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A different take on TMS and possibly another healing route

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by TG957, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I just started reading this book and I thought it may be helpful to other people who are dealing with pain:


    The story I am on right now is about people who had real, serious skeletal injuries which resulted in chronic pain for over 10 years. They were able to heal from pain using brain re-wiring techniques, such as visualization. Interesting that nothing has changed in the their physically damaged spines, legs etc. What lies in the center of it is the concept of neuroplasticity or plasticity of the brain.

    I think about it a lot, is our TMS work just another way of re-wiring our brains? The book is written more from a neuroscience approach, and it helps to explains things in TMS theory that remained mystery to me four years into my knowledge of TMS. I, honestly, could never buy into the concept of a limited supply of oxygen causing pain which was Dr. Sarno's hypothesis. But it was made 50 years ago, before all the advances that neuroscience made in the past 50 years, neuroplasticity being one of them. Until recently, modern medicine believed that brain cannot change in the adulthood. Each one of us who was able to successfully heal from their pain, is an evidence of the opposite.

    Anyway, see for yourself if this book helps in your healing journey.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi TG957,

    Thanks for the suggestion of this work.

    I think that Dr. Sarno's idea that lack of blood flow caused pain he termed as a "theory." So any new information about the underlying cause is great.

    The fact that people get better, even with "structural issues" proves out the basic approach, regardless of the underlying cause of the mind-body induced pain. And I love that "even with xyz physical issues" treatment works. This is echoed by many practitioners in the field of TMS who find that treatment of symptoms can be effective with this approach, even when the underlying cause may be physical. I just said "can be." My statement is not to suggest underlying physical causes should not be addressed, or that TMS approach "fixes all."

    I want to make some important points regarding alternative theories about the "cause" of TMS symptoms.

    All agree that the cause is not physical.

    The treatments pioneered by Dr. Sarno, expanded upon by others, many of which are discussed on the Wiki and Forum are effective regardless of underlying cause, when the underlying problem is indeed TMS, PPD, MBS, "stress induced illness," or other names. The treatment menu of understanding, reducing fear, returning to activities, feeling our feelings, reducing stress (inner and outer) are basic and effective, and broadly subscribed to by the larger community of practitioners and self-practitioners.

    As new theories are put forth and research is conducted, I think the most important thing to keep in mind as self-practitioners is that the theories make sense to you.

    A huge part of this treatment is confidence in diagnosis and treatment. If lack of oxygen to tissues makes sense to you, and this is how you came to this work, through Dr. Sarno's books, then I encourage you to simply stick with this. Neuroplasticity, and neural pathway explanations will not help you get better unless they resonate deeply with your confidence, logic, etc. Searching for more reasons for underlying causes is not helpful if it any way brings you to confusion/doubt. Nor is it helpful if it takes you toward seeing neural pathways as somehow a physical problem to get rid of.


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  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I really feel that if you're guided to a certain teaching, such as Dr. Sarno's or any particular alternative then trust this path and go deep!!! Do your best to find it all right in there. And if anything inside your chosen strand does not give you confidence, then, after a sincere effort to resolve why it is not working for you, simply dispense with it. Dispense with anything which does not support your deepest conviction and sense of reassurance. I mean this for Steves' work, Alan Gordon's, Dr.Schubiner, Hanscom, my ideas ---anyone's. This is an internal process foremost, and you must protect your precious, growing understanding at all costs.
  4. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle


    Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. By no means I intended my post to cast any doubts on Dr. Sarno's teachings and ideas. He is my hero and will remain such forever. You are absolutely right that each person has to find that one little straw that would pull them out of doubt and worry and set them on the path of healing.

    May it be lack of oxygen or neural pathways, as long as you found you way out of misery, you won!

    Since Dr. Sarno's lonely quest in the early 70ies, many thinkers and practitioners joined the movement, and each one of them added something of value for those with chronic pain. With my dreadful diagnosis of CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome), it took me many more books and tools beyond Dr. Sarno's book to eventually heal, but I know at least one case of a person who healed from CRPS by re-reading a single Dr. Sarno's book until the pain went away. There is no single magic bullet that works for all, each one of us is different.

    As you said: "Do your best to find it all right in there. ... Dispense with anything which does not support your deepest conviction and sense of reassurance."
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  5. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    Hi TG957,
    I listened to this book on audio a few years ago and it is an excellent one about neuroplasticity. I think of what I learned from it as more tools for my toolbox. It is a more modern and popular concept than Dr Sarno's one about mild oxygen deprivation. The Curable app, for example, talks about brain re-wiring a lot. I think we have to remember that neuroplasticity knowledge was non-existent to all but the neuroscientists working away in their labs back in Dr Sarno's book writing days. I do agree that a lot of what Dr Sarno was teaching people was brain re-wiring.
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  6. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you, Eileeen, you are spot on! It may work for other people to just read Sarno's book - and they are cured. It was different for me. Maybe because of my math/science background, I needed to develop a consistent, solid model of how the entire pain-mind loop worked. Without it, I could not move forward. As much as I was sold on Sarno's approach almost right away, I was skeptical about the oxygen concept. But thanks to other ideas that I found on this forum, I was able to devise a convincing model of hyper-sensitized nervous system. The other book by N. Doidge (Brain That Changes Itself) came very helpful during that time. Thanks to the people on the forum, I discovered Claire Weekes audios and after that I started healing. I literally was brain-washing myself with her audio, I listened to it maybe 50 times, if not more. But so I did with Dr. Sarno's interviews and whatever I could find on YouTube. At the end, it worked!
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  7. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle


    Well put. We find that little straw, or little straws, and amazingly they pull us through!

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  8. HappyLittleClouds

    HappyLittleClouds Peer Supporter

    Absolutely! I think you'll find that the leading TMS physicians and therapists active today do incorporate recent neuroscience and advances in neuroplasticity to explain mind-body illnesses. Check out Dr. David Hanscom, Dr. Howard Schubiner, Alan Gordon LCSW and many more of the books in the resources section.
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  9. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    "I really feel that if you're guided to a certain teaching, such as Dr. Sarno's or any particular alternative then trust this path and go deep!!!" (Sorry I don't know how to do the quotes!)

    This is where I'm "stuck"

    I'm not quite sure what I believe. I've read and researched so much, I second guess everything.

    I believe Sarno's theory around emotional tension, but have also read a lot about dizziness (my main symptom) and neural pathways that makes me feel like I need to re-set mine or whatever in order to get better
  10. Neil

    Neil Peer Supporter

    Israeli physicist & engineer Moshe Feldenkrais 1940s & 50s work the feldenkrais method is based on neuroplasticity of the brain.
    plum likes this.
  11. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Remember two things:

    1. Sarno tells us in the Mind Body Prescription that the method by which the brain creates symptoms is not important but rather the fact that it is inducing symptoms.

    2. He referred to the “black box” in the autonomic nervous system, the fundamental nature of which was difficult to explain at the time of writing but was sure would be explained in the future. All neuroscience and neuro-psychology is doing is explaining this.

    The various theories are not in competition and do not stand opposed to each other. Read Sarno. Read his words on the limbic system and how the emotions generated here pass through either the autonomic nervous system or alter immune function to create the many problems they do. It’s all in the MBP and makes complete sense once you grasp it.
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  12. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    ...and god bless him, it was only ever a hypothesis from a man who used to work with people who had experienced a stroke.

    I’m sure he would have been fascinated to see how emotions created neural pathways. If only he’d had access to fMRI...
  13. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I should add, it’s an excellent book. Well worth taking the time to read.
  14. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is from an old journal I kept back in the days when I was trying to figure this stuff out. I believe the quote comes from page 45 in MBP but I don’t have the book to hand so someone else may like to clarify the reference.

    “The crucial point is that the symptoms are not the result of damage or disease of specific body parts. They are perceived as weakness, pain, numbness or blindness only because the appropriate brain cells have been fired off.

    “one set of brain cells is stimulated to activity by other brain cells, in this case the stimulating cells are those having to do with powerful unconscious emotions.”

    I’m pretty sure Sarno was discussing conversion at this point and then went on to ascribe the same psychogenic process to mindbody disorders. This is why I don’t understand why people have a problem with the neurological explanations. Sarno himself explicitly mentions them but leans into psychoanalytic theories as a way to explain the unconscious-conscious border.

    I hope my old notes make sense. I spent ages...absolutely ages trying to understand it all. It was the demystifying of the black box that really helped me reach the epiphany I so desperately needed.
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  15. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Miller , there is absolutely no contradiction between Sarno's theory and later theories based on the concepts of neuroplasticity. Until 1990es, when neuroscience really took off with the development of brain scanning devices, it was impossible to understand how a thought could stop pain and why stress and trauma could cause pain. It was left to occasional geniuses like Sarno and abovementioned Moshe Feldenkreis (who was a physicist, not a physician) to explain their methodologies from some solid theoretical positions. As @plum pointed out, "If only he'd had access to fMRI...". Sarno had a solution but he did not have scientific facts at hand to explain why the solution worked, so he came up with the idea of the oxygen deprivation.

    I personally was dead stuck on the oxygen deprivation because it could not explain my symptoms - until I came across more modern explanations based on neuroplasticity. Then it was like somebody turned on the light. At that time I was not familiar with the work of Dr. Schubiner and others who approach TMS from more modern perspectives, but I made my way through it anyway and fully recovered. As you may already know, Sarno coined the term TMS as Tension Myositis Syndrome. Guess what, it is now referred to as The Mindbody Syndrome, to reflect the most current state of knowledge about it.

    The bottom line is, there is a direct link between our emotions, stress and physical symptoms in the body. Once you settle on accepting this position, the rest of the pieces come together with either oxygen deprivation/tension explanation or a more modern, intricate way of neuroplasticity.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
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