therapy partly to deal with a chronic illness, rheumatoid arthritis. My therapist
believes that this illness is caused by repressed emotion. I think he believes
that our work together can significantly improve my illness. This is difficult
idea for me to swallow because:
1) I feel awkward discussing the fact that my illness is progressing rather
than improvingam I not working hard enough? not measuring up? Plus
I feel that hes being a bit unscientific and a bit arrogant (as I told
2) This is not how I want to think of myselfso repressed that I brought
myself a great deal of pain and aggravation. Im not even saying his
idea is not possible. Just that it doesnt work for me as the story
of my life. I think I have a disease. I think there are many reasons why.
Bad stuff happens to everyone. Now I need to deal with it.
I think that dealing with any repressed emotion can only help my illness
and help me make a good life, I think my therapist and I still have the same
goal basically, so I think we can work together. I believe that our work
together can really help me improve my life and maybe my illness. Heres
my question: Is it reasonable for me to tell my therapist that Im going
with my version of what causes my illness rather than his? Perhaps we can
agree to disagree. What do you think?
The real issue here is not about who is right
but about the definition of cause.
The fact is,
there can be several
causes of one thing.
Rheumatoid arthritis can have a genetic cause, a chemical cause, and a
psychological cause. Given that you cannot do anything about your genetics,
and that medications may provide temporary relief but not a cure, it might be
very helpful to do everything you can to alter the psychological aspects of
your illness. In general, because
are usually a key component of the psychological cause of anything, using
psychotherapy to improve your physical condition requires that you learn
to expand your emotional
psychological healing for any illness requires finding the symbolic
place of the healing. When
emotional distress afflicts a personespecially in childhoodthat
person can feel alone and helpless and stuck, all because there is no one
to whom he or she can speak who can understand. Therefore, without a place
of safety to speak about the trauma, the pain will find its place somewhere in
the body. Psychotherapeutic healing can provide a safe place where the emotional
painthe repressed paincan be given a voice so that it can be
understood. Then, feeling understood, the pain can leave its place in the
body and take up its rightful symbolic place in the story of your
As for thinking
of yourself as so repressed that I brought myself a great deal of pain
and aggravation, well, join the club! We all have an
unconscious, and we
all are so repressed that we bring ourselves a great deal of pain and
aggravation. We are so filled with disagreement that we disagree with life
itself. When we encounter problems, we try to get
rid of them, rather than understand them. Unconscious psychological conflicts
rule the worldliterally. Thats why the world is filled with
Bad stuff happens,
yes; but unless you swallow it (and digest it)
psychologically, it will find its place somewhere outside your understanding.
So, instead of disagreeing with your psychotherapistand your own
bodyseek out that place where the healing wisdom of
advertisingno sponsorjust the simple truth . . .