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Levine & Sarno: Compatible Theories?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by BruceMC, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I noticed that in his ground-breaking book, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma (1997), that Peter A. Levine asserts that:

    "Physical ailments are often the result of partial or compartmentalized dissociation where one part of the body is out of touch with the other parts. . . . gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome), recurring back problems, and chronic pain can result from partial dissociation compounded by constriction" (p. 141, emphasis my own).

    Now, I know that Levine classifies dissociation and constriction as two symptoms of that often occur together in patients suffering from trauma. Now dissociation, it seems to me, is a kind of psychic escape clause that a traumatized individual generates to protect themselves from an overwhelmingly threatening experience. Kids who've been abused often habitually withdraw into another weird "spacey place". I sure did when I was picked on in Middle School! And constriction is what happens to you physically when you face a overwhelming threat, like being attacked or facing another catastrophic threat.Pretty simple, your muscles tense up for meeting an oncoming danger.

    My question is how does what Levine observe relate to Sarno's theory that TMS pain is the result of unpleasant, potentially overwhelming emotions like rage, sorrow and anxiety repressed into the unconscious mind? It sounds to me as if there are some very strong areas of agreement between Sarno and Levine's theories. Anyone out there with more clinical experience like to "riff" or ad lib (as they say in Jazz) on this Leid? It intrigues me because it sure sounds like Levine is getting very close to the underlying psychological mechanisms that lead directly to TMS pain.

    Maybe someone ought to ask Levine himself!
  2. Painfreefuture

    Painfreefuture Peer Supporter

    I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to know if you have come any further in connecting the two theories, Levine and Sarno. I read Sarno in January and just found Levine's work this month. After reading Levines book I am having trouble accepting Sarno's theory that the pain is generated as a distraction, like my mind has a mind of its own. Levine's trauma model of nervous system hyperactivity and unwinding seems more accurate and concrete to me. I found that I hit a wall with thinking of my pain as a distraction and looking for the repressed emotion. Adopting somatic experiencing and feeling my body instead of thinking, with the understanding that my nervous system was experiencing conditioned fear, helped me get moving forward again. I still have terrible pain everyday, but I have pain free moments, am sleeping better, and am living my life doing almost everything I was doing before. I still have some fear to get through with regard to being more physical, but I improved by leaps and bounds since reading Levine's book. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.
    Laudisco likes this.
  3. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    I haven't read Levine's book, but if you still feel pain, I suggest you focus totally on it being from TMS repressed emotions.
    Have you gone through the Structured Education Program? That helped me to become free of severe back pain.

    But if Levine's theories helped you, that's great. Most of us or all of us heal differently.
    I hope you will take the advice of Dr. Sarno and Steve Ozanich (and myself) and be as physically active as you can.
  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    It does seem as though Dr. Sarno, Howard Schubiner, Peter Levine and Michael Brown all have different theories about the origins of psychogenic symptoms like chronic pain. I guess like Walt says, whatever works for you!

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