Psychosomatic disorder is an illness caused by the mind of the individual rather than by an immediate physiological happening. Although it is at times, difficult to understand and include all the areas that this illness can encompass, recent research has found that Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other gastrointestinal disorders are a direct consequence of Psychosomatic Disorder. Psychosomatic Disorder and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A general overview of Psychosomatic Disorder including the history, clinical overview of the disorder, and clinical overview of Irritable Bowel Syndrome help to better understand the dynamics of the disorders and how they correlate to one another. A History of Psychosomatic Disorder
In the medieval times, Persian Muslim psychologist and physicians Ahmend ibn Sahl al-Balkhi and Haly Abbas developed an understanding of illness that concentrated on the mind and body correlation to illness. At the beginning of the 20th century Franz Alexander actively engaged in studies based on the association between the mind and the body. Sigmund Freud and Georg Groddeck soon shadowed with a deepening interest and research of the treatment of physical illness using psychological processes. More recent work has found a basis and useful approach due to the work done by Thure von Uexkull and many of his German colleagues. His theoretical basis has aided in the advancement of the treatment and research of psychosomatic disorders and what causes them. Psychosomatic Disorder
The term Psychosomatic Disorder is generally used to mean … “a physical disease that is thought to be caused, or made worse, by mental factors”. This means that the disorder, having symptoms relating to a vast array of problems ranging from headaches, fatigue, psoriasis, eczema high blood pressure, heart disease, joint pain, stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, and many other issues not listed. According to the DSM-IV criteria, there is a history of physical complaints beginning before the age of 30 and normally lasting over a period of years, which eventually results in self-medication and treatment by a physician. There is a tendency for the individual to have a history of pain related to at least four different sites (including the head, abdomen, joints, and back). Further research shows a history of at least two gastrointestinal problems which often lead to further studies and possibly abdominal surgery that may later be found to be unnecessary.
Normally, the individual will have at least one reproductive or sexual symptom over the duration of the history of their disease. Upon exploration of one or more of these symptoms from one or more of four categories, these symptoms cannot be explained by a physical or medical condition or by the direct effects of a substance. The symptoms experienced are neither intentional nor artificially produced by the individual, like that which occurs in malingering. Furthermore, symptoms are not like those in an individual with hypochondria, who is typically preoccupied with the fear that a severe medical problem exists. Stress of the loss of employment, death of a loved one, the divorce or separation of a spousal relationship, fear of a situation that one is not prepared to accept such as being forced back into the military after a temporary separation, can all wreak-havoc on an individual’s mental state and force their body to react.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The body is a complicated machine that carries out some of the most complex and sophisticated activities; most of which many individuals will never understand. There are many physiological wonders which are the results of multifaceted muscular interaction, nervous impulses, and emotional reactions of the body. Numerous psychosomatic manifestations accompany a vast majority of emotional states in the normal human being. In Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the muscles which line the walls of the bowels go into spasm but there is no proven cause of why or what causes this to occur. Due to this anomaly, the disturbances of the stomach and bowels have been said to be a direct result of anxiety or stress of the body.
There is a great amount of difficulty in discerning and understanding why Irritable Bowel Syndrome occurs. Modern medicine has found no specific laboratory test that can conclude why this illness occurs. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can become less prevalent and in some cases even disappear for variant periods of time, and then suddenly recur, which creates an even greater difficulty in diagnosing IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome is usually a persistent, irritating, and an extremely uncomfortable disorder, but thankfully it is not fatal and symptoms can be lessened and even eradicated with treatment. Generally, stool softeners and laxatives are used but due to the difficulty in classifying and pin pointing this disorder much is left unanswered and many believe that this illness is directly correlated to Psychosomatic Disorder.
Although it is still very difficult to classify some disorders as physical or psychosomatic, great strides have been made and new research on how psychosomatic disorders and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other gastrointestinal disorders are connected surfaces each year.
Butcher, J., Minka, S., & Hooley, J. (2007). Abnormal psychology. Boston: Pearson. Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV-TR
“Psychosomatic Illness.” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 1968. Encyclopedia.com. (May 12, 2011). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3045001013.html