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Levine & Sarno: Compatible Theories?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by BruceMC, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I noticed that in his ground-breaking book, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma (1997), that Peter A. Levine asserts that:

    "Physical ailments are often the result of partial or compartmentalized dissociation where one part of the body is out of touch with the other parts. . . . gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome), recurring back problems, and chronic pain can result from partial dissociation compounded by constriction" (p. 141, emphasis my own).

    Now, I know that Levine classifies dissociation and constriction as two symptoms of that often occur together in patients suffering from trauma. Now dissociation, it seems to me, is a kind of psychic escape clause that a traumatized individual generates to protect themselves from an overwhelmingly threatening experience. Kids who've been abused often habitually withdraw into another weird "spacey place". I sure did when I was picked on in Middle School! And constriction is what happens to you physically when you face a overwhelming threat, like being attacked or facing another catastrophic threat.Pretty simple, your muscles tense up for meeting an oncoming danger.

    My question is how does what Levine observe relate to Sarno's theory that TMS pain is the result of unpleasant, potentially overwhelming emotions like rage, sorrow and anxiety repressed into the unconscious mind? It sounds to me as if there are some very strong areas of agreement between Sarno and Levine's theories. Anyone out there with more clinical experience like to "riff" or ad lib (as they say in Jazz) on this Leid? It intrigues me because it sure sounds like Levine is getting very close to the underlying psychological mechanisms that lead directly to TMS pain.

    Maybe someone ought to ask Levine himself!
  2. Painfreefuture

    Painfreefuture Peer Supporter

    I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to know if you have come any further in connecting the two theories, Levine and Sarno. I read Sarno in January and just found Levine's work this month. After reading Levines book I am having trouble accepting Sarno's theory that the pain is generated as a distraction, like my mind has a mind of its own. Levine's trauma model of nervous system hyperactivity and unwinding seems more accurate and concrete to me. I found that I hit a wall with thinking of my pain as a distraction and looking for the repressed emotion. Adopting somatic experiencing and feeling my body instead of thinking, with the understanding that my nervous system was experiencing conditioned fear, helped me get moving forward again. I still have terrible pain everyday, but I have pain free moments, am sleeping better, and am living my life doing almost everything I was doing before. I still have some fear to get through with regard to being more physical, but I improved by leaps and bounds since reading Levine's book. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.
    Laudisco likes this.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I haven't read Levine's book, but if you still feel pain, I suggest you focus totally on it being from TMS repressed emotions.
    Have you gone through the Structured Education Program? That helped me to become free of severe back pain.

    But if Levine's theories helped you, that's great. Most of us or all of us heal differently.
    I hope you will take the advice of Dr. Sarno and Steve Ozanich (and myself) and be as physically active as you can.
  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    It does seem as though Dr. Sarno, Howard Schubiner, Peter Levine and Michael Brown all have different theories about the origins of psychogenic symptoms like chronic pain. I guess like Walt says, whatever works for you!
  5. Laleah Shoo Shoo

    Laleah Shoo Shoo Peer Supporter

    I haven't visited here in a while. And this post appears to be years old. Hi everyone. Long story very short, on this topic.
    4 years ago i became suddenly (or so it seemed) debilitated with unbearable pain. After the 2nd year, with no results from any doctor related help, i came upon
    Sarno and Doidge and neuroplasticity....and reading Dr. Sarno and others who learned from him, i slowly but surely 'seemed' to have healed myself. I had about 7 months of
    almost-free-of-pain, was walking around again, even lifting light weights, on a treadmill! 4 months ago, the pain returned, in spades. This time even more intense and as previously,
    i instinctively knew this was nerve pain/trauma held in the body...nothing an MRI would show. Yet, this time....whatever i practiced previously, didn't work one bit. I was in such agony,
    a squeeeeeezing, tight pain that rendered me helpless....40 minutes to get onto the bed. Well, leaving out the details......After 2 months of this utter agony, was sort of like (as my dear friend said)
    a wounded animal, strangest sounds emanating from me. Just so out of anything resembling regular debilitating pain. Sooooo, one day i came across a reading about "Learning the language of
    the nervous system, healing trauma held in the body) by Irene Lyons, who studied under DR. PETER A. LEVINE, who you mentioned . (See? I finally got to the point ;-) And really, for many the work we learn here at TMS is plenty and enough to become pain free. For others (such as myself) learning HOW the body (Stress Biology) holds onto "fight, flight , freeze" trauma, fear responses , for many
    since infanthood, others through particular shock trauma....Found me at the very place i so much needed to be. Learning how the body has been wired for SO very long, and how to unwire this Rage, Fear, sadness, whatever automatic reactive feelings have been STUCK for so so long.....is foundational healing. Getting to the very root. For some not necessary, For many, very much so. SO, i feel that Dr. Sarno's work and the teachings of Peter A. Levine can indeed go hand in hand. It depends on just how deeply one needs to go. I am taking a course online with Levine's student, Irene Lyons. Indispensable...and I am still surrounded with books by Sarno and Steve Ozanich. I hope we all find our way into, through, and out of pain, into the free and wholesome beings we were always meant to be XOXOXOXOX
    whitewatersmetta and Lainey like this.
  6. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Hi Laleah

    Thanks so much for this post. I read Levine's WTT book many years back. I had the privilege of attending a seminar given by him at a conference I was attending. I found his book excellent and thought his approach to releasing trauma held in our body as brilliant. I loaned the book out and never saw it again. Then, fast forward to recent years, I found myself in terrible pain, etc. and began working ala Sarno and company. This discussion (above) resonates with me once again.

    I do believe that Sarno's work is superb and life-saving, yet some people may need more 'reenactment' of their trauma. How our body has frozen in time from the initial impact of the past, negative, trauma can be addressed through Levine's work in a very hands-on way (as I recall). I too believe that the two approaches are complimentary.

    Interestingly, I have just finished a read of 'The Book of Joy', a book focusing on a week of conversation between the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu. One of the citations was of research conducted at the Institute of Neurology and Psychology at the University of Glasgow, and from such they reportedly indicated that there are just four fundamental emotions. These are fear, anger, sadness and joy. It was an interesting read on several levels for me. Discovering the antidote to the first three (so-called negative emotions) appears to be the work of those of us suffering with TMS symptoms.

    Thanks, keep us posted.

    plum likes this.
  7. Looking for space

    Looking for space Peer Supporter

    From "FREEDOM FROM PAIN" BY Peter Levine.
    Although these three classifications have obvious distinctions, one of the keys to treating pain successfully is the recognition that these three basic types overlap each other. Pain then is multi-dimensional. For example, many physical pain conditions include emotional reactions and interactions with past trauma. Most emotional pain conditions will also feature somatic symptoms such as physical pain and links to past traumatic events. And posttraumatic conditions involve a complex combination of all three types of pain responses. So in addition to presenting ways to help you achieve freedom from these three types of pain, we will also help you understand some of the complexity that may be driving your pain and preventing you from healing. Because most pain complexity is linked to trauma, we continue our opening discussion with important perspectives on trauma.

    Everything I've ready so far, makes amazing sense. This is an old posting but an interesting topic.
    Lainey likes this.
  8. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Maybe I'm not being hypercritical enough, but it sure sounds to me that repressed emotions and internalized trauma have a lot in common. For example, I remember back when I was 7 years old internalizing my fear while listening to my parents have raging arguments in the next room while I was trying to get to sleep. And I do remember lapsing into catatonic states in the 2nd grade classroom at the same time I was confronting a violent urban school environment with plenty of racism and gangs. Certainly I must have been experiencing negative effects from both repressed emotions and internalized trauma. Aren't both conditions cut from out of the same cloth so to speak? Levine's techniques for releasing the internalized trauma outlined in WTT seem to offer a practical way of releasing Dr. Sarno's repressed emotions too. I do remember in 2nd grade that my parent's violent relationship was like the elephant in the room that I was carrying on my shoulders each day in school, the thing I dared not speak about, but wore almost like a merit badge of superiority. IOWs: Both states of mind seem mutually complementary if equally unpleasant. That is the problem with children and human adults: We can accommodate to the most inhuman emotional environments in an effort to just plain survive them.
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  9. Looking for space

    Looking for space Peer Supporter

    Im trying to discover what I internalized!
    My parents fought(early on], I was picked on from 4-10th grade, It looks like I'll be seeing a somatic therapist! I had a long term relationship with an older woman, when that ended I suddenly developed same sex feelings, ( which I thought would kill me l.my mom died of cancer, and I had a promotion at work. I literally fell apart, I can't believe i shared all that! Dr sarno is great, but I may need the works and methods of Dr. Peter Levine! To reach the finish line
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  10. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    That is indeed a lot of cumulative baggage, Looking for space. Dr. Peter Levine's methods do sound as though they would be more appropriate to your situation. But what do I know? I'm not a clinical therapist only a layman who's read a lot.
  11. Looking for space

    Looking for space Peer Supporter

    I read too much (think as well) In actual fact the only thing that I feel is a residual Of that trauma, Is chronic pain and probably Less motivation in life than I normally actually have. As far As all of the tromma I spoke about and they're still more right now there's an 800 pound elephant in the Room which I haven't brought up with anybody but the drama is not felt at this point, Yes I have uncomfortable feelings about memories of the trauma but I don't go around every day "feeling" like it effects me anymore or it such a big deal. But at the time it was a lot all at 1 time, a new partner, The death of my mother with cancer which was in the last 6 months of her life was very slow and very very difficult to watch, And then a promotion at the company I worked for at the time you might know what it's called IBM! I am positive when it comes to the gay situation there was a huge amount of shame for me and at the time it was fun as long as I kept it hidden once it was out in the public it was no longer fun but work. And after all these years which it's been over 20 now, I just want to re gain what I can from that time and maybe earlier when I was really picked on in school, But from all of this I have grown a huge distrust of regular medical doctors, Surgical or surgeons perhaps I trust them a little more because they can save your life in an acute situation, but I have very little if any trust in a primary physician.
    The Interesting perspective that I find on Peter's work is that he actually gives you exercises to do from his books by yourself at home and all of it is to sort of re join the different parts of your body that are in pain and the parts that are not in pain. I still do not understand it all but I keep reading and I think somatic therapy is going to work well for me.

  12. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hope it works for you, Aaron.
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  13. Looking for space

    Looking for space Peer Supporter

    Me too, thank you.
  14. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I can certainly see how working for a publicly traded company like IBM might drain you of your drive and motivation.
  15. Looking for space

    Looking for space Peer Supporter

    Well yes, it was a promotion more responsibility, moving in with my "friend", plus the loss of my Mom who was support by her just being in the room. I was just reading some more of Peter's work and it was on tracking bodily symptoms and this is why I would need a therapist because they would know exactly what to look for in my body movements and all of that. I did then my childhood which I was picked on a lot in grade school and early secondary school high school, I had a fairly good child hood, But I believe the way Peter Levine believes that for some reason I'm fragmented and there are different parts of me that need to be reintegrated to make up the whole! Thankfully there are several their place in my area who do the somatic work, What is great to have 2 different options, I don't journal much for the pain because I've actually kept a journal now since 2004. But I would be surprised and I would almost bet money that whatever is causing the pain whatever has stayed hidden is totally different from what I think! IBM is not who she used to be.....
    My own mother went through so much trauma in her life and yet was the probably the most normal person I knew as well as her sister, they were very much alike even though she had 2 other sisters 3 other sisters, I would ask her what she did to stay so grounded and she told me that she constantly would talk to herself and write her wrong thinking herself!
    Why would never on this forum publicly anyway talk about religion I don't think I'm main stream Religion but I have come to believe that many people of the generation before me had a very strong faith in God of something higher than themselves that carried them through all of these hard times. I can't wait to begin that there of me because I'm anxious to find out what's going on with me.
    I have been so desperate for help then I have purchased 4 or 5 Dale Carnegie books! His material is really interesting. I was very fortunate on here to have someone introduce me to doctor Peter Levine and having a kindle, it's very easy to buy books even though I still prefer to hold a book in my hand, I bought 4 of his books, I have 4 of doctor sarno's books, I have The great medical deception, And I also have all of the Law of attraction books....
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2020
  16. whitewatersmetta

    whitewatersmetta Peer Supporter

    [QUOTE=" I found that I hit a wall with thinking of my pain as a distraction and looking for the repressed emotion. Adopting somatic experiencing and feeling my body instead of thinking, with the understanding that my nervous system was experiencing conditioned fear, helped me get moving forward again. .[/QUOTE]

    I love your name, painfreefuture. I had a very similar experience, where looking for the repressed emotion all day long just seemed to yield diminishing returns. It was absolutely essential as a first step for me personally, and I keep working it everyday, but then it seems I also needed to do more or different or something else. I found that new direction in Alan Gordon's new Recovery Program on this website (the one where the days are listed separately). Maybe you've already done it, but if you like Levine's somatic experiencing you might love Alan Gordon's somatic tracking.
    Lainey likes this.
  17. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    I think that Peter Levine has a lot to offer in his approach to healing. I also agree with whitewatersmett in that sometimes continually looking for our repressed emotions is a dead-end and we need to change our approach to healing. Healing can happen. The somatic tracking could be the experience you need to unwind and heal.
    Remember the perfection that is you.
  18. Looking for space

    Looking for space Peer Supporter

    Yes, thank you. Im reading a section on mapping now. But, being a lay person it's difficult to explain. But it's great to know that there are options. I have learned enough to not want to recieved attempted help from anyone that has not finished the SE courses.
  19. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I realize in retrospect that I had very few if any TMS pain symptoms until my mom, whom I'd had the responsibility of taking of, passed away in 2001. But the death of a relative has both traumatic components and unpleasant emotions associated with it at the same time. Losing someone you love and who has been a source of emotional (and perhaps financial) support is traumatic anyway you cut the cake. But ambivalent emotions, like sorrow and guilt, that the psyche sets out to repress are present at the same time as you're experiencing the trauma, which of course calls into question your own pretensions to immortality. So you internalize the trauma and withdraw emotionally at the same time you are trying to repress unpleasant emotional side-effects like sorrow and guilt. One big unpleasant bundle of kaka I'd say. I do notice that I did not begin to experience sciatica climaxing in a so-called herniated disk until the attorney signed the paper in July 2001 making me the owner of my late parent's house, where they'd had an ongoing war for 30 or so years that of course centered on me as No. 1 Son. I believe Bob Dylan has an album title, "Bringing It All Back Home", doesn't he? That added responsibility must have been the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. Another burden I'd successfully avoided by over-achieving out in the world that was now coming back home and bearing down on my shoulders. Maybe then trauma and repressed emotions go together as two halves of the same coin? Therefore, you have to take steps to deal with both.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
    Lainey likes this.
  20. Looking for space

    Looking for space Peer Supporter

    My Mother lived through a lot of trauma.
    Almost more than one can imagine. So I respected her for that alone, Sadly there was a lot of dysfunction in my mother's family, and in my father's family, and they pass that down to all of us children. Now my partners says all the time," you don't really love your father because you would pick up the phone and call him", And I know that's not true I think sometimes for me I always feel that I can love people better by giving them distance. All this reminds me that I actually do have to call him because I have a guitar Question that only he could answer lol!
    Yes there was a lot to process when my mother passed away 1st of all I had to process watching my father go through grieve it broke my heart, and though they did fight when we were younger they really had terrible fights were they would throw things actually, As they got older and more money came in they started going fishing together and my father was one of those men who loves to do grocery shopping and cooking and so sometimes he would come home from work and my mother would say oh my goodness I forgot to put supper on, And so my father would cook supper. So there's dealing with his grief and my siblings grief in we all handled it a different way. And I think when we don't process it our body lets us know, 6 months after my mother passed away in April of 1999, I woke up crying and I asked my partners say home that day because I was very depressed and I actually could not get out of bed, And he said "I can't stay home just because you're depressed I have to go to work". So thank goodness I was actually seen a therapist and he put me on paxo which in 3 days brought me out of that terrible depression, And they wanted to know if I had bipolar disorder, and I told them please do not label me with something you have no idea about. I told them I said I know myself very well and my brain reacts very very quickly to whatever it's fed whether it's a certain kind of food, music, books, people, in other words medication is going to do the same thing it's going to react with my brain, And so I stopped taking the packs will because it pulled me out of the worse of it now truthfully it's not something I will ever stop being sad about but I have gotten over it, And I still do have my father he'll be 87 in March and he just drove to Florida with his girlfriend. It is true unless you have your own family that as you get older everything falls away your friends and at this point in my life I have to know I have one aunt left, and she just turned 96 in January and she's my father's older sister. But that's it I have a many cousins but they're all over the place and so there is no more family in that sense. But I am also very much aware if I want my father and I to have conversation and get to know 1 another a little better I need to start it not him hes the elder and I believe I'm the 1 that needs to start the conversation come it's very strange on the phone it's a little more contrived when we see each other there's a lot of talk about the past and that comes from my father mostly I prefer to talk about now but I think may be I give my dad some sort of reprieve and that I listen to him whereas other people don't want to listen. So that's why are there a be right now is so important because there is still a lot of emotion around my family, and oddly enough even know it almost killed me to lose my mother, I told my sister just a few weeks ago on the phone I said it's odd I actually remember much more of what dad said then what mom said. But you are right I it is a work in progress and there is a period of healing that has to take place sometimes it's a whole bunch of emotions. Since my dad is still alive I have no claim on any properties or moneys investments or any of that but I do know what his will says so but right now I'd rather have it be alive than have anything that's in the will. Everyday no matter how old you get is a new day it's a new chance it's a new time to start over you never give up you keep going and you keep intrested in everything. I know many older people whom, If I would say don't you miss the good old days? They would say good all days? You don't realize how easy you younger people have it, So everyday for me is an on going process of hopefully elimination I try to learn something new every day I'd try just be positive every day and my journaling has become extremely explicit I let it all hang out at my journals.
    Aaron.... I actually think it was meant for you this start this post lol!.
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