Psychological problems from the TCM viewpoint

A man is lifeless when the spirit is shaded

Depression, but also sadness, grief, mood swings, hysteria, anxiety, frustration, worry, fear, feelings of tension, restlessness and discomfort, feelings of guilt or injustice, irritability, anger, irascibility, restraint (we could list all the negative emotions one-by-one…) – all of this is the typical manifestations of Qi (energy) stagnation, which, along with the phlegm TAN, affects today’s people and stops them from being comfortable. According to the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), spirit resides in the liver and its proper function is manifested by mental strength, the so-called liveliness, creativity, ideas, sense of purpose, realized visions, inspiration, planning, courage and self-direction – the spirit simply ensures some kind of thought movement. At the moment the thought situated in the heart lacks that “drive” (which using the present-day language could be expressed as effort) due to stagnant Qi, then one feels frustrated, without a sense of life, and loses all the above positive qualities, including a sharp-witted outlook. And that’s true, because the spirit is reflected, among other things, in the eyes, and in the case of absolute health the look and the expression are healthy. Likewise, the kindred spirits are people who resonate, meet half-way, feel, divine each other’s thoughts (we then call them soulmates) and their body and soul are one. A person without a spirit has then soulless thoughts and soulless words that do not come from the depth of the heart … In short, the soul hurts, it really does! By all this, one gradually gets to the imaginary intersection of troubles and sees no way out. Such people do not know how to deal with relationships, work, how to organize life and just fall into depression.

A body without a soul means depression

According to western medicine, depression is characterized by 2 main symptoms: loss of interest in daily activities and diminished mood with a sense of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness and crying without a clear cause. Depression includes some of other minor symptoms such as insomnia, lack of concentration, weight changes (both gaining and loosing), restlessness, guilty feeling, less interest in sex, little self-esteem, fatigue, exhaustion or frequent thoughts of death. The person is like a blow out (in automotive terms, like a deflated tyre) and the damaged soul must be repaired, this means, besides using herbs and giving a talking-to, it must also be smoothed and soothed – the best way is with an experienced psychotherapist. Also, according to TCM, “emotions are the mother of illness and poor diet is their father”, so even those who do not eat regularly but have positive emotions feel much better than those who care about their diet but neglect their souls and burden them with negative emotions.

Anger is not a good advisor, or servant, or master

The Qi stagnation which most often affects the liver, lungs, heart and stomach (or spleen) occurs due to excessive emotions. There is an exact expression about “clenched buttocks“ (through fear, worries, concern or rage, envy, hatred …) in the English language for the stagnant energy QI ZHI.
In the case of the liver, it is anger. The Chinese medicine perceives this emotion more deeply than any other one, and includes suppressed anger, envy, feeling of injury, restlessness, irritability, irascibility, defiance, indignation, hatred, bitterness, frustration and wrath. Of all the emotions, anger is the easiest to evoke but the hardest to control, and it is the most common cause of this stagnation. Anger causes “rising”of Qi energy, which means that Qi goes in the wrong direction, then it is QI NI (in Chinese translation it is rebellious, contradictory, disobedient and resisting energy). It is a pity that this energy, lost in the explosions of anger, cannot be controlled and used to achieve life goals … A Confucian Chinese thinker, Chu Si, said in the 12th century: Man’s obligations to others should be based on loyalty and honesty. Behaviour of a man should be based on seriousness and prudence. One should be able to control their anger and moderate their desires, and to correct their mistakes and to concentrate on doing good and right deeds. Also the following is written in the Book of Books: Let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Get along with each other, and forgive each other. Holy truth, for otherwise there will be a feared stagnation of Qi…

In the case of the heart and lungs, QI stagnation is caused by sadness, grief, anxiety, guilt, in the case of the stomach and spleen, it is gloominess, tearfulness, melancholy, pensiveness or thoughtfulness. It should be noted, however, that all emotions as a result always cause a stagnation of QI ZHI energy, most often in the liver and heart! This stagnation is manifested not only by psychological symptoms (mentioned above) but also physical symptoms (below), thus fulfilling the words about the interconnection of the body and the soul, i.e. so-called psychosomatic medicine.

Stagnation in the blind channel leads into a dead end

One of the most common causes of depression and similar psychic disturbances is the stagnation of Qi energy according to TCM. Generally, we can imagine it as water in a river whose flow is smooth in a healthy person, but in its stagnation the opposite is happening – the water is immobile in the blind channel, thus hitting a dead end. The standing water stays here motionlessly (like a load on one’s mind), decays, swells, rots,… simply does not live. But something harsh (even obscure) lives and swells here, which blurs the mind and the soul.

The Qi stagnation of the lungs is manifested by symptoms such as a lump in the throat, difficulty swallowing, a feeling of pressure or tension in chest, superficial breathing, frequent yawning and sighing, breast tension in women, premenstrual tension, frequent respiratory infections (chronic inflammation of the larynx), fatigue, sadness, self-observation. The feeling of heat, red cheeks and thirst are added as a result of the fact that each stagnation sooner or later turns into the heat RE in the end (like coal that is self-ignited in a closed cellar). People then have a feeling that “something sits” on their chest, stomach, hypochondrium, suffocating physically (psychological asthma often occurs, especially among women) and depressing mentally. It’s just imminent! The feeling of loud and cascading breath is also typical, especially for women, when one wants by this way to mechanically “blow and unblock” the feeling of the lump or burden in the neck and chest, which is also often confused (as it is now) with hysteroidal manifestations. In this case, the herbal mixture Falling Heart Stone (081) is used.

The Qi stagnation of the heart is manifested by symptoms (except some of the above) such as heartbeat, weakness and cold in the limbs, paleness, absence of appetite, tension the chest and below it, or also irritability and mental anxiety. Here, the combination of Falling of Heart Stone (081) + Joy of Coming Sleep (127) is used.

The Qi stagnation of the liver is manifested by the symptoms such as tension and pain in the neck and neck muscles, headaches, abdominal tension, irregular bowel movements, uncleared bowels, dryness and burning in the mouth, irregular menstruation or premenstrual syndrome in women, tension around the stomach and in the hypochondrium (this Latin term probably gave the name for the so-called hypochondriac, a person who (according to various medical examinations) is healthy, but suffers from various vague problems the person refers to its surroundings. However, TCM does not know the term “hypochondriac” because every symptom always has its cause. Here, for example, these 2 herbal mixtures,  Calming of Rough Water (062) or Harmony of Magic Change (063) are used.

The Qi stagnation of the spleen and stomach is manifested by poor digestion, abdominal discomfort, nausea, chronic inflammation of the pharynx, reflux of gastric juices and results in the formation of TAN phlegm, which rises to the head, blocks “brain openings” and thus correct thinking and cogitation, and which, like fog, conceals and blurs the mind. Those people then lose track and understanding for the proper functioning of things in life, cannot get involved, difficultly orienting themselves in the world of people which is a kind of “human jungle” for them, feel confused, disorganized and without purpose, “it beats them” and they “cannot get it”, if we can say it another way. Here, the combination of Falling of Heart Stone (081) + Peach of Grove Harmony (192) is used.

Falling Heart Stone

The herbal mixture Falling Heart Stone (081) is ideal for all cases (and there are a lot of them today!) that are the result of emotional imbalances caused by Qi stagnation, changing to internal heat RE and, together with TAN phlegm, blocking the upper and middle burner. Unlike the original classical mixture that did not cool, the herb Dan zhu ye which reduces the internal heat RE, and eliminates irritability and anxiety is added to the mixture. As the name Load off the mind suggests, unlike all kinds of pseudo-stimulants (alcohol, drugs and rock’n’roll), the mixture works by gradually returning harmony to the soul and the body – taking the “burden” away from you…