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Mind and body

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Here’s an interesting one: emotional pain can really hurt. ‘Really’ meaning, in this headline, ‘physically’. (I won’t debate now the difficult question of whether emotional is less real than physical.)

The article cites a man whose grief manifested physically as, literally, heartache. I have no trouble believing in the possibility of this, as i’ve been there. I don’t know if the suddenness of the bereavement makes it more likely.

I was aware of my pre-bereavement self still hanging around with my pre-bereavement attitudes. I read about mothers feeling physical pain in their arms after the death of their babies, the arms themselves longing to cuddle the baby again. (For me i remember it was in my chest.) My pre-bereavement self thought this would be substitution – the emotion is unbearable, so to avoid consciously feeling the loss, one “re-routes” it into bodily pain. But my post-bereavement self was discovering that it isn’t that at all. It’s “overflow” – with too much pain for the emotions to handle, the body takes up the excess.

Interesting how this ties in with something my shiatsu practitioner, and presumably TCM in general, talk about: the locating of memories in parts of the body.

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