About two or three months ago, while on holiday in Colombia, I developed sciatic pain in the right hip and leg which first started as a minor annoyance and kept evolving to a point where my right foot got half paralyzed, and the pain got so strong that I couldn't sit, put on my shoes or sleep for more than 4 hours. I had to take my breakfast standing up, couldn't drive a car anymore, or catch a bus. I had a check-up and they found a herniated disc in L5-S1, which I had already known I had since 2011. However, in the past the pain was usually in the lower back and went away after a week or two, so I found it hard to believe that the same herniated disk can cause such a different pain scenario. That's why I respectfully rejected their suggestion that I needed surgery. A friend recommended the books of Dr. Sarno to me, and it immediately made perfect sense to me. So I started the program, and only reading about other people usually makes me cry and sob as I can relate so much with all those people here and feel empathy for their suffering. In addition, I feel that there is hope, which also releases a lot of sadness which I have accumulated because I realized that I had given up hope on me long before the pain started manifesting. I'm now back in Portugal, where I live, and have been to an osteopath with an holistic approach who kind of believes in both worlds - while he acknowledges that all back pain is caused by emotional issues and puts great emphasis on discovering the root cause of the problem (using hypnotherapy for example), he still thinks the herniated disc is what causes the pain. I am having difficulties in believing 100% in Sarno's theory, as it is really hard to ignore all the counterintuitive information from my body (i.e. the great pain) as well as the wide-held belief from physicians that the herniated disc is what's causing the pain. In addition, I have seen the herniated disc with my own eyes on the CT scan, which makes it even harder to not attribute the pain to it. So, while I feel that the osteopath/hypnotherapist I referred to is actually helping me in reducing the pain, I wonder if I'm not doing myself a favor by continuing the therapy with him. I would appreciate any thoughts from you on this. Does it matter much whether I believe that the emotional issues cause a herniated disc which in turn causes pain, or whether I believe that the herniated disc is no variable in the emotion-pain equation? The program and its journaling exercises are very powerful for me. It certainly helps get in touch with a lot of feelings, but I feel in my case they are still very confusing. To give you an idea: I have suffered from depression and panic attacks for most of my life, have had unexplained knee issues where my knees would be swollen and full of water. I have done psychotherapy and feel that I understand quite well where my unhealthy personality traits and self doubts come from. In addition, I've been through some really rough times recently which included quitting my job because I was unhappy with it, the money worries ever since, splitting up with my long-term partner, as well as finding a new love which has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions as well etc. So, I feel that the list of possible causes is endless. Often, while journaling, I feel that something is coming up but I'm having difficulties in really connecting to the emotions in a way that I really know what they are. Alan Gordon mentions in some of the audio examples that a good way to identify the emotions is to listen to your body's responses. I tried that and I often sense some sort of shortness of breath but I don't really know if this is sadness, anger or anxiety. So my second question is: is there a guide to reading your body? i.e. heat in your head means anger, shortness of breath means x? Has anybody else had the same physical reactions and can share his or her insight with me and the rest of us here? It often seems to me that in my case it is all of these things. I feel anger, sadness, guilt, fear all at the same time. But then again, I don't really feel them, I just make educated guesses at what they are. I really appreciate anyone taking the time for reading all of this, and also want to send out a big Thank You! to all of you who made this program happen.