conﬂict 51–2, 72; measurement scale (CMHS) 51; pathological mechanisms 55; personality traits 50, 70; projection 52; and social support 54–6; unconscious 53, 129
housework: as expression of love 77, 78, 79; low status 57
hyperactivity: and heart disease 72, 73; and rheumatoid arthritis 56, 57, 59, 78, 85, 129
hypertension 36, 70, 73, 74, 75, 127
hysteria 17, 20, 22
hysterical conversion see conversion; see also organic expression
illness see disease; see also healing; models, health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com); organic expression
images: archetypal 46, 98, 99, 107, 109; grenade 69, 73, 74, 76, 128, 129; handcuﬀs 82, 83, 128; marionettes 83, 128 see also art; sandplay; symbols
imagination 9, 35; active 42, 48, 128
immunological function 3; and depression 65, 67; endocrine/ immunological–nervous system links 50; mourning/bereavement 63, 64, 67; and obsessive-compulsive behavior 56–7, 59, 67; and personality 46, 56; and stress 62–5 see also autoimmune disease
impatience see urgency
incest, and miscarriage 124, 125, 126
individuation 7, 47, 75–6, 84, 85, 109, 130; and illness 131 see also abstract expression; integration, ego/self
infants: psyche–body diﬀerentiation 34
infectious disease 49 see also pelvic inﬂammatory disease
inﬂexibility, and heart disease 72
information breakdown, disease as 131–2
insight: into illness 5; therapy 59 see also awareness; consciousness
insomnia 17, 71
instincts 46; repression 20
integration, ego/self 27, 47, 48, 130, 131 see also de-integration; individuation
internal body 39, 40
interpretations, analytical: depression/cancer case study 87–93, 95, 97, 98, 101–2, 104–6; heart disease case study 72; rheumatoid arthritis 79–80, 81, 82
interventions see medication/ medical treatment
introversion, and rheumatoid arthritis 56 see also personality traits
Italy, ancient civilization 11
Johns Hopkins Medical School 60
Jung, C.G. 4, 7, 14, 18, 27; on complexes 28–9; experimental work 28–30; on Nietzsche 39; psyche–body and symbol 38–40; split from Freud 21; word association tests 28, 45, 62 see also analytical psychology model
Koﬀka, K. 19 Kohler, W. 19
Laszlo, E. 6, 26
life events, traumatic see family history/relationships; stress
lifestyle and health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) 49
love: expressing 77, 78, 79; need for 72, 76, 130
lucid dreaming 41
lung cancer 36
malignancy see cancer
marital satisfaction, and heart disease 55
marionettes image 83, 128
Marty, P. 22–3
materialism 16 see also biomedical model
meaning, illness 5, 11, 22, 23, 46–8 see also symbol
medication/medical treatment 132; depression/cancer case study 86; heart disease case study 70, 73; neurosis 48; psychosis 48; rheumatoid arthritis 58–9 see also healing
medicine: link with psychology 2, 3; one-sidedness 3
medicine man: scientiﬁc 23; shaman 8–9
melanoma, malignant 106 see also cancer; depression/cancer case study
metaphor, illness 6 see also symbols/ symbolism
Mexico, heart disease 53
migraine, case study 122–4, 123; analysis 122; defenses 123–4; guilt 122, 123, 124; symbolism 123–4
mind–body relation 2, 30, 48, 131, 137; dichotomy see dualism; dissociation see de-integration; interdependence 25; maternal mediation 34–5; and symbol 38–40, 45 see also holism
miscarriage, case study 124–6, 125; active imagination 124; defenses 126; family relationships 124–5; incest 124, 125, 126; symbolism 125–6
models, health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) 7–27; biomedical 15–17, 23–4; Cartesian 2, 11, 12–13, 19, 21; classical 4, 19; curative 24; Greek 9–11; holistic 24–7; organic 19; pharmacological 49; primitive 7–9; romantic 13–15, 24 see also analytical psychology model; healing; theory
molecular biology 25
morbid personality 28
mortality, cancer 60, 63, 65
mother–child relationship 34
mourning/bereavement 63, 64, 67
Multiple Multiphase Personality Inventory (MMPI) 51, 52, 60, 65
myocardial infarction see coronary heart disease
myths 3, 6, 7; collective 9, 48; creation 8, 9; healing see models; personal 9; Shiva 72–3 see also archetypes
nervous system–endocrine/ immunological links 50 Netherlands, heart disease 53
neurobiology 3, 25
neurosis 16, 22; and complexes 30; and conﬂicts 36; diagnosing 28; treatment 48 see also
anxiety; depression; obsessive-compulsive behavior
Nietzsche, F.W. 39
objectivity see rationalism
obsessive-compulsive behavior 22, 56–7, 59, 67
oncology see cancer
oneness see unity/wholeness
oniric states 39, 40, 41, 42
organic expression (physical/ psychological symptoms) 22, 43, 45; collective unconscious 32; complexes 29, 30–1, 35, 46, 129, 131; conﬂicts 32–3, 35–6, 128, 131; psychological component 14–15; symbolic meaning 14, 16–18, 33–5, 45–8, 69, 129, 131–2 see also disease; emotional expression/repression; symbolism; symptoms
Osler, W. 14
osteoarthritis, and stress 58
pain relief 134, 135 see also placebo eﬀect
paralysis, psychic/arthritic 128–9
parental: complexes see complexes; relationships, mother–child 34; stress, and hormone imbalances 129
participation mystique 7
Passions of the Soul 12
pathological mechanism of disease 55
Pavlov, I.P. 19
pelvic inﬂammatory disease, case study 118–22, 121; active imagination 121; complexes 119; conﬂicts 119, 121; dreams 121; sandplay 119, 120; sexuality 121; shadow 121 Persian civilization 9 personal unconscious 30 personality traits: cancer-prone 40,
56, 60; depression/cancer case study 89, 105, 130; and health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) 40, 49, 50–1; and heart disease 40, 46, 50–4, 55, 70, 130; and immune function 46, 56; inventory/ measures 51, 52, 60, 65; morbid 28; and placebo eﬀect 135–6; and rheumatoid arthritis 56; universal 130 see also behavior
pharmacological model 49 physical symptoms see disease; organic expression; symptoms
placebo eﬀect 11, 67, 132; contextual 135–6; eﬀectiveness/ response 134, 135; historical use 134; mechanisms 137; mobilizing 137; negative eﬀects 135; pain relief 134, 135; and personality traits 135–6; studies 50, 133–7; as symbol 135, 137; uses 135, 136–7
Plato 10, 11, 49 pluralism 24–7 pneumatic body 39, 40 pneumograph measurements 29–30 pregnancy termination 58 pre-verbal symbols 33, 36, 47 primitive model 7–9 prognosis, cancer 60, 63, 65 projection, hostility 52 psyche–body see mind–body
relation Psychiatric Clinic 29 psychiatry, as branch of medicine 14 psychoanalysis, theory 21, 22, 23 see
also analysis; analytic psychology model psychocardiology 3 see also heart
disease psychodrama 9 psychoendocrinology 3 psychological symptoms see disease;
organic expression; symptoms psychologism 2 psychoneuroimmunology 3 see also
immunological function psychooncology 3 see also cancer psychophysical experiments 28–30
psychophysiology 19 see also organic expression
psychosis 22; archetypal expression 32; and cancer 36; and complexes 30; diagnosing 28; treatment 48
Psychosomatic Medicine 18, 19
Psychosomatic School of Paris 22, 33
psychosomatics 2, 3, 14; deﬁnitions, historical 17–19, 45; deﬁnitions, new 26; developing concept 17–24, 45; empirical approach 27; principles 26–7; research see research
psychotherapy: organic approach 19; and physiological functioning 58
puppet image (marionette) 83, 128
quantum theory 25
RA see rheumatoid arthritis
rationalism: Descartes 11, 13, Hippocrates 11
rebirth, symbolism 75
recurrence, symptoms 33, 47 see also repetition
Reynaud’s syndrome, case study 116–118; active imagination 116–18; anger 117; back pain 116–17, 118; complexes 117, 118; depression 116; shadow 118; symbolism 118
reductionism 2, 15–16, 19, 131; modern critique 25 see also biomedical model
re-enactment 103, 130; symptoms as 33, 47
regression 81, 89
re-integration, ego/self 27, 47, 48, 130, 131
rejection see abandonment
relationships: doctor–patient 14; family see family history/ relationships; mother–child 34
relaxation response 49
relaxation therapy 23, 58
religion: Freudian theory 21; marginalization 9, 13; symbolism 48
repetition 103, 130; symptoms as 33, 47
repression see emotional expression/ repression
research, critical analysis 49–68; biomolecular evidence 50; cancer 59, 60; cellular level 50; childbirth 50; lack of theoretical base 49, 68; nervous–endocrine/immunological links 50; placebo eﬀect 50; relaxation response 49; rheumatoid arthritis 56–8; typology 49, 50
responsibility, for illness 2
rheumatoid arthritis 56–9; analytical insight therapy 59; biofeedback 58; case study see below; cognitive–behavioral therapy 58; conformist behavior 56; and early life events 58; and employment pattern 57; and gender 56, 59; interventions 58–9; and obsessive-compulsive behavior 56–7, 59; paralysis 128–9; and pregnancy termination 58; research 56–8; and stress 57–8, 59
rheumatoid arthritis, case study 76–85, 127; abandonment fear 78; active imagination 82–3; analysis 77–84; analytical associations 79, 80, 81, 82; analytical interpretations 79–80, 81, 82; anger 83; body language 78; clinical observations 77; compensation 129; complexes 78, 81, 82, 84; conﬂicts 57, 78; defenses 81, 82, 85; dreams 79, 80, 81, 82; emotional expression/ repression 77, 78, 79, 85; family history/relationships 58, 76–7, 78, 81–2; hatred 81–2; hyperactivity 56, 57, 59, 78, 85, 129; individuation 84, 85; regression 81; rigidity 78, 84; self-sacriﬁce 56, 79, 80, 84, 85; stoicism 76, 80; symbolism 84–5; transference 78 rituals 8
romantic model 13–15, 24; disease as imbalance 13–14
rushing see urgency
sacriﬁce see self-sacriﬁce
sandplay 111, 112, 119, 120, 128
Schelling, F. 14
schizophrenia: and lung cancer incidence 36–8; and rheumatoid arthritis 37–8
School of Chicago 21
science see biomedical model; rationalism
Self 7, 131; archetype 31; concept 14; –ego axis 31, 36, 40, 43, 46; integration 27, 47, 48, 130, 131; symbols 32, 33 see also de-integration
self-esteem, increasing 53
self-healing 27, 135, 137 see also placebo eﬀect
self-sacriﬁce 8, 56, 79, 80, 84, 85
Selye, H. 19
semiology of disease see symbols; symbolism
shadow 129, 131; depression/cancer case study 95, 98, 101, 107, 108; heart disease study 74–5, 76; Reynaud’s syndrome study 118; pelvic inﬂammatory disease study 121
Shiva, myth 72–3
sickness see disease; see also healing; models; organic expression
Smuts, J.C. 24, 25
social isolation/support: and cancer 61, 64; and heart disease 54–6; and stress 54–5
somatic: compliance 20; expression see organic expression; unconscious 39, 40
somatization see organic expression; psychosomatics
soul, and healing 8–12
spiritual healing 8–12
splitting see de-integration; see also dualism
stoicism 76, 80
stress 2; acute 63; and cancer 61, 62–5, 66, 67, 106; chronic 63, 106; control 58; and depression 106; examination 62; and hormone imbalances 129; and illness 57–8, 127–8; and immune function 62–5; and osteoarthritis 58; physiological changes 45; and rheumatoid arthritis 57–8, 59; and social support 54–5; syndrome 19, 20
strings image (marionettes) 83, 128
subtle body 39, 40
symbol: abstract 34, 35, 47, 48; ampliﬁcation 42, 43, 48; archaic/ collective 32, 33, 36, 48; ego 46, 48; and energy transduction 41–2; formation 31–3; healing power 132 ; heart 130; as information 132; organic/somatic plane 14, 16–18, 33–5, 45–8, 69, 129, 131–2; placebo eﬀect 135, 137; pre-verbal 33, 36, 47; self 32, 33; as third factor 38–40, 45; as transcendent factor 43 see also images
symbolic: body 39, 40; meanings, illness 5, 11, 22, 23, 46–8; process 33–8 see also analytical psychology model; sandplay
symbolism: acne rosacea 113; constipation 115; depression/ cancer case study 97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 106–8, 109; heart disease 74, 75–6; migraine 123–4; miscarriage 125–6; Reynaud’s syndrome 118; rebirth 75; rheumatoid arthritis 84–5 see also organic expression
symptoms: compulsive recurrence 33, 47; externalizing 48; hysterical 20; reduction 48, 131; as symbolic representations 14, 16–18, 33–5, 45–8, 69, 129, 131–2; universal 46
see also disease; organic expression and speciﬁc diseases
tachycardia 36 see also heart disease; hypertension
terminal diseases see disease
termination, pregnancy 58
testosterone glucuronide secretion 51
theory, psychological: lack 49, 68; psychosomatic concept 17–24; uniﬁed 26, 130, 132 see also models
therapeutic relationship 14
third factor, psyche–body 38–40, 45 see also mind–body relation
totality see unity/wholeness
transcendence, divine 8–12
transcendent function 40–2, 43, 45, 46
transduction theory 40–2, 45, 46, 48, 131 see also compensation
transference 78, 96, 97, 98
trauma, childhood see family history/relationships; stress
treatment see case studies; healing; medicine/medical treatment; placebo eﬀect
Turkey, ancient civilization 11
Type A behavior 51–3, 55, 70, 130 see also personality traits
Type C behavior 60, 89, 105, 130 see also personality traits
unconscious: collective 14, 27, 48; Freudian theory 20–1; hostility 53, 129; individual awareness 22; integration into consciousness 27, 47, 48, 130, 131; personal 30; unity/wholeness 7–8, 19, 25
uniﬁed theory of symbolic illness 26, 130, 132
unio mentalis 39
unity/wholeness, unconscious 7–8, 19, 25 see also holistic model; integration into consciousness; primitive model universal symptoms 46 vitiligo 4 universalism 16 see also biomedical
model Wertheimer, M. 19 urgency 1, 50, 51, 70 word association tests 28, 45, 62 USA 37 World health(Buy now from http://www.drugswell.com) Organization –
Statistical Information System vignettes see case studies (WHOSIS) 56