Women s Phobias and Somatic Symptoms Some psychological symptoms affect only women and someaffect both women and men, although almost always indisproportionate numbers. Vast numbers of women suffer with bothsomatic and phobia symptoms. Through these disorders women letpeople know that the world is not right. At the same time suchsymptoms are often hidden. Certain delibities, those that are notseen as reducing a women s ability to function in the role society hasassigned, may even be encouraged in indirect ways; they keepwomen in their place. Although the stereo-type for women haschanged somewhat, the social position of a women still revolvesaround the sphere of influence and self-expression in the home. Women are often thrown into the position if connecting with othersand attending to their needs. This leaves the typical women with alegacy of unmet needs, frustrated desires, deep feelings ofunentitlement, and a fragmented, incomplete sense of themselves. These experiences in turn generate feelings of anger, despair, andhopelessness. Women unable to reconcile themselves with theirconfinement attempt to break out. Such attempts may be consciousand purposeful, or unconscious, or both. An unconscious expressionof such protest, or desperation often manifests itself in a somatic orphobic symptom. The first psychological disorder is a phobia. A phobic reaction toa particular object or event is terrorizing and fearful experience inwhich the person feels utterly helpless. In a sense, one isoverwhelmed by unfamiliar sensations and visual distortions. Theseexperiences are so unpleasant that once outside of them the personthinking about them is often unable to imagine that she will survive arepetition of the experience. A women who has a phobic reaction toriding in an elevator, for example, is terrified at the idea of having toenter one and be in one. The idea of having to go through with itparalyzes her and feels absolutely impossible. The onset of a phobiais usually unexpected. The individual affected usually has had no
previous experience of being in psychological distress. Phobia can beexperience only one at a time, or many at once. Some are onlyinfrequently or momentarily disruptive. Phobias can be understood asdefense structures. It is just an unhealthy way for a person to copewith their problems. Somatic disorders may pertain to many mental illness, but inwomen most commonly refer to obsessional anxieties and eatingdisorders. An obsessive disorder describes the women who forexample, before leaving her house may have to return to check thatshe has turned off the gas or locked the door, ten times before shefeels safe. Another may need to scrub her pots and pans many timesbefore she feels safe that there is no dirt on them. These symptomsare under no more voluntary control than phobias. Many of thesesymptoms come about when a woman, consciously or unconsciouslyfeels out of control. She convinces herself that she is okay and thatthis activity is normal as a reminder of her security. Then there seating disorders. These include compulsive eating, bulimia, andanorexia. These disorder affect many women and are constantly onthe rise. This is due to the women s traditional social position as awoman s body as a primary asset to the world. For with is sheattracts a man who then providers her with a home and a family andsocial legitimation. A women may unconsciously express her distressthrough the way she relates to food. Women who eat in such a wayare out of touch with their physiological cues that signal hunger andsatisfaction. Just as other defenses cover the needy person inside,eating too is a protective mechanism. This is a serious somaticdisorder that can lead to physical disorders later on. Many women suffer from psychological problems such aphobias, and somatic disorders. Although with the increasing numberof women being less codependent and with jobs of their own, thenumber of these types of disorders is decreasing. It is important forthe women to have a strong sense of self, and to be confident inherself. These are the consequences if these character flaws avail. However, with the right support these illnesses will soon becomeobsolete.