There are many physical illnesses which are due, not to altered structure or infection, but to alterations in the function of the body.

These are called the psychosomatic disorders and emotional stress is the prime cause.

Psyche is the mind and soma the body. Psychosomatic illness means there are physical symptoms present — real symptoms, not imaginary ones — but the underlying cause is usually unresolved anxiety or fear.

The cause may be real and appropriate, such as the fear of losing one’s job or the inability to cope with the sudden changes in society. The fear may be imaginary, such as a fear of going blind or developing cancer.

Sometimes, the anxiety is non-specific and is deep in the subconscious mind. It may come from unresolved anxiety of fear which developed in childhood or early adult life. That anxiety may be hidden or forgotten but still unresolved.

We have a primitive defence mechanism which enables us to respond rapidly to danger.


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