9. The Roles of Illness: Escape, Justification, and Punishment

If the intelligence is capable of running a perfectly healthy body, why do we get sick?

Graf Stress Management finds that health problems are often the result of our intelligence giving us what we subconsciously feel we need.

In other words, we often use health problems to subconsciously fulfill one or more of the following stress-driven purposes:

  1. Providing escapes from unmanageable situations;
  2. Providing justification for or manifestation of fears, expectations, or negative feelings;
  3. Punishing ourselves or others.

The mechanism by which this happens is as follows, simplified for the sake of space:

Escapes   There are times when we feel that we can’t cope with a situation.  If we see no graceful way out, we may create a physical health problem as an escape.  There are infinite individualized reasons people escape and unlimited ways to do it, whether it’s the minor stomachache to get out of school, or in the extreme, a terminal illness to exit a bad marriage from which divorce is not an option.  Our intelligence literally runs the body and can give us whatever we need to make it happen.  We’ve likely all used escapes at some point without even realizing it.

Justifications   We frequently justify our fears or expectations by turning them into reality.  We fear “catching” a cold from someone who’s got one and sure enough, we do.  Is it because our immune system can’t kill the virus, or because our expectation is so strong that our intelligence complies by directing the immune system not to attack?  Have we given the virus the upper hand by virtue of our fears and expectations?  Why is it that some people never seem to have cold symptoms?  Could it be that they don’t expect to get sick if exposed and therefore don’t need to justify the fear and expectation?

The world is filled with microorganisms, many linked to diseases.  Billions of microbes pass through our body each day, kept in check by our immune system.  But when a situation triggers our fears or expectations of becoming sick, our intelligence responds by delivering the illness we either feared, expected, or felt we deserved.

It would be interesting to observe the disposition of these same microorganisms in the body of a person who has no need to either justify fears or expectations, escape from a situation, or punish himself.

Justification of negative feelings can also appear as “hereditary” problems where.  We tend to think of these as inevitable genetic imperatives, but in fact Graf Stress Management indicates that children (including adult children) can subconsciously feel the need to have the same malady as a parent to “justify” being accepted by that parent, particularly if there have been feelings of rejection in the relationship.  It’s as if the child were saying, “See, I’m your son /daughter.  I have (nearsightedness/breast cancer/etc.) just like you.”

Justifications can help us save face, too, as with one young woman who subconsciously used excess weight to justify never being married.  She’d felt rejected most of her life and was fearful of being rejected by suitors.  The Stress Evaluation revealed that it was less painful to feel like a man wouldn’t marry her because of her weight than because “she was her” — i.e., because of something essential about her.

Punishments    Each of us has value standards associated with our performance in everything, from the trivial (such as how load the dishwasher), to the important (integrity, morality, financial success, educational achievement, and family relationships).  When we live up to our standards, we like ourselves and enjoy high self-esteem.

But when our behavior falls short of our standards, we don’t like ourselves and have low self-esteem.  Often, our first response to sub-standard behavior is to justify it by blaming someone else for what we did. When this doesn’t work, we may internalize the stress and develop physical symptoms to punish ourselves for it.  We may also use symptoms to punish other people for what they’ve done to us.

In summary, a fundamental tenet of Graf Stress Management is that health problems are frequently escapes, justifications, and punishments rather than events that “just happen” due to microorganisms, genes, and forces beyond our control. While some are offended at the suggestion that they’ve “made themselves sick,” if it is true it offers expanded possibilities for taking care of our health.

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Richardson, in Rockville, Maryland, has been certified to practice Graf Stress Management since 1991. In addition, she holds a B.A. in Economics and an M.S. in Operations Research and formerly worked for the Congressional Budget Office doing econometric modeling.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.