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Isabelle Benarous : Organs of Emotions

The relationship between stress and health challenges

As human beings, we all experience a certain amount of stress in our daily lives, whether it's arriving on time, paying our bills, dealing with work, maintaining a relationship, raising children, or driving in traffic. Fortunately, we are able to cope and adapt to most of our usual, momentary, and expected fears. We find solutions as we go through life and create ways to meet our vital needs. Most of our stresses are chronic, but not acute enough to threaten our survival. By creating solutions relatively quickly, we are able to recover emotionally and, therefore, our bodies are allowed biological recuperation. In the capable "hands" of the parasympathetic nervous system, we are able to eat, rest, and sleep. Our body and mind regenerates, and we start another day.

Unfortunately, sometimes our level of stress can exceed the threshold of what we can humanly bear, such as the death of a loved one, a separation or divorce, the loss of a job and security, or a betrayal. When a traumatic event leads to unmanageable stress, a health disorder can get triggered. When we don't meet our emotional needs, our subconscious brain evaluates our situation as dangerous and will react to the environment from a primal perspective, thus soliciting the sympathetic nervous system - the "fight-or-flight response" that is built into our hardwiring.

While in a period of acute stress, we can't sleep well, we lose our appetite, lose weight, and feel cold. When our psyche cannot find a way out of the problem and instead dwells on it day and night in order to resolve it, the stress persists. This signals the brain that we are still in a state of danger. We can easily foresee the consequences of not sleeping or eating during acute stress. Having our attention span limited to looking for a solution to the conflict we are compulsively (and exhaustively) thinking about, we could be at risk from environmental dangers, such as cars or buses, which replace the archaic dangers we were exposed to throughout our evolution. Such high stress needs to be alleviated so our survival can be prolonged.

A momentary solution through cellular changes
The human brain can only trigger adaptive changes within our biology but not the environment itself. For instance, it cannot remove a "difficult boss" whose actions are perceived as indigestible by an employee. Nor can it bring back a child from death to a woman who is experiencing a profound loss related to her offspring.

Traumatic experiences and acute stress simultaneously engage three levels: the psyche, the brain, and the organ. When no solution is found by the mind to resolve unmanageable stress, the brain transfers the conflict from the psychological sphere into the biological domain where a solution can be expressed. The brain can only act on our biology by changing the functioning of the cells in our body to increase or decrease the function of an organ.

The bio-response
It is often when stress reaches a peak level, that a new "program" is expressed biologically, one that perfectly matches the content of our "felt experience." The new program in this context is a health disorder. Illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, stomach ulcers, skin disorders, and a myriad of other ailments can metaphorically represent a solution to one's emotional conflict. For each of us, our unique perception of an experience will awaken our primary visceral maps, which connect our internal sensations with their corresponding organs. We might consider an experience to be "disgusting" (which corresponds to the colon), "suffocating" (lung), "staining" (skin dimension), "stinking" (sinuses), "indigestible" (stomach), and so on. In essence, each organ of the body has a function and is connected to a specific group of neurons in the brain. These neurons monitor the cells within that particular organ.

What is illness after all?
I can say unequivocally that illness is not what most of us have been conditioned to believe. Contrary to popular belief, illness is a survival mechanism that prevents the body from expiring quickly from unmanageable stress. Each illness has a specific biological meaning, which corresponds to the nature of the stress experienced by the individual. A health disorder can be understood as a biological emergency measure that increases or decreases the function of an organ (in correspondence to the metaphor we create in our mind about an unresolved issue). Once the emotional conflict is resolved within the psyche, the health disorder is no longer needed to express the distress of the mind, therefore biological balance can be re-established.

An emotional conflict is often rooted in a misinterpretation about others or what we believe the circumstances around us mean. As you uncover the nature of the emotional conflict related to the health disorder that may be affecting you, you can unleash your power in restoring a state of health by changing your beliefs and perceptions. True healing takes place as we embrace self-responsibility, flexibility, and awareness.

By Isabelle Benarous.
Visit Isabelle.

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