The Role of The Mind In Autoimmune Diseases

July 7, 2016

Autoimmune diseases remain to be a mystery to science. So far their symptoms and their development are known, but what produces them is still uncertain and most of them can be treated but not cured. There are hypotheses about it, but none of them are fully proven. What we do know is that the mind plays an important role in these pathologies.

There are autoimmune diseases that are relatively known such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Others are a bit less common, such as lupus erythematosus, autoimmune thyroiditis or Guillaime-Barré syndrome, among others.

“There is nothing in the mind that was not first in the senses.”

-Aristotle-

What is puzzling is that autoimmune diseases are the result of an attack by the body on itself. The body behaves as if its own antigens were invading viruses and attacks them. In other words, its recognition system fails to recognize itself and differentiate between itself and foreign objects. This occurs in people who are perfectly healthy and medicine still does not know why.

Autoimmune diseases and psychosomatic mechanisms

female head with butterflies

Science says that autoimmune diseases are the result of multiple factors in which genetics plays an important role. However, so far there is no hard evidence that this is true. Instead, it has been proven that the mind plays a decisive role in such diseases.

Currently, autoimmune diseases are addressed by most professionals as psychosomatic illnesses. This means that they are illnesses that have their origin in the mind and take shape through the body.

Some argue that they result from essential inability to verbalize emotions. Others believe they are a defensive response to emotional disintegration. Other theories categorize them as “body delirium,” which stems from depression, or as a response to an insoluble conflict.

There are realities that exist in the minds of people and find a way of expression through the disease in the body.

Affection in autoimmune diseases

woman's profile

Autoimmune disease launch a self-destruct mechanism. It is the body itself that fails to recognize the antigens that belong to it and begins to self-attack. It is as if what it is carrying inside is threatening or dangerous.

The mind is so important in these processes. A new discipline has even emerged to address these illnesses, which is known as psychoneuroimmunology. So, the fact is that autoimmune diseases are often not only chronic, but are also disabling and can lead to the death of a person.

Studies suggest that people with these diseases usually have high levels of depression, but this is not always obvious. In other words, it can even happen to those who may seem cheerful and full of life, but deep down it carries great dissatisfaction that generally the person himself doesn’t even recognize.

Another common trait is an inability to recognize emotions. Either by excessive intellectualizing or rationalizing situations or because it is people who want to have everything under control and experience the emotions as threats to their autonomy.

Towards a resolution…

Autoimmune diseases are insidious and significantly damage one’s quality of life. They are usually painful, difficult to assimilate to and offer little hope. The worst is that those who suffer go to the doctor for answers which are usually only silent and palliative and are not always effective for their suffering.

Western medicine traditionally follows the belief that the mind and body are detached realities and sometimes even contradictory. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that health and well-being are integral concepts, in which the physical plane is as important as the mental plane.

face of a woman with birds in the middle

The way out for a person with an autoimmune disease is not always found in a pill, a vitamin or some miraculous doctor that will restore their health. Not that they shouldn’t resort to these solutions, but there must be an intervention by a mental health professional in their base treatment.

All diseases have an emotional and mental component involved, but in autoimmune diseases this factor is absolutely critical. Resistance to treating your illness as an issue of the psyche is surely the fundamental reason why they cannot find relief for their physical suffering.

A resistance that arises from the misconception that those who suffer from an illness with a mental base is because it is not strong enough and is supported by a an even more mistaken idea: this pain is invented by the patient.