Psychosomatic interconnectedness refers to the mind (psyche) and body (soma) acting one upon the other in a way that can either prove incredibly synergistic or highly maladaptive to the organism. In a simplistic example, if we have a physical experience in which we are very cold, then it is more difficult to focus on our own thoughts and the activities that we are engaged within. After experience such conditions over an extended period of time, if the cold is substantial, mood will undoubtedly begin to shift towards displeasure as well.
Conversely, in say the mind of a schizophrenic, if they are convinced that someone is following them, chasing them, or reading their thoughts, the body will react in a way as if it is actually occurring regardless of whether it truly is or isn’t. The “lizard brain” of the limbic system in the humans, especially in the emotional response processing center in the amygdala, will flood the perceiver's’ body with stress hormones e.g. adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine all the same.
Artwork by kimded
We combine this notion of a mind-body feedback loop and find the notion of self-fulfilling prophecy tucked away very neatly in this paradigm. Coined as a term by sociologist Andrew K. Merton in 1948, a self-fulfilling prophecy is a concept in which one commits a heavy amount of mental energy into believing a possible outcome will occur, and if/when it does, then uses the resulting event as proof that the one’s “prophecy” was true all along. The alternative holds true for the opposite concept of self-defeating prophecy.
When we look at both psychosomatic connections and self-fulfilling prophecies, there exists a great potential for healing to occur. In his 1990 book titled Quantum Psychology, Robert Anton Wilson details two studies conducted in 1988, both included in the Brain/Mind Bulletin, that explains as such.
The first, conducted by John Barefoot (May 1988) of Duke University studied a sample size of 500 older men and women tracked over a period of 15 years. He found that those who scored high on suspiciousness, cynicism, and hostility died sooner than all the others. This high mortality remained constant when compared by age, sex, previous health, diet, and even “bad habits” e.g. smoking. Those individuals who scored highest on hostility had a death rate more than six times higher than the others.
The second study published shortly after in August 1988 by Shelley Taylor of UCLA and Jonathan Brown of SMU found that those who scored high on “mental health” have a number of illusory beliefs. These individuals hold overly positive views of themselves, conveniently forget negative facts about themselves, hold illusory beliefs about having more control than they do have, have “unrealistic” optimism about themselves, “unrealistic” optimism about the future in general, and lastly, “abnormal” cheerfulness according to Taylor & Brown.
What these two studies show is that we have a choice between two poles. We can choose to submit to what Wilson calls, “hard realism” and be battered down by statistics, unfortunate circumstances, and foreboding probabilities thus creating self-defeating prophecies that create an even larger “reality tunnel” (a term coined by Timothy Leary) that propels us into a never ending chase after further negative “realities” in our own lives.
Conversely, we could likewise choose to begin to attend more to the positive, “illusory beliefs” about the world around us and our own physical bodies and life stories. Whether it is a belief system that promotes faith healing, miracles, crystal healings, and/or regular vitamin intake, or to merely hold a position that is extremely optimistic in its outlook, our mental disposition pertaining to our environment, reality, what is possible, and ourselves within the context of these dynamics carries significant consequences as to our own physical health.
I’m not advocating for ignorance, inaction, or disengagement from any acts of inhumanity or injustice around us in our world today. I am however advocating the opportunity to become more aware of your own perceptions, uncovering more positive truths and understandings of yourself, and to comprehend how the very nature of these truths will undoubtedly affect our health and wellbeing.
About the Author:
Christopher is a Maryland native, a yoga teacher, and a graduate student at Sofia University pursuing a M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology. His current research interest revolves around psychosomatic healing, esoteric anatomy, dreamwork, and psychedelics. In his spare time he enjoys doing yoga, writing poetry, and performing music.
Klein, S. April 19, 2013. Adrenaline, Cortisol, Norepinephrine: the Three Major Stress Hormones Explained. Huffington Post.
Troncale, J. April 22, 2014. Your Lizard Brain: the Limbic System and Brain Functioning. Psychology Today.
Wilson, R.A (1990). Quantum Psychology: How Brain Software Programs You & Your World. New Falcon Publications. Tempe, Arizona. U.S.A.