Ask Dr. Steve

Dear Dr. Steve —

I find that my stomach hurts when I am around certain people and sometimes I feel nauseous when I enter certain places, like a mall or certain homes. I wonder, is it really a physical reaction or is it psychosomatic. How can I tell the difference and how can I stop it from happening?

– Aching

Deat Aching –

Your question about abdominal discomfort and even nausea which seems centered around certain individuals and places is quite common. I always recommend considering a predominantly ‘physical’ cause for symptoms before delving into the ‘metaphysical’ simply because they can be dealt with more directly.

Consider there may be some chemical cleaner, disinfectant or allergen present in the air that might affect you in this way. More likely, however, there is a mind/body issue that needs to be addressed.

Regarding any particular individual: Ambivalent feelings, past hurts, perhaps even feelings of guilt can affect us physically and the gastrointestinal tract is uniquely sensitive to these issues. Consider your relationship with this individual and perhaps take these physical manifestations as a sign that you need to deal with them in some other manner.

I do believe we perceive ‘energy’ in subconscious ways. A physical location may affect us by virtue of sounds, lights, arrangement of open spaces versus buildings, crowds of people etc. I believe many mall are designed with the intention of fostering a relaxing energetic atmosphere which, of course, will encourage you to buy more product. It is something of Feng Shui for malls that encourages the “chi” (energy) to work in their favor. However, we are all unique beings who respond as such. Perhaps it is time to find a different mall?

© Steven E. Hodes, MD., 2006

Steven E. Hodes, M.D. is a board certified gastroenterologist with over 25 years private practice based in Edison and Old Bridge New Jersey. He also has a degree in Religious Studies and teaches Contemporary Metaphysics at Brookdale College as well as lecturing and writing on Kabbalah and Healing, the Jewish View of Afterlife and on Near-Death Experience. Visit him at his Blog, Physician to Meta-Physician at

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