You have come across the word somatic before. In ‘psychosomatic’, psycho refers to the mind, and soma, to the body (roots in ancient Greek). If you think of psychiatry treating the mind, and western medicine treating the body, somatic therapy builds a bridge between the two with a focus on direct bodywork.
The lodging of trauma in the body is a well-known phenomenon, and in somatic terms, the body has a mind of its own. So what is it good for? A surprising amount of diseases have a basis in trauma, ranging from clearly psychological disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), to arcane-sounding diseases like fibromyalgia and temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Other established psychosomatic diseases are: migraine, back pain, chest, stomach, facial, vaginal pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, non-epileptic seizures, Gulf War Syndrome and various chemical sensitivities.
Some claim that even cancer can have a base in inability to effectively cope with trauma. It is particularly relevant for children: common examples of psychosomatic illnesses in children are hives, eczema, bronchial asthma, diabetes, and stomach ulcers.
The causes of trauma are manifold: domestic abuse, childhood abuse, being robbed, being in a war zone, any event that incurs feelings of terror, lack of control, and helplessness. When trauma gets trapped in the body, it can show up in incredible physiological ways: impacting the skin, internal organs, cognitive abilities, and severely debilitating the individuals’ daily functionality.
Men report the biggest causes of trauma to be rape, combat, and childhood neglect or physical abuse. Women reported sexual molestation, physical attack, threat with a weapon, and childhood sexual abuse. PTSD can be accompanied other disorders such as lifetime alchohol abuse or dependence.