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Dr. Hanscom's Blog A Couple Re-united

Discussion in 'Mindbody Blogs (was Practitioner's Corner)' started by Back In Control Blog, Nov 25, 2018.

  1. Back In Control Blog

    Back In Control Blog Well known member

    Our team has become extremely aware of the effect of chronic pain on the family and the family dynamics around pain. The patient is in a survival mode and loses awareness of the needs of those close to them. Conversely, the family is often worn out from being around someone in pain, and no matter how much they love him or her, relationships suffer. We have noticed that even if a patient engages in the tools of the DOC project, the family dynamics are the strongest triggers keeping a person in pain and it’s the trump card. However, once the family understands the neurological nature of pain and the principles behind the solution, the healing energy generated by the family is powerful and patients can move forward quickly – along with the rest of the family experiencing a better quality of life – often one they had never experienced.

    I have also witnessed several families re-uniting. Here is one of these stories.

    A three-level fusion??

    Bill was a middle-aged executive who had experienced many physical symptoms. He had a structural low back problem that required a multiple-level decompression. He experienced a satisfying resolution of his leg pain. Initially, he wasn’t open to any of the ideas around the DOC project. About a year later all of his pre-op symptoms recurred and he was willing to take a look. I offered him a three-level fusion to relieve his leg pain, but I was also suspicious he had triggered his old pain pathways.


    Why not?

    After some discussion he decided to dive into the DOC project, as he didn’t have anything to lose. Surgery was still on the table. Within two weeks his pain abated and by six weeks it had disappeared. What had triggered his pain were some serious issues with his marriage. A few months later his wife left him. Although he accepted his responsibility for her needing to leave, he had a difficult time dealing with it. Just a reminder, that when pain is triggered by circumstances, it is not a “psychological issue.” It’s a direct link of the areas of the brain creating the stress response being linked to pain circuits. “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”

    Over the next six months, he worked with the DOC principles and sought the support of a pain psychologist. Not only did his pain abate, his entire personality transformed from being obsessive and controlling to warm and engaging. (it was always there) He came off all of his psych and pain meds.

    His wife returned

    I saw him back in clinic and he was beaming. His wife was coming back. This was the second couple I had seen re-unite within a couple of months as pain issues diminished. Here is his letter.

    His Letter

    Dear Dr. Hanscom,

    Fantastic to see you. During our meeting today, Sarah e-mailed me her travel plans. She leaves Wisconsin Monday, driving the car I bought her before we wed. Nevertheless, my outlook is “open hands”. (David Burn’s concept) I can be and am happy (enough) on my own with or without Sarah. Or with or without any romantic partner. I stand on my own.

    I checked the DOC site for the printed version of Back In Control and I just bought it. As a DOC project participant, I want to share some of my experience.

    I’ve nearly eliminated my physical pain and my residual “background” pain from psoriatic arthritis NO LONGER HURTS. This pain no longer gets to my emotions, UNLIKE the princess in The Princess and the Pea. But I still feel exquisitely vulnerable to emotional pain. To me, emotional pain really hurts badly. There’s just no other way to describe it.

    But I have made progress. And just as in life my progress is NOT a straight line. I’ve had setbacks followed by advances then a stumble – just like real life. Here is what I credit, first and foremost.

    First, without a doubt: Writing and throwing away the paper IMMEDIATELY afterwards. I regard throwing away the paper as equally important as purgingthe bladder & bowel. Writing and throwing away the paper MUST BE done to avoid systemic toxicity. (My analogy is that it is similar to brushing your teeth)

    Second: Physical exercise. Three times a week minimum of vigorous “break-a-heavy-sweat” exercise. It also MUST BE done to avoid systemic toxicity.

    Third: I read (For the record, the very first book that I read was: Back in Control. Were it not for Back In Control by David Hanscom I wouldn’t have been nearly as motivated to read all these other books:

    • The Pain Chronicles
    • Forgive for Good – Fred Luskin, PhD
    • The Talent Code – Dan Coyle
    • The Traveler’s Gift
    • Epictetus and The Art of Living – Sharon LeBell
    • Full Catastrophic Living
    • Journey into Love – Kani Comstock
    • Demystifying Love
    • Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
    • Awareness – Anthony DeMello
    • Thanks
    • Feeling Good Together – David Burns, MD

    Needless to say, I hadn’t read a single one of these books before embarking on the DOC Project.

    Lastly I’ve got a personal recommendation – cry. Not like an actor on TV, I mean really cry. And cry hard. You will feel better. It might take 3 hours or 3 days, but you WILL feel better. Show me a man with no cry in him and I’ll show you a severe case of deadly NPD (Neurophysiologic Disorder) and denial!

    Best Regards,



    One item: The “think positive” myth:

    I know it’s just bull but I can clearly describe why…it’s about phonyness… or trying to pretend something bad is actually good? I mean this section on DOC delves into the fallacy of positive thinking:

    • Positive thinking is another way of suppressing negative thinking. This is a tricky concept in that by committing to a process of true forgiveness the results are very positive. You first have to go through the steps (allowing yourself to feel pain) to achieve the positive result.

    Can I convince my dad to stop saying, “think positive son!?” Maybe I’ll let him say his thing and ignore it. I once tried to articulate this point to dad but I couldn’t clearly describe the fallacy of the “power of positive thinking”.

    My Perspective

    There are numerous points I could emphasize about his transformation as it has completely enveloped him. I would like to touch on a few.

    1 – Do you need your pain?

    The first is that he clearly expressed what I have observed for a long time: Humans consciously and unconsciously will do whatever it takes to avoid emotional pain. That includes experiencing physical pain, even if it is self-inflicted. I feel this is one of major reasons that patients won’t engage in that you have to learn to feel pain in order to move through it.

    2 – Anyone can get better

    The second is that with persistent engagement in NPD treatment principles most people improve. It’s a matter of time and commitment. He was in as bad a mental and physical state as anyone I have worked with. He is pain free and thriving.

    3 – The absolute block – Obsessive thought patterns

    The third is that one of the core symptoms of NPD is obsessive thought patterns. This is a huge problem in that it also the symptom that blocks treatment. The one variable that predicts success is openness to engagement. In chronic pain, you’re legitimately angry and your mind is going a thousand miles an hour. It interferes with rational thinking. Some of the more common thoughts I here are:

    • “I’m feeling the pain right here. It’s not imaginary.”
    • “The doctor is missing something. There has to be a reason for my pain.”
    • “I’ve tried everything you’ve suggested, and it hasn’t worked. Why should I try this?”

    “You Don’t Believe Me”

    Then when I tell them that their spine looks pretty good and surgery is not indicated they will often explode with anger. As I am not offering them an operation or a procedure I must not really believe that they are experiencing severe pain. I do believe them but there is nothing I can do to convince them. I feel very badly but I have to let go quickly and hope they circle back around again.

    It took Bill over a year to be open and a few months to really immerse himself in NPD principles. I don’t why he decided to engage, and I don’t think he does either. I do know that he is one of many examples that keeps me fired up about moving forward with this project.

    Related posts:

    1. Re-uniting With His Wife
    2. You Cannot Fix Yourself
    3. “Feeling Good” format
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