Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, eczema, Crohn’s, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, these are just a few examples of autoimmune diseases. In a nutshell, your system gets confused and starts to attack itself.
I wrote a bit about the emotional conditions that set us up for susceptibility to autoimmune conditions in a co-authored book on soul fragments, I'll give you that excerpt of the chapter below, as well as unpack some other ideas in this post.
The Early Childhood Trauma Link
The correlation between early childhood trauma and autoimmune disease is astounding, especially for women. In dealing with people in my day-to-day life, I noticed this link myself, and after hearing from others in different healing modalities who had also seen the correlation, I went digging for the proof. I found a study supporting my findings published by the American Psychosomatic Society (Dube). This study researched the possible link between the scores of each of 15,357 participants with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and their medical records. The results were staggering.
The link between childhood trauma and later developing an autoimmune condition is comparable to the link between a fast-food diet and obesity or between alcoholism and liver failure.
For every ACE a person has, the likelihood of a first hospitalization with any autoimmune disease increased 20 percent for women and 10 percent for men. In other words, a woman with three adverse childhood experiences is 60 percent more likely to be hospitalized with an autoimmune condition than a woman with no adverse childhood experiences.
The types of ACEs include "childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; witnessing domestic violence; growing up with household substance abuse, mental illness, parental divorce, and/or an incarcerated household member.
Should you want to know your ACE score you can take the test here. Keep in mind, the ACE test does not cover every circumstance that may have been traumatizing to you. If there were things in your childhood that felt major to you, that didn't get scored, you can adjust the score as you see fit. You are a person, not a scientific research project, and while such a concrete test is helpful for seeing patterns with cross-sections of people, it ceases to be as helpful when it's your individual life.
Self-Hatred and Epigenetics as Emotional Roots
I've heard it said that autoimmune disease is rooted in self-hatred. You're attacking yourself. That might be true in some people, but even when it is, I don't think it goes back far enough. Self-rejection often tracks back to early childhood again, with an emotionally abusive (whether they intended or realized it or not) parent or other close figure that you didn't get approval from. With self-hatred, you never quite live up to your own expectations, but were they really your expectations in the first place? In a way, if you boil it down, it's just shame. Who taught you you were only worthy of your own distain?
That critical internal voice is well meaning, believing that if it can get you performing right, looking right, then you'll have right relationships. It's not truth, it's a false strategy from a wounded younger you.
Self-hate also isn't always so extreme. It doesn't come across as "hate" to constantly being seeing your flaws and trying to work on them. Sometimes there is a fine line between self-improvement and self-nitpicking. It can be a perception of how you think you should be an a rejection of your true design.
I spoke with a doctor in South Africa briefly about it, and she remembered a case where the person was a mixed race. She believed that the two sides of their DNA were fighting each other. The hate was coming generationally through epigenetics. This doesn't have to only apply to racism, but anywhere hatred reigned. If Romeo and Juliet had lived long enough to procreate, their child may have had a greater risk of developing an autoimmune disorder.
It's not only psychological or spiritual causes though...
It’s never just one thing that causes us to go off the rails. We are more resilient than that. Autoimmune diseases are a first world problem and I don’t mean it in the way that we’ve begun bringing perspective to the little things that get us upset. I mean that the array of autoimmune diseases we see in developed countries are not as much a third world problem excluding AIDS of course. You can’t tell me it’s because those countries take better care of their children.
There is a theory out there, and I believe it holds weight, which is that immune systems expect to see a certain level of invaders, foreign substance, infection, etc and if that level isn’t reached naturally, then the immune system goes looking for it and misses the mark on what those things should be. This is why we should let the kid play in the dirt and stop trying to create a germ-free environment.
Another idea is that it’s very connected to our gut flora, which is upset quite easily through our modern and industrial food supply being inundated with pesticides and antibiotics.
While it's high time that we begin to acknowledge severe emotional trauma playing a part in our physical issues, we would be wrong to throw out our attempts to correct our health via nutrition and other therapies that are only aiming at the physical. The truth is that we are triune beings and our issues need addressing on all three levels; spirit, soul, and body.
So now what?
If you have a high ACE score and still have your health, terrific! You might want to look at processing some of your underlying emotional trauma through inner healing, flower essences, there are so many helpful modalities out there. In particular, you are going to want to address fragmentation. If you're a newbie to that, you can download the first 5 chapters of our book as the free sample and that will get you up to speed on the basics.
On the physical side, if you are routinely using immune boosters like echinacea to stay healthy in winter, stop it. Because they are so stimulatory to the system, it's possible they can put you in overdrive when it's unnecessary and bring an autoimmune disease onset if you're already pre-disposed. Use them for a week at a time when you need them, and focus on building your immunity in other ways such as dealing with stress, getting adequate rest, and a healthy diet. You know, the boring basics. I stopped getting the flu when I started loosely following the 180 Degree Diet, which raises your core body temp so it can fight things off.
If you have an autoimmune condition, the same advice for emotional healing goes, and on the physical side here is an article with some steps from a functional medicine doc. Absolutely there's hope! You might also look at your generational lineage and see if there was conflict between all that you are, and find some help with that.
Flower essences will vary depending on your particular types of trauma. Aftershock, Heart Healer, Fragment Finder along with the Broken to Whole book, or the New Hope essence can be places to start and a great adjunct to all the other things you are doing. If you can't decide, there's a kit, or we can work out a custom combo.
Haven't learned about flower essences yet? Start here. Hint: They're not oils.