Transforming stress-induced traumatic reaction patterns in persons with Type 1 Diabetes through introspection. An example of patient led research

Bettina Berger, Rosa Michaelis Peter F. Matthiessen, David Martin


Background: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is an autoimmune disease whose occurrence is explained in a multifactorial manner. The disease-causing factors are not identified in individual cases. Although research indicates that stress and trauma may be relevant risk factors, they are neither individually diagnosed nor treated. Based on a single case, the relationship between trauma, stress and T1DM diagnosis and management are explored and discussed on the background of various theories.
Objective: Can one, by observing one‘s own behaviors (introspection), identify patterns that provide clues to disease-causing stress factors? Can these psychological traumas be overcome?
Methodology: A daily practice of reflecting on introspective perceptions of emotional states and blood glucose levels for insulin dose adjustment is applied as an oscillatory approach between mindful perceiving and reflective distancing. Diary entries are evaluated according to analyzed content and condensed into a shape-like pattern. Adapted to procedures for physical illnesses, a change management strategy, Scharmer‘s theory U, is used to overcome traumatization as a process-oriented tool.
Result: A stress pattern was identified. The protagonist hypothesizes that the lack of personal recognition and unresolved early childhood mental stress situations have contributed to a chronification of an overload of allostasis and thus to a traumatic condition, which in this case might have contributed to the development of T1DM. The protagonist further hypothesizes, that the recognition of the subjectively significant stress factors in daily life enabled the overcoming of the traumatization, but, not the T1DM.
Discussion: The protagonist proposes that current relationship patterns can be used to identify relationship pattern of childhood, and perceives the impact of the mental stress situation in early childhood as a relevant contribution to the development of the T1DM.
Conclusion: People with stress-induced autoimmune diseases might – as was the case of this protagonist – find great comfort in being acknowledged and supported in the process of identification of their subjectively significant stressors and engaging in their transformation. In this case this also led to the hypothesis that traumata may be a causative factor in autoimmune diseases such as T1DM.

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