Putting the Soul
back in Psychology!
(aka psycho-pathological self-harm)
Muhammad Syafrani from Pixabay]
Why and how physical harm to the body temporarily "stops" (aka distracts from) the psychological emotional suffering is fascinating.
It occurs because everything psychological, including psychological emotional suffering, is of our intellect and free will of our immaterial Soul, which is NOT our material body.
Therefore, when we physically harm ourselves, our intellect, which is of our immaterial soul, is temporarily distracted from its/our thoughts, beliefs, expectations, wants/desires, likes, dislikes, and attractions that are causing all of our psychological emotions and feelings, (including but not limited to: depression, mania, anxiety, panic, paranoia, bipolar, etc.) and our intellect becomes solely focused on the physical pain that is being inflicted on the body.
As a result, when physical suffering to any part of the body is equally as "painful" as the psychological emotional suffering, the two different sufferings "cancel each other out" / distract each other, and the person feels neither their physical pain nor their emotional suffering for as long as the physical pain signals are occurring, which is of course temporary.
This is what is happening when people who get tattoos say it doesn't hurt and why it is popular for many people with depression to repeatedly get tattoos, which are a popular, presently acceptable, milder form of self-mutilation.
Physical suffering signals, that distract the intellect from its emotional suffering, can occur anywhere on the entire body because the immaterial Soul, where all psychological emotions and feelings exist, is the form and animator of the entire body/brain, as well as primary to the body/brain, so says Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas.
Physical harm to any part of the body is the similar type of dynamic and temporary distraction affect on our psychological emotions and feelings as psychotropic medications, pain medications, and any chemical substances (smoking, drugs, alcohol, etc.) whether legal or illegal.
Aquinas states that the lessor (body/brain) can hinder the greater (intellect and free will of the immaterial Soul), as well as talks about this phenomenon from the opposite direction in his Summa.
As Augustine states and Aquinas quotes, "the body feels not but the soul through the body".
For this reason, when we are intensely focused (with our intellect and free will), which is only of our immaterial Soul, on something particular that we enjoy, then our intellect is distracted from thinking about the physical pain and therefore the experience of physical pain and suffering becomes greatly "minimized" to a tolerable level or we stop "feeling" it completely, even though the physical suffering is still objectively there.
This is also why people will choose extreme "adrenaline high" sports and other physical thrill seeking. It all stems from a desire to distract oneself from his or her freely chosen psychological emotional suffering in ways that are only temporary and will never satisfy, because the person refuses to properly seek help from and cooperate with The Divine who is Truth, Love, and Virtues. For a material / physical solution will never fix a psychological / immaterial Soul problem.
These explanations throughout this article are also proof as to why and how we have both psychosomatic physical suffering (physical pain caused by the intellect and free will of the immaterial Soul which is psychological), and we can psychologically exacerbate our physical suffering experience through a fear of it and other false beliefs about the particular suffering, as well as fear and other false beliefs about suffering in general.