Disease: The Need For Authenticity

When The Body Says No: Mind/Body Unity and the Stress- Disease Connection Dr. Gabor Maté

The stress, disease connection: The Need For  Authenticity

Depending on how much attention you are willing to pay to the details of your life, you can live in health or disease. The most fundamental need within the human being, is to touch someone else’s life with what you offer. However, if you don’t have healthy boundaries, you can become sick.

When we say yes to everything and do not set boundaries with people, we can feel stressed, overwhelmed, and burned out. Most of us want to be liked and to please other people, so it can be difficult to turn down requests that others have made of us. Are you a people pleaser? Problem is, most of us are.

Constant psychological, emotional or physical stress raises the level of cortisol, creating inflammation and disease. For more on the effects of stress on your body, read How Stress Creates A Double-Whammy Threat to Your Health.

Disease - stress

Photo attributed to MasimbaTinasheMadondo Pixabay

What many people do not realise is that continuous stress disables the body’s immune system which makes you more susceptible to disease. Everyone experiences stress, of course, but it’s particularly prevalent among adults over 50. In a recent Harvard University, NPR poll, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation discovered about a quarter of 2,500 participants said they’d experienced “a great deal” of stress in the last month. Another poll, conducted in August of 2014 by AARP, found 37 percent of adults over 50 experienced a major stressful life event in the past year, such as the death of a family member, chronic illness or a job loss.

Stress is one of the direct causes of inflammation

One of the most powerful weapons your body possesses is inflammation, designed to eliminate enemies such as bacteria, injured cells and chemical irritants. While we might not be able to live without it, too much inflammation can cause serious damage. Chronic, persistent inflammation is behind a host of health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, cancer and many more.

Rudolf Virchow was the first to ask whether inflammation might also contribute to cancer. In the case against inflammation, the evidence is damning.

In his book, Dr. Gabor Maté  talks about the disease-prone personality

“No personality causes disease. So there’s no cancer personality. However, there are some common traits that, if they are present in exaggerated degrees, will make you more predisposed to the disease. They don’t cause it, but make you more likely to get it because they increase the amount of physiological stress you’ve got inside you. So people who don’t know how to say no, people who are rigid and compulsive, perfectionistic, expecting themselves to be perfect in everything, people who don’t know how to express their experience of anger in a healthy way, people who compulsively and automatically take care of others and don’t think of their own needs, these people are physiologically stressed, whether they know it or not.” Dr. Gabor Maté

What wakes people up is paying attention to what doesn’t work, whether it’s in your family, career or in yourself. According to Dr. Gabor Maté, most people do not tend to express anger in a healthy way. Suppressed anger and emotions is the cause of prolonged hidden stress. You need to learn to express yourself in a healthy way and release inner tensions. Moreover, people who report more minor irritants in their lives also have more mental and physical health problems than those who encounter fewer hassles.

“Anger is a necessary boundary protection. If something or somebody transgresses your boundaries, you express anger, not necessarily to hurt them, but simply to keep them out of your space. That’s a healthy response. More generally, the role of emotion is to keep out that which is dangerous or threatening, and to permit that which is nurturing and helpful. So we have anger, we have love, we have attraction, we have revulsion, the whole thing. But that’s exactly the role of the immune system. It’s to keep out that which is noxious and unhealthy, and to attack it if necessary, and to allow in that which is nurturing and supportive.” Dr. Gabor Maté

Growing evidence shows that our sensitivity to stress as adults is already programmed in infancy. Specifically, the amount of stress encountered in early life sensitises an organism to a certain level of adversity. High levels of early life stress may result in hypersensitivity to stress later, as well as to adult depression.

A history of various stress related experiences such as abuse and neglect in early life are a common feature of those with chronic depression in adulthood, for example. Physiological changes that occur in the body as the result of unhealed trauma and its associated stress, anxiety, and depression translates into conditions in the body that make you susceptible to physical ailments. In a landmark 1990 study of 17,421 patients, Kaiser Permanente and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) collaborated on the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, which has resulted in over 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles.


Photo attributed to Bhakti Iyata Pixabay

Symptoms of inflammation include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Acid reflux
  • Visible signs of aging
  • Susceptibility to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections
  • Psoriasis and acne
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Candidiasis
  • Urinary tract infections

Setting boundaries can be difficult, but is such an important part of having healthy relationships and establishing an overall sense of well-being. It’s helpful to remember that when you say “no” to things, it frees up your time to focus on the pursuits that truly energize and excite you. Having good boundaries also enables you to experience less stress and to follow your life’s passion and purpose.

When The Body Says No: Mind/Body Unity and the Stress- Disease Connection ” a book written by Dr. Gabor Maté

“Because of the physiological unity of mind/body, because of the physiological unity of the brain’s emotional centers, the immune system, the hormonal and nervous systems, when you suppress something in one area you are risking suppressing it in another area, so when you suppress your boundaries emotionally, you are also suppressing your immune responses. And therefore your body is not as able to fight back against malignancy or, just as anger can turn against the self, so can the immune system. The boundary issues are clear.” Dr. Gabor Maté

If you’ve experienced trauma in your life and you sense that it might be predisposing you to illness or interfering with medical treatment, please know that you are not alone and that there is no shame in having experienced trauma. Most of us have trauma in our bodies and minds. You are not alone in your traumas, and you need not hide your pain or resist treating it. Trauma can be cured, and you can have your radiant, vital life back, if only you have the courage to seek the appropriate help.

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Link to book by Dr.Gabor Maté US

Link to book by Dr.Gabor Maté UK

Book description on Amazon

Can a person literally die of loneliness? Is there such a thing as a “”cancer personality””? Drawing on scientific research and the author’s decades of experience as a practicing physician, this book provides answers to these and other important questions about the effect of the mind-body link on illness and health and the role that stress and one’s individual emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.

  • Explores the role of the mind-body link in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, IBS, and multiple sclerosis
  • Draws on medical research and the author’s clinical experience as a family physician
  • Includes The Seven A’s of Healing-principles of healing and the prevention of illness from hidden stress

Shares dozens of enlightening case studies and stories, including those of people such as Lou Gehrig (ALS), Betty Ford (breast cancer), Ronald Reagan (Alzheimer’s), Gilda Radner (ovarian cancer), and Lance Armstrong (testicular cancer)

An international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, When the Body Says No promotes learning and healing, providing transformative insights into how disease can be the body’s way of saying no to what the mind cannot or will not acknowledge.

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