Scientists now have more evidence than ever before revealing the intimate, intertwined relationship between the mind and body. We see this with gut health’s influence over our mental health, but we also see it with the very real physical manifestations of psychological stress and trauma on the body—tension, heart palpitations, trembling, pain—particularly trauma that hasn’t been fully processed or even acknowledged by the person who experienced it.
Perhaps the most extreme example of how trauma may affect the body: According to research by Kelly Turner, Ph.D., terminally ill cancer patients who have experienced unexpected remission—beating their disease against all odds—often cite releasing emotional stress or trauma as one of the key factors in their healing.
This has led some people to speculate that unprocessed trauma gets “stored” not just in your subconscious mind and memory but throughout your physical being—and that, in addition to more traditional modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy, some sort of physical stimulus or touch may be helpful in releasing it.
But what do the experts think? Could this be why, for instance, some people start spontaneously crying during a massage or acupuncture session for no immediately apparent reason? It’s an interesting idea, so we asked researchers, psychiatrists, and healers for their take on why something like this might occur, whether trauma can, in fact, be stored in the body, and the safest ways to go about releasing it.