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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

    Walt Oleksy 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
    Lainey likes 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.

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