Five types of energy: this is what Chinese Medicine says about your psyche

Five types of energy: this is what Chinese Medicine says about your psyche
Everyone feels sad, scared, or angry from time to time. However, if such a mindset lasts for a long time, it can lead to psychological complaints that get in the way. Many people get stuck in dealing with stress or are plagued by grief or trauma. People usually end up in psychiatric care for more serious conditions such as personality disorders or changes in consciousness. No matter how mild or severe the symptoms, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, mental illness can be related to an imbalance in life energy. Chinese medicine helps to understand why and why energetic bodywork can help.

Five types of energy

Our life energy ensures the functioning of the body and mind. Chinese medicine distinguishes five types of energy: the elements Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each of the five performs specific physical and mental-emotional functions. If there is an excess or lack of energy within an element, it manifests itself in illness. The illness can be physical, but also psychological. Different Chinese elements can play a role in different psychological complaints.

Disturbance in the element of wood (wind sickness)

Five types of energy: this is what Chinese Medicine says about your psyche

Many psychological problems have to do with a disturbance in the Wood element. Wood is the energy of the liver and gallbladder. Mentally, Wood provides decision-making power; emotional for anger. The weather type that belongs to the Hout energy is wind.

When the wind is strong and windy, many people also feel restless internally. When that feeling becomes excessive, and the Wood becomes out of balance for a long time, this results in psychological complaints that are also called ‘wind diseases’. Problems involving concentration, nervousness, and/or aggressive behavior fall under wind diseases. These include AD(H)D and certain forms of autism.

Addictions and changes in consciousness

Also, the ability to connect with the invisible (spiritual) world is related to the condition of the Wood element. In a healthy state, a person can make this connection and find meaning, without losing sight of the contact with his body and the earthly reality. It becomes unhealthy when Wood goes too far and the contact with the here and now disappears. This is the case with, among others, schizophrenia, dissociative disorders, and psychosis.

Five types of energy: this is what Chinese Medicine says about your psyche

Addiction is another way of the mind to withdraw from the body.

In that case, there is no excess, but a shortage of Wood energy, which means that the capacity for meaning is lacking. Distraction and surrogate fulfillment are then sought in, for example, alcohol, drugs, or gambling.

Disturbance in the element of water (anxiety disorders)

The element of Water rules the emotion of fear. Feeling fear is necessary for survival; to quickly determine whether you are safe or not. However, when the Water element prevails, we freeze with fear and the whole world seems unsafe. Paranoid disorders, phobias, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety disorders all indicate an excess of Water.

There can also be a shortage of water energy, for example in people who cannot feel fear and who need extreme stimuli to provoke a reaction. Sexual masochism or sadism disorders are typical examples of psychiatric disorders due to deficient water.

Disruption in the element of fire

Still, other psychological complaints in the field of sexuality are caused by an imbalance in Fire. This element determines the heart’s energy and with it the ability to love and communicate. When it comes to arousal and orgasmic disorders, the heart energy flows poorly and it is difficult to connect with others. Your body will respond, but your heart will not participate enough.

The Fire of your heart allows you to feel joy (and the longing for it). From there it is also understandable that psychological disorders that manifest themselves in severe mood swings are caused by an imbalance in the Fire element. You can suddenly go from very happy to very angry or gloomy. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is an example of this.

Disruption in the element metal (depressive disorders)

Five types of energy: this is what Chinese Medicine says about your psyche

Unfortunately, depressive mood disorders are very common these days. An important reason for this is that in this hectic society we find it difficult to reflect and let go. Our Metal element, which is about that, gets too little attention. Emotionally, Metal gives the ability to feel, process and release sadness by crying. If Metal has insufficient energy, the processing process falters and people get stuck in their grief.

Disturbance in the element of Earth (obsessions)

Sufficient Metal energy is therefore required for letting go, or inner cleaning. Obsessive-compulsive disorders such as a fear of contamination or collecting disorder are therefore caused by a deficiency in metal. Compulsive behavior that is more about constantly thinking about things (like constantly having to count everything) is about the element of Earth.

Then you get stuck in your thinking. The stomach and spleen are Earth organs. According to Chinese medicine, the spleen energy controls our thought processes. Worrying all the time, creating worst-case scenarios for every situation, pessimism, criticizing everything, and not being able to finish thoughts to the end all have to do with spleen weakness and flawed, ‘dry’, Earth.

Borderline, narcissism, and other personality disorders

A personality disorder is a way of (survival) life that is shaped by character and unpleasant life experiences, which affect the environment. Examples include borderline, schizoid, narcissistic, dependent, avoidant, compulsive, and histrionic (theatrical) personality disorders. Because these disorders encompass the entire personality, it is an energetic imbalance in several elements at the same time. However, there is often a dominant element in the disorder.

Borderline, for example, is characterized by sudden flare-ups of mood, indicating a disturbance in the Fire elementNarcissistic personalities see themselves as the center of the world and survive by not caring about the well-being of others. That is typical weak Earth because this element determines your empathy. Avoidant and dependent personality disorders stem from a deep-seated sense of insecurity and have everything to do with a weak Water element.


Every person is unique, and so is the way in which a disturbance in the psychic energy manifests itself. Just as in psychiatry one diagnosis is usually not enough, in Chinese medicine there is never just one element that needs attention. The five elements have a mutual relationship where one element feeds or regulates the other. For example, if there is not enough Fire, it may very well be that Wood needs to be fed to rekindle the fire.

Treating Mental Illnesses With Energy

Five types of energy: this is what Chinese Medicine says about your psyche

It is precise because of the complexity of causes and symptoms that energetic treatment methods work so adequately for psychological complaintsMethods such as Reiki do not require an exact diagnosis to be effective. A carefully performed, complete Reiki treatment touches all energy meridians in the body, and thus all elements and possible causes.

At the same time, it is important that the treating therapist has knowledge of both Western and Eastern medicine so that you as a client can receive specific advice about what you can do yourself to reduce your complaintsThink of nutrition, movement exercises, and affirmations that focus on certain elements.



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