The Tuesday, January 14, call-in discussion group will be discussing Chapter 26 (“Holding Onto Anger) in Steve Ozanich's book The Great Pain Deception starting at 9 pm Eastern Time. It lasts an hour, sometimes a little longer. Phone lines will open half an hour early so you can talk to hosts and early callers. Here's how to join the discussion (for detailed instructions, visit www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Connect ) If you're connecting by phone, dial 1 201-479-4595 and when prompted enter the pin code 18311499 followed by the pound symbol. If you're connecting via your computer (Fuze Meeting), go to www.fuzemeeting.com/fuze/app/48fb7aa8/18311499 and follow the instructions from there. For more information, visit www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Call-In_Peer_Discussion_Group . Steve says that for him, the final piece of the puzzle for healing himself was to understand the role of anger in pain. Anger is a big one in causing our TMS pain, repressing emotions that can go way back to our childhood. Dr. Sarno says in Healing Back Pain that it can even go up the scale to rage. Steve says he knew that anger was inside of him, but he never felt it. Nor did people who told him they had pain. They appeared to be happy, mild-mannered, controlled, and “cool.” But inside, down deep in their unconscious mind, they were volcanoes about to erupt. Anger can be a tricky thing to understand, and to accept the fact that we do house anger inside of us. Steve says “It’s easier to say something doesn’t exist than to expel the energy and time needed to understand and to seek its essence.” To Steve, there are two kinds of anger. Anger that is felt or recognized is acceptable anger, such as when we get mad at someone or something and our blood pressure goes up as we go into a rage (children go into tantrums). That kind of anger is conscious. Unconscious anger is the kind that causes us pain, but it is relegated to what Steve calls the “shadow.” That anger is a problem when a person has trouble feeling anger (as Steve admits he did), or has trouble expressing anger, which leads to bodily expressions of conflict. That causes bodily pain symptoms. Steve says what led to his TMS healing was understanding that he was furious inside, but never felt it, except through the number and severity of his symptoms. This happened after watching Dr. Sarno’s video seminar about his book The Mindbody Prescription. (the URL for the video is at: ). Dr. Sarno says, “The rage that is causing your pain, you will never feel. Any anger you’re aware of has nothing to do with TMS.” Learning this, Steve says, led him to realize he really didn’t understand repression of emotions at an elemental level. Repression means you have paralyzed your feeling of that emotion associated with that event. Steve’s own thinking was, “Well, okay, it’s repressed, but I still don’t feel it.” It was like a light bulb going on in Steve’s head. He said he had been like many others he had talked to about anger and TMS who said they could not be holding any repressed anger in them because they were laid-back and calm. But while they insisted they were cool people, pain was stabbing their backs, going down their legs, or giving them anxiety attacks. The secret of understanding that repressed anger caused TMS pain is that, as Steve puts it in this chapter, “Repression works outside of awareness.” Subtle, isn’t it. But crucial in understanding the role that repressed anger or rage has in creating our TMS symptoms. I understand it, yet it is still hard for me to accept, as it does for many others. My childhood had its happy times, playing with friends, but at home it was often far from happy. My parents argued a lot, mostly about money, since those were the years of the 1930s Great Depression. They often didn’t have enough to pay the rent on our apartment so we moved every few years. Or the lights would go out because the electric bill had not been paid. Dad’s drinking and gambling fueled the flames that led to my parents divorcing when I was about seven, a very crucial year in the life of a child, as psychologists have said. I was both angry and frustrated, feeling trapped in an unhappy life. But I tried not to show how angry I was. Instead, I went to the movies a lot. I usually went to the movies with my sister who was a year older than I. She had the same anger and feelings of being trapped that I had, but also repressed them. Our repressed anger led me to have severe back pain and her to have bladder cancer and, after she survived that, lots of headaches and nervous conditions. Dr. Sarno and Steve say we simply have to understand and believe that our symptoms are not from anything structural but from repressed anger. Most people, Steve says, walk around like the tip of an iceberg. What shows on the surface is sociable, cool, in control. What lies beneath where the bulk of our emotional self is buried hides a lot of anger. Many people withhold rage because when we are children we are taught that showing anger is a bad thing, so repression starts. It becomes part of our nature, not to be shown to others. People can be angry that they are angry. They can be angry that the pain does not leave them even though they understand the TMS process and believe it. Their impatience in not healing as fast as they want leads to more anger and pain. They may then project their anger on others, so as to place blame anywhere but on themselves. Steve says the angriest people he talks to are those who were abandoned, molested, or ignored as children, or were forced into religious beliefs that they could not understand. I have had friends whose parents, mostly their mothers, virtually forced them into becoming a priest or a nun. One became a priest but later “dropped out,” having decided that it was not the life he wanted. Another lived several years in a seminary preparing to become a nun, but “dropped out” to marry and have a family. It was a happy decision, like Maria von Trapp in “The Sound of Music,” which was based on a real woman and family. Some people are virtually forced into becoming doctors or lawyers, against their wishes to be rock-and-roll musicians, or writers or acrobats. My brother always dreamed of being a football star at Notre Dame but chose getting married and having a family rather than go to a four-year college, so he got a two-year accounting degree at a night school. He seldom seemed happy and pushed his football dream onto his son who did not even want to play football. Dreams of the fathers that are visited on their sons or daughters can cause a lot of TMS in their offspring. Anger is then passed from one generation to another. I was never pressured to be a great achiever. I was the first in my entire family to go to college and my father simply told me, “Do your best.” I sensed that he really didn’t think I’d get past even my first year of college, but I went all the way and graduated after four years at Michigan State University with a degree in journalism which led me to becoming a reporter on the Chicago Tribune and later a fulltime freelance writer and author of more than 30 books. No pressure from my father to succeed did not keep me from pressuring myself to succeed, however. Is that where part of my TMS back pain came from? I’m pretty sure it did. Steve quotes John Lee, a lecturer on anger, who says that anger must be felt (brought to consciousness) before it can be released. As long as pain is present, there has been no purging of the specific memories of rejection, isolation, or abandonment. Steve then lists three steps for how to stop being angry. They are “Burn it,” “Face it,” and “Transform it.” To “Burn it,” we need to take a physical break by walking, jogging, swimming, playing table tennis, anything that releases tension. It’s only at temporary solution, but helps lead us to the root problem. To “Face it” is to feel and talk away anger, either through counseling or personal analytical introspection. “Transform it” can be to practice “compassionate listening” to dissolve anger. You must understand why the anger existed in yourself first, and only then can you deal with anger in others who may have caused you TMS anger pain. Steve suggests that anger can only be transformed through mindfulness. That is the practice of being present and aware of what is going on, without any judgment, simply observing what is: “Body and mind united.” By being mindful, you cannot suppress your anger or deny it. By taking care of your anger you transform it from negative to positive energy. Taking care of it means to not fight it, but rather, understand why it exists. Then use the energy of anger to transform it into something positive or useful. Steve’s chapter 26 ends a section on “Understanding the Whys: Gathering Knowledge.” Chapter 27, which will be the subject of the call-in on January 21, starts a new and final section of his book. That section is called “A Philosophy on Life: Acting on New Knowledge and Healing,” and the chapter is titled “Physician Heal Thyself – How to Free Yourself from Pain.” We hope you can join the call-in on January 14 and share your thoughts on anger or rage.