Magazine article USA TODAY

Is It Really All in Your Head?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Is It Really All in Your Head?

Article excerpt

The hypochondriac's unending litany of aches and pains often can be a pain in the neck for others. While many dismiss such illnesses as being "all in the head," in reality all illness contains a psychological element, according to Roger Thies, professor of physiology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. "The separation of mind and body is strictly a Western medical phenomenon, and it is a phenomenon which is becoming outdated. Often, the cause of illness is a blend of psychological and physical elements, and even imagined symptoms are very real to the sufferer."

The mind-body connection is particularly well-documented in asthma, allergy, ulcers, and digestive tract disorders. More recently, Western doctors have been learning of the connection between emotional stress and infectious diseases. The latest evidence shows a strong link between a person's emotional state and ability to ward off disease.

"Things are changing, but Western culture traditionally has not encouraged individuals to express feelings and emotions. Many people - men in particular - do not recognize the psychological strains they place on their bodies when they repress anger, sadness, or other strong emotions. …

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