Q. Recently I was diagnosed with not one but two autoimmune diseases. My therapist told me that some of this may be due to childhood experiences when our home was filled with dysfunctional physical, emotion, and sexual abuse. Is that even remotely possible?

A. Are you familiar with the work of Gabor Maté, MD? In his book When the Body Says NO–Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection, the authormakes an excellent case for the connection between one’s health and the developmental experiences that have shaped not only one’s health, but also behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and relationships. The body is a fount of innate wisdom. According to Dr. Maté, individuals typically do not become ill despite their lives but rather because of their lives. Much disease could be healed and much prevented if people understood the existing scientific evidence verifying the mind-body connection.

In saying that repression is a major cause of stress and a significant contributor to illness, however, there is no agenda of any type to blame, shame, or point fingers. The goal is to identify a relationship between stress and disease as a physiological reality. It can be literally lifesaving to use the information one uncovers to promote learning and healing. Wording on the back cover says it well:

Modern research is confirming the age-old wisdom that emotions are inseparable from our health and physiology. Repressed emotions bring on stress that can lead to disease. His took provides transformative insights into how disease can be the body’s way of saying no to what the mind cannot or will not acknowledge and how we can heal. He presents an open formula for healing and the prevention of illness from hidden stress.

You might want to check out his work. Much as a child complains of a stomach ache because he or she is experiencing stressful conditions at school, a flare-up of disease can push adults into avoiding stressful interactions. It can be the body’s way of saying “no.” You also might benefit by doing some family-of-origin work in your own life. Access the Family-of-origin Work mini-monograph on my website if you need help getting started.