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Symptom Substution

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by RikR, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. RikR

    RikR Well known member

    I was reading on the concept of “symptom substitution” or how physical symptoms can arise as a Red Herring to distract from an unexamined life and the need for deep personal inquiry. This is not about old repressed emotions or childhood trauma but a current life out of harmony and not living from a “True Self”

    Simply some part of us is needing attention and we would rather not deal with it so our protective psyche sends the energy into the body as a distraction. A pain in the neck may be preferable to knowing you need to make life changes – both in tangible, real life things or thoughts, beliefs and attitudes.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Rik. I didn't see your post from last March until today, surfing through TMSWiki.org/forum, but want to reply that I agree that some of our pain may not come from repressed emotions of the past, they may have to do with present situations in our lives. I had to journal to learn that at least some of my back pain came from working for a boss who is a super-perfectionist and demands it in his employees. I have to laugh, though, because although he does work harder than anyone I know or ever knew, his work is far from perfect. He relies on me to proof-read what he writes (for a huge two-book volume on movies we are working on), and I find not only typos but grammar and content errors. I wish he'd pay me for how much good I do for him.

    Stresses today that can cause us pain may be worrying about being laid off in our job, dealing with an extra load of work from someone who has been laid off, actually being laid off ourselves, bills mounting up, losing our homes, etc.

    When journaling, we have to write about the current anxieties and stresses as well as those in our past. We may be repressing the current ones even deeper than the past ones.
  3. KathyBee

    KathyBee Peer Supporter

    Sometimes it is not old repressed emotion. Sometimes it is new repressed emotion. It could also be both.
    I am not sure what is the most applicable for me.
    There was a lot of bad stuff in my childhood. I come from a dysfunctional family and I was verbally bullied at school.
    In contrast my problems today are not as bad as what I went through in childhood.
    However, I have been through therapy for the stuff that happened during childhood. So maybe I do not need to hash over it again? Or maybe there were parts that did not come out in therapy?
  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Seems like current stressors, Kathy, resonate with old emotions repressed back in childhood, so that the two states built on each other incrementally. You'd have less symptoms from today's stressors if they didn't resonate and build on what you went through before in childhood. I think that's why soldiers from rock solid homes can endure combat longer, without having PTSD, than soldiers with a early troubled home life full of ACEs (adverse childhood experiences). Same goes with TMS: if you didn't have emotional conflicts in childhood and subsequent traumatic event would not cause pain symptoms to manifest, at least not as soon. Subtle stuff.

    And "symptom substitution" isn't exactly a Red Herring distracting you from examined or unconscious emotions. SS is when a current TMS symptom reduces but migrates to another area or kind of symptom. You journal, for example, and the pain in your lower lumbar area disappears, then, bango, you get pain in your knee or foot instead. Or you get migraine headaches, they disappear after you start meditating, but then you get IBS or some other physical symptom. The unconscious mind is very clever and never gives up using these kind of charades to keep the TMS show going until you really start treating yourself and your internal child better.

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