Do You Have Grief Trapped in Your Sinuses?

06/22/2017 05:10 pm ET Updated Jun 22, 2017
Sandy and Ron

EFT for Sinusitis, Post-Nasal Drip and Bronchitis

Have you ever wondered why your sinusitis, cough, or post-nasal drip just won’t go away? Psychotherapist Sandy Seeber experienced multiple sinus and lung infections with limited response to several courses of antibiotics after her husband Ron died in 2012. She attended my 2013 Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) workshop for healthcare professionals that I previously described in my Tipping Point for Tapping: EFT Goes Mainstream blog which highlighted the expanding scientific evidence base for EFT.

In the workshop, I mentioned that some diseases may have symbolic meanings related to emotional trauma, and also that sometimes the Chinese five elements can give us insight into that process. When we got to the discussion about how grief can negatively impact the health of the organs associated with the metal element including the lungs and sinuses, she recognized it might accurately reflect her situation.

Sandy shared with me that she was scheduled for sinus surgery in two weeks, but thought that since she had the symptoms for the entire nine months following Ron’s death it might be useful to do some tapping with me first. We did two EFT sessions combined with hypnosis focused on the emotion of grief, and her sinuses cleared rapidly. I also referred her for acupuncture supported by a scientific study of chronic recalcitrant sinusitis. She canceled the surgery, and several months later she was able to deal with the anniversary of Ron’s death without getting sick again.

My first personal experience with my own grief-related symptoms occurred after going to watch a movie in a cold, drafty theater. I felt like I was coming down with a cold afterward, but drank hot ginger tea while taking a hot bath to sweat it out and nipped it in the bud. However, the following evening, I developed annoying post-nasal drip. The associated nagging cough kept me up for the next two nights. My initial attempts at EFT were unsuccessful, as I couldn’t find the emotional root of the problem.

Finally, feeling sleep deprived and desperate in the middle of the third night I began to do EFT on my frustration with not knowing why I had this persistent symptom. I had a flashback to the movie Shall We Dance where Richard Gere is having a midlife crisis and his daughter can see right through his façade. I realized the daughter reminded me of my own daughters who I had been seeing less since my divorce a couple years earlier. I tapped on missing my girls, and the symptoms disappeared in a few minutes.

As a radiologist, I’ve read hundreds of chest and sinus radiographs, but it wasn’t until confronted with these examples that I began to consider the story behind what I was seeing on the images as described in my Symptoms: A Choice Between Suppression and a Search for Meaning blog. In exploring the medical literature for relevant references, I came across a remarkable paper by clinical immunologist/psychiatrist Brian Broom, Symbolic Diseases and ‘MindBody’ Co-Emergence. A Challenge for Psychoneuroimmunology.

In the paper and his book Somatic Illness and the Patient’s Other Story he shares the insight that many of his patients with serious immunological illnesses actually have symbolic diseases and cites decades of prior psychosomatic research in support of this understanding. In his practice he began doing brief psychotherapy with his patients who often experienced surprising healing and got off many of their medications.

One of his patients complained of congestion, sneezing and “cold, wet eyes” which a number of ear, nose and throat specialists attributed to allergy. However, Dr. Broom found no evidence of allergy and discovered that the symptoms began after the patient left his wife 10 years earlier. He expressed sadness at losing her and continued longings for the relationship despite the fact that he actually had a new partner. Psychotherapy related to these issues resulted in complete resolution of the symptoms which essentially represented “crying, without crying.”

In my practice, this symbolic approach with the Chinese five elements often provides the key to healing for patients whose immune symptoms appear quite mysterious and are labeled idiopathic in conventional medicine. I encourage my academic colleagues who are allergists, ENT specialists and pulmonologists to ask their patients if they have suffered a recent loss and to consider doing more rigorous research in this area.

These concepts can be applied with EFT to treat other enigmatic physical illnesses such as frozen shoulder. If you think you may have a symbolic disease, you may find some useful insights in my free Symptoms as Metaphors videos. For a more in-depth exploration I am co-facilitating a weeklong workshop on Medical Intuition and Symbolic Healing at the Monroe Institute in Virginia on 10/14–20/2017 with medical intuitive Winter Robinson.

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