Health care professionals and researchers report that traumatized women have more than their share of a variety of chronic diseases and health problems. Sadly, it is all too common that many of these health issues are either not addressed and/or focused on symptom relief. I think that there are at least two reasons for this.
For starters, there is a woefully limited perception and understanding in this country about the extent and impact of people with personality disorders. In the UK and Canada, there seems to be more awareness, perhaps due to the work of Robert Hare, who is based in British Columbia and has done a great deal of training in Canada and the UK. Therefore, most primary health care providers in the US do not have a clue about a) the existence and prevalence of successful psychopaths and therefore b) the impact of these relationships on a woman’s health. Understandably, these providers attribute stress and or genetics as causes for the women’s physical symptoms.
The second problem, IMO, is that the current paradigm of health care is symptom focused. Diagnostic tests, medications and other treatments are primarily “targeted” at symptom relief. All you have to do is watch TV for a few minutes and there it is: Advertisements for medications-prescriptions and over the counter drugs for colds and the flu, hypertension, allergies, headaches, insomnia, fatigue and low energy, acne, constipation, muscle aches and pains, it is endless.
Yes, we all want a quick fix. But all too often the fix itself is either ineffective and or laden with serious side effects. The alternative health industry sometimes falls into this category, and many of these options are heaven-sent. We now know about the use of Arnica for bruises, Valerian for sleep, and echinacea and high does of Vitamin D for building up the immune system. These alternatives are frequently more effective and less toxic than artificial chemicals, but the focus can remain on treating the symptom, not the underlying causes.
Why is there such an emphasis on symptom reduction? Perhaps because, coming from inside the current medical paradigm, there are very few answers to questions like “Why is my blood pressure so high?” or “Why do I have such bad heart disease?” While there are obviously genetic components, most genetic predispositions require the presence of certain environmental factors before a disease process is triggered.
Readers of this column know the real answer to these questions-because the woman with the symptoms is or has been in a relationship with a disordered person. And that her neurotransmitters, immune and endocrine systems are probably way out of balance. We know that when one or more of these systems is out of balance-(due to stress, diet, environmental factors such as metal allergies, and or genetics) that there is a very high likelihood that one, the other or both are also out of balance. These imbalances are now being considered the primary causes of everything from insomnia to autoimmune disease. Look for further discussion of this topic in my next column.
Most practitioners think inside, and there are exceptions-the current educational, diagnostic and treatment systems which are locked into the old paradigm. It is very, very difficult to find a way out or around that from the inside out. One cannot see what one does not see.
Additionally, to make matters worse, often one treatment leads to another so that the side effects of a surgery, radiation treatment, or a pharmacological intervention snowball. The cycle perpetuates itself. Rarely do you hear the question-what is driving this arthritis? The hypertension?
I think that we are experiencing the beginning of the end of the power of traditional medicine to improve our health. For women who are healing from disordered relationships the need for answers and solutions to health care problems, some of which are very serious-
- self-doubt about the reasons for health problems
- feelings of unworthiness rated to seeking care, and/or
- child-like dependency on health care providers
no longer serve your best interests.
What then? Knowledge is power. Read. Ask questions. The incredible rise in the last decade of alternative healthcare-integrative medicine, holistic care, demonstrates both the waning utility of the old paradigm and willingness to take responsibility for one’s own health care. I can think of no greater empowerment for women formally in disordered relationships than their taking charge of their emotional and physical health.