The inner child

I’ve been continuing reading and researching on psychosomatic pain theories like those proposed by Dr. John Sarno. And it prompts some interesting musings.

The “conventional” theory, as proposed by Sarno, is essentially that a person’s id — their “inner child” — can induce physical pain for a complex series of reasons.

I’ve seen others describe this process in more physiological terms. Neuroscience texts often break the brain down to different components. There’s the hindbrain which is the most primitive, reptilian part of our brain. Then there’s the midbrain, which is more akin to what dogs and cats have (in addition to a hindbrain.) Humans have a hind, midbrain and cortex which is the fully developed great noodle thing we all think of when we think of brains. Loosely speaking, if you want to describe these parts in Freudian terms, the id would relate to the hind and midbrain. The ego and superego relate to certain parts of the cortex. So, roughly speaking, psychosomatic pain as described by Sarno is the mid and hindbrain bugging the conscious cortex.

What’s interesting is that it’s well-known that the cortex in infants and toddlers is nowhere near as developed as it is in adults. If you want to get a sense of what it’s like to be a dog, or perhaps even a snake, think back to what you were like as little kid. You were probably bratty and self obsessed like every kid.

We think that as we grow older we change and move away from the self obsessed brat we were as children. But maybe we’re not changing so much as we are adding layers to ourselves. A toddler might suddenly feel something like “I want candy!” and that’s pretty much the whole of his or her experience. But as we get older, we get new “layers” of functionality, layers that say things like “there’s no candy in the house, and it’s really not worth going out to the store for,” (ego) or, “you shouldn’t eat candy right now because you’re trying to teach your kids to cut down on sweets” (superego.) But, underneath these layers, you still have the toddler screaming for candy.

3 Responses to “The inner child”


  1. John Saleeby

    My parent’s cat was yelling at me and specifically made the “LOO LOO” sound.

    I think that is of tremendous scientific importance.

  2. Larwence

    That means your cat is dying.

  3. John Saleeby

    DON’T SAY THAT!!!