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Allergies: Programming the Autoimmune Response

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by BruceMC, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I just had an experience I'd rather not have had but wanted to share here because of its implications about the role of conditioning in TMS and other mind-body disorders. Feel free to comment and see if this makes sense.

    A few days ago I was bitten by a deer tick while sitting at my computer. I pulled his legs out but missed the head and the body. The next day I looked at my side and saw a hole and a large patch of discolored skin which I knew meant that I better get down to ER and have a doc take it out before the infection spread. To make a long story short, I rushed down to ER and got it plucked out under local anesthesia. No infection but the dead tick had been inside my body for over 24-hours and when I got back home, the whole area began to itch (which is normal). I took antihistamines per instructions, laid on my back and itched for two or three more days until the bite healed. Also itched around my waistband and socks. Absolutely maddening to obsess about.

    But the story unfortunately didn't end there. When I went out for a hike one evening a couple of days later my nose, ears and throat started burning and tickling. The next day after I took a bike ride through a grassy area when I got back I noticed that I had started wheezing. Later that same evening after working out in the gym the wheezing and dripping in my throat had increased dramatically. The next day it was still getting worse so I visited Urgent Care at a local public hospital where they gave me antibiotics and steroids. A little improvement, but still real serious, so today I went down to an allergy clinic at the same hospital and did inhalation therapy and I'm glad to say am now much improved.

    Now I used to have very bad allergies, but they virtually disappeared back in 2006 or so. Why would I suddenly become sensitive to grass and trees again so suddenly I asked myself? The one answer I could come up with was that my body interpreted the tick in my side as a foreign body and my autoimmune system went hyperactive, the same process that causes allergies in the first place. Now my body started over-reacting to substances like pollen and other airborne inhalants. The tick had triggered my autoimmune response and my whole system was going crazy misinterpreting pollen in the air as a foreign invader very much like the tick body. Psychologically speaking, it made me wonder whether the higher rates of asthma among ghetto kids occurs because they are raised in frightening threatening family and social environments that their bodies are attempting to defend themselves again by activating the autoimmune response? Sort of like the two trauma process in PTSD too. I realize that TMS is conditioned and controlled by switches and black boxes in the neural pathways connecting the autonomic nervous system and that the biochemistry involved must be different than allergies and asthma but some of the same principles of conditioning the leads to the development of TMS must be very similar. I think Dr Sarno speculates about this too in Healing Back Pain.

    Of course, it's impossible to speculate about what ifs, but it seemed to me that if I'd waited a few days after the tick bite healed before going outdoors to exercise I might not have had such a violent allergic reaction because the autoimmune system would have gone out of hyperactive mode. When I speculated about my theory about the origins of my allergic reaction in the tick bite, of course the allergist at the hospital wouldn't confirm it, but did say it "might be true". Makes you realize how lethal a bullet or a shell fragment could become if you left it untreated in a wound, doesn't it? Not just infection, but your whole autoimmune system going crazy trying to evict a foreign invader that could lead to a bunch of other nasty complications over time.
  2. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I hope you are feeling better, Bruce.
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you yb44. Feeling better, but still have that lingering feeling left over from the allergic reaction. IOWs: My autoimmune system is still active, but my symptoms are greatly reduced. Modern scientific medicine can treat symptoms. The worst thing is the sick feeling from the steroids they have you take a run of afterwards. Another interesting body-mind issue relating to this episode also occurred to me: I just realized that my reaction to the tick bite started on the anniversary of my tyrannical late father's death in March 1997. On this same date last year, I caught a upper respiratory virus at the same time I was having a bunch of strange dad-dreams. Again, out of the blue. There just has to be some kind of strange psychic clock running in the unconscious linked to the operation of the autoimmune and the autonomic systems, don't you think? Well, we TMSers are all aware of that. And I have been doing a bunch of Howard Schubiner's ISTDP exercises lately and going deep meditating almost every day for long periods. You have to wonder whether I've been bumping into some powerful unprocessed emotional material repressed in my unconscious mind? Sometimes you got to lightening up, right?

    Another thing also occurred to me: I started developing allergies and asthma back when I was 6 years old at the same time my mother and father tried to split up and my mother ran away with me to Seattle. Those are some real primal feelings of abandonment I experienced at the same time my separate ego and personality were developing. You could write a triple decker on that theme! The anniversary of my father's death could have triggered early unconscious memories of that original abandonment as a child which had made my autoimmune system liable to go into hyper mode in the first place.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Whew, Bruce - that's a wild ride, and I'm glad you're doing better. You're undoubtedly on to something... but does it really have to whack you so hard upside the head??? Sheesh.

    Take care of yourself (I know you are).

  5. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sure will Jan! I think my mistake was the 'toughing it out' phenomenon of not getting the tick head extracted for over 24-hours. That's a good long time to let the autoimmune response get going good and proper. Let's here it for prompt medical treatment! Interesting to see again how correct Gabor Mate is about how early childhood conditioning during brain development affects the programmed responses of the autonomic nervous system and the autoimmune system later in life. That's where Dr Mate and Dr Sarno both seem to be operating in the same mind-body arena.
  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I just realized that this is not the first time I have had strange symptoms out-of-the-blue around the time of the "anniversary" of my father's death while residing in his house. Last year around March 9th, I suddenly developed a throat infection at the same time I was having a bunch of wild "dad dreams". While doing some of Howard Schubiner's meditation exercises today I realized just how enraged my inner child is at some of the things I witnessed my late father doing to my mother while I was quite young. Strangling her. Putting a knife to her throat. Threatening to kill her and driving her out of the house into the night. It could be that each spring about this time my not-so-repressed rage at my father starts to rise up out of the black depths of my unconscious and demand TMS and/or allergic symptoms. It's the ambivalence of my feelings for him that makes the situation in his house so problematic too: going on fishing trips to the mountains together and visiting museums, art galleries and railroad yards when I was quite young. I bet I could write a book! How in the world do you make peace with someone that you consciously and unconsciously hate and love at the same time? Not easily!

    I realize too that I took on the role of protecting her from him, so I was at the receiving end of many of the same threats and acts of violence that my mother endured: being strangled in the garage for the "crime" of going surfing, being chased out of the house with a gun etc etc etc. March madness sure is a psychologically loaded time of the year for me.
  7. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    I'm glad you can make these connections.

    And you can indeed make peace with it through some therapeutic writing. :) Writing for yourself about your feelings about those trips, etc. and all your feelings for him. I would be writing about those feelings. You could also be writing feelings letters to him. I think if you are able to come up with all of this detail, this needs to be processed out of you. Even maybe feelings letters to your mother about how you felt with what you witnessed. You mention a bunch of things I'd be writing about.

    Do you think fear about seeing the tick on you triggered a whole bunch of responses too?

    My own experience with allergies is the rare times I do get them I can now connect it to something going on--usually something I don't like.

    Best wishes for healing!
  8. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks a lot, Lori. I realize now I've never dealt with the knife episode or the strangling. But of course alcoholic rage-olic belittling dad was always having temper tantrums of one kind or another, with varying degrees of threat. I will try meditating on some of those using Howard Schubiner's "Stressors" mp3, but, as you suggest, journaling, letters and/or spider writing also seem appropriate ways of processing what must be a lot of fear and anger and feelings of hopelessness from being a helpless witness to such events. I believe that "bringing up papa" was a full-time occupation for the entire family group, everyone from me, to grandpa, to my cousin, to my aunt, my uncle and of course my mother. You can certainly see how Stalin's family and children eventually all abandoned him or went into exile abroad. Those 'Men of Power' always seem to have some pretty ugly skeletons in their psychological closets.
  9. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Hi Bruce, I have always had the allergy problem you describe, but I still do not know exactly what sets it off. One thing that will always set it off is expecting it to happen in certain situations. I have a lot of the same type of childhood issues that you describe.
  10. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    chickenbone, I notice that so many war babies have an alchoholic, rage-oholic, belittling dad that the problem must be characteristic of a particular historical epoch. But covering an inferiority complex with swagger and bravado is not so hard to understand. But I haven't had allergies for a long, long time. But every year around the time of dad's demise I do get something: colds, allergies, bronchitis. At least, working on TMS has made me aware of this seasonal problem and its essentially psychological origins. In this particular case, it's interesting how body issues with the tick bite caused physiological reactions that led to allergies. Just shows how everything is interrelated.
  11. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Oh Bruce, you are so right about that. I knew so many of them.
  12. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    So true, Chickenb, I was just discussing this with a friend on my iPhone out in the game preserve the other day. We both have a mutual friend, DY, who had a father who brow beat him and told him he was stupid and likewise an all-forgiving supermom who protected DY from his raging alcoholic dad. My friend noticed that whenever he started telling DY how stupid he was, he would lapse in an early childhood emotional pattern of submissive whining. DY is now over 50, but it's interesting how he can be made to lapse into an early childhood defensive pattern if you push the old programmed buttons. Of course, it's easy to see these things in others, but it makes you wonder how many of our behavior patterns are really emotionally immature strategies carried over from our early childhood? Probably more than we'd care to admit, and more than we are ever consciously aware of. Makes you wonder too how much of our psychological behavior is shaped by psycho-historical forces spanning multiple generations? Seems like a lot of men during the 1930s and 1940s had their self-esteem destroyed by the Great Depression when the American myth of progress was shattered by economic events beyond their control. Makes you wonder too how much all the violence and aggression during WWII, whether German, Japanese, Russian, and indeed American (Iwo Jima etc), were the consequences of that damage to their self-esteem? I could go on and on and on of course with my speculations. But there are certain common features in the conflicted relations between WWII white daddies and their War Baby No. 1 sons.

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