The Pain That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The following is nobody in particular, but it is a composite picture of patients I have had…

You have various health issues, none of them serious diseases in themselves but all of them distressing, and together they seriously affect your quality of life and happiness: muscle and joint pain which affects various areas of your body at different times… headaches… vertigo… digestive discomfort like bloating and alternating constipation and diarrhoea… if you are a woman (and most of you are: 75% at a rough estimate) “female” issues like premenstrual tension, period pains, cystitis, vaginal irritation… sleep disturbance… fatigue… “brain fog”…erratic changes in your energy levels…and others. You are not happy, you may even be depressed, which you attribute to your health issues. When I examine you I find that the pain you experience when I touch or move you seems disproportionate to any objective evidence of disorder. Sometimes I notice that you cry a little during treatment. You have self-diagnosed all kinds of things from information you have found on the Internet: could you have arthritis, fibromyalgia, a brain tumour, other kinds of cancer, food intolerances or sensitivities, leaky gut, diabetes, intestinal dysbiosis, vaginal candida infection, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis, and so on. No medical tests have produced evidence of any of these. You have been to alternative therapists and healers of all kinds. Each time, after feeling better for a week or two, your symptoms have regressed to the usual. But your unhappiness is not only related to your symptoms. You have had a traumatic childhood… maybe your mother or father or both were alcoholics or drug addicts, maybe you suffered physical, mental or sexual abuse, maybe you were taken into care… Or you have had a traumatic adulthood… an abusive or coercive spouse or partner… or a series of them. Or you have a deeply unhappy marriage but you are unable or unwilling or do not have the courage to escape. Or, or, or. You get the picture. Yet you do not see the connection, or prefer not to, between your deep-seated unhappiness and your physical symptoms. You push the former into a dark corner of your mind and look for all kinds of physical causes for them. This is easier. Easier than confronting the important underlying psychological factor. So you convince yourself that because your symptoms are “real”, they must have a physical cause which nobody in the medical or alternative therapy world has been clever enough to recognise. You dare not fully realise the potency of deep-seated emotional happiness to cause physical symptoms and even disease. But this exists. It is the pain that dare not speak its name.

Copyright (c) Robert Hale 2022. Robert Hale is an osteopath, acupuncturist and naturopath in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza.

[Artwork by stevie clover at: ]