Updated: Oct 26, 2020
Psychosomatic disorders are body (soma) conditions that are thought to be created by the mind (psyche). These disorders are tricky to discuss because the conversation can give the impression that the problem is “all in your head.” This reflects our poor understanding of the relationship between the body and the mind, and again gives us an opportunity to see how philosophy affects our every day clinical care.
From the perspective of materialism, the brain creates the mind, therefore the brain and body are the locus of the mind. If the mind turns around and creates a problem for the body, it seems less important because after all, the mind isn’t the one in charge right? It’s almost like saying, “You’re weak. Get it together.”
Well, the idea that the brain creates the mind is actually a philosophical assumption, not a scientific fact, and the assumption gets us in trouble. It causes us to take the mind less seriously than the body—which seems more solid and significant—and our patients suffer as a result.
From the perspective of advaita vedanta and objective idealism, the brain and body are processes of the mind, or representations of the mind. Furthermore, the mind is not only the local First Mind, but also the broader Second Mind. From this perspective, we all are psychosomatic human beings. We all have Psychosomatic Order: Our bodies are ordered processes of the mind. With this view, we lose none of the power of our current scientific understanding, yet we gain a broader perspective and potentially powerful new diagnostic and treatment avenues.