Dr. Edward Bach
Research in the field of physical and emotional medicine has revealed that there is a direct link between physical and emotional distress and the body’s ability to resist illness. It has also been discovered that unresolved or unexpressed thoughts and feelings are translated in the body as neuro-chemicals. These chemicals communicate with other systems of the body, particularly the nervous system, causing the body to react in a manner similar to when physical stress is present.
Fear, for example, arouses the nervous system and triggers a flood of adrenal hormones, causing an accelerated heart rate and intensified breathing. Under healthy conditions, such reactions soon subside, but chronic fear, anger, grief, and other powerful emotions can keep the nervous system in a constant state of arousal. This allows stress to build up in the body, eventually attacking the body’s organs and resulting in depressed immunity.
It has been mentioned in previous articles that Dr. Hans Selye, a pioneer in this area, linked the emotions to physical health. The name given to this area of study is “behavioral immunology”, and the aim is to demonstrate the connection between emotions and the immune system.
There have been studies on the effect of the death of a spouse. Using a group of men whose wives died, the researchers found the lymphocyte activity in the bereaved men declined dramatically one to two months following their wives’ deaths, and for some men, the level remained low for as long as a year.
We know that the death of a spouse is a severe emotional stress, but studies have found that milder stress can depress the immune system as well. In other studies a lower activity of immune response was found in students preparing for final exams.
We know now that the effects of emotional stress can suppress the immune system, but I believe the key factor in health or illness is that it may not be the stress itself, but the way an individual handles the stress! Emotions such as depression, despair, and anxiety can predispose us to illness while hope, confidence and positive feelings can predispose us to recovery and health.
Emotions are a key component in stress. The inability to express emotions, like loneliness, sadness, bereavement, hopelessness, and helplessness, disappointment, depression and other factors can be damaging to health.
EMOTIONS: CREATING DISEASE OR HEALING?
Let me begin by saying that I believe ALL emotions are healthy, because emotions are what unite the mind and the body. Anger, fear, and sadness, the so-called negative emotions, are as healthy as peace, courage and joy. To repress these emotions and not let them flow freely, causes blockages and insufficient flow of energy signals to maintain function at the cellular level. This sets up a weakened condition that can lead to disease. We can say that all honest emotions are positive emotions.
Health is not just a matter of thinking ‘happy thoughts’. Sometimes expressing a burst of long-suppressed anger can jump-start the immune system. How and where it is expressed is up to you—in a room by yourself, in a group therapy situation, or in a spontaneous exchange with a friend or family member who will allow you to ‘let go’. The key is to express it and then let it go, so that it doesn’t fester, or build, or escalate internally out of control.
Emotional pain is more deeply recorded in the body than pure physical pain. As a therapist, I can state that more people fear emotional pain than physical discomfort. When asked, “Which would you rather have, a broken heart or a broken leg?” A broken leg wins every time! Not only negative feelings are remembered; peace, joy or a romantic evening can also be pulled from your memory bank with equal ease--but these are beneficial to the immune system.
Stored emotions act like a chemical reservoir, which must be managed as if the chemicals were toxic. There are serious consequences to leaving stored negative energy unattended for any length of time.
Negative energy can be defined as energy derived from a negative emotional experience; such as hatred, anger, guilt, fear, or depression. Because emotional chemical energy can be stored, the physical changes associated with the memory still exist long after the situation that caused it. If left unchecked, these changes may do harm over time.
An emotional crisis does more than injure your psyche. It jeopardizes your physical health and increases your risk of illness. Under stress, the normal immune system defense can break down, which results in disease. Allergies, colds, the flu, and even cancer, can be triggered by an emotional crisis. There are many holistic therapeutic methods to deal with these emotions.
Never underestimate the power of emotions or the seriousness of the illnesses they can produce.
Even many food allergies can be the result of emotional experiences with food. If people eat when they are angry, for example, they may develop an allergy to the foods eaten at that time. A meal should be peaceful.
We all want to feel good emotionally. The world we live in can be very taxing on our emotions. Demands for our attention, deadlines, and over stimulation can trigger an over-reaction of emotions, leaving us depressed, anxious, restless, stressed out, hyperactive, or other negative unexpressed feelings.
Feeling sad and depressed is a normal part of living as is feeling elated and happy. However, we all relate and react differently to both negative and positive emotions.
The question is--how long do you choose to maintain those negative feelings? And – how are you able to handle them?
Cutler, Ellen, D.C.; Winning the War Against Immune Disorders and Allergy.
Null, Gary; Natural Living Newsletter. “The Immune system”. 1998
Pert Candace, Ph.D.; Molecules of Emotion.
Weiss, Jordan, M.D.; Psycho-Energetics.