Currently, the most common question people are asking me is if they need to un-Earth the "exact thing" that is causing their TMS symptoms. Probably not. Janette Barber touched on this in our interview but I didn't get to answer her in more detail. I'm not a professional therapist, all I know is how I've seen people heal from TMS, including myself--and I've been fortunate enough to have learned from TMS doctors over the years. For what it's worth... The answers to anything where the brain is involved are complex, and there's no single answer. If there was, there would be one type of therapy, the doctors and therapists would just say, "ok: x = 1, go do this...and do you have insurance?" The same is true for TMS healing, if there was a formula for success I could just tell everyone, "do this and this." But there isn't. Believe it or not this is good news. I have to know the person a little, listen to the very first words they say to me; see if they're going to resist the TMS diagnosis like many do, or if they're very physical in activity, or have had extreme separation trauma, etc. Even then, no 2 people seem to respond in the same fashion, so I try to get them to try something they feel might work because they're the ones who know inside what is wrong (Humanistic Psychology, Carl Rogers, et. al.). No one is a better therapist/healer than the individual himself. Sometimes, he just needs someone to tell his personal truth to--the way he sees things. When I was reading the collective works of Carl Jung I saw one thing that stuck with me; that the choice of analyst was far more important than the problem or method used. In other words, if the person feels good about the therapist they are more likely to resolve their problems, it didn't matter what technique was used. Jung also said that the majority of the problems people were coming to him with had never happened. The anxious ones were simply "readying." They were building castle walls for the next attack, a castle that also included a moat from which they could not escape. Yin anticipates as yang imprisons. So, if you find someone you can open up to that's critical. Everyone who lives has been hurt deeply in their past by someone. It's a part of life and growing and so unavoidable. Only the individual can make the decision on whether he or she feels the need to begin to express themselves to someone nonjudgmental, in order to heal, or to finally let go. It's also more important to understand "why" you need to repress than "what" you are repressing, and even then the lines get blurred. Most of the people in pain I've worked with, or communicated with worry they may have some dark buried incident that they can't face. This may be true for an extreme few but I doubt it is common. What they should be focusing on is the early circumstances that provided the makeup of their persona/screen. This happens early in life, and rapidly, the first time they are shamed, or guilted. So--very early on a situation arises, or a series of circumstances by which the individual has chosen to repress all self-expression in order to cope through the tension. This then becomes their modus operandi for life; the template with which they screen all future stressful events; the same one that worked first. That's why I used that Clancy McKenzie, quote in my book, "If a gazelle escapes the attack of a lion, the next time a lion attacks, it had better do exactly what it did to survive the first time. This mechanism helps us survive more often than not." Clancy Mac, MD The most common survival mechanism behind TMS is the non-expression, the internalization of anger along with deeper aspects of the self. Once it is learned early on to never talk back, never yell, never get angry, never show any emotion, and the person survived that day (escaped the lion), that method is the method for life. But this can change. This is great news. As tension rises later in life, and there is no escape route for the gazelle (the TMSer) the person still uses this internalization mechanism to cope, and internalization generates energy because it's never expressed away, i.e., released from the physical body. But he/she can't contain the rise in energy any longer..tick tick tick..the emotions keep piling up as the persona keeps it all inside trying to appear "perfect" and to fit in, to keep going, not make waves, go along, keep everyone happy--to cope... tick tick tick...the autonomic nervous system is frantically at work reducing this or increasing that to keep the person going...tick tick tick...must do good, must be responsible, must do what is right...must go on... must hide fear. Then suddenly there is a deep pain in the back or chest or feet and hands. The skin erupts, the shoulder weakens, the stomach burns, the neck spasms, the chest pounds, the eyes blur, the balance harder to maintain. This is the deeper self expressing itself since it can't with the tongue because it never learned how. The conscious mind will deceive but the unconscious doesn't know how. So pain is both a protective barrier as Dr. Sarno concluded, and a form of self-punishment to keep those darker thoughts from ever surfacing. This is not blaming the victim. The person has no idea there are darker thoughts present, and no idea they are using pain as a tool to survive (escape the lion). This all occurs outside of awareness and can be halted, with awareness. The yin-conscious chases the yang-unknown... The answer to whether you need to uncover the buried thoughts depends heavily on your level of disability, or intensity of chronicity, or even the number of symptom imperative shifts that you are willing to put up with. So, the medium length answer is "no" you don't have to dig up your past to heal, but I would recommend talking. If you can find a culprit to free, or stitch a deep wound, it's more likely you won't experience a shift in a symptom. But I've also seen a couple people in wheelchairs, unable to walk--disabled by pain, eventually heal without finding the root cause of their pain. This is because it's more important to just "realize" that there is repression occurring and also "why" it is occurring. It occurs to help people cope because survival happened the first time they needed to escape (keep parents happy, family together, get through kindergarten, pull the hearts together, not get eaten by a lion, etc). If they shut up (flee) they don't get hurt as badly, or so they "feel." They use pain to cope so that they can be "normal." But as Jung said, "Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you." There is no such thing as normal because everyone has a shadow, and so the very act of hiding behind normalcy is enraging because it stifles the inner expression; engendering something called perfectionism, which Dr. Sarno discovered was a main personality trait in his patients. It would be rare to have to feel your emotions or release your anger in order to heal, but you do need to pull your anger level down significantly. I recommended in my book to transform it through acceptance and recognition. But, a few people might need to release their anger, so it's nebulous. Now, if you're totally debilitated like the lady, Helen, who Dr. Sarno wrote about, you probably have something buried in your unconscious that needs exhumed. But that is very rare. So: Therapy = all good Therapy necessary = sometimes Need to feel buried emotions = rarely I hope that makes sense. It is such a concern of people calling and emailing me that I felt it needed addressed. People seem to feel they are even more deeply flawed if they journal and reflect and can't find out if they were beaten or abused. The inability to discover a severe trauma makes them worry more and angers them even further, on occasion making their TMS worse. They're searching for a holy grail in futility. These people are fine, their TMS simply shows how they are reacting to life, coping, surviving each day by using pain to keep them going. That's why I spent so much time on the Type T personality in my book. You can take 1 single event and get 2 different reactions, or physiologic responses, depending on the personalities of the 2 people involved. The non-Type T, or Type B person, gets a perfect A+ on her report card. She smiles and celebrates and enjoys the moment in joy. The Type T sees the A+ and reacts with worry. She thinks about how much work is ahead to repeat that grade, or if the teacher posted the wrong grade, or if the A offended anyone. One single event: 2 opposing reactions, 1 of joy, 1 of worry. The Type B learned early on to celebrate each moment of success, and the Type T learned to anticipate the problems that might follow it--Type B lives and Type T survives. The difference is in the mindfulness. One reacts in the moment, and the other to the past and future. One embraces, and 1 braces. The common denominator they both possess is a persona, or template, by which they filter life's events through. This can be altered through awareness. If you are digging up some pain in your past that's fine, do it, but beware of psycho-archeology. Don't keep digging for gold in an empty tomb. I've seen therapists keep people crying for months digging up their past, picking at the same things repeatedly. There's a time to dig and a time to put the shovel down and bask in the sunlight, thankful there is work to do, and problems--that really aren't that bad. The problems may still remain but if you can live a happy life relatively pain-free just let the past go and enjoy each moment. Anyone can make anyone cry if they dig hard enough. The difference, I believe, is in "the degree of anxiety" through depression/separation/isolation. Only the person knows when to start digging and when to stop. The analyst's job is to show him where to dig. Steve Ozanich PS I've been asking TMS sufferers if they had ever been chased by a lion; and so far so good. It appears that TMS is not caused by being chased or eaten by lions. This is even more good news, except for the lion of course--once again: 1 event, 2 different reactions, completely depending on perspective.