Using the Body Syndrome Theory in Therapy
The body syndrome theory postulates that modern people have adapted to their computer-paced lives to the extent that it feels natural to push through trauma. Consequently, it is no longer instinctual or even a priority to set time aside to feel all of the feelings of the day’s upsets and stresses. Many of our clients – when they first come in – report an inability to feel or even recognize their feelings. These individuals have learned to rationalize their traumas, including rejection, cruelty, fear, and even death.
Medical therapy has always been concerned with enhancing patients’ awareness as to how they respond to stress, both mild and severe. The body syndrome theory goes one step further and correlates how the body stores the cellular memory of repressed stress, and especially trauma, within the physical body. These correlations can be used as direct suggestions for the patient to age regress to the very first time conditions existed predisposing the current chronic ailment.
The body syndromes are:
Crying syndrome: the subject repressed significant sadness accompanied by a belief that it was not safe to express that sadness. Oftentimes, the original event causing the subject to repress the sadness also caused him or her to believe s/he could not make a decisions/he needed to make.
For example, a woman with unrelenting migraine headaches was age regressed to the very first time she was unable to safely feel the sadness in her life. She immediately remembered the time when Millie, her pet poodle, died when she was three years old. Her dad was returning from the dog groomer’s with the poodle in the passenger seat. He was about to turn left into the driveway and had paused to let an oncoming car pass. The pet poodle saw the little girl in the front yard and jumped over the dad, through the window, into the path of the oncoming car. She witnessed her pet’s death and was wailing in agony. Her father, filled with guilt, became agitated by her grief, and told her to stop crying as it was only making matters worse. She continued to cry and he resorted to that old 50’s threat, “Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about!” In her fear, she stiffly inhaled her sadness. Her mom then explained that it was Millie’s time to go … “God wanted him and so he had to go.” Her mind now filled with images of God taking her the same way and a belief that she had no power in deciding what she was allowed to feel bad about because her mom had told her she should be happy that Pepper was “with God now”.
Crying syndrome encompasses the head, neck, chest and breasts and all the organs contained therein. Chronic ailments such as headaches, sinusitis, eczema, sore throats, asthma, or TMJ, may respond better to medication when therapy is employed with suggestions to regress to overwhelming sadness.
Atlas syndrome: the subject repressed the natural inclinations towards fun and frivolity and instead assumed an identity of seriousness and extreme responsibility or took on the belief that s/he could not handle responsibility and assumed an identity as a worrier and fretter.
Atlas syndrome encompasses the back from the waist up and the shoulders. Patients complaining of chronic back and shoulder pain should be regressed with hypnotic suggestions to return to the very first time that they formed the belief that they had to accept responsibility that didn’t belong to them or the formation of the belief that they were incapable of coping with responsibility for themselves.
Reaching syndrome: the patient has repressed the instinct to reach out and take what s/he needs and instead emotionally withdraws when what s/he needs is not offered. A belief was created in his or her past that he or she is not really entitled to have his/her needs met. Reaching syndrome encompasses the upper extremities. Pertinent chronic ailments of carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, warts, arthritis, etc., fall under this syndrome.
Frustration and guilt syndrome: the subject has repressed feelings of frustration, anger, resentment, sexual acceptance, and/or self-acceptance. Often s/he grew up in a home where anger was unacceptable or sex was never discussed.
Frustration and guilt syndrome encompasses the torso from the waist down to mid-thigh. The repression of frustration and guilt may manifest in conditions of gastrointestinal disorders, such as ulcers or irritable bowel syndrome, disproportional fat accumulation, reproductive disorders, diabetes, sciatica, hip bursitis, etc.
Flight syndrome: patient has repressed the need to walk away from threatening or unhealthy situations or people. Often created in early childhood during times of discipline. The mind is signaling danger (a threatening lecture, spanking, beating, etc.) and is unable to escape because survival is dependent upon the origin of the danger. In other words, mom or dad is saying, “You just stand right here young man (or lady) until I am done talking to you. This is going to hurt me more than you.” The parent is the origin of the danger and the child cannot escape because s/he is dependent upon that parent for survival. Flight syndrome encompasses the legs from the mid-thigh down to the feet and toes and includes chronic complaints, such as knee/ankle/foot tendonitis/bursitis, varicose veins, bunions, hammer toes, fallen arches, etc.
1) identifying the original trauma and the time of its onset.
2) identifying the belief(s) the client formed about himself or herself as a result.
3) enabling the client to sense the impact of that belief.
4) enabling the client to identify the truth about the event as perceived by his or her adult mind.
5) enabling the client to feel his or her stored feelings.
6) guiding the client to ask the affected part of the body for an image that would permit the release of the trauma.
7) offering the client suggestions for comfort and ease in that area of the body while preserving any signaling function of pain.
Body Syndromes: Modern medicine has come a long way in explaining what causes physical illness. There are still, however, many problems for which doctors can find no real cause. These can take the form of headaches, nausea, weakness, dizziness, rashes and pain.
Often these are labeled ‘psychosomatic’ which means they are caused by the mind-body connection (‘psycho’ = mind + ‘soma’ = body). When people hear the term ‘psychosomatic illness’ they often think that means the patient is ‘making it up’. This is not what that means. (Actually, intentionally faking an illness is called ‘malingering’.)
Most of us will accept that there is a mind-body connection, at least on some level. When we get ‘stressed-out’, we may get a headache or tension and pain in our shoulders. Some people extend this theory to suggest that this happens much more often than we think. For example, when someone is afraid to confront someone else, he may suddenly develop laryngitis — a condition which makes it nearly impossible for him to ‘speak up’. Such problems may be unpleasant, but is it possible that we also gain something from them? This is the ‘Body Syndromes’ approach.
Using this ‘Body Syndromes’ approach may help us use physical symptoms (like pain and nausea) to cue us into the emotional issues a person is having. Some people may not be able to use words to explain how, for example, an increase in responsibilities is causing her stress. Perhaps a mother feels that the responsibilities of a new baby should be a ‘good thing’, when in reality, she is finding it very difficult. So, she complains of shoulder and upper back pain. Using the Body Syndromes approach, we may be able to uncover the real feelings of being overwhelmed.
Remember, you have to identify a problem before you can solve it.
Is the body really telling us about the stress of new responsibilities? Who knows. But it is a starting point for a discussion about how this client feels about the responsibility s/he is ‘shouldering’. Will working on these issues eliminate the physical symptoms? Maybe. Many people report this has worked for them. Again, it is just a tool to begin to address problems, not the definitive answer to them.
Important note: Always be sure to have a medical professional evaluate any physical symptoms you might be having. Therapy is not a replacement for traditional medical care, only an adjunct to it!
These techniques can help your therapist explore deeply into your subconscious mind: what issues are causing you problems and what symbols your mind most readily understands. He or she can then tailor your therapy to best meet your needs and bring about the best results for you.