DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, when I looked at the kind of people that would be coming under my care in palliative care, but also the kind of people who would get sick when I was in family practice, a number of salient characteristics presented themselves. One was the repression of anger. People didn’t know how to express negative emotion. They were afraid to do so or did not know when they were angry. People who were pleasers, they tried to always not to disappoint other people. They never knew how to say no. They took on everything without a murmur, because they saw their role as always being the caregivers and the caretakers. And they had an exceedingly powerful sense of duty, role and responsibility.
Now, if you look at the role of healthy assertion of boundaries and anger, for example, it’s actually there to protect you. I’m talking about healthy anger. It’s not there to attack anybody; it’s just there to protect your boundaries. That’s the same role as the immune system have. The immune system also functions like a brain. It has memory, it has reactive capacity, and it has learning capacity. In fact, the immune system has been called the “floating brain.” And it’s in interaction with the brain up in our heads.
Now, women, for example, with breast cancer, who don’t know how to express anger, they’ve been shown to have diminished activity of a group of immune cells called natural killer cells. Natural killer cells attack foreign bacteria, virus and also malignant cells. have been able to increase the natural killer cells. In other words, they protect our boundaries. Women who don’t know how to express their boundaries emotionally, they suppress their boundaries immunologically, and therefore they’re more likely to develop disease. The same is true, of course, of men, so that the immune system is in constant interaction with our emotional responses.... --Dr. Gabor Maté on the Stress-Disease Connection, Addiction, Attention Deficit Disorder and the Destruction of American Childhood
Labels: health, mental health, mind-body