Book by Gabor Maté, 2003
“When the body says no (2003) deals with the hidden connections between mental stress and physical illness. Modern Western medicine tries to reassure us that our mind and body are completely separate – but mental stress such as stress often expresses itself as physical ailments that endanger our health. These blinks not only explain why this is so, but also how we can effectively implement these new health insights.” Blinkist, Amazon (de), Amazon (en), Goodreads (de), Goodreads (en)
- Understand why stress makes you sick.
- Deeply connected: body and soul
- How our body reacts to stress
- When the body attacks itself
- Learned helplessness, acquired illness
- Stress hits the stomach
- Illness – a question of character?
- The parent-child bond determines our life
- The positive power of negative thinking
“Health is a delicate balancing act that takes place on both a physical and psychological level. Psychological stress easily unbalances our body. Chronic stress damages our immune and nervous systems and in the worst case leads to the outbreak or worsening of diseases such as MS, cancer and ALS.
So what can we do to keep our minds and bodies healthy? We can deal with our unhealthy coping mechanisms, destructive personality traits, and repressed emotions. This allows us to reduce stress, reduce psychological distress and thus also promote our physical health.“
Goodreads: selected quotes.
The research literature has identified three factors that universally lead to stress: uncertainty, the lack of information and the loss of control.
The salient stressors in the lives of most human beings today — at least in the industrialized world — are emotional. Just like laboratory animals unable to escape, people find themselves trapped in lifestyles and emotional patterns inimical to their health. The higher the level of economic development, it seems, the more anaesthetized we have become to our emotional realities. We no longer sense what is happening in our bodies and cannot therefore act in self-preserving ways. The physiology of stress eats away at our bodies not because it has outlived its usefulness but because we may no longer have the competence to recognize its signals.
Physiological stress, then, is the link between personality traits and disease.
Certain traits — otherwise known as coping styles — magnify the risk for illness by increasing the likelihood of chronic stress. Common to them all is a diminished capacity for emotional communication.
Emotional experiences are translated into potentially damaging biological events when human beings are prevented from learning how to express their feelings effectively. That learning occurs — or fails to occur — during childhood. The way people grow up shapes their relationship with their own bodies and psyches.
The emotional contexts of childhood interact with inborn temperament to give rise to personality traits.
Much of what we call personality is not a fixed set of traits, only coping mechanisms a person acquired in childhood.
Emotional competence requires:
– the capacity to feel our emotions, so that we are aware when we are experiencing stress;
– the ability to express our emotions effectively and thereby to assert our needs and to maintain the integrity of our emotional boundaries;
– the facility to distinguish between psychological reactions that are pertinent to the present situation and those that represent residue from the past. What we want and demand from the world needs to conform to our present needs, not to unconscious, unsatisfied needs from childhood. If distinctions between past and present blur, we will perceive loss or the threat of loss where none exists; and
– the awareness of those genuine needs that do require satisfaction, rather than their repression for the sake of gaining the acceptance or approval of others.
Stress occurs in the absence of these criteria, and it leads to the disruption of homeostasis. Chronic disruption results in ill health.
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