Does genetics have anything to do with getting MS?

MS and our genes. We oftentimes wonder if genetics has anything to do with MS. What if it does in more ways than we assume? What if a part of the genetics that brought multiple sclerosis into your life was because of not attending the most basic genetically encoded needs essential to health?

To begin to consider how our needs influence the onset and progression of MS, let’s look at what we think we need to do to heal and where we think healing is:

When someone comes into my office, they usually come in with a request, “I want to heal this.  I want my life back. Therefore, I want you to get rid of my symptoms.”

With this mindset, what people believe and Matt Kahn expressed very well in one of his talks:

“People think that Healing is when I get what I want.”

But the thing is when we get what we think we want, it might not be what our bodies want. Getting what we think we want sometimes looks a little bit like this:


There is a body-mind conflict that is perpetuating illness: The body got sick because it was (and is) not receiving what it genetically needs, and the mind needs everything to go back to how it was.


Healing the Body, Healing the Mind

To explore what is healing, let’s begin by looking at what it is not:

  • It is not getting your old life back
  • It’s not focusing on eliminating symptoms.

Because if you return to where you were right before the symptom starts, you’re returning to where the symptoms were generated (the body-mind connection conflict). You’re returning right back into the ingredients that caused the illness. So if healing the body-mind isn’t what you want, then what is it?


Healing is Meeting Our Genetic Needs

So what exactly is a need? This is quotes from the Webster dictionary:

“A need is a physiological or psychological requirement for the wellbeing of an organism.”

What does that mean? It means it is the physical (bodily) and the psychological (mental) requirements an organism needs to be well. And this doesn’t only apply to psychosomatic illness but physical disease as well. This relationship has already been proven in modern science:


Psychoneuroimmunology and Healing

The science that studies the relationship between mental states and physical health is called psychoneuroimmunology.  The science describes and demonstrates how our bodies have three systems – the psyche, the nervous system, and the immune system that work together for the wellbeing of the body and mind.

Unfortunately, most psychologists treat the mind as this disembodied thing not related to the body, and most physicians treat the body as if there is no relationship with the mind or emotions. The body and the mind are not separate and we cannot treat one without treating the other.” Dr. Candace Pert M.D.

That is why when someone says, “Well, what does hypnosis have to do with healing my symptoms? I’m dealing with a physical thing!” and they feel insulted that I might be implying that their multiple sclerosis or other physical diseases they are not linking the mind with the body. What I am offering is to work with the psychological factors that lead to physical illness.  Medical hypnotherapy works on this body-mind relationship.


Genes and MS – The Needs of the Body

So what are the needs of the body-mind? Many of us are already well aware of the physiological needs such as healthy foods and exercise, but what are those psychological requirements that this organism called our bodies has for its wellbeing?

These fundamental physiological needs are defined in Reality therapy/Choice theory as our genetically encoded needs. Reality therapy mainly studies mental health, but these needs also influence our physical health. If we don’t have these needs fulfilled, it will affect our bodies and our minds. So when pondering about MS and genes, consider your genetically encoded needs.


Our Genetically Encoded Needs

What do you think ‘genetically encoded means’? Needs that are necessary and unavoidable.  We can’t say,”Others need that, but I’m ok without it” (though many of my clients believe that).

1 – To feel safe

You might have already noticed how your symptoms act up when you don’t feel safe. Even when we just got a promotion in our jobs, we might fear not being good enough and losing it, or getting a divorce we want but still fearing what will happen to us and where will we live.

2 – To belong and to be loved

A lot of us struggle with this one, and we try to overcompensate this one by trying to be likable to everyone, being the best, being useful, and always saying yes. Wee struggle with finding ways to feel we belong and usually loose our abilities to be authentic (number four).

3 – To feel in control / to feel capable

If you feel helpless and pray someone out there will find a cure for your MS, you are not feeling in control or capable of taking care of yourself.  That is why this attitude is not healthy. When we feel out of control or that our lives are going a little crazy, our symptoms can act up and progress. We need to feel we have some control over our health and our bodies and minds. We try to overcompensate by over-controlling our environment, our schedules, and the people around us.  What we truly need is to become responsible for our own health and our own lives.

4 – To be Independence / Freedom

Being codependent and not having our own opinions can affect our physical health because we need to have some sense of independence and freedom to choose in our life. Even if it’s just freedom of thought or one thing you do on your own that isn’t family-related or children related, but something that’s yours, you can begin to meet this need.

5 – To have fun and joy

Many clients wrestle with this one. The need to have joy. Think of other mammals –  Dogs jump around, wrestle and play catch, cats have fun harassing the dog, lions have fun playing with their cubs, dolphins have fun jumping out of the water, birds have fun soaring in the wind, squirrels have fun chasing each other… Why do we think, “It’s selfish / there is too much to do to have fun”? Review that sense of guilt if you stop doing tasks and have a little fun. That’s not okay. We are genetically encoded to have fun.


Getting Your Genetically Encoded Needs Met

So, in summary, our genetically encoded needs influence our bodies and our minds’ health. When your symptoms are acting up, ask yourself, “Which genetically encoded needs are not being met?”


Healing the Body-Mind Connection

Healing through the body-mind connection is about getting our needs met, and therefore it’s not selfish to have them; it’s necessary.



This presentation was produced by Eva M Clark and recorded at the National MS Society Self-Help MS Group in Santa Cruz, CA. The National MS Society respects the rights of people with MS to obtain any and all information they want related to MS, including information on wellness, medical treatments or complementary therapies, and products or services. The information presented at these meetings does not necessarily reflect the views or official position of the Society, nor carry the endorsement or support of the NMSS. Read our disclaimer here.



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