Lack of self-esteem is a subject of therapy quite often. At a glance, there are a variety of reasons for lacking self-esteem. To be able to go further we have to know the definition. In short, self-esteem is a sense of personal worth and ability that is fundamental to an individual’s identity.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on a hypothesis that self-esteem carries a pattern that may have an influence on the immune system.
Following this idea, talking about self-esteem actually gives us an opportunity to grow or at least move forward.
Self-esteem is very often confused with self-confidence. Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself overall; how much esteem, positive regard, or self-love you have. Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities and can vary from situation to situation.
Turning to the previous thought, when we have self-esteem, it is not a problem that we do not have too much self-confidence in certain situations, because we have the courage to initiate change and therefore reinforce self-confidence. So what happens is a success, thus we grow, and if we do not have success, we have the desire to move on until we have success. It follows that keeping up self-esteem is functionally important.
To understand the pattern we need to know how the immune system works. The pattern of behaviour of the immune system is applicable to the pattern of human behaviour. However, if we know what is necessary to improve the immune function, this may be what can be delivered psychologically.
When antigens are detected, several types of cells work together to recognize them and respond. These cells trigger the B lymphocytes to produce antibodies – proteins that are able to lock onto specific antigens.
T lymphocytes are a part of the adaptive immune system that destroys antigens that have been tagged by antibodies or cells that have been infected or somehow changed. The T cells are also part of the system that activates other cells (such as phagocytes) to do their jobs.
What does it mean? The key is in the responses. When an autoimmune disease is present, generally speaking, the immune system fights its own cells because the system of recognition of antigens is failing, thus the healthy cell is misinterpreted as antigen.
So we are talking about an exaggerated (fight) or subdued (flight) response. Fight, flight, or freeze response, as they are commonly known in psychology. Perhaps we can explain the moment of freeze when do not have enough T and B lymphocytes, but this type of deficiency is related to certain diseases.
Now, what if an overactive immune system is influenced by exaggerated self-esteem? And what if a subdued immune system is influenced by too low self-esteem? It follows that healthy self-esteem also means balance. Logically, the moment of a freeze, thus a deficiency of T and B lymphocytes, means severely low self-esteem.
A long-spanning survey about experiences with bullying has shown a couple of numbers related to this topic.
What if low self-esteem caused by these experiences led to the occurrence of certain immune dysfunctions or at least be able a trigger? Obvious is an influence of possible genetic inheritance. It is psychosomatically possible to say that self-esteem closes the healthy function of the whole immune system.
Let’s say that due to the experience of bullying low self-esteem became a core belief of the subconsciousness because this mostly happens in a period of forming a personality. Nevertheless, it has a pattern.
Here’re the numbers from the survey:
- 84.91% of respondents were 10 – 19 years old.
- 69.81% gave preference to others before self in relation to self-esteem.
- 32.08% had cancer in their family.
- 54.72% had a mental disorder in their family.