Celebrity Advocates

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Janette Barber, Television Writer and Producer

Janette Barber is the Executive Producer of Rosie Radio on Sirius XM. Previously she was the Supervising Producer and head writer for the Rosie O'Donnell Show, where she won five Emmys for producing the show. Barber is also a TMS sufferer, and gave an interview on Larry King Live about her treatment and recovery. She had severe pain in both her ankles starting in 1995 and was originally diagnosed with posterior tibialis tendinitis. The pain was so bad in her ankles that Barber could barely walk and was forced to use a wheelchair. Barber said, "I could not walk at all. I literally -- I would cry every single day." Like a lot of other chronic pain sufferers, Barber's doctors were pessimistic about any kind of recovery. Rosie O'Donnell did a segment about her on her show and asked viewers to submit any suggestions about chronic pain treatment. A large number of people suggested that Barber schedule an appointment with Dr. John Sarno, and told her about TMS. Sarno diagnosed her with TMS, and Barber started attending his lectures. She has had a complete recovery from TMS, and was even able to take part in a relief mission in Kosovo where she walked up a mountain to deliver food and supplies. Barber said, "I can actually do something with my life that matters. Without him (Sarno), I couldn't have done it." While Barber admits to still having small flare ups of pain, she takes solace in the fact that it is her body telling her she needs to recognize and focus on her emotions.

(Source: How Can Chronic Back Pain Be Cured?". Larry King Live. CNN. 1999-08-12)

Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D.

The following is an excerpt is from an article written by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. Dr. Ben-Shahar is an author and lecturer at Harvard University. He currently teaches the largest course at Harvard on "Positive Psychology" and the third largest on "The Psychology of Leadership"--with a total of over 1,400 students. His website is talbenshahar.com. (Text used with permission.)

The link between the mind and the body in the field of medicine has been well established—from the placebo effect to the evidence tying stress and suppression with physical aches and pains. According to Dr. John Sarno, a physician and a professor at New York University School of Medicine, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, and other symptoms are often “a response to the need to keep those terrible, antisocial, unkind, childish, angry, selfish feelings... from becoming conscious.” Because there is less of a stigma in our culture against physical pain than against emotional dis-ease, our subconscious mind diverts attention—our own and others'—from the emotional to the physical.

The prescription Sarno offers to thousands of his patients is to acknowledge their negative feelings, to accept their anxiety, anger, fear, jealousy, or confusion. In many of the cases, the mere permission to experience one's emotions does not only make the physical symptom go away, it alleviates the negative feelings as well.

Psychotherapy works because the client allows the free flow of emotions—positive and negative. In a set of experiments, psychologist James Pennebaker demonstrated that students who, on four consecutive days, spent twenty minutes writing about difficult experiences, were happier and physically healthier in the long run. The mere act of “opening up” can set us free. Pennebaker, supporting Sarno's findings, recognizes that “Once we understand the link between a psychological event and a recurring health problem, our health improves.” (p.9)

Ben Crane Pro Golfer

Work with renowned rehab specialist John Sarno has helped Crane correct a back issue that kept him off the Tour for six months in 2007 and threatened his career. “I'm in the best stretch of health I've had,” Crane says. “Dr. Sarno has been instrumental in giving me a second lease on my career. He's helped me change the way I think about my back.” (Source 1) (Source 2)

After a tournament win in January 2010, Ben Crane is interviewed. Mr. Crane credits Dr. Sarno for helping him to overcome his back pain. (Source)

Mehmet Oz, MD (Dr. Oz)

In an article from Oprah.com entitled "4 Treatments for Low Back Pain" and subtitled "Mehmet Oz, MD, host of The Dr. Oz Show, sorts out the best treatments for your aching back," Dr. Oz writes, "Stress is the source of most low back pain, according to John Sarno, MD, professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine at New York University. Though Sarno doesn't dispute that the pain is real, he believes it stems from buried emotional issues that trigger tension in the body and ultimately deprive nerves and muscles of oxygen; relief comes through understanding this link and by learning to deal with negative emotions constructively."

Gerry Sandusky WBAL TV 11 Sports Director

Sports Director Gerry Sandusky is interviewed. He discusses how he was healed from years of suffering from chronic back pain. There are links to a video interview with him and another video interview of Dr. Sarno. (Source)

Howard Stern

The often controversial radio host, Howard Stern, has been an advocate of TMS and Dr. Sarno's treatment for years. Stern suffered from back pain for most of his life and tried almost every kind of solution. In an interview on the CNN show, Larry King Live, where he discussed his lifetime of pain and his acceptance of Sarno's methods. Stern said, "I had such tremendous back pain for years that even during my radio show I would lay down on the floor, and when commercials were playing I would lay down on the floor trying to somehow alleviate the pain in my back, and it was just near impossible. When friends told him about TMS Stern replied, "Well, that worked for you, but it will never work for me. I have real pain. I have pain because I'm 6'5." He had so much pain that Stern stated, "I was convinced my pain was some sort of physical defect, when in fact it was the mind that was controlling my back." Stern eventually went to see Dr. Sarno and went to his lecturers where he learned that his pain was all in his head. Stern accepted Dr. Sarno's TMS diagnosis and has been pain free for over 10 years.

Dr. Sarno has been a regular guest on Howard Stern's radio show, and was one of three people who Stern dedicated his book, Private Parts, to. Howard Stern is also quoted on the back of Sarno's book The Divided Mind, saying "I beg anyone who is seeking a solution to pain to study the amazing and revolutionary approach outlined here. I did, and it changed my life."

Stern is quoted as saying, "My life before Dr. Sarno was filled with excruciating back and shoulder pain. For twenty years I also suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and thought my back pain was due to my height or some sort of spine problem and that my OCD was a chemical imbalance and only treatable with medication. But all my thoughts were wrong. Imagine the miracle in my life when in a matter of weeks my back pain disappeared. Imagine my shock when I applied Dr. Sarno's principles and never suffered a single symptom again. Quite simply - I owe Dr. Sarno a lot."

Source 1: "How Can Chronic Back Pain Be Cured?". Larry King Live. CNN. 1999-08-12

Source 2: Sarno, John. The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. Harper Collins: New York, 2006.

Source 3: Amazon.com editorial review, retrieved from Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection on 1/27/10.

John Stossel in a 20/20 segment 07/25/1999

John Stossel, former co-anchor of the ABC news show 20/20, was a patient of Dr. John Sarno's and claims that his fifteen years of back pain were overcome through using Dr. Sarno's TMS approach. He is quoted as saying, "for fifteen years, my life revolved around my back. I took time off from work, conducted meetings lying on the floor and slept with ice bags. Could this be psychogenic? I had considered Dr. Sarno's ideas preposterous, but ten years ago I was talked into seeing him. I haven't had back problems since. If Dr. Sarno is right a about other psychogenic pain, America is wasting billions of dollars. What a tragedy."

Stossel produced 15 minute a segment in 20/20 that told his story and described the TMS approach.The segment follows three or four back pain sufferers, including one who has such pain that she moves about on a scooter rather than walking. By the end of the program, after treatement by Dr. Sarno, she is shown running (the other pain sufferers that they followed all improved, as well). 20 files were also pulled at random from Dr. Sarno's records, were called by a reporter, and all reported that they were better or much better after going through his program.

The segment from 20/20 is embedded below.


Accessible version of this video

Andrew Weil, MD

Well known alternative and complementary medicine doctor, Andrew Weil, MD, devotes a chapter in his book, "Spontaneous Healing," to the success story of someone who recovered from terrible back pain by reading "Healing Back Pain." The chapter is entitled "The Faces of Healing: Ethan." In it, Dr. Weil recommends Healing Back Pain and writes the following regarding his reasons for doing so:

I had several reasons for recommending Dr. Sarno's book. I had met a number of patients who had tried every imaginable treatment for back pain, then had gone to Dr. Sarno and been cured. The cure consisted simply of reading his book, going for an individual appointment, and attending evening lectures in which he explained how the mind produced the pain in the back. This sounded too good to be true, but I remembered the one disabling episode of back pain I had had; it was clearly related to my emotional state--grief over the simultaneous loss of two close relationships--and it disappeared suddenly after three weeks. It never returned. Then I saw two cases of men with severe chronic back pain that disappeared as if by magic when the men fell in love. Finally, I had just attended an interesting professional conference of a group called the North American Academy of Musculoskeletal Pain, where I was invited to give a keynote address on the meaning of pain. The speaker after me gave a fascinating lecture on the lack of correlation between the subjective experience of back pain and the objective measures of musculoskeletal dysfunction, such as X-rays and MRI scans. He showed X-rays and scans of patients that looked so awful you could not believe that these people could stand or walk, yet they were free of pain and had normal mobility. In other cases, people were immobilize by pain, yet their spines looked normal. To my mind, all of this information was consistent with Dr. Sarno's philosophy.
The chapter closes with Ethan's advice for others who suffer from back pain:
"Read Sarno's book and see if it rings true for you .... People seem to have a hard time accepting the theory until they've exhausted all other remedies or, like me, are facing the knife."
Dr. Weil has also recommended Dr. Sarno's books in two Q&A answers from his website:

Tom Harkin, Senator from Iowa

Tom Harkin, five term Democratic Senator from Iowa and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, talks about being a victim of back pain since 1988. In 2004 he was given a Dr. Sarno CD and Book (Healing Back Pain) by a friend. After reading the book and listening to the CD, he was healed. His story told by himself can be found in the video of the committee hearing held on February 14, 2012 on the topic "Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief". His testimony begins at approximately 101 minutes into the video.

See also

  1. TMS In The Media
  2. Medical Evidence
  3. Medical and Mental Health Professionals who advocate this approach
  4. Events
  5. Q&A with an Expert about this approach
  6. Books for TMS Patients
  7. Recovery stories categorized by symptom group
DISCLAIMER: The TMS Wiki is for informational and support purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. See Full Disclaimer.