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  • Jamie McCarthy

Psycho-somatic Illness and Dis-Ease.

10th March 2015

Feeling ill today and also feeling not so good in my soul. Probably I've just got a virus, but it got me to thinking about how the idea of psychosomatic illness has a bad reputation. 'It's just psychosomatic' feels like a way of dismissing a malady, or somehow implying that the person who feels ill could probably not be ill if they were a bit tougher or perhaps the illness just isn't real at all. It feels like psychosomatic has become another way of saying 'it's all in the mind'.

Psyche means, originally 'spirit' or 'soul'. It feels to me that to have a psychosomatic illness is for your body to be (quite healthily) linked to your spirit and for the body to manifest its movements. An injury to, or illness of the body is perfectly acceptable in the Western World, but to the spirit – pah! That's just pretending to be ill.

How different it would be to view psychosomatic illness as a physical manifestation of a dis-ease in the spirit and for people to ask with the same seriousness as of broken limbs or infectious diseases what injury was done to that spirit or what soul virus is in the metaphorical air or water supply of our society to cause that malady.

On a related tack: I dislike the term 'mental illness' ... as if it were all in the mind and just the rearrangement of a few cogs, wheels, connections or whatever could fix it. This mechanistic view locates the illness in the individual and stops us asking questions about how our world is arranged, how we treat each other. It seems supremely clear to me that the increase in 'mental illness' in the UK is not to do with increasing numbers of 'faulty' individuals ... it's a body and spirit reaction to a soul-sick society.

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