Psychosomatic allergies are a common reason for a person to suffer hypersensitivity to an environmental irritant. Allergies occur when a particular substance causes the body to suffer a physical reaction involving a systemic inflammatory process. Allergies can be linked to a variety of causes, but some of the most common are animal products, pollen, perfume, animal dander, insect bites, molds, foods and latex. Medical practitioners have speculated upon the underlying source of allergies for generations. Mindbody professionals have come up with one possible answer which makes a tremendous amount of sense.
This essay provides a unique perspective on the mindbody nature of allergic processes.
Science has theorized about the actual physical cause for allergic reactions for many years. There have been a variety of theories including:
Parasitic, viral or bacterial involvement
Environmental conditions and exposures
Hygiene related sensitivities
Chemical or toxicity induced symptoms
Just like many physical conditions that involve a mind and body interaction, there have been no definite conclusions reached and therefore, medical science has not been able to effectively deal with many allergic conditions.
Allergic processes definitely involve a physical sensitivity to a particular substance, but that sensitivity can be caused by a purely psychological process.
The subconscious can use an allergic reaction in the same manner it uses psychosomatic back pain or any of the other psychologically induced pain syndromes. The purpose of these symptoms is to occupy and distract the consciousness, to prevent it from discovering or dwelling upon repressed sensitive emotional issues. The subconscious mind perceives these issues to be a threat to the consciousness and self image of the individual and will do whatever it takes to conceal them.
Physical pain and related symptoms are extremely effective ways to make sure the conscious mind stays focused on the physical body, which gives it no time or resources to probe into the depths of the hidden subconscious.
The mind works to create an allergic condition through 2 highly potent measures. The first is its power over the autonomic system. The subconscious mind can create sensitivity to any substance it chooses. It can also more commonly, increase the systemic response to a pre-existing sensitivity, to heighten its effects on the body. The mind actually causes the body to react to the allergen as if it was a foreign invader, when it is really completely or relatively harmless.
The second process used by the subconscious mind to create allergies is the power of suggestion. If the patient experiences an allergic reaction that can be linked to a specific causation, then it is common for that patient to expect a similar reaction every time they are exposed to that particular irritant. This can be a self-induced suggestion or can be the result of a suggestion from a medical professional.
Either way, the nocebo effect of the perceived connection between the symptoms and the irritant can be powerful.
Like all psychosomatic conditions, there is a fine line when it comes to what is physical and what is psychological. I am not an extremist, so I do not endorse one side as the complete answer to all questions. There are certainly individual factors when it comes to allergies and their respective causes. This being said, it is important to realize that the mind plays a strong role in the processes of disease and health.
Research shows many inconsistencies in a purely anatomical model of allergic interaction. For example, allergic reactions have been falsely induced in people by exposing them to a previously proven non-irritant, but telling them that the substance was a known allergen, even though it was not.
Reactions have also been avoided in patients under hypnotic suggestion, even when they normally demonstrate an extreme sensitivity to the exposed substance. This makes it clear that in the majority of cases, allergic response is a combination of physical and psychosomatic factors that are responsible for symptoms. The key to overcoming allergies for some patients may be a combined mindbody medicine approach utilizing the best of both worlds.