Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways. -Sigmund Freud
If you go to a medical doctor and complain about depression, or anxiety, or another uncomfortable emotion, chances are you will leave with a prescription in your hand – something that will make you feel better.
But is this really the best way to deal with emotions? Is there something more to our emotions?
In fact, the way we handle, process, and express emotions are much more important to our health than most of us realize. As Sigmund Freud understood, unexpressed emotions can lead to health conditions and disease.
What are emotions?
Emotions are defined by” an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.” In essence, emotions are our feelings.
To feel and experience emotions is a normal part of our existence, a normal part of life.
E-Motion – is “energy” in motion, which refers to our feelings, which are meant to be felt, expressed, and released. We shouldn’t get stuck in one emotion or another.
According to Abraham Hicks who teaches the law of attraction, emotions serve a purpose – they are our guidance system. In other words, we have to get in the habit of really listening and noticing how we feel – and making decisions based on our feelings, or guidance system. We should always work to choose thoughts that can make us feel better.
How do we deal with emotions?
There are no classes in emotions – often we see how parents deal with emotions and follow their examples, and sometimes we do the opposite.
Some people wear their emotions on a sleeve and are very open and expressive with their emotions. Other people are not expressive with their emotions and hide much of their feelings.
Expressing emotions can vary by culture. Italians are very emotionally expressive, and the English or Asian populations are generally more subdued.
Emotions and Disease
There are two different people whose work I would like to share that shows the connection between emotions and disease.
The first is Louise Hay who is known as one of the founders of the self-help movement. Her book You Can heal Your Life was first published in 1976.
Her life has been extraordinary. In her childhood she had a poor and unstable family where she also was abused. When she was a teenager she ran away from home and went to New York where she became a model and married prosperous businessman. as a child and ran away from home when she was a teenager.
Her marriage lasted 14 years, and after she was struck with cancer. Instead of the common chemotherapy and radiation, she developed an intensive program of affirmations, visualization, nutritional cleansing, and psychotherapy. Within six months, she was completely healed of cancer.
In her book, she explains how our beliefs and ideas about ourselves are often the cause of our emotional problems and physical symptoms and diseases. She also shows by using certain tools, we can change our thinking and our lives for the better.
In her book she has a list of health conditions and diseases and also the probable emotional cause behind it. Her book includes everything from a pimple or ingrown toenail to heart disease and cancer. She lists the probably emotional cause behind the disease as well as a new thought pattern that one can adopt to create better health.
Here are a couple examples:
Probable cause: Fear and intense desire to control everything and everyone.
New thought pattern: I relax, knowing I am safe. Life is for me, I trust the process of life.
Lower back Problems
Probable cause: Fear of money. Lack of financial support.
New Thought Pattern: I trust the process of life. All I need is always taken care of. I am safe.
Louise Hay also talks about the importance of forgiveness. According to Hay, “All dis-ease comes from a state of unforgiveness. Whenever we are ill, we need to search our hearts to see who it is we need to forgive.”
Forgiveness is not about condoning a behavior, or reconnecting with a person. It about just letting the whole thing go. And it’s not about the “how to” – but just being willing to forgive someone, and let the universe help with the how.
According to Hay, “The very person you find it hardest to forgive is the one YOU NEED TO LET GO OF THE MOST.”
Dr. Terrence Hamer
The second person to mention who did great work showing the relationship between emotion and disease is Dr. Terrence Hamer, a German physician. In 1980’s Dr. Hamer’s 17-year-old son had died from an accidental gunshot wound while on vacation. Soon after, Dr. Hamer developed testicular cancer. Dr. Hamer had been healthy all his life, and he believed the cancer was associated with, or caused by the trauma of his son’s death.
He started asking his patients if they had experienced a trauma before their illness appeared and he found in fact all of them had experienced a deeply felt tragedy before the onset of their illness, which he confirmed with thousands of patients.
Later in the 1980s his hospital received a CT scanner. With this he discovered after someone experienced a trauma there was a change in the brain. He could see rings in the brain and, from the location of the rings in the brain, he could tell which organ would be affected and which disease would develop.
So, he could see the progression of a disease and how it would affect simultaneously the three levels: Psyche – Brain – Organ.
- an acute, dramatic and isolating life event that takes the person off-guard, something they are prepared for.
- Change in the brain, see rings upon brain scan.
- Symptoms start – health condition or disease would develop.
Dr. Hamer found that illness is a physical response to a past emotional trauma. Furthermore, the way a situation is perceived by the individual plays an important role in determining if a disease will occur.
Ex. Dr. Hamer got testicular cancer after the death of his son. His body’s adaptive biological response is to create more testicular cells so he can create more sperm and have more children.
Ex. Women often get ovarian cancer after the loss of a child, or loss of a significant other who they would have a family with, or maybe the children are grown and they have an empty nest. The body’s biological adaptive response is to create more ovarian cells to create more children.
Ex. A man who has been running his business all his life and now it’s time to retire. His son is ready to take over and tells his father “I’ve got this now.” The father feels displaced and feels the loss of his territory. He develops a bladder infection, since the bladder has to do with territory. When he becomes at peace with the situation—I’ve put in my time and worked hard now it’s time to relax–then his bladder condition can be resolved.
Ex. When someone has Parkinson’s disease, according to Louise Hay, they have a need to control everyone and everything. With Parkinson’s they have uncontrollable shaking and tremors. They have to let go of their need to control to help them heal.
Dr. Hamer established that diseases have an obvious a biological meaning. He realized that “diseases” were not meaningless mistakes of nature that should be fought, but meaningful events that serve to restore equilibrium.
According to Dr. Hamer, “All diseases without exception have a special biological meaning and purpose that can be explained and understood through biology, embryology and evolutionary theories. All diseases are biological programs of adaption for survival when facing unexpected distress and life-threatening situations.”
Both Louise Hay and Dr. Terrence Hamer did extraordinary work in showing the connection between emotion and disease. Both emphasis the necessity to feel, express, and release negative emotions for optimal health.