The cognitive, conative and affective mechanisms of our biology entail the triune tenets of growing consciousness. Functioning much like an accompanying assembly of cogs in a machine, they actively participate in producing an action or reaction for an individual’s being. Remember the concept of responsiveness to stimuli where we experimented with a touch-me-not plant to better comprehend it? Although it merely involved our visual and touch senses, it also exclusively portrayed our natural proclivity towards worldly stimuli. Besides inducing the various states of our mind and implementing our responses to everyday events, the aspects as mentioned above of intellect, action, and emotion lead to the manifestation of our well-being as bio-psycho-social beings.
We detect the outside world through the process of sensation, and then cautiously tend to that information with the aid of our brains- a progression known as perception. Information is gathered through the sensory facets of the Somatic Nervous System and then transmitted to the Central Nervous System. The CNS involves the brain and the spinal cord, and it processes information furthermore to send out pertinent signals in the form of nerve impulses, biochemicals and hormones to other parts of the body. This process starts from the sensory somatic nerves to the central nerves and then back from the primary nerves to the motor somatic nerves, consequently elicits a physical response and a psychological reaction. Thus, the human faculty of sentience, by virtue, predisposes the psyche and physiology to invariably intertwine—a symbiosis, better known to us as the ordinary mind-body or psycho-somatic relationship. Any discrepancy in this connection can affect the overall functioning of an individual. It may also lead to impairments of a neurological origin and psychosocial existence.
Most often a psycho-somatic disorder is caused due to mental distress and the people it afflicts subsequently begin to somatize. Somatization refers to the manifestation of physical symptoms in the presence of damaging psychological stress. These physical symptoms do not have underlying medical reasons of any kind and begin to surface after or before mentally distressing life events. For example, the failure to prepare for an important exam can cause perceived anxiety or distress. This may result in headaches or diarrhoea. It may even promote the experience of tearing up after an episode of sweating when nervous. The noteworthy premise of this debilitation is that once the exam or a testing time is well dealt with and as the mental strain passes away, the physical indication of the stressor begins to disappear as well. Therefore, somatization sometimes demands serious attention when it persists as it starts becoming severe overtime. This may result in causing great distress to the individual and often interfering with their social roles and relationships.
Diagnostically speaking, if symptoms continue for over six months and cause visible impairment at mental and physical levels. It is then labelled as a Somatic Symptom Disorder. Somatoform disorders are characterized by excessive worrying about one’s physical health and symptoms, fueled by a misconstrued belief of the source to their ailment. Although the symptoms may vary, the cause remains psychogenic in nature. Individuals fail to realize that what they cannot cope with at conscious levels, gets displaced in reality, and leads to the unconscious inception of their ‘medically manageable’ symptoms. Somatoform Disorders are disparate disorders that primarily exhibit physical symptoms with no medical causes and arise due to recent or repressed psychological reasons. Being further troubled by their inability to accept somatoform, there are specific stressors in their day to day life that facilitate fixation and anxiety.
As sentinels of our own sanity, how often do we pause to delve inwards into our own psyche? Do we ever really understand the concept of free will, choice, preconceived notions or life circumstances and what they might implicate, impede and inspire within us? It is a requisite of sheer distress to acknowledge that the psyche with a central cluster of physiological systems that allow us to sense and breathe. Self-reflection can often reform oneself every day, ridding us of our disintegrating worries by accepting them and evolving through the discomforting times as we have for centuries. Rene Descartes’, “Cogito, ergo sum,” which implies, “I think; therefore I am”. He didn’t just hint at the mind-body paradigm but gave us a realistic and positive approach to life.
To learn psycho-somatic disorders, here is a video that will help you understand more: