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Is repression of emotions really the issue?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by rbmunkin, Aug 3, 2022.

  1. rbmunkin

    rbmunkin Peer Supporter

    In a nutshell, Dr. Sarno says that our brains cause less blood supply to a certain area, reducing oxygen to those areas, which is the cause of the pain, and that the purpose of this is to keep the emotions repressed. He says that tension causes this.

    But why does this require repressed emotions at all? In his first book, he says that "tension affects the circulation of blood to the involved areas and that when muscles and nerves were deprived of their normal supply of blood, the result is pain."

    Why couldn't it simply be that tension causes the lower blood supply, thus lower oxygen, thus pain. Period. No repressed emotions necessary. Just tension. For example, someone with a lot of tension gets ulcers. Period.
    Why make the leap from there to the idea that the brain wants to keep emotions repressed and uses pain to do so?
  2. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Sarno's "reduced oxygen" theory was probably not right (otherwise exercising that body part or getting a massage or wearing an oxygen mask would just make the pain go away). I think that is recognized.

    And as regards repressed emotions, my take is that it is also probably not the cause for everyone's problem. I know Dan Buglio talks about how he spent years journalling, trying to find his repressed emotions, etc. and it didn't help at all. It might be for some people, but it might also be that one has some other mind-body interaction going on, like simple fear and focus/obsession with the physical symptoms.

    I think Steve Ozanich said it well: "When you fully understand that pain is coming from a hidden, unfelt, unknown, unrecognized emotional process, do nothing about it, relax in the knowledge, have fun, become physically active, imagine a healthy vessel, and allow healing to simply happen" (page 331, TGPD).
  3. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    Yes, but where does that tension come from? Where does any tension come from really?
    If we have more fears than average-- being fearful comes from somewhere.
    If we obsess over things more than average -- that urge to obsess comes from somewhere.
    If we have the need to control more than average -- that need comes from somewhere.
    If we allow things to stress us out more than average -- that comes from somewhere.

    I think what Sarno found is that consciously trying to release this particular kind of tension doesn't work.
    And therefore he turned to the personality traits that lead to that unconscious kind of tension that you can't release through will or through massage.
  4. rbmunkin

    rbmunkin Peer Supporter

    My point is that no matter where the tension comes from (even if it comes from repressed anger, as Dr. Sarno said), maybe it is simply the tension that causes the pain, period. Why leap from there to saying that it is a means of keeping the anger repressed? The anger, fear, obsessions, need to control, stress, etc, could cause the pain without the theory that it is a means to divert our attention from the repressed emotions.
    Brad renfro likes this.
  5. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    Not that the pain is means of keeping the anger repressed but rather distracting you from feeling those painful feelings.

    But what does it really matter either way? If focusing on emotions rather than on symptoms makes the pain and other sensations go away, isn't that all that matters? We don't really need to get caught up in the minutiae. Sarno was trying to make sense of phenomenon that he discovered in how to cure pain.
  6. rbmunkin

    rbmunkin Peer Supporter

    Actually, Dr. Sarno says it is for keeping the repressed emotions from coming out, which keeps you from feeling them. So it's the same thing.

    You have a good point about does it really matter either way. Unless one is a researcher and wants to discover the minutiae. But for us end users, I guess it doesn't matter.
    Booble likes this.
  7. rand

    rand Peer Supporter

    The repressed emotions manifesting as physical symptoms theory is not original to Sarno and he credits this to people like Freud, Jung and others. I've talked to quite a few therapists who are very familiar with this concept yet have never heard of Sarno or TMS. I actually don't think a lot of Sarno's ideas are that original or groundbreaking, he just updated older theories for a modern era. If you read papers on psychosomatic illness from even the 1950s they're basically talking about the same things as Sarno was.
    TG957 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  8. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    Sure. Like every field there are many different practitioners that build on previous works. Sarno was not a psychologist so of course he was building on other works to apply it to helping his patients. He helped take away pain for many people. Great.

    Each practitioner in a field describes things in certain ways, delivers the message with certain tones and intonations, examples, etc. And people respond to different messages and different messengers. If those other than Sarno resonate with you to resolve your pain and other symptoms -- GREAT. And for those whom Sarno's explanations resonate also great!
    Celayne likes this.
  9. rbmunkin

    rbmunkin Peer Supporter

    But did any of them make their theories useful? Did they educate people that their pain was not physical so they don't have to be afraid of activity and so forth?
    Others may have hinted at theories, but did they make it practical?
    I think Dr. Sarno was pretty groundbreaking.
    Booble likes this.
  10. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    I actually didn't read the books because the general theory is enough (for me). I keep seeing people get bogged down in all the details and never getting to actually solving their pain. In my opinion there is now actually too much information. And then some information might conflict slightly with other and people get confused. The details don't matter. And I like how you differentiate a researcher's needs versus "end user." That's so very true.
  11. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    In fact so groundbreaking that he was dismissed. If it was common knowledge, he would have been more accepted.
    rbmunkin likes this.
  12. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is correct. I like to say that newcomers can make use of this to incorporate deep breathing early in their work, because this is an important skill in calming our brains, eventually becoming more mindful of the interaction between our fear brains and our physical responses. Once that is accepted, the "oxygen deprivation" theory becomes irrelevant.

    What @rand said is absolutely true, and I also agree 100% with @rbmunkin that Dr. Sarno took centuries of mindbody theory and made it accessible to anyone who can obtain one of his books.

    I understood and appreciated the mindbody connection and firmly believed in the power of self-healing for decades before I discovered Dr. Sarno - which did not prevent me from falling into an ever-widening abyss of anxiety, despair, and symptoms back in 2011. The way that Dr. Sarno presented his theories was the final piece of the puzzle to me, and it was Dr. Sarno (along with this forum established in his honor) who totally gave me back my life eleven years ago.

    I understand that my well-established belief in the power of self-healing had everything to do with my rapid success. I also accept that a lifetime of anxiety (in an increasingly dysfunctional world) is still what holds me back from possibly ever reaching 100% - but I don't care, because back in 2011 I was well on my way to being housebound at age 60 - I'm WAY beyond that and don't expect to ever be there again.

    In this work, there are no black & white answers - which is difficult for the typical perfectionist and controlling TMS personality to accept!
    Ultimately, this is what you want to take away from this discussion:
    In other words, don't overthink it, just do it :D
    Booble likes this.
  13. Brad renfro

    Brad renfro Newcomer

    Everyone has repressed emotions we are after all human. I think that plays only a minor role in this condition. We all have daily stresses. We do tend to over react to them.
    Why did I heal so quickly by just reading the book with no internal work.
    for me it’s knowing that structurally I’m fine, there’s nothing wrong with my back etc.
    it doesn’t work on everything.
    Always be gentle with yourself.
    Give it time and you’ll be okay.
    We all scare ourselves with our thoughts.
    Recognize it.
    Of course I can’t speak on severe childhood trauma.

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