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203: In Sickness and in Health: The Physical Consequences of Emotional Abuse in Marriage


David Hawkins, M.B.A., M.S.W., M.A., Ph.D. Sharmen Kimbrough, M.A.







Too many psychologists and licensed mental health clinicians focus on treating the mind, forgetting to ask questions about the body. Thus, they are in danger of enabling a very destructive process instead of participating in powerful interventions. This workshop explores how an unhealthy marriage often leads to an unhealthy body and how the body keeps the score for the health of the marriage. Participants will explore how chronic narcissistic and emotional abuse often leads to various psychosomatic illnesses. Participants will identify the relationship between psychosomatic illness and PTSD, Complex PTSD, and chronic stress in marriage. The presenter will explain stress from a new perspective—that chronic stress (C-PTSD) is horribly debilitating and what actually happens in a marriage fraught with chronic narcissistic and emotional abuse. Participants will assess “emotional exhaustion” and the cost to women of “over-functioning,” coping with, adapting to, and accommodating a stressful marriage. Action steps will be provided for clinicians to assist women suffering from psychosomatic illness for taking responsibility for their healing, finding appropriate emotional and physical help, and creating healthy boundaries that can lead to their physical healing. 


Learning Objectives 

Participants will: 

  1. Identify traits of narcissistic and emotional abuse, as well as typical physiological symptoms associated with this type of abuse 
  2. Describe various psychosomatic illnesses often associated with narcissistic and emotional abuse  
  3. Evaluate the relationship between chronic marital stress and psychosomatic illness  
  4. Develop best practices for psychologists and licensed mental health professionals for treating those suffering from narcissistic and emotional abuse, specifically assisting them in finding appropriate physical care, setting healthy boundaries, and taking ultimate responsibility for their healing