The insight that our emotions and psychological state impact our physical health (and vice-versa), is not new. However, the tradition of Western, allopathic medicine has been so successful and influential over the past hundred years, that it has commandeered our view of health. These days, when a person falls ill, it is assumed that it was caused by germs or some other physical cause. Other sources of ailment are often not considered.
Influenced by older traditions from around the globe, the past two decades have witnessed a rapid growth in interest in alternative views of human health. Increasingly, people are recognizing the interdependence of the body and the psyche (and the planet). At the tip of this iceberg are the ideas that stress compromises one's immune system or that emotional trauma can be stored in tight, knotted up muscles. However, as one looks deeper, we find the relationship between body, mind, and spirit is more far-reaching, and more fascinating.
Increasingly health practitioners from a variety of disciplines are seeing the human body and the psyche as two aspects of a larger whole that ultimately can not be separated into body and soul. The bones, muscles, circulatory system, and nervous system are seen as interwoven with emotions, thoughts, sense of self, as well as spiritual, existential, and archetypal aspects of the individual. If a treatment intervention is aimed at only one level of the person (attempting to understand and treat back pain or immune deficiency solely through physical treatment) it may be missing a key causal factor (an emotional holding pattern that chronically tightens certain muscle groups or spiritual disconnection that leads to an imbalanced life-style). Therefore, a holistic, integrative perspective is needed to take into account the whole individual--body, mindy, soul & spirit.
Key thinkers/sources of learning: Traditional Chinese Medicine; chakra-based energy healing, Ayurvedic medicine, Structural bodywork, A.H. Almaas, Ken Wilber, Wilhelm Reich, and Alexander Lowen