According to author Louise Hay and scientist Bruce Lipton, physical symptoms usually have emotional causes, and are merely tangible evidence of what is going on in your unconscious mind and how you are really feeling deep inside. If feelings are ignored, your subconscious mind must find another way to get its message across and help you see that your deeper needs are being ignored. Physical symptoms are the way your body alerts you to to this.
Dr. Susanne Babbel, a psychologist specializing in trauma and depression, writes in Psychology Today, “Studies have shown that chronic pain might not only be caused by physical injury but also by stress and emotional issues.” She goes on, “Often, physical pain functions to warn a person that there is still emotional work to be done.”
The basic idea is that our minds are capable of creating all kinds of very physical symptoms in our bodies. And these symptoms are not “all in our heads”, as too many unsympathetic or skeptical doctors have tried to tell too many patients. These are real headaches, real physical pain, real digestive distress, and so on. But their origin may be fundamentally emotional.
For many people, it is sadness, anger, grief, and other “hard” or “difficult” feelings that we learn to suppress. For some it is also happiness – too much excitement or too much joy may be too much for us to handle. And so we learn, before we even know what we are learning, how to shove our feelings back down into our bodies. And this can cause real, physical pain.
Please understand that I am not saying that all your complex health problems originate exclusively in your mind, or that psychotherapy is more important than working with a medical healthcare provider. We are complex beings and physical symptoms may have a real medical cause, and it is always important to make sure you treat those things appropriately.
Below I have provided a list of symptoms and their associated causes from Louise Hay’s book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’. I don’t believe these are the only causes of physical illness but they certainly give a place to start addressing underlying issues. If you have any of these symptoms it may be worth addressing the associated causes in conjunction with professional medical treatment.
Blessings – Carmel
Symptoms and Causes
Abdominal Cramps: Fear. Stopping the process.
Abscess: Fermenting thoughts over hurts, slights and revenge.
Accidents: Inability to speak up for the self. Rebellion against authority. Belief in violence.
Aches: Longing for love. Longing to be held.
Acne: Not accepting the self. Dislike of the self.
Addictions: Running from the self. Fear. Not knowing how to love self.
Adrenal Problems: Defeatism. No longer caring for the self. Anxiety.
Alcoholism: Feeling of futility, guilt, inadequacy. Self-rejection.
Allergies: Denying your own power.
Alzheimer’s Disease: Refusal to deal with the world as it is. Hopelessness and helplessness. Anger.
Amenorrhea: Not wanting to be a woman. Dislike of the self.
Anemia: “Yes-but” attitude. Lack of joy. Fear of life. Not feeling good enough.
Ankle: Inflexibility and guilt. Ankles represent the ability to receive pleasure.
Anorexia: Denying the self life. Extreme fear, self-hatred and rejection.
Anxiety: Not trusting the flow and the process of life.
Apathy: Resistance to feeling. Deadening of the self. Fear.
Appetite, Excessive: Fear. Needing protection. Judging the emotions.
Arm: Represents the capacity and ability to hold the experiences of life.
Arteries: Carry the joy of life.
Arthritic Fingers: A desire to punish. Blame. Feeling victimized.
Arthritis: Feeling unloved. Criticism, resentment. – Rheumatoid Arthritis: Feeling victimized. Lack of love. Chronic bitterness. Resentment. Deep criticism of authority. Feeling very put upon.
Asthma: Smother love. Inability to breathe for one’s self. Feeling stifled. Suppressed crying.
Athlete’s Foot: Frustration at not being accepted. Inability to move forward with ease.
Back Issues: Represents the support of life.
– Rounded shoulders: Carrying the burdens of life. Helpless and hopeless.
– Lower Back Pain: Fear of money or lack of financial support.
– Mid-Back Pain: Guilt. Stuck in all that stuff back there. “Get off my back!”
– Upper Back Pain: Lack of emotional support. Feeling unloved. Holding back love.
– Back Curvature: The inability to flow with the support of life. Fear and trying to hold on to old ideas. Not trusting life. Lack of integrity. No courage of convictions.
Bad Breath: Anger and revenge thoughts. Experiences backing up.
Balance, Loss of: Scattered thinking. Not centered.
Baldness: Fear. Tension. Trying to control everything.
Bedwetting: Fear of parent, usually the father.
Belching: Fear. Gulping life too quickly.
Bell’s Palsy: Extreme control over anger. Unwillingness to express feelings.
Bladder Problems: Anxiety. Holding on to old ideas. Fear of letting go. Being “pissed off”.
Bleeding: Joy running out. Anger.
Blisters: Resistance. Lack of emotional protection.
– High: Longstanding emotional problem not solved.
– Low: Lack of love as a child. Defeatism.
Body Odor: Fear. Dislike of the self. Fear of others.
Bones: Represent the structure of the universe.
– Bone marrow: Represents deepest beliefs about the self. How you support and care for yourself.
– Breaks: Rebelling against authority.
Brain: Represents the computer, the switchboard.
– Tumor: Incorrect computerized beliefs. Stubborn. Refusing to change old patterns.
Breast: Represents mothering and nurturing and nourishment.
– Cysts, Lumps: A refusal to nourish the self. Putting everyone else first. Over mothering. Overprotection. Overbearing attitudes.
Breath: Represents the ability to take in life.
– Breathing Problems: Fear. Not trusting the process of life. Getting stuck in childhood. Fear of taking in life fully.
– Bronchitis: Inflamed family environment. Arguments and yelling.
Bruises: The little bumps in life. Self-punishment.
Bulimia: Hopeless terror. A frantic stuffing and purging of self-hatred.
Burns: Anger. Burning up. Incensed.
Bursitis: Repressed anger. Wanting to hit someone.
Calluses: Hardened concepts and ideas. Fear solidified.
Cancer: Deep hurt. Longstanding resentment. Deep secret or grief eating away at the self. Carrying hatreds.
Candida: Feeling very scattered. Lots of frustration and anger. Demanding and untrusting in relationships. Great takers.
Canker Sores: Festering words held back by the lips. Blame.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Anger and frustration at life’s seeming injustices.
Cataracts: Inability to see ahead with joy. Dark future.
Cellulite: Stored anger and self-punishment.
Cerebral Palsy: A need to unite the family in an action of love.
Chills: Mental contraction, pulling away and in. Desire to retreat.
Cholesterol: Clogging the channels of joy. Fear of accepting joy.
Circulation: Represents the ability to feel and express the emotions in positive ways.
Colds: Too much going on at once. Mental confusion, disorder. Small hurts.
Colic: Mental irritation, impatience, annoyance in the surroundings.
Colitis: Insecurity. Represents the ease of letting go of that which is over.
Coma: Fear. Escaping something or someone.
Conjunctivitis: Anger and frustration at what you are looking at in life.
Constipation: Incomplete releasing. Holding on to garbage of the past. Guilt over the past. Sometimes stinginess.
Corns: Hardened areas of thought – stubborn holding on to the pain of the past.
Coughs: A desire to bark at the world. “Listen to me!”
Cramps: Tension. Fear. Gripping, holding on.
Crohn’s Disease: Fear. Worry. Not feeling good enough.
Crying: Tears are the river of life, shed in joy as well as in sadness and fear.
Cuts: Punishment for not following your own rules.
Cysts: Running the old painful movie. Nursing hurts. A false growth.
Cystic Fibrosis: A thick belief that life won’t work for you.
Deafness: Rejection, stubbornness, isolation. What don’t you want to hear? “Don’t bother me.”
Depression: Anger you feel you do not have a right to have. Hopelessness.
Diabetes: Longing for what might have been. A great need to control. Deep sorrow. No sweetness left.
Diarrhea: Fear. Rejection. Running off.
Dizziness: Flighty, scattered thinking. A refusal to look.
Dry eyes: Angry eyes. Refusing to see with love. Would rather die than forgive. Being spiteful.
Dysmenorrhea: Anger at the self. Hatred of the body or of women.
Ear: Represents the capacity to hear.
– Ache: Anger. Not wanting to hear. Too much turmoil. Household arguing.
Eczema: Breath-taking antagonism. Mental eruptions.
Edema: What or who won’t you let go of?
Elbow: Represents changing directions and accepting new experiences.
Emphysema: Fear of taking in life. Not worthy of living.
Endometriosis: Insecurity, disappointment and frustration. Replacing self-love with sugar. Blamers.
Epilepsy: Sense of persecution. Rejection of life. A feeling of great struggle. Self-violence.
Epstein-Barr Virus: Pushing beyond one’s limits. Fear of not being good enough. Draining all inner support. Stress.
Eye: Represents the capacity to see clearly past, present, future.
– Astigmatism: “I” trouble. Fear of really seeing the self.
– Hyperopia: Fear of the present.
– Myopia: Fear of the future.
Face: Represents what we show the world.
Fainting: Fear. Can’t cope. Blacking out.
Fat or Weight issues: Oversensitivity. Often represents fear and shows a need for protection. Fear may be a cover for hidden anger and a resistance to forgive. Running away from feelings. Insecurity, self-rejection and seeking fulfillment.
– Arms: Anger at being denied love.
– Belly: Anger at being denied nourishment.
– Hips: Lumps of stubborn anger at the parents.
–Thighs: Packed childhood anger. Often rage at the father.
Fatigue: Resistance, boredom. Lack of love for what one does.
Feet: Represent our understanding of ourselves, of life, of others.
– Foot Problems: Fear of the future and of not stepping forward in life.
Fever: Anger. Burning up.
Fibroid Tumors: Nursing a hurt from a partner. A blow to the feminine ego.
Fingers: Represent the details of life.
–Thumb: Represents intellect and worry.
– Index: Represents ego and fear.
– Middle: Represents anger and sexuality.
– Ring: Represents unions and grief.
– Little: Represents the family and pretending.
Food Poisoning: Allowing others to take control. Feeling defenseless.
Frigidity: Fear. Denial of pleasure. A belief that sex is bad. Insensitive partners.
Fungus: Stagnating beliefs. Refusing to release the past. Letting the past rule today.
Gallstones: Bitterness. Hard thoughts. Condemning. Pride.
Gas: Gripping. Fear. Undigested ideas.
Gastritis: Prolonged uncertainty. A feeling of doom.
Genitals: Represent the masculine and feminine principles. Worry about not being good enough.
Gland Problems: Represent holding stations. Self-staring activity. Holding yourself back.
Gout: The need to dominate. Impatience, anger.
Glaucoma: Stony unforgiveness. Pressure from longstanding hurts. Overwhelmed by it all.
Grey Hair: Stress. A belief in pressure and strain.
Growths: Nursing those old hurts. Building resentments.
Gum Problems: Inability to back up decisions. Indecisive about life.
Hands: Hold and handle. Clutch and grip. Grasping and letting go. Caressing. Pinching. All ways of dealing with experiences.
Hay Fever: Emotional congestion. Fear of the calendar. A belief in persecution. Guilt.
Headaches: Invalidating the self. Self-criticism. Fear.
Heart: Represents the center of love and security.
– Heart Attack: Squeezing all the joy out of the heart in favor of money or position. Feeling alone and scared. “I’m not good enough. I don’t do enough. I’ll never make it.”
– Heart Problems: Longstanding emotional problems. Lack of joy. Hardening of the heart. Belief in strain and stress.
– Heartburn: Fear. Fear. Fear. Clutching Fear.
Hemorrhoids: Fear of deadlines. Anger of the past. Afraid to let go. Feeling burdened.
Hepatitis: Resistance to change. Fear, anger, hatred. Liver is the seat of anger and rage.
Hernia: Ruptured relationships. Strain, burdens, incorrect creative expression.
Herpes Genitalis: Mass belief in sexual guilt and the need for punishment. Public shame. Rejection of the genitals.
Herpes Simplex: Bitter words left unspoken.
Hip: Carries the body in perfect balance. Major thrust in moving forward. Fear of going forward in major decisions. Nothing to move forward to.
Hives: Small, hidden fears. Mountains out of molehills.
Hodgkin’s Disease: Blame and a tremendous fear of not being good enough. A frantic race to prove one’s self until the blood has no substance left to support itself. The joy of life is forgotten in the race of acceptance.
Hyperactivity: Fear. Feeling pressured and frantic.
Hyperventilation: Fear. Resisting change. Not trusting the process.
Hypoglycemia: Overwhelmed by the burdens in life.
Impotence: Sexual pressure, tension, guilt. Social beliefs. Spite against a previous mate.
Incontinence: Emotional overflow. Years of controlling emotions.
Indigestion: Gut-level fear, dread, anxiety. Griping and grunting.
Infection: Irritation, anger, annoyance.
Inflammation: Fear. Seeing red. Inflamed thinking. Anger and frustration about conditions you are looking at in your life.
Influenza: Response to mass negativity and beliefs. Fear. Belief in statistics.
Ingrown Toenail: Worry and guilt about your right to move forward.
Injuries: Anger at the self. Feeling guilty.
Insanity: Fleeing from the family. Escapism, withdrawal. Violent separation from life.
Insomnia: Fear. Not trusting the process of life. Guilt.
Intestines: Represent assimilation and absorption.
Itching: Desires that go against the grain. Unsatisfied. Remorse. Itching to get out or get away.
Jaundice: Internal and external prejudice. Unbalanced reason.
Jaw Problems: Anger. Resentment. Desire for revenge.
Kidney Problems: Criticism, disappointment, failure. Shame. Reacting like a child.
Kidney Stones: Lumps of undissolved anger.
Knee: Represents pride and ego. Stubborn ego and pride. Inability to bend. Fear. Inflexibility. Won’t give in.
Laryngitis: So mad you can’t speak. Fear of speaking up. Resentment of authority.
Left Side of Body: Represents receptivity, taking in, feminine energy, women, the mother.
Leg: Carry us forward in life.
Liver: Seat of anger and primitive emotions. Chronic complaining. Justifying fault-finding to deceive yourself. Feeling bad.
Lockjaw: Anger. A desire to control. A refusal to express feelings.
Lump in the Throat: Fear. Not trusting the process of life.
Lung: The ability to take in life. Depression. Grief. Not feeling worthy of living life fully.
Lupus: A giving up. Better to die than stand up for one’s self. Anger and punishment.
Lymph Problems: A warning that the mind needs to be re-centered on the essentials of life. Love and joy.
Malaria: Out of balance with nature and with life.
Menopause Problems: Fear of no longer being wanted. Fear of aging. Self-rejection. Not feeling good enough.
Menstrual Problems: Rejection of one’s femininity. Guilt, fear. Belief that the genitals are sinful or dirty.
Migraine Headaches: Dislike of being driven. Resisting the flow of life. Sexual fears.
Miscarriage: Fear of the future. Inappropriate timing.
Mononucleosis: Anger at not receiving love and appreciation. No longer caring for the self.
Motion Sickness: Fear. Bondage. Feeling of being trapped.
Mouth: Represents taking in of new ideas and nourishment. Set opinions. Closed mind. Incapacity to take in new ideas.
Multiple Sclerosis: Mental hardness, hard-heartedness, iron will, inflexibility.
Muscles: Resistance to new experiences. Muscles represent our ability to move in life.
Muscular Dystrophy: “It’s not worth growing up.”
Nails: Represent protection.
– Nail Biting: Frustration. Eating away at the self. Spite of a parent.
Narcolepsy: Can’t cope. Extreme fear. Wanting to get away from it all. Not wanting to be here.
Nausea: Fear. Rejecting an idea or experience.
Neck: Represents flexibility. The ability to see what’s back there. Refusing to see other sides of a question. Stubbornness, inflexibility. Unbending stubbornness.
Nephritis: Overreaction to disappointment and failure.
Nerves: Represent communication. Receptive reporters.
Nervous Breakdown: Self-centeredness. Jamming the channels of communication.
Nervousness: Fear, anxiety, struggle, rushing. Not trusting the process of life.
Neuralgia: Punishment for guilt. Anguish over communication.
Nodules: Resentment and frustration and hurt ego over career.
Nose: Represents self-recognition.
– Nose Bleeds:A need for recognition. Feeling unnoticed. Crying for love.
– Runny Nose: Asking for help. Inner crying.
– Stuffy Nose: Not recognizing the self-worth.
Numbness: Withholding love and consideration. Going dead mentally.
Osteomyelitis: Anger and frustration at the very structure of life. Feeling unsupported.
Osteoporosis: Feeling there is no support left in life. Mental pressures and tightness. Muscles can’t stretch. Loss of mental mobility.
Ovaries: Represent points of creation. Creativity.
Pain: Guilt. Guilt always seeks punishment.
Paralysis: Paralysing thoughts. Getting stuck. Terror leading to escape from a situation or person.
Pancreas: Represents the sweetness of life.
Pancreatitis: Rejection. Anger and frustration because life seems to have lost its sweetness.
Parasites: Giving power to others, letting them take over and life off of you.
Parkinson’s Disease: Fear and an intense desire to control everything and everyone.
Peptic Ulcer: Fear. A belief that you are not good enough. Anxious to please.
Phlebitis: Anger and frustration. Blaming others for the limitation and lack of joy in life.
Pimples: Small outbursts of anger.
Pituitary Gland: Represents the control center.
Pneumonia: Desperate. Tired of life. Emotional wounds that are not allowed to heal.
Poison Ivy: Allergy Feeling defenseless and open to attack.
Polio: Paralysing jealousy. A desire to stop someone.
Premenstrual Syndrome: Allowing confusion to reign. Giving power to outside influences. Rejection of the feminine processes.
Prostate: Represents the masculine principle. Mental fears weaken the masculinity. Giving up. Sexual pressure and guilt. Belief in aging.
Psoriasis: Fear of being hurt. Deadening the senses of the self. Refusing to accept responsibility for our own feelings.
Rash: Irritation over delays. Immature way to get attention.
Right Side of Body: Giving out, letting go, masculine energy, men, the father.
Ringworm: Allowing others to get under your skin. Not feeling good enough or clean enough.
Scabies: Infected thinking. Allowing others to get under your skin.
Sciatica: Being hypocritical. Fear of money and of the future.
Scleroderma: Protecting the self from life. Not trusting yourself to be there and to take care of yourself.
Scratches: Feeling life tears at you, that life is a rip off.
Senility: Returning to the so-called safety of childhood. Demanding care and attention. A form of control of those around you. Escapism.
Shin: Represents the standards of life. Breaking down ideals.
Shingles: Waiting for the other shoe to drop. Fear and tension. Too sensitive.
Sinus Problems: Irritation to one person, someone close.
Skin: Protects our individuality. Anxiety, fear. Old, buried things. I am being threatened.
Slipped Disc: Feeling totally unsupported by life. Indecisive.
Snoring: Stubborn refusal to let go of old patterns.
Solar Plexus: Gut reactions. Center of our intuitive power.
Sores: Unexpressed anger that settles in.
Spleen: Obsessions. Being obsessed about things.
Sprains: Anger and resistance. Not wanting to move in a certain direction in life.
Sterility: Fear and resistance to the process of life or not needing to go through the parenting experience.
Stiffness: Rigid, stiff thinking.
Stomach: Holds nourishment. Digests ideas. Dread. Fear of the new. Inability to assimilate the new.
Stroke: Giving up. Resistance. Rather die than change. Rejection of life.
Stuttering: Insecurity. Lack of self-expression. Not being allowed to cry.
Sty: Looking at life through angry eyes. Angry at someone.
Suicidal thoughts: See life only in black and white. Refusal to see another way out.
Teeth: Represent decisions.
– Teeth Problems: Longstanding indecisiveness. Inability to break down ideas for analysis and decisions.
– Root Canal: Can’t bite into anything anymore. Root beliefs being destroyed.
– Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Not giving yourself mental space to create a firm foundation.
Throat: Avenue of expression. Channel of creativity.
– Throat Problems: The inability to speak up for one’s self. Swallowed anger. Stifled creativity. Refusal to change.
– Sore throat: Holding in angry words. Feeling unable to express the self.
Thrush: Anger over making the wrong decisions.
Thymus Gland: Feeling attacked by life. They are out to get me.
Thyroid Gland: Humiliation. I never get to do what I want to do. When is it going to be my turn.
– Hyperthyroid: Rage at being left out.
Tics, Twitches: Fear. A feeling of being watched by others.
Tinnitus or Ringing in the Ears: Refusal to listen. Not hearing the inner voice. Stubbornness.
Toes: Represent the minor details of the future.
Tongue: Represents the ability to taste the pleasures of life with joy.
Tonsillitis: Fear. Repressed emotions. Stifled creativity.
Tuberculosis: Wasting away from selfishness. Possessive. Cruel thoughts. Revenge.
Urinary infections: Pissed off, usually at the opposite sex or a lover. Blaming others.
Uterus: Represents the home of creativity.
Vaginitis: Anger at a mate. Sexual guilt. Punishing the self.
Varicose Veins: Standing in a situation you hate. Discouragement. Feeling over-worked and overburdened.
Vitiligo: Feeling completely outside of things. Not belonging. Not one of the group.
Vomiting: Violent rejection of ideas. Fear of the new.
Warts: Little expressions of hate. Belief in ugliness.
– Plantar Warts: Anger at the very basis of your understanding. Spreading frustration about the future.
Wrist: Represents movement and ease.