There is a theory that we have different parts inside ourselves, separate from the personality, that have different agendas, actions and reasons for existing –
and that sometimes one of these parts, with the intention of protecting us, will sometimes manifest in us an illness or a symptom to draw our attention away from a possible emotionally stressful or conflicting situation.
How could this happen? Often when we are small people, we are subject to many stresses – environment, parental, internal to name a few – and as we are still emotionally developing there is a need to deal with conflict or stress in the best way available to us. While the concept of having separate personalities (parts) that are in conflict and act autonomously is familiar to most people courtesy of popular culture (think United States of Tara!), we each have different parts of our personality that exist within us, although perhaps less dramatically enacted than in Tara’s case. In most common cases, a part of ourselves can split off and stay in the background of our consciousness or become a part of our unconscious mind until a similar situation to the one that drove it there will occur and trigger it to resurface.
These parts generally have a protective intention or function – they spring in to action to save us from a potentially life threatening situation, since that is how the part often views the conflict. The conflict may be real enough, such as getting a hiding for doing something we were forbidden to do (the ‘hiding’ being perceived as a threat to our life), or it may only be an imagined threat, such as being briefly left alone in the supermarket aisle (experienced as abandonment, even though Mother or Father is only in the next aisle!)
The energy created by the perceived stressor needs an outlet, and instead of being in the form of an angry outburst (which has been conditioned out of us) will find expression in a back pain or a sore throat (not feeling supported/not being able to speak our truth). Our differing parts are also apparent in other internal conflicts we may face, such as whether to have that last piece of chocolate cake, or not, or whether to catch the latest episode of Mad Men, or instead to work on that report that you promised your boss in the morning.
There is an effective method of dealing with these conflicting parts, allowing us to integrate and therefore resolve them. Courtesy of NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) there is a method known as ‘parts integration’ which has the effect of finding the highest good intention that each part represents until the parts agree. Since the two parts discover that their intention for us is the same, they can no longer be in conflict so the dilemma dissolves.
Do you have parts that are in conflict – what does each part want for you?