Medical dictionaries are far from explicit in their definition of psychosomatic
ailments. One of them states that it is a study of psychic disturbances of an
emotional type and that gasprointestinal disorders constitute their corporal
manifestation; that is to say: patients having bodily symptoms which are of
psychic, emotional or mental origin.
Another defines “psychosomatic” as a pathogenic concept tending to have
psychic influences play an important role in the determination of functional
troubles and even of certain organic diseases.
This doctrine, which has been extensively developed in America in the past
few years, is not a new discovery, for ever since the time of Hippocrates and
Galen the influence of the psychic over the physical has been admitted. But this has come about as a consequence of certain physiological discoveries such as those of Pavlov at the beginning of the twentieth century on conditional reflexes and of the American, Cannon, on the role of the emotions and their repercussions on salivary secretions, the endocrine glands and on the metabolism. It owes much also to the development of deep and extensive psychological studies to which so many psychiatrists and psycho-analysts have devoted themselves.
In fact the physicians of the orthodox school are only now discovering the
psychosomatic. After cutting a man in two and having isolated his psyche and mind from his soma, they have stuck the two pieces together again to consider him at last as a biological whole.
The homoeopathic school has always, ever since Hahnemann in 1796, considered the patient as a living entity and unity and has treated him as such while always giving preference to the mental and subjective symptoms so greatly discarded by the ordinary school. The homoeopath invariably attaches the greatest importance to the cause as opposed to the end result.
The fact that today we no longer oppose the organic and the functional also
pleads in favour of this doctrine. But we must admit that the repetition of the
functional disorder can bring in its train a secondary lesion which settles and in turn establishes itself as evidenced in the irrevocable first symptoms.
The neuro- vegetative system is the structural bond between the psychic and the somatic spheres; its paths and centres are graduated from the cortex to the major diencephalic cross-roads, to the bulb or to the spinal cord, and their ramifications extend to the vascular extremities and into the depths of the tissues.
The psycho-neurotic and anxiety states, which are due to emotional conflicts present in the background, pursue their surreptitious action on the neuro-vegetative system and by a continuance of emotional outbreaks can end in the creation of secretory disturbances of the stomach which terminate in gastric ulcers.
Cushing and some other authors, such as Wolf for example, have already
demonstrated the sub-cortical origin of this lesion and the psychosomaticians have gathered a certain number of cases of artificial hypertension where there was no renal involvement, but which were due to this mechanism of prolonged and repeated emotional outbreaks.
Likewise, a study of the psychic personality has revealed the same emotional oscillations in cases of many so-called allergic diseases such as:
spasm Basedow’s disease
In children and adolescents the psychosomatic character of certain disorders, such as enuresis and anorexia nervosa of young girls, seems to be well established. There is hardly a chapter in somatic pathology which has not paid tribute to this psychosomatic mechanism.
Targowla has remarked that the clinical facts claimed by psychosomatic
medicine were none other than the clinical facts presented formerly under the term “hysteria” in thy clinics which existed before the time of Babinsky, but this is merely a matter of difference of label.
Psychosomatic medicine aims at an original synthesis which knows how to
recognize the multiple causality of morbid phenomena; it studies the sick man as a biological whole among his multiple psychosomatic inter-reactions.
This biological whole has already been evoked by Hahnemann in 1813, in his famous essay entitled: “Spirit of the Homoeopathic Doctrine’ of Medicine” where he speaks of the living individual unity of the organism. Similarly, in his sixth edition of the Organon, he repeats in more than five paragraphs that there exists a biological whole in our organisms.
In a phrase of Kant, the philosopher, cited by Hufeland, we read: “We do not
for a moment deny the influence of the physical on the spiritual, but the
psychological power of the spirit on the body is just as astonishing and even
greater. It can give birth to ailments, it can kill and it can revive.”
In his “Aphorisms of Hippocrates” Boenninghausen asks what the supposed
relationship can be between the brain and haemorrhoids or varicose veins. Here we meet another proof of the truth that the body and the spirit-whether in a state of disease or a state of health-are closely linked together and that the sufferings of the one can calm those of the other.
Boenninghausen remarked, with regard to one of the “Aphorisms of Hippo-
crates” that there are numerous cases of icterus which manifest themselves on the day following an emotional upset and are cured equally quickly by the
remedy corresponding to the symptoms, such as Aconite, Chamomilla, Nux
Hahnemann is thus the true creator of psychosomatic medicine. Although he
may not be the first to speak of the relationship between the spirit and the body -for Hippocrates and Galen did so before him-he is nevertheless the first to have outlined the practical rudiments of possible therapeutic measures to be taken in the ailments which result.
In his Sixth Edition of the Organon, Hahnemann shows us the influence andthe repercussions of the psychic on the physical in his note to paragraph 17 where he writes:
“Merely by the use of imagination, it is possible to produce a derangement of
the vital principle which, if it is sufficiently marked, can give rise to the severest illness; nevertheless, this also can be cured by a similar contra-suggestion.
“A prophetic dream, a superstitious fancy or a solemn prediction of death fixed for a certain hour on a certain day, have often produced all the progressive symptoms of a disease, even of approaching death, and death itself, at the hour predicted. This could not have happened without the production of a simultaneous inward change corresponding to that observed externally. It has quite often come about, in similar cases and under similar influences, that by means of a skillful pretence, or persuasion to a belief in the contrary, all of the morbid signs pointing to imminent death have been dissipated and health suddenly restored. This could not have come about had not this exclusively psychotherapeutic procedure caused the disappearance of both the discord in the vital energy and the abnormal somato-psychic reactions from which death would have been the result.”
In paragraph 215 he makes the following observation:
“Nearly all morbid states which are referred to as ‘psychic’ are in reality
nothing but somatic ailments in which the discord between the intellectual and moral faculties, each in its specific way and in a manner more or less rapid, have become predominant through their relation to the purely physical symptoms. Thus they finish by taking on the character of a ‘defective’ disease which gives the appearance of a local ailment having its seat in the delicate and invisible organs of thought.”-the “psychosomatic ailments” of the modern authors.
And with reference to periodic ailments he writes, in his note to paragraph 232:
” … but it is possible also, in case of alternation of three different aspects in
the course of a dysfunctional state, that periods of hyperdynamia, of an exultation of the physical forces and mental faculties· (unusual gaiety, excessive vivacity, marked euphoria, an immoderate appetite, etc.) may be followed in an equally unexpected manner by a gloomy and melancholy humour, a tendency towards hypochondria with extreme bad temper, accompanied by various disorders of the essential organic functions such as the digestion, sleep, etc. This second state is followed, more or less rapidly, by the feeling of ill-health normally experienced by the subject as well as several other varied and alternating states.”
It was Baruk, the great French psychiatrist and director fJf the Asylum of
Charenton in Paris who created the expression: “psychosomatic balance”. He said that very often mental troubles come at a time when visceral tuberculosis appears to be cured and has apparently subsided, at least as far as the local indications are concerned, which is during the largest part of the evolution of the psychosis. Should it come back, it can sometimes be seen that the psychosis, even in severe cases, is suddenly cured at a moment when a coxalgia is establishing itself, as he had observed during the course of his hospital practice. The localization in such cases forms a kind of fixation abscess. For during the psychosis, in spite of the negative character of pulmonary explorations or others, the tuberculosis is not eliminated but is acting as a diffused toxic factor or as a humoral factor as is shown by hyper-allergic reactions and positivity of certain other reactions as in the case of the Besredka blood test.
Baruk went on to say that these psychosomatic swingings are frequent in
tuberculosis; the pulmonary lesion, for example, heals rapidly while the psychic aspect develops, and the psychosis suddenly disappears at a time when a new physical localization is being constituted; this is also to be observed with asthma, urticaria and various dermatoses.
In 1810 Hahnemann was already insisting on the essential relationship between the physical and the psychic condition of the patient. In paragraph 210 of the Organon he writes:
” … there does not exist a single so-called somatic illness where we may n
discover constant modifications in the psychic condition of the patient … ”
And in paragraph 213: “It will never be possible to effect a cure in conformr
with nature-that is to say homceopathically-if, in every individual case
disease, even acute, we do not at the same time observe the changes which have taken place in the psychic or mental state of the patient.
“Furthermore, we shall no longer be able to cure if we fail to choose fro
among the medicines a pathogenetic force capable of provoking not only tl
symptoms similar to those of the disease, but even more, one that is similar
the mental state and character of the patient.”
For physical disorders resulting from psychic shocks Homoeopathy possesses remarkable therapeutic. I shall cite the remedies indicated by Kent, Hering, Knerr and Santee in cases of paralysis of the extremities following mental emotion:
Chorea after emotional excitement:
agar., Ign., Laur., Op., Phos.
from fright: acon., agar., Calc., CA UST., cupr., Gele., Lqn., Kali-br., Laur., Nai-n Op., phos., Stram., Zinc.
after grief: Oaust., Cupr., mygal., Tarent.
The important chapter of spasmophilic diathesis with epilepsy and convulsior
First these alternating with rage and mental excitement:
Convulsions after anger: bufo, CHAM., cina, Kali-br., lyss., NUX-V., Op., plat., sulph.
Convulsions from contradiction: Aster.
Convulsions from excitement, nervousness: acon., Agar., Arg-n., Aster., Bell., Cham., cic., cimic., Coff., Cupr., Gel
HYOSC., Ign., kali-br., nux-v., o r, plat., Puls., sec., tarent.
Convulsions from fright: Aeon., Agar., apis, Arg-n., Art-v., bell., Bufo, CALC., Caust., cic., Cup gels., HYOSC., IGN., INDG., Kali-br., laur., lyss., nat-m.t(op., Pla Sec., Stram., sulph., tarent., verat., Zinc.
Convulsions after grief: ars., art-v., Hyosc., ign., indg., nat-m., Op.
Convulsions after indignation: Staph.
Convulsions from disappointed love: hyosc.
Convulsions after mortification: Calc.
Convulsions after punishment: Cham., cina, Cupr., IGN.
Convulsions, unjustly accused, after being: Staph.
Convulsions from vexation: ars., bell., Calc., camph., CUPR., Ign., Ip., nux-v., Staph., sulph.
Enuresis from excitement: Gels.
Enuresis during attack of mania: Cupr.
The emotional diarrhoea:
after anger: acon., Aloe, ars., bar-c., bry., Calc-p., Cham., COLOC., ip., Nux-v., Staph.
after anticipation: Arg–n., Gels., Ph-ac.
after anxiety: Ars., camph., sil., tab.
from bad news: GELS.
after chagrin: aloe, bry., cham., coloc., Staph.
from domestic cares: Coff.
Diarrhcea from excitement:
acon., aloe, ARG-N., arn., bry., calc-p., cham., cina, coloc., GELS., hyosc.,
kali-p., lyc., op., petr., Ph-ac., Staph., Thuya.
acon., Arg–n., GELS., ign., Kali-p., Op., phos., ph-ac., Puls., verat.
after grief: calc-p., Coloe., Gels., Ign., merc., op., Ph-ac,
after sudden joy: Coff., OP.
from vexation: aloe: Calc–p., cham., Coloe., Petr., Staph., sulph.
Chalazion after indignation: Staph.
after a fit of anger: CHAM., staph.
from emotion, excitement: acon., bell, bry., Calc., Cham., cocc., croc., hyosc., nat-m., phos., plat., puIs., sep., Sil., stram., sulph.
after vexation: Ip., kali-c.
from anger: cham., Coloe.
from chagrin: acon., Chin., COLoe., puIs., Staph.
from emotion: Cimie.
from fright: Aeon., bry., calc., coff., gels., Kali–c., Lye., nux-v., Op.
from grief: IGN.
from disappointed love: hell., ign., nat-m., ph-ac.
from grief: Ph–ac,
after anger: acon., calc.
after fright: Aeon., crot-h., Op.
after vexation: calc., ign., nux-v.
We now have all kinds of cephalalgias from anger, contradiction, after emotion and excitement, after fright, from grief, after mortification, after vexation, that you will find without difficulty in Kent’s Repertory.
after anger: staph.
from fright: Aeon., Gels., Op.
Nausea: after anxiety: caust., Chel., nux-v.
after excitement: KALI – c.
after mortifications: Puls.
after vexations: cham., ign., ip., Kali–c., nat-rn., phos.
Eructations from excitement: Arg-n.
after anger: CHAM., COLOC., NUX-V., Valero
after excitement: ferr., kali-br., kali-c.
from mental exertion: ferr., nat-rn., tab.
after vexation: acon., Cham., ign., Ip., lyc., nat-s., Verat.
after emotion: Ign.
Now here is a typical psychosomatic case which illustrates the value of
Having witnessed a complete failure of the so-called official modern medicine, my brother, who is a Professor of Organ and Piano at the Geneva Conservatory, asked me if Homoeopathy could provide a cure for tinnitus. I answered that this would depend entirely on the case “It is for our good concierge,” he told me. “He is held in high regard at the conservatory, knows the peculiarities of professors and students alike and we all consider him as completely irreplaceable.”
It seems that this good-hearted and corpulent man had a very close friend
with whom he had played cards every evening regularly for many, many years. In the morning, before starting work, they would go fishing together and this also gave them the opportunity to have a good gossip.
One Sunday evening, after a game of cards they decided that the next morning they would go for a walk together along the lake and set their time of meeting for 7.30 a.m., the arrangement being that the concierge would be called for by his friend. At the appointed time the concierge was ready and waiting but nobody appeared. He waited ten, twenty and thirty minutes, becoming increasingly annoyed and impatient as he did so. At last, with still no sign of his friend, he angrily picked up the telephone, and dialed the number while making ready to give the tardy one a piece of his mind. Upon hearing a “hallo” from the other end, he immediately entered into a furious tirade of rebuke at this friend’s failure either to appear or to telephone him, without for a moment waiting to hear what was being said at the other end. As he paused for breath he heard a voice coming over the wire, but instead of it being that of his friend, it was the friend’s wife who was speaking. Then he heard her saying that it was of no use being angry for her husband would never come again-he had died during the night.
This news so shocked our concierge that he let the telephone fall from his
hands as he sank down in a state of great emotion. A few moments later he
became aware of a continuous and most exasperating buzzing in his left ear
which was to go on, day and night, without respite.
Of course he consulted his physician and then, when the buzzing continued,
other physicians, then specialists; as he did so he enjoyed the whole gamut of medical treatment known to the modern ear specialist. For a period of six
months he was exposed in turn t~ treatment by vibration, drum-massage,
electrical short and long waves, ultrasonic treatment and medicaments in
powder, liquid and spray form with the end result that he was, in fact, worse than before. Now he suffered not only from tinnitus but also/from various other symptoms from intoxication following the drugging which he had had to endure from a dozen specialists. These left him a sick and bad-tempered man in revolt against medicine and the entire world in contrast to the former big-hearted and good-natured fellow who wouldn’t kill a fly. He now developed an impossible temper and was so disagreeable that his wife came to dread the sight of him and he was, in fact, well on the way to becoming a neurotic.
It is “lost” cases such as this which ordinary medicine is unable to cure and
which fill the offices of the homceopathic practitioner.
This instance was really not a gift but just another of those psychosomatic
cases where Homoeopathy wins fame with one more glorious cure. Homoeopathy is armed for all the ailments which follow fright, bad news, indignation, mortification, vexation and moral shocks because its therapy is based on a fixed law- the law of similars. This essential principle, beside the individualization, is a therapy called toximimetic because the physician has to find the key for the lock. By this I mean a remedy which has been proved, not on plants or on animals, which cannot tell what they feel, but on healthy human beings and, what is more remarkable, not on sick patients but on physicians who have offered themselves for the proving of drugs of the three kingdoms (vegetable, mineral and animal) in various potencies, in order to discover the reaction of the living, healthy, human body. It is these physicians who are the disciples of the founder of Homoeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, and it is they who have found that certain remedies produce anxiety, anger or fright or make people sick when they hear bad news.
Well, after more than six months of costly, disagreeable and disillusioning
treatment, the patient continued to have this buzzing with him by day and by
night. It left him partly incapacitated so that he had to take the telephone
receiver awkwardly in his left hand while holding it to his right ear and at the
same time writing down the messages he received with the right hand.
As you all would have done in similar circumstances, I gave him a single dose on the tongue of the delightful, small and sweet-smelling little plant from the Loganiaeese order- Bignonia sempervirens-which, for the scientifically curious, is also called Anonymos or Lisianthus sempervirens, or, if you prefer, Tecoma, in the ten thousandth dynamization of Korsakoff. This was in accordance with the etiologic indication of the Kent’s Repertory, under the rubric: “ailments from bad news”. The chronic buzzing disappeared at once, never to return. As of course you all know, this is none other than the Gelsemium, our lovely yellow jasmine, which is just one of the many lovely flowers already adorning the glorious homoeopathic crown.
Author: DR PIERRE SCHMIDT, F.I.H.L.
A paper read at the Triennial Congress of the International Homoeopathic League, London, July 1965
Source: The British Homoeopathic Journal, January 1966.
Medical dictionaries are far from explicit in their definition of psychosomatic