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   . Chronic Illness References .

Chronic Illness References

A Family Physician's Fresh Perspective on Chronic Illness
Mate, G. (2003) When the Body Says No: Understanding the stress-disease connection. Hoboken, NJ, Wiley and Sons.

This is one of the most powerful books to read if you wonder about the role of emotions in symptoms or chronic illness. As in the model presented on this website and in Sarno's work (see Chronic Pain, below), the paradigm and research suggest that repressed emotions play a remarkably important role in driving the onset and perpetuation of physical and emotional symptoms, and may play a critical role in the origins of chronic illness.

Dr. Mate presents the following question in his book, stating that not one of the many adults interviewed for this book could answer in the affirmative when asked the following:

"When, as a child, you felt sad, upset or angry, was there anyone you could talk to - even when he or she was the one who had triggered your negative emotions?"

"In a quarter century of clinical practice, including a decade of palliative work, I have never heard anyone with cancer or with any chronic illness or condition say yes to that question. Many children are conditioned in this manner not because of any intended harm or abuse, but because the parents themselves are too threatened by the anxiety, anger or sadness they sense in their child - or are simply too busy or too harassed themselves to pay attention - "My mother or father needed me to be happy" is the simple fomula that trained many a child - later a stressed and depressed or physically ill adult - into lifelong patterns of repression."

Dr. Mate is a family physician who, through years of clinical work and interviews, has identified a unifying theory presenting compelling evidence for the role of early attachment relationships and stress on the origins of chronic illness. He is compassionate, nonjudgmental, and shares some of his own background as the child of a survivor of the Holocaust. Each chapter presents stories from individuals with specific illnesses such as MS, Lupus, Cancer, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, among others.


Madrid, A. (2010). The Mother and Child Reunion: Repairing the broken bond. Published by Asthma Busters through lulu.

Madrid, A. (1991). Maternal-infant bonding and pediatric asthma: an initial investigation. Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, 5(4), 346-358.

Tony Madrid, Ph.D., has spent a few decades exploring the role of bonding disruptions in the onset of asthma. He's discovered that asthma is often associated with stressful events experienced during pregnancy, labor and/ or delivery that make it more difficult to a mother to bond with her baby. Even more importantly, he's been successful in treating asthma in young children (usually under the age of 9 years) by treating the mother and helping her heal the traumatic event(s) (see Asthma Busters).

Remen, Rachel Naomi (1996). Kitchen table wisdom: stories that heal. New York: Riverhead.

Remen, Rachel Naomi (2000). My grandfather's blessings: stories of strength, refuge, and belonging. New York: Riverhead.

These are a collection of gentle, sweet and sometimes humorous stories shared by Dr. Remen from her practice using psychotherapy with individuals with cancer. Dr. Remen herself has inflammatory bowel disease and shares some of her experiences with her illness and process as well.

Chronic Fatigue
Johnson, Hillary. (1996) Osler's Web: Inside the labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome epidemic . New York, Crown.

Interview with author Hillary Johnson, a journalist who was diagnosed with CFS in 1986 and who spent 9 years exploring the clinical evolution and history of CFS. Her book also delves into the politics involved in trying to understand the origins of this disease.
A commentary on this book, which has received negative reviews by some for its criticism of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), among others, who have downplayed or ignored this disease, or who have labelled it as a psychiatric illness.

Go to Events: January 2005 to download handouts or find links to a local support group for Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia.

Whitfield, Charles L. (2004) The Truth about Depression: Choices for Healing. Deerfield Beach, Florida. Health Communications Inc.

Oriented for the lay reader, this book references over 250 articles linking trauma and depression, and describes our understanding of how trauma affects the brain and impacts symptoms. The author also describes the numerous research studies demonstrating little difference between antidepressants and placebo, providing a perspective for understanding why antidepressants seem to offer so little benefit to so many people despite strong promotion by the pharmaceutical industry. Whitfield is a physician who has worked as a psychotherapist for over 20 years.

High Blood Pressure
Sarno, J.E. (2006) The Divided Mind: the epidemic of mindbody disorders. New York, Regan Books.

One of the chapters in this book is written by Dr. Sammuel Mann, a cardiologist who has found that Sarno's perspective that repressed emotions (which come from trauma and poor attachment experiences in early life) drive many chronic physical conditions also applies to a subgroup of people whose blood pressure does not respond to treatment. Dr. Mann proposes pyschotherapy for those who are interested, and describes a compassionate and alternate approach for those who want to try medical approaches when most have failed.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Foulds, S. (2010). Colitis and Crohn's: products of fear, anger and guilt. An integrated summary of interviews from doctoral thesis research (see more on Simon Foulds and his book)

An academic doctoral research study conducted by a medical anthropologist, whose curiosity was initiated when a loved one developed IBD. He has been interested in this area, conducted research for decades, and presents stories from a series of in-depth interviews. The following is his description of his findings, with one note that I have added, in [ ].

"My proposal is that starting out with an insecure childhood [in which there is a lack of nurturing attachment relationships], IBD sufferers then have to deal with extreme forms of bullying or intimidation from a specific parent, and/or sexual humiliation or abuse - and then find themselves incapable of dealing with authoritarian figures in their lives, e.g. sexual partners AND gastroenterologists. Remission happens (as in the case of five of my informants) by repudiating the symbolic personae conjured up by persecutors (and medical types) and acknowledgment that stress has been an etiological and continuing factor - and separating themselves from unwanted mentors as well as medical intervention. ALL my informants spontaneously referred to severe emotional ambiguities in their circumstances that they believe relevant to illness onset."

"Dr. Foulds believes that research in neurobiology and especially psychoneuroimmunology holds the key to understanding IBD. Laboratory studies reveal a connection between a stressed paleomammalian limbic system and IBD in animals. This and other hypotheses are discussed in a Postcript to the presentation of illness careers of IBD sufferers, whose narratives form a major part of his book."

Menopause and Fibroids

Northrup, Christiane (2012). The Wisdom of Menopause Creating physical and emotional health during the change

A connecting, empowering and detailed discussion of menopause as a new phase in women's lives, this book describes Dr. Northrup's personal experiences with menopause and fibroids, as well as data based on great experience as a pioneer in this field. She emphasizes the role of working with repressed emotions and old beliefs as a powerful tool for reducing or minimizing symptoms during menopause and for maximizing long term health. She also provides a thorough review of dietary and medical treatment approaches.

Sarno, J.E. (2006) The Divided Mind: the epidemic of mindbody disorders. New York, Regan Books.

This book is comprised of a series of chapters written by Dr. John Sarno, (originally known for his work treating back pain) and colleagues, based on a perspective that repressed emotions (which come from trauma and bonding disruptions, according to the paradigm presented on this website) drive many chronic physical conditions. They present cases of individuals who fully recovered from chronic pain and pain following injuries.

A chapter on hypertension, by Dr. Sammuel Mann, presents a similar theory for a subgroup of people whose blood pressure does not respond to treatment. He proposes pyschotherapy for those who are interested, and describes a compassionate and alternate approach for those who may not want to enter therapy.

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