psy·cho·so·mat·ic [sahy-koh-suh-mat-ik, -soh-]
- of or pertaining to a physical disorder that is caused by or notably influenced by emotional factors.
- pertaining to or involving both the mind and the body.
Over the years, I've come to doubt the existence of psychosomatic illnesses. People like to believe in them. The idea that our mind can make our body sick is intriguing, and besides, it provides an easy explanation for all those inconvenient ailments that haven't yet been diagnosed, or even discovered. Problem is, nobody seems to have taken the trouble to prove that emotional stress can manifest as physical symptoms.
Every once in a while I get into a debate with somebody about this. While they allow for the possibility that "psychosomatic" is at times shorthand for "I don't know what's wrong with you and don't want to tell you that," they believe that psychologically induced illnesses can happen. They aren't experts in the field or anything; they just think it's intuitively obvious.
For those people, here's a quote on the subject from a licensed clinical psychologist who's been practicing for over 25 years:
Physicians have referred many people to me before they had a diagnosis, even doctors who don’t know what else to do for their patients. ALL of them eventually received a medical diagnosis. That’s right. ALL OF THEM.My opinion on psychosomatic illness can be swayed by real evidence—evidence that amounts to more than "We've ruled out everything else we happen to know about." 'til then, true believers, the burden of proof is on you.
(Full post here.)