TMS, the Mindbody, and Our Physical Pain

Tension Myositis Syndrome

The Mindbody Prescription Bookcover
The Mindbody Prescription. Courtesy of Amazon

Dr. John E. Sarno's book titled The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain by a local psychologist who has studied theories of Carl Jung and Sigmond Freud is a must read for anyone who suffers from chronic back pain.

TMS was introduced in Sarno's previous book, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection a NY Times Bestseller. But, I had never read this book either. After reading the borrowed copy of The Mindbody Prescription I downloaded the Kindle version of Healing Back Pain.

I wanted to learn more about Sarno's discovery of this painful disorder and decide for myself if his theory about mindbody symptoms (REAL PAIN) being created by the mind are sound. I'm still on the fence, yet I will admit that I'm leaning rather strongly in Sarno's direction.

I was a bit surprised that I had never heard about Dr. Sarno and TMS before I did because I'm not usually behind the curve on new developments. Always on a passionate quest to learn more. Sarnos' last publication, The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders is next on my reading list.

To enhance your curiosity about TMS also read The Great Pain Deception: Faulty Medical Advice Is Making Us Worse by Steven Ray Ozanich. Ozanich, a sufferer of tremendous chronic pain for over twenty-seven years, writes about his personal pain and suffering. He has written a compelling testimonial about how learning about TMS and applying it has reversed the severe pain in his body to becoming pain-free.

The first two chapters goes into great detail explaining what TMS is and how it works. The rest of the book is about his own healing journey. Ozanich's book is BIG, almost 400 pages in length.

What is TMS? and Who is John E. Sarno, M.D.?

Dr. John E. Sarno, medical doctor and Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, believes that repressed anger (inner RAGE) is connected to pain in the physical body, also our anxieties and fears.

Of course, I know all too well how our emotions can affect imbalances and sickness. But, Sarno believes that the brain actually plays a part in creating physical pain in an attempt to "trick" the unconscious body by distracting us from our emotional traumas. Instead of dealing with the emotional upset we focus our attention on the physical pain. Our attention drawn to our dis-eases aids the unconscious body that houses our rages by not allowing our troubling emotions to surface into consciousness and clearing.

Why Does the Brain Do This?

The mind thinks it is protecting us from "feeling our painful emotions" by substituting a localized pain in our body for us to focus on instead... a helpful distraction??? To break free of the physical pain, Sarna says the repressed rage must be acknowledged.

How Does the Brain Cause Physical Pain?

Not easily explained... but it involves the body's autonomic nervous system which is controlled by the hypothalamus. The brain selects a target for the pain to occur (migraine, back pain, stomach ulcer, etc) and will restrict the flow of blood to that region causing oxygen deprivation. Sarno says we will get temporary relief from painful TMS symptoms by doing physical therapy, massage, exercise, acupuncture...

etc. because these manipulations increase oxygen flow to the deprived muscles and tissues. But, it is a temporary fix/relief. The brain will continue to reduce oxygen levels to the chronically painful muscles or eventually choose another area of the body to target.

Note: The psychosomatic disorder known as Tension Myositis Syndrome or Tension Myoneural Syndrome attributed to Sarno's work in rehabilitating patients with chronic illnesses is a controversial one. It is not embraced (yet!) in the medical mainstream.

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