Psychosomatics of Diseases, Psychological Causes of Illnesses

Have you ever considered that a headache or muscle tension might not just be the result of a hard day, but an indicator of overall distress? Psychosomatics of diseases is a field of medical psychology that studies the connection between bodily problems and psychological causes. It is commonly said that all diseases stem from nerves and stress. The question is, why and for what purpose do we get these diseases?

Human Diseases and Their Psychological Preconditions

Illness indicates a person’s internal disorder and disharmony with the Universe. Disease is a specific way the body protects us from our own destructive thinking. To cure diseases with a nervous basis, one needs to change their thinking and behavior.

The connection between soul and body was noted by Socrates, but psychosomatics as an independent direction emerged in 1818. In this year, German doctor Heinroth was able to officially prove the connection between diseases and stress. Since then, the psychology of diseases has been actively developing, but the main classification of psychosomatic diseases remains the same as hundreds of years ago.

Classification of Psychosomatic Disorders

There are two types of psychosomatic responses and disorders:

  1. Psychosomatic reactions are short-term and situational: blushing from shame, sweaty palms, hoarse voice, goosebumps, loss of appetite, etc.
  2. Psychosomatic disorders are persistent, manifesting in the dysfunction of systems or organs.

Disorders, in turn, are divided into three groups:

  • Conversion symptoms. Unpleasant emotions manifest as real physical symptoms: a lump in the throat (suppressed resentment), numbness of limbs (fear), deterioration of hearing or vision (unwillingness to see or hear something).
  • Functional syndromes. Pain appears, but physiological reasons are not diagnosed: vegetative-vascular dystonia, cystalgia, lumbago, cephalgia.
  • Psychosomatic diseases. Noticeable symptoms and real disorders in organs: hypertension, ulcers, asthma, neurodermatitis, colitis, arthritis, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, etc. These diseases require a comprehensive approach in treatment and diagnosis: medicine + psychology.

Interesting! Initially, only 7 diseases were classified as psychosomatic (the Chicago Seven), but the list is constantly being updated. Today, stress is recognized as a precursor to any physiological disorder.

Predisposition to Diseases: Body Signals

Pain is the body’s most accessible way to hint at psychological problems. However, attention should be paid to the area where the pain occurs:

  • Head – stress, exhaustion, anxiety;
  • Neck – resentment, suppressed emotions, restriction of self-expression;
  • Chest – lack of support, imposing care on others;
  • Shoulders – pressure from others, emotional exhaustion;
  • Lower back – worries related to money and material values;
  • Stomach – inability to accept or cope with a situation;
  • Elbows – rigidity;
  • Wrists – lack of friends;
  • Arms – unloved work;
  • Palms – fear of loneliness;
  • Pelvis – fear of leaving the comfort zone;
  • Knees – excessive egoism, egocentrism;
  • Shins – jealousy;
  • Ankles – self-destructive tendencies, inability to rest and relax;
  • Feet – apathy, fear of the future.

In psychodiagnostics, it’s important to consider not only the severity of symptoms and their location but also the side of the body. In psychosomatics, the right side corresponds to male energy, while the left corresponds to female energy.

Psychological Causes of Diseases

Negative thinking, destructive behavior, low stress resilience, and weak psychological defenses lead to diseases. The specific psychological causes of diseases and stress include:

  • Resentment;
  • Burden of the past;
  • Lack of support;
  • Rigidity;
  • Financial difficulties;
  • Fear of change;
  • Loneliness;
  • Egoism and egocentrism;
  • Jealousy;
  • Dependencies (on people, psychoactive substances, games, etc.);
  • Apathy;
  • Dissatisfaction with oneself, life, work;
  • Non-acceptance of oneself and others;
  • Family and work conflicts;
  • Uncertainty;
  • Complexes;
  • Anger;
  • Guilt;
  • Shame;
  • Fears;
  • Rage;
  • Greed;
  • Sadness;
  • Disgust;
  • Attraction.

All emotions, both positive and negative, have great energy. If it does not find an outlet, the person becomes ill. Suppressing love or joy is as dangerous as suppressing anger or irritation.

Sources of Psychosomatic Diseases

Not only suppressed emotions lead to psychosomatic diseases. Conflicts, lack of motivation, self-doubt, and self-suggestion also contribute. Let’s look at these factors in more detail:

  • Intrapersonal conflict. Most often arises between “want” and “should,” i.e., between desires and obligations, leading to self-rejection, resentment towards life, and anger at others.
  • Parental attitudes. Not all parents recognize their child as a person, respect their uniqueness and interests. Not all are free from stereotypes themselves, teaching children to suppress negativity: “don’t cry, you’re a boy,” “your opinion doesn’t matter here,” “with your character, you’ll always be alone.”
  • Organic speech and self-suggestion. Remember how often we say phrases like “this makes me sick,” “you give me a headache,” “I can’t stand such people.” The body perceives this as a signal to act.
  • Identification, subconscious imitation. We tend to adopt the habits and qualities of those important to us, sometimes even their illnesses.
  • Self-punishment. Chronic guilt compels a person to destroy their own life, constantly punishing themselves through illnesses.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Unprocessed traumas weigh heavily on the soul, constantly inflaming as various illnesses.

Freud’s Theory

Freud’s conversion theory made a significant contribution to the development of psychosomatics. The psychoanalyst discovered that people can repress unpleasant memories and emotions to the unconscious level. Likewise, forbidden desires contradicting social norms are repressed. However, these suppressed components don’t vanish. They continue to affect the individual internally, often beyond their conscious understanding, leading to neurosis.

Greeting from the Past

Expanding on the previous theory, Freud and his followers delved into what our diseases communicate. They found that a psychosomatic ‘trigger’ can have a delayed effect, often in response to problems in parental relationships, disrupted socialization, or imposed self-realization. Some parents try to fulfill their dreams through their children, often in conflict with the child’s nature.

Mother-Child Relationship

The nature of the relationship between mother and child is crucial. Harmful parenting styles include:

  • Anxious: the mother transfers her anxiety and hypochondria to the child, forming a mindset of illness and external world dangers.
  • Ambivalent: the mother is inconsistent in judgments and actions, causing the child to grow up anxious.
  • Avoidant: the mother fails to meet the child’s needs, leading to a deficiency of love, attention, and care.
  • Disorganized: the mother is unpredictable in reactions, often resorting to violence.

Philosophical Approach

From a philosophical perspective, diseases indicate living a life contrary to one’s needs, interests, and individual-psychological characteristics. Karma sends diseases until the individual understands what contradicts their soul. The illness teaches and guides, revealing messages from the soul through the body.


Business coach and psychologist M. Palchik developed a concept dividing the body and soul into several levels, each with its own psychosomatic predispositions.

Physical Body

Sometimes we forget about our body. Engrossed in work, we neglect nutrition, abandon exercise, and avoid going outdoors. Illness might be the only way for the body to remind us of its existence.

Emotional States

Some suffer from alexithymia and underdeveloped emotional intelligence, unable to identify and verbally express their feelings. Learning to answer “What am I feeling now?” and verbalizing emotions can help retreat psychosomatics.


Healthy and harmonious development requires principles and a value system influencing life goals and methods to achieve them. However, value systems often disintegrate and rebuild over time. Consider whether your value system is stable and if not, redefine what is important in life.


Values and worldview are intimately connected to life’s meaning and self-determination. Can you answer “Why am I living?” If not, this uncertainty might be deteriorating your well-being.


Modern psychosomatics discovered a link between human constitution and disease predisposition, based on Kretschmer’s theory. He identified four body types: asthenic, athletic, pyknic, and dysplastic, with asthenics more prone to psychosomatic disorders.


Personality type and character traits also influence psychosomatic susceptibility. Those with epileptoid and hysteric personality traits are at higher risk.

Table of Correlations Between Somatic Diseases and Psychological Preconditions

Over the years, psychosomatic theorists and practitioners have managed to explain all known diseases and ailments. We invite you to explore the tables of three popular psychologists in the field of psychosomatics: V. Sinelnikov, Louise Hay, Liz Bourbo.

Complete Table by Sinelnikov

V. Sinelnikov elucidates the metaphysical meaning of each organ and system, as well as explains the origins of somatic diseases and how emotions and diseases are connected. Sinelnikov considers karmic and energetic causes of diseases.

Organ, Body Part, DiseasePsychological Cause
HeadRepresents intellectual activity. Reflects the conflict between reason and feelings.
HeadachesSymbolize the need for rest, fears, dealing with unpleasant people, exhaustion. Also indicates excessive self-criticism, self-devaluation, avoidance of responsibilities.
MigraineSelf-blame, self-punishment, excessive self-criticism, desire to be perfect. Fears, avoidance of sex.
Amnesia, Memory ImpairmentFear, escape from life, desire to forget something unpleasant.
Brain TumorDesire to dominate the world and others, stubbornness, aggression, inability to accept others.
Nervous SystemNerves symbolize the perception of the world and relationships with people.
NeuralgiaHeightened sense of conscience and justice, communication difficulties, attention seeking, conscience torment, desire to punish oneself for sins.
Radiculitis (Sciatica), Lower BackSymbolizes support. Pain indicates emotional and physical overloads. Fear for the future, especially financial well being.
Stroke, Paralysis, Paresis, DisabilityJealousy, anger, and hatred that paralyze. Rejection of life and fate, rigidity, clinging to outdated beliefs. Deep fear, state of terror. Paralysis as a plea to start living and thinking anew.
Dizziness, Coordination ProblemsUncertainty in life, lack of life purpose. Chaos in thoughts, inability to concentrate and prioritize among problems "head spinning." Sometimes caused by positive emotions: head spinning from success.
PoliomyelitisJealousy, desire to part with someone combined with a feeling of powerlessness.
Psyche, Epilepsy, Seizures, Convulsions, SpasmsSubconscious fear, persecution mania, exhaustion, internal struggle, inclination to violence and aggression. Self-inflicted "winding up."
Tics, HyperactivityOften seen in children. Caused by a lack of unconditional parental love. Parents fulfill their duties well but in a formal manner. Need to learn to truly love the child.
InsomniaFear, hustle, struggle, inability to "switch off" from thoughts, experiences. Need to learn to trust people and life.
EarsSymbolize the perception of reality, ability to hear and listen.
Ear Inflammation (Otitis, Mastoiditis)Unwillingness to hear and accept anything, accumulated anger and irritation. Fear, inability to express feelings. Often occurs in families with many fights and scandals. Healing requires silence and peace.
Deafness, TinnitusDislike, unwillingness to hear and accept someone's opinion, stubbornness, pride. Also indicates an internal conflict.
Neuritis of the Auditory NerveHigh tension due to some information.
EyesResponsible for perceiving the present, past, and future.
Eye Inflammation (Conjunctivitis, Keratitis, Dryness)Unwillingness to see something, resulting anger, hatred, resentment. Evil thoughts.
StyeAnger, hatred towards the world. Need to change the attitude towards people.
StrabismusOften occurs in children. Caused by conflicts between parents, contradictory actions. Resolution requires parents to find a common language and maintain a unified parenting approach.
GlaucomaOld grudges against oneself, others, the Universe. Blocked feelings, internal conflict. Need to learn to express emotions and relax.
CataractInability to enjoy life, perception of a foggy and joyless future.
Cardiovascular System, BloodThe heart symbolizes life energy. Reflects the ability to enjoy life, live in harmony with oneself and the world. Blood the flow of life energy.
Heart Pain, AnginaLack of love for oneself and others, feeling of loneliness. Caused by old resentments, jealousy, anger, fear, pity. Taking on too much, dealing with others' concerns. Belief that stress is mandatory in life. Need to love oneself, learn to sincerely help people.
Rhythm DisorderHaste, deviation from one's life path. Controlled by experiences and fears, don't rush through life.
AtherosclerosisInability to express and receive joy. Associated with a negative mindset that the world is bad. Stubbornness, unwilling to notice the good.
Blood Circulation DisorderFixation on the negative, inability to feel and express pleasant emotions.
HypertensionProlonged tension, worries, resistance to life. Caused by fears, distrust, unwillingness to accept the situation.
HypotensionLoss of faith in oneself, one's strengths, and possibilities. Need to stop running away from life and conflicts.
Varicose VeinsSuppression and overload, living someone else's life. Rejection of the present and fear of the future. Likely, the problem lies in work.
ThrombosisStagnation in development, attempts to cling to past settings. Need to step out of the comfort zone and move forward.
Obliterating EndarteritisUnconscious fear of the future.
AnemiaJoyless existence. Consider which area lacks joy and how to restore it.
BleedingNegative thoughts and emotions, joy leaving life.
LymphSymbol of love and joy (closely related to blood).
Inflammation of Lymph Nodes, MononucleosisOften diagnosed in children. Indicates that joy and love are draining from the child's life.
LungsSymbolize the ability to breathe in life, to give and take. Hidden unwillingness to live.
PneumoniaTiredness of life, retreating into illness as a rest, feeling of despair, old open wounds.
BronchitisSuppressed anger, unspoken complaints, unfavorable psychological climate in the family.
CoughUnspoken opinion, desire to assert oneself, suppressed emotions.
Asthma AttacksLack of trust in life, fear of life.
AsthmaSuppressed tears, inability to express one's opinion, aggression. Often stems from childhood conflicts with the mother.
TuberculosisLonging, years of accumulated aggression, self-anger.
ThroatSymbol of the ability to express needs, stand up for oneself. Responsible for creative self-expression.
Sore Throat, Tonsillitis, Pharyngitis, LaryngitisSuppressed anger and harsh words, unexpressed emotions, fear of voicing thoughts. Inferiority complex.
Lump in ThroatFeelings and words stuck in the throat.
NoseSymbolizes a sense of self-worth, uniqueness, self-value, recognition of oneself as a person.
Stuffy NoseSelf-devaluation.
Runny NoseInternal crying, suppressed sorrow, disappointment, regret about unfulfilled dreams.
AdenoidsConflicts, arguments, disputes in the family. In children – feeling unwanted, lack of love in the family.
NosebleedsLoss of joy in life, feeling unloved and unappreciated.
Digestive OrgansSymbolize 'digesting' and assimilating information, events, people.
MouthSymbolizes new ideas and thoughts.
Sores on Lips and Mouth, Stomatitis, HerpesBiased attitude, subconscious harsh words, accusations you hold back.
Bad BreathVery outdated views, dirty thoughts. Time to refresh life and thoughts.
TongueSymbolizes the taste for life. Pain – loss of taste for life.
StomachReflects the ability to assimilate situations. Pain – fear of something new, aversion, irritation.
Stomach and Duodenal Ulcers, GastritisFear of new, self-blame, feeling of doom, inferiority complex, disgust, anger.
Nausea and VomitingSubconscious fears, aversion, desire to get rid of something.
Motion SicknessFear of the unknown, mistrust of the world and oneself. Need to relax and let events take their course.
LiverSymbol of processing negative emotions (anger, irritability, rage).
Gallstone DiseasePride, accumulated negativity. Stones – clumps of anger. Colic – impatience, dissatisfaction. Accumulated bitter and angry thoughts, and pride that prevents getting rid of them.
PancreasSymbol of the ability to enjoy and relish life.
PancreatitisFeeling of hopelessness, anger, non-acceptance of situations, events, or people.
DiabetesAccumulated dissatisfaction with life, lack of 'sweetness' in life, longing, resentment.
IntestinesSymbolize the ability to assimilate and take in new ideas, get rid of the old.
ConstipationUnwillingness to part with something. Fear of separation due to insecurity. Fixation on the past, stinginess, greed, dependency in relationships.
FlatulenceInconsistency, unrealistic goals, excess of duties, anxiety.
Anus, RectumSymbolize the ability to get rid of emotions, grievances, problems, information.
Hemorrhoids, Abscess, Fistula, FissuresPainful release from the past and the unnecessary. Anger, rage, guilt. Time to learn to let go of what hinders your self-development.
KidneysSymbol of filtering negativity, removing mental toxins.
Kidney DiseaseDisappointment combined with judgment, criticism, offense, and hatred. Fear of the future, guilt. Despondency, unwillingness to live.
Kidney StonesClumps of fear and negativity accumulated over years.
Inflammation of the Urinary Tract, Urethritis, CystitisAnger at men, one's partner. Anxiety and worry.
Female DiseasesNon-acceptance of femininity, sexuality, personal traits. Predominance of male energy.
UterusSymbol of female creativity, the beginning of life. Symbolizes how a woman manifests herself as a woman, mother, wife.
EndometriosisFeeling of insecurity, fear, and expectation of bad treatment from men. Uncertainty about realizing oneself as a woman, blaming and resenting men.
Uterine FibroidsUnforgiven offense and insult from a man. Harboring resentment, blaming men and oneself, taking everything as blows to self-esteem.
Cervical ErosionFeeling of own inadequacy as a woman. Need to change the attitude towards oneself and men, love oneself, realize oneself as a woman.
Inflammation of External Genital Organs, Vaginitis, LeukorrheaFear of being unattractive, bad, imperfect. Subconscious aggression and resentment towards men. Feeling of powerlessness, inability to influence a man.
Dysmenorrhea (Menstrual Cycle Disorder)Denial of femininity, aggression towards a man, guilt and fears associated with sex.
Amenorrhea (Absence of Menstruation)Dislike, unwillingness to be a woman. Possibly related to difficulties in the relationship with the mother.
Uterine BleedingOffense and anger that prevent enjoying life. Subconscious desire to harm people.
Ovarian Cyst and InflammationNegative attitudes towards oneself and men. Problem with realizing feminine essence.
Frigidity, Lack of OrgasmFear of life, father, men. Denial of the physical, focus on spiritual development. Distrust of the world and men. Likely grew up in a family where the man and woman did not understand or love each other.
PregnancySymbol of the beginning of life.
Pregnancy ToxicosisSubconscious fears, unwillingness to have a child. Non-acceptance of pregnancy, changes in life and relationships with a man, one's appearance.
MiscarriageInsecurity about the man and oneself, intense fear of the future.
InfertilityJealousy and hatred towards a man, aggression that impacts the child. Fear and resistance to the life process. Fear of childbirth and responsibility.
BreastSymbol of maternal care.
Breast DiseaseInability to care for oneself, caring for others at one's own expense.
Cysts and Lumps in the BreastComplete suppression of oneself as a person.
MastitisFear and overprotection of the child, combined with self-doubt.
Underdeveloped BreastsRejection of femininity and sexuality.
Male DiseasesDenial of masculinity, negativity towards oneself and women.
Testicles, Penis, and ProstateSymbol of masculinity and male traits. Pain indicates accumulated resentments, claims, anger, dissatisfaction with a partner. Feeling of guilt in the sexual sphere.
ImpotenceGuilt related to sex, pressure, fear. Anger at a sexual partner. Resentment, hatred towards women. Doubts about the correctness of one's actions. Possibly, fear of mother, resentment towards her.
Premature EjaculationDoubts, fears, insecurity, irritability. Rushing through life, trying to quickly deal with everything.
Venereal DiseasesSelf-punishment.
Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes, Trichomoniasis, AIDSFeeling guilty about sex, perceiving sex as something sinful. Aggression, resentment, hatred towards the opposite sex. Disappointment in people and life.
BodySymbol of perception of the world and self-awareness.
Left Side of the BodySymbol of female energy, receptivity, absorption.
Right Side of the BodySymbol of male energy, relationships with father and men.
Obesity, Excess WeightNeed for protection and love. Suppressed aggression, non-acceptance of oneself. Old resentment. Emotional emptiness.
JointsSymbol of ease of movement through life and activity.
Arthritis, RheumatismSelf-criticism and criticism, tendency towards violence, suppression of bad desires. Belief that life is hard, burdened with many responsibilities. Lack of love for oneself and the world. Rigidity in beliefs.
NeckSymbol of flexibility, ability to consider different points of view. Pain indicates stubbornness, rigidity, unwillingness to hear other people's opinions.
BackSymbolizes support and backing in life. Pain indicates perceiving life as an unbearable burden. Lower back – worries about material well-being.
LegsReflect the ability to move forward.
Leg Disease, Leg ProblemsFear of the future, lack of life goals.
SkinSymbol of perception of reality. The skin – the boundary between the external and internal world, protection of individuality.
Skin DiseasesSuppressed emotions, internal 'dirt', desire to withdraw from the world.
Allergy, UrticariaWeak self-control of emotions. Intolerance of someone or something. Accumulated negativity. In children – response to parents' behavior.
Rash, ItchingIrritation, dissatisfaction with the situation, and suppression of dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction in life, desire to do something. In children – reaction to parents' quarrels and mother's negative emotions.
Eczema, NeurodermatitisStrong rejection of something, stress, nervous breakdowns, jealousy, aggression. Lack of attention, affection, tranquility.
PsoriasisFeeling of guilt and need for punishment. Prohibition on love and trust (old negative experiences remind of pain). Disgust, sense of danger.
VitiligoFeeling of detachment from the world, inability to create. Not feeling like a full member of society.
Excessive PigmentationExcess of passion.
Acne, PimplesNon-acceptance of oneself, one's appearance. Negative thoughts about oneself, the opposite sex, sex.
FuruncleAnger seeking an outlet. Boiling from within.
LiceDependence on others, allowing them to control you, interfere in your life.
Fungus, Athlete's FootHolding onto old grievances and experiences.
NailsSymbol of protection.
Nail DiseaseConstant feeling of danger, threat.
HairSymbol of human life force.
Hair Loss, BaldnessTrying to control everything, being in high tension, not trusting life.
Infectious Diseases, InflammationAnger, resentment, desire for revenge, fear of getting sick.
Injuries and AccidentsFeeling of guilt, anger, hatred, irritation, malice. Feeling of hopelessness. Victim mentality.
Bruises, Contusions, Burns, Sores, Wounds, UlcersSuppressed anger, bursting out.
Bone Fractures, CracksInability to stand up for oneself, desire to break free from someone else's control.
Dislocation, Muscle and Tendon SprainsResentment, resistance, desire for revenge.
ThyroidSymbol of creative self-expression.
GoiterHumiliation, pressure, victim mentality. Desire to get rid of something imposed. Inability to be oneself, unmet needs.
Tumors, CancerResentment.
Any Growths, Tumors, CystsHolding onto the past, not accepting oneself and others, pangs of conscience.
CancerAnger, rage, resentment, arrogance, guilt, contempt.
Uterine CancerA woman's resentment towards a man, suppressed sense of self-worth.
Breast CancerSuppression of personal needs and resentment towards others for also putting you last.
Cancer of the Digestive TractInability to accept oneself, one's life. Desire to get rid of something unnecessary, coupled with an inability to do so.
Respiratory Organs (Oncology)Disappointment in life.
AlcoholismA mindset of self-destruction, fear, hatred, resentment, anger, despair. Alcohol is used as a means to 'heal' the soul.
SmokingThe reason lies in associations:

A sense of independence, adulthood;
Facilitating communication;
Comfort and well-being;
Others (each person has their own associations).
Childhood Diseases Parents' behavior and thoughts, relationships between them.

Louise Hay’s Table of Disease Causes

Louise Hay’s disease table is arranged in alphabetical order. In addition to explaining the causes and psychological equivalents of diseases, a healing affirmation is provided for each problem. You can view the full table of disease causes by Louise Hay in another article on our site (“Mental Causes of Various Diseases”) and in the author’s book “Heal Your Body.”

Liz Bourbo’s Table of Diseases

Liz Bourbo’s table is presented as an alphabetical directory of diseases. For each disease, a description of physical characteristics, mental causes, and methods of blocking (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) is provided. You can familiarize yourself with the table on our site (article “Healing according to Liz Bourbo’s Theory. Your Body Says: Love Yourself”) and in the author’s book “Your Body Says: Love Yourself!”

Interesting! Other psychologists also study psychosomatics of diseases, such as V. Zhikarentsev, Inna Segal, Luule Viilma, O. Torsunov. You can learn about their theories in the authors’ books: “Path to Freedom. Karmic Causes of Problems, or How to Change Your Life,” “The Secret Language of Your Body: The Psychosomatics of Ailments and Diseases,” “The Big Book of Health,” “The Connection of Diseases with Character.”

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