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4 Myths About Psychosomatics And Scientific Revelations - Research, Quality Of Life
4 Myths About Psychosomatics And Scientific Revelations - Research, Quality Of Life

Video: 4 Myths About Psychosomatics And Scientific Revelations - Research, Quality Of Life

Video: 4 Myths About Psychosomatics And Scientific Revelations - Research, Quality Of Life
Video: 4th Annual UCLA Conference on Integrative Medicine & Mental Health, Dr. Charles Grob 2023, March

Doctors, psychologists and even scientists, not to mention mere mortals, sometimes sin with mystical thinking and masterly ascribe to every sneeze a deep esoteric meaning. We dispel and clarify the popular mythologemes about psychosomatics, which the Internet is full of

Once I complained to my biochemist friend about a sore throat and in response I suddenly heard: "You probably cannot express something to your loved ones, you accumulate negative emotions, you swallow them, and therefore your throat hurts." At this moment, I really held back the emotions that had rolled over the scientifically minded person and choked on tea.

Yes, psychosomatics exists, and doctors regularly see such patients, including ENTs. But guys, let's think critically and deal with each mystical thesis separately. This is similar to how we did it for four common conditions.

MYTH 1. About an ingrown nail and forward movement

On the "psychosomatic" Internet

  • “An ingrown toenail represents a person's constant anxiety, anxiety and guilt about whether he has the right to move forward in life, into the future. Ingrown nail affirmations: “I myself freely and easily choose the direction of my movement forward, into the future. "They need to be repeated every day, twice a day, 15–20 times for three months."
  • “Most psychologists agree that this pathology is associated with the fact that a person is not able to let go of his past, he lives by it, ignoring the present and the future. In this situation, in order to get rid of an ingrown toenail, it is necessary to seek the help of a professional psychologist."

    A rational approach, by the way! Aimed at increasing the personal income of a psychologist.

Scientific view

An ingrown toenail does not have a psychosomatic nature. Dot. In recent decades, scientific publications on the topic of ingrown toenails describe exclusively materialistic reasons for ingrown toenails: deformities of the feet, improper cutting of the corner of the nail, wearing tight shoes, etc.

We can observe an instructive example of the creation of psychosomatic myths thanks to the experience of Jules Masserman, an outstanding American psychiatrist with a psychoanalytic education. In the early fifties, he wrote a satirical article on an ingrown toenail entitled Psychosomatic Profile of an Ingrown Toe Nail. His goal was to ridicule the excessive symbolism of the Freudians.

The article was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The thumbnail, according to Jules, undoubtedly symbolizes the penis - it forms a protruding part of the body, solid, oblong, rounded, makes the same movements when walking. It is also important that the nail grows from the female nail bed in essence and shape, which is called the bed for a reason (nail-bed in English).

The nail, with its edge grown into the flesh of the finger, is nothing more than an erect and frustrated phallus, stretching back to its mother's cradle - the skin

There is an oedipus complex of the penis-nail, which is realized when life obstacles arise or under the pressure of tight shoes. Well, etc.

Needless to say, the enthusiastic colleagues of psychoanalysts and psychologists did not feel the catch: they began to congratulate Jules on his success and praise him for his insight.

Conclusion: 10 out of 10 myth

MYTH 2. About infertility and the insidious unconscious

On the "psychosomatic" Internet

  • “I think it’s no secret to anyone that the reasons for the impossibility of getting pregnant lie in the mental, not the physical. Of course, there will be bodily changes anyway, since the brain will give the command to change the body so that it cannot get pregnant."

    Actually, checkmate for all reproductive medicine.

  • "The first reason is a special program of bodily changes that cause obstruction of the fallopian tube."
  • “Did you know that infertility in 90% of cases is a psychosomatic disease?
  • "The most insidious thing is that you may not remember why your unconscious does not want to allow childbirth."

    Incredibly convenient wording!

  • "At the moment of ovulation, the body (or circumstances) subconsciously blocks the very possibility of pregnancy: a tooth aches, distant relatives have arrived, and urgently needs to go on a business trip."

Many problems and fears have been described that can "trigger" infertility: fear of being alone, dying in childbirth, giving birth to a dead or unhealthy child, subconscious disgust for children (children are an obstacle to a happy successful life), rejection of a husband, dislike of one's own mother, etc. …

If there is no child, then the woman somehow wants him wrong. The question naturally arises: how does anyone manage to have children in this world?

To prove the psychosomatic nature of infertility, the authors cite examples of unexpected pregnancies, when a couple who have already resigned themselves abandon attempts to conceive, perhaps even take a child from an orphanage - and lo! A miracle is happening. The forums are also full of these stories. “Resolve the internal conflict, relax, and everything will work out” - this is what not only ordinary people and psychologists think, but also - drum roll - gynecologists!

Scientific view

Only 5% of couples have psychological causes of infertility according to an expert in this field - professor, medical psychologist, psychotherapist Tewes H. Wischmann. Here are the facts that Teviez relied on in his comprehensive work (Psychogenic Infertility-Myths and Facts // Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, 2000):

  • 1. From 15 to 60% of women with idiopathic infertility (that is, without clarified somatic reasons and with hypothetically psychological ones) spontaneously become pregnant in the first year of follow-up without any treatment 1.
  • 2. Among 133 couples who stopped craving for a biological child and adopted a baby, only 20% became pregnant, and among 400 couples who continued to “try,” 60% 2. In another study, the percentage of those who became pregnant after adoption was even lower - only 3%, and among the "miners" - 66% 3.

    Contrary to the myth, the probability of getting pregnant is reduced by three or more times if the couple abandons their attempts to conceive and switches to adoption.

  • 3. Studies of childless couples for more than 50 years have failed to establish a clear causal relationship between emotional state and infertility. Although, undoubtedly, there are psychohormonal and psychoimmunological phenomena, and they are being studied.

    Infertility itself significantly affects the level of anxiety and depression in women.

In addition, there is still no direct evidence that psychotherapy improves couples' chances of getting pregnant. Improves quality of life and emotional well-being - yes, definitely 4.

If you don't have a child

The German manual Psychosomatics in Reproductive Medicine (2000) clearly states the psychological factors that affect spousal childlessness:

  • a) contrary to the desire to have children and the recommendations of the treating doctor, the couple continues behavior that may interfere with conception (for example, unbalanced diets, energy-intensive sports, alcohol consumption, smoking, overworking at work, etc.);
  • b) the couple does not have sex on the days of possible conception, or one / both partners have sexual dysfunction of inorganic origin;
  • c) the couple knowingly agrees to fertility therapy, but then fails.

In all other cases, false psychologization of infertility (“You do not have a child, because there is a subconscious conflict”) can only do harm by increasing the anxiety of partners.

Conclusion: 9 out of 10 myth

MYTH 3. About caries and fear of losing recognition

On the "psychosomatic" Internet

  • "Teeth on psychosomatics will deteriorate from caries when a person becomes overly social, adapts to the environment in fear of losing social recognition and position."
  • “If your teeth are decaying, you need to ask yourself the question: towards whom in society you cannot freely express your aggression or express, but not enough”?
  • "Lack of hardness of character causes softening of dental tissues."

Symbolic meaning: teeth - to eat and bite when necessary. They shouldn't be idle.

Nice, well-mannered people who regularly suppress their aggression are doomed to caries. If you set a goal, you can even find descriptions of which tooth suffers from problems with which relative

Scientific view

Caries and mental are related, but not directly. This connection is based, like many other things, on stress. Stressful conditions affect:

  • general metabolism, including calcium metabolism, the level of which falls in the blood and hard tissues;
  • the rate of salivation - it decreases significantly;
  • biochemical composition of salivary fluid - the concentration of calcium, lysozyme, Ig A and other significant components decreases;
  • the tone of the chewing muscles - it increases.

These changes really serve as additional factors in the development of caries. On mice and humans, this has been well studied for a long time, you can read more about this in the article "The effect of stress on the hard tissues of the tooth" (Masyuk N. Yu., Gorodetskaya I. V. The effect of stress on the hard tissues of the tooth // Vestnik VSMU. 2018. No. 2. P. 7-19).

In general, there are more than a hundred risk factors for caries, but there are three key ones:

  • a diet high in fast carbohydrates,
  • insufficient oral hygiene,
  • bad heredity.

An interesting material is presented in the dissertation of Varvara Khalturina "Psychophysiological personality types and the risk of dental caries in clinically healthy individuals with different body mass index" (Saratov, 2012). Varvara studied the psychotypes of people with different resistance to caries (caries resistance).

The data obtained in general refute the theory of strong teeth among predators and aggressors of homo sapiens. So, conflicting personalities, that is, those who do not suffer from restraint, were 25% among the healthiest and as much as 41% among the most patients with caries in the study participants.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10 myth

MYTH 4. About herpes and unspoken resentment

On the "psychosomatic" Internet

Oh, this is a treasure trove of interesting quotes :

  • "Colds" on the lips are the result of long-held rage or unspoken resentment. There is no splash of emotions, words get stuck, do not find a way out, painful bubbles appear on the lips. "
  • "The main theme of herpes is worries that there is some kind of separation between people, a long separation."
  • "Another psychological cause of a cold on the lip is associated with long-term hiding of any information, especially unpleasant."
  • "The pain caused by genital herpes is a manifestation of the mental pain you feel about your sex life."

Of course, the authors of the articles admit that herpes is caused by strains of the herpes virus, but they claim a powerful psychosomatic onset of the disease. Some have relapses much more often than others, and this is not without reason, internal conflicts are to blame for everything, so that …

The psychological conditioning of the course of infectious diseases is a common place in the "psychosomatic" Internet. Vanya has been ill once in his life, and Petya suffers every month. Therefore, Petya thinks and feels wrong

Scientific view

There is definitely a psychosomatic component in the development of herpes, and quite numerous scientific publications have been devoted to this, especially on genital herpes.

One interesting 2001 experiment 5 involved 20 volunteers with herpes that relapsed more than five times a year. At the same time, the participants were convinced that exacerbations are provoked by the use of dirty dishes.

The participants in the experiment were randomly divided equally into two groups. The first group was shown five photographs of dirty glasses, and then the same dirty glasses live. The second group was shown only neutral objects, also in photographs and live. After 48 hours, in the first group, four people developed herpetic eruptions, and in the second, none. The differences were statistically significant.

There are studies linking together stress, depression, anxiety, anger, and immunologic indicators important for recurrence of herpes infection. For people who often have herpes, psychotherapy is helpful 6. However, there are authors who talk about the exaggeration of the role of mental factors in the recurrence of these nasty bubbles.

Conclusion: 5 out of 10 myth

Psychosomatic myths will survive all of us: sometimes you want to change for the better, harmonious, so that all ailments will end immediately. You can, for example, shout at children for the sake of healthy teeth or become a director of a company in order to prevent an ingrown toenail.

And if it's no joke, then be three times critical to any information and take care of yourself: your psyche and body, although this is difficult enough, because, as Oscar Wilde used to say, “Everything that is beautiful in this life is either immoral or illegal, or leads to obesity. "


  • 1. ESHRE Capri Workshop Group: Guidelines to the prevalence, diagnosis, treatment and management of infertility. Human Reproduction 1996; 4: 1775-1807.
  • 2. Arronet GH, Bergquist CA, Parekh MV: The influence of adoption on subsequent pregnancy in infertile marriage. Int J Fertil 1974; 19: 159-162.
  • 3. Wischmann T.: Ungewollte Kinderlosigkeit-Ein brennendes Problem: Aus psychologischer Sicht. In Adoption Positionen, Impulse, Perspektiven, H Paulitz (ed), Munchen, Beck, 2000, pp 133-143.
  • 4. de Liz TM, Strauss B. Differential efficacy of group and individual / couple psychotherapy with infertile patients. Human Reproduction 2005; 20: 1324-1332.
  • 5. Buske-Kirschbaum A. et al. Preliminary evidence for Herpes labialis recurrence following experimentally induced disgust. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics 70.2 (2001): 86–91.
  • 6. Longo D., Koehn K. Psychosocial factors and recurrent genital herpes: a review of prediction and psychiatric treatment studies. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine. 23.2 (1993): 99-117.

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