Emotional conflict is a major cause of disease. Everyone suffers in some degree from such conflict. The more an individual lives in his emotions, the more strife will he encounter both from without and from within. Conflict produces tension, stress, strain of both body and mind. If intense and long continued, physiologic equilibrium cannot be maintained and dysfunction will begin in the weaker structures of the organism. If uncorrected, organic disease will ultimately result.
It is impossible to live without conflict. Even a passive, vegetative existence implies effort, for life cannot manifest without struggle. However, it is not so much the resistance from without that is detrimental, it is the turmoil within.
Inner conflict signifies the presence of antagonistic drives, motives and desires. There may be one or many such battles raging more or less simultaneously. Like subterranean fires they smoulder within the depths of the mind, sometimes erupting in violence when the internal pressures become extreme. Indecision, vacillation and a divided mind have a depleting and disintegrating effect upon the constitution, whereas earnestness of purpose and concentration of effort are constructive and health building.
Many people are torn between what they want to do and what duty or necessity compels. Some, finding it impossible to travel in contrary directions at the same time, throw scruples to the wind and neglect duty in the pursuit of pleasures which in the end elude them.
Much stress and conflict may be avoided by cultivating the reflective faculty, thinking first and then acting. Many act first and think afterward, if at all.
It is often impossible to prevent the occurrence of an event within one’s circle of environment, but what may be controlled is one’s reaction to the event once it has occurred. However, the reaction of an individual may be determined by patterns so firmly established as to amount almost to compulsion, habit having made the mind its prisoner.
The homoeopathic Materia Medica and the Repertories placed great emphasis upon mental and emotional states and their correlation with bodily function and disease many decades before the word psychosomatic began to be quarried out of the dictionary on a mass production basis.
In taking case histories it is important to discover anything of possible significance that may have happened prior to the onset of the first symptoms. Inquire regarding any emotional shock or upheaval that may have turned the constitution in a wrong direction. When a patient says, “I have never been well since–“, his entire case may be wrapped up in what immediately follows, be it mental or physical. Of course the patient may be
wrong in his opinion as to what originally caused his trouble. That is a matter for the physician to determine. If an event important to the patient and directly affecting him occurred prior to, and especially just before, the appearance of the first symptoms it may easily have been the initial cause of the ensuing disorder; if after, it has only added insult to injury and should be listed as contributory.
Since most people live in their emotions, this aspect of the case is important not only from the standpoint of etiology but for therapeutic purposes as well. Effort should be made to cover all the mental and emotional symptoms. This may require information which some member of the family can supply in addition to that given by the patient.
Much depends upon the type of emotional complex present. The following are of frequent pathologic significance:
Anxiety. This in varying degree affects practically every- one, even the person who “never worries about a thing.” Fright is often the cause of both acute and chronic illness and is included under this heading as it is anxiety or fear experienced in its most extreme form. Fright produces a shock reaction and may even disturb the function of the endocrine glands.
There are over forty remedies in the Materia Medica which are frequently indicated in patients who have never been well since a severe fright. There are many more which are occasionally indicated. Aconite, Arsenicum, Lycopodium, Opium, Phosphorus and Phosphoric acid are especially related to complaints resulting from fright.
Thuja is seldom required following the shock of a severe fright, yet it proved to be the remedy in the case of a girl whose menses were suppressed for two years following a very narrow escape from a sex maniac. With the suppression of the menstrual function a growth of coarse hair appeared on the face. The periods returned in a little over two months after the remedy and gradually the coarse hair was replaced by that of a finer texture. Improvement in health and mental attitude began within a few days following the prescription.