All of us have a biography: a set or string of events, which make up our lives. Not all of these events that have occurred in our biography are pleasant. As we go through our lives many of us drag these unpleasant events along with us throughout the years and these events shape who we are to become. Often times we give energy to these events and feed them for the purpose of filling a void or a need. We reach out to others in our lives and share this biography in the hopes of eliciting some sort of gain. The energy that comes from these events is negative. As we share these negative events with others that energy feeds our cells. That negative energy that is feeding our cells is also feeding our illnesses and our diseases. That which was once known as our biography has now become our biology.
Over the past few decades there has been a huge shift in how we speak to each other and about what we share. On her audio CD, “Why People Don’t Heal”, Caroline Myss (2001) attributes this shift to our level of intimacy. Myss contends that prior to WWII we as a society did not speak on the same level of intimacy that we do today. She describes this language as “Woundology”. Woundology as she suggests is basically the language we exchange with others that gives us power. We manipulate others by using this language to feed our wounds of the past. For some people healing is not an option because if they are healed or cured of their disease or illness they would lose their power over others.
So many people use their illnesses as a crutch, a way to avoid an event, a situation, or to either draw people into their lives or to distance themselves. If the illness were no longer present in would force them to confront these events, or situations, and possibly eliminate their excuses for developing meaningful relationships. One event that comes to mind is of a woman who had committed numerous injustices towards others throughout her life. Her life had revolved around feeding her own pleasures while ignoring the consequences. Nothing in her life ever went the way it was supposed to and she had always been the victim. Later in life this woman developed a chronic illness. Now she was truly the victim and could use this illness to justify all of the unpleasant events, which had occurred in her life prior to the onset of the illness. She could also blame the illness for all of the injustices, which she had bestowed on others. This would alleviate her from the burden or responsibility of ever having to say she was sorry and she could remain the victim. Her conversations usually included a reference to her illness and an elaborate explanation of why it prevents her from doing so many things. Oh how she hates this illness. Why me is now her mantra as she so gracefully assumes the role as…the victim. Her family tries to comfort her and tell her that it is not her fault. They suggest numerous resources, which may help her with her illness but she refuses. If she were to seek out these resources and they actually cured her of her disease she would lose that power and be forced to take responsibility for her actions.
Caroline Myss states, “Healing is unattractive”. (2001). Healing is most definitely unattractive because it requires addressing all the wounds that we tend to sugar coat and bury away in the deepest darkest crevasses of our being. When you are addressing these wounds and bringing them to the surface there is a metaphorical festering prior to healing. When you heal you also lose the drama that draws in other victims. Now you no longer have this audience who is attracted to your illness, and you are forced to find a new audience, or a healthier audience.
Healing requires change and change can be frightening to some. It is much easier for most people to remain within their comfort zone and to stick with what they know. Healing requires commitment. If you have been using your illness to avoid commitment it will be extremely difficult to give up the sanctuary provided to you by your illness. Healing also requires taking responsibility for your actions. Most people would find it much easier to hang on to the illness than it would be to take responsibility for their own lives. There can be much comfort in an illness if you allow it to nurture your needs. You can also think of an illness as a bad habit, which many of us are not ready to kick. Its like giving up any bad habit, there are always those triggers that draw us back to our vices. When we do decide that it is time to give up that habit we must begin to deprive ourselves of the things that we love, the things that comfort us, and the things that nurture us in our time of need.
Anorexia and bulimia are actually illnesses that revolve around deprivation; a wound so deep that it has no language and cannot be expressed. It eats away from the inside out until the exterior self starts to mirror the interior. The visual then becomes the language as the appearance creates the victim. The stage is set as the audience gathers. Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, gather around to see…the victim. Despite the fact that they could not express their concerns or that they had no language or “woundology”, the illness has served its purpose. Like a neon sign that flashes incessantly, “See me, I am the victim”.
Conversely those who become addicted to food often try to insulate themselves from the world around them. There exists some fear of intimacy or rejection, which is satiated through the comfort of food; a non judgemental confidant always standing by in their hour of need.
So how can we relate other illnesses to this internal eruption that derives from our inner self and manifests itself externally as disease? The German homeopath, Constantine Hering laid down three laws of cure, which are known as Hering’s laws. According to Hering's first law, “healing progresses from the deepest part of the organism – the mental and emotional levels and the vital organs – to the external parts, such as the skin and extremities. A cure is in progress when a person’s psychological symptoms lessen and the physical symptoms increase.” “On the other hand, if physical symptoms improve but the psychological state worsens, the person’s state of health is thought to be deteriorating”. (Cummings & Ullman, 1997) So what Hering was actually saying is that if you heal the inner emotional wound the exterior manifestation will follow. Perhaps the language used to describe certain emotions is not that far from the cure. People that are riddled with guilt, those who are so angry they say it is eating them up inside, when someone is sad and becomes chocked up, or even when we refer to having a broken heart. These emotions certainly trigger a physiological response within the body.
Many of us contribute to our own ill health by indulging in behaviors despite the fact that we know they are bad for us. However, if you look at these behaviors there is usually a psychological trigger which puts the behavior in motion. Consider this, we reach for food, smoke cigarettes, and drink alcohol when we are stressed, when we are angry, and when we are sad. We know that these behaviors or substances are bad for us but we use them as a crutch just like we do our illnesses. So is it the emotional factor that is making us ill or is it the physical substance that we are putting into our bodies that is making us ill? Perhaps if we addressed the emotional aspect of the situation we wouldn’t have to comfort ourselves with the physical substances and therefore we might avoid certain illnesses in the future.
It is my belief that many of us may not even realize that we are contributing to our own ill health. Symptoms start to arise and we look to eliminate the symptom. Why would we assume that in order to address the physical complaint we must address the internal wound? In our western culture this is not the norm. It takes a strong person to delve into the psyche and mend and nurture those wounds. Perhaps if we as a culture begin to mainstream these theories they will eventually become the norm and people will first look inward when addressing illnesses and disease. Regardless of whether or not these theories are the norm there will always be those people who refuse to let go of their illness, and those who refuse to heal.


Cummings, S., & Ullman, D. (1997). Everybody’s guide to homeopathic medicines. New York: Penguin Group Inc.

Myss, C (2001). Why people don’t heal. [CD ROM]. Available: Colorado: Sounds True

Author's Bio: 

Natalie Vickery is a Certified Family Herbalist and a doctoral student in Naturopathy. Her primary philosophy is “The Doctor as the Teacher”, as she works to educate others on the benefits of healing naturally and taking responsibility for individual health. Natalie is a member of the American Herbalist Guild and provides consultations focusing on nutrition and herbal medicine. If you would like to learn more about Natalie or her practice you can find her on the web at http://thefamilyherbalist.com