Emotions, according to philosophical tenets, signify the purpose of providing information. The material could be extreme, uncommon or devastating, yet it is always provided, whether one likes it or not. From the standpoint of medicine, emotions hold the key to the mind, neuroses, fixations, depression, anxiety states, eating disorders, addictions, and drug abuse. They are also in terms of psychology and psychiatry “normal.” They are simply what they are — with no price-tag attached to them too. Yet, it’d suffice to relate to emotions as normal and dysfunctional.

What is emotional dysfunction? It is something that has gone askew. Stress is a prime example of such dysfunction — it is also the mental traffic signal between us and the environment. It is obvious that individuals who are in a tizzy break the traffic signal — because, they are more  predisposed to stress responses than others who make haste “slowly,” while following the rules, although most stressful underpinnings are triggered by specific types of environmental stress dynamics.

When we are stressed by something, we relentlessly try to change either the circumstance, or our understanding of them. This provides us with our much-sought-after, self-defined comfort zone. This is called coping in psychological parlance. Coping can be problem-focused, or emotion-focused. To cull a common paradigm: we could be stressed by a situation in a relationship, primarily because of lack of communication in our much-hyped communicative world. This is like being up against our emotional firewall; yet, there is something inside us that tells us that all is not lost and that we could, perhaps, resolve things through a tête-à-tête at the coffee shop. You’d call it problem-focused coping. On the other hand, there may be something that is unfathomable, or unsolvable, because one of the parties involved is dreadful to talk to, whatever the tenacity of the opposite individual’s endeavour to bring about rapprochement. This has got nothing to do with one’s ego — it is all the outcome of a tilted view of accumulated, warped clout. Is there a way out? There is, when two individuals bring both problem-focused and emotion-focused coping to the table. The reason is simple — it takes two to tango.

Emotion is apparently the indispensable “philosophical” element of just about any medical condition — right from allergies, indigestion, joint pain and other ailments to psychosomatic disorders. Remember the good old adage — it is all in the mind? Yes, most causative mechanisms of illness are mind-related and emotion-centric — albeit the percentage of its role is difficult to determine with computerised accuracy. The accepted view is illness has a contributory emotional component. Long-term stress, for instance, has a toxic effect on the immune system, leaving us more susceptible to infection.

This brings us to the buzzing world of psychosomatics that taps the key connections that exist between our emotions and physical illness. Or, the affiliation between emotion and pain and its resultant effect — fear. Psychosomatics gives us prompts on what makes pain the causal upshot in terms of health and illness. Or, its relationship to ominous events, such as heart attack and cancer — where pain is, perforce, a late symptom. So, what is the big deal, you may well ask. Psychosomatics corresponds to a versatile, super-subtle, vigilant inner “sensor” that scans everything that happens inside our body and knows how to grasp them — and, best of all, find a way out of the perilous turmoil. The equation holds good for non-life-threatening issues too, such as getting over insults, angst, relieving guilt, among other things. 

The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author

Rajgopal Nidamboor