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Derek Sapico On the futility of obsessing

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Forest, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    At last Sunday's weekly drop-in chat, someone mentioned struggling with hypochondria. I think that hypochondria and TMS often go hand in hand because TMS is all about obsession with the body and physical concerns instead of one's unconscious emotions and that is exactly what hypochondria causes. In this sense, hypochondria just seems part of the larger syndrome.

    Anyway, when I saw the following cartoon, after I stopped laughing, I thought of that....

  2. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Great cartoon. I completely agree. I like to think of TMS/PPD as not just the pain, but as the pain and everything that accompanies it. The amount of time that many of my clients have spent on the internet self-diagnosing, worrying, researching, and generally freaking out is truly incredible. When you think of TMS/PPD as a mechanism for distraction and/or defense, it makes perfect sense that obsessing over every little ache and trying to diagnose every sensation that we experience is part of the disorder/syndrome and is serving the exact same purpose as the pain does; it keeps us from dealing with the underlying emotions that our brains are so cleverly trying to force us to avoid. It is so important for anybody recovering from TMS/PPD to resist the urge to engage in this all-consuming behavior. The time spent trying to figure out what is "wrong" with us could be spent working on getting better!
    Livvygurl and Forest like this.
  3. Ftaghn!

    Ftaghn! Peer Supporter

    I haven't yet told my story on TMS Wiki, but I think it might be relevant here. I came up with some new, severe TMS symptoms, about a year back -- finger pain. My fingers would suddenly become struck with pain as soon as I hit a key, or clicked my mouse. Well, naturally, I stopped doing both of those things. Then hypochondria struck, and I mean morning to night obsession. This turned my life into a veritable nightmare, and it lasted a solid 6 months before I went to see a therapist for it. By far my most agonizing experience with anything TMS related, pain included, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

    Hypochondria is a little bit like OCD and anxiety's ugly redhead stepchild. It has the obsessive quality of OCD, and the fearful sentiment of anxiety. It's one of the rare anxiety sub-disorders(of Generalized Anxiety) that strikes men more commonly than women. It's usually fixed by helping the patient develop a tolerance to uncertainty, and looking for beliefs reinforcing the worry.

    It was one of my symptom imperatives, and it occasionally comes back when pain seems to hit a lower level.

    EDIT: It's also worth noting that my hand pain started after I googled "Rheumatoid Arthritis" after hearing the term in a YouTube video. Curiosity gave the cat carpal tunnels.
    Beach-Girl and Derek Sapico MFT like this.
  4. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    lol. My boyfriend used to say he was going to find a way to block webmd from my computer. I don't think I've been on there since I started working on TMS.
    JanAtheCPA and Derek Sapico MFT like this.
  5. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Thanks so much for sharing, Ftaghn! And good for you, Veronica for resisting the urge to go web-hunting! This, like many other things, is something that is relatively easy for some to do, and downright excruciating for others. Ftaghn, I think that you do a great job of illustrating how powerful the obsession can be and how the brain can feel like it's been hijacked by anxiety, panic, and obsessive thoughts. You are so right about working to develop a tolerance of uncertainty. I have worked with multiple clients who have presented with both TMS/PPD pain and had a profound fear of death and the unknown. This is another manifestation of the anxiety that you speak of. Anxiety, in multiple forms, tends to be a frequent companion to TMS/PPD. I do, however, believe that there is a common emotional root cause beneath both of these symptoms of TMS/PPD. And, as I stated in my above post, anxiety, worry, and obsession are extremely effective distractions which can prevent one from delving in to the underlying emotional issue.
  6. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Yes, the mind is highly suggestible. Which is why I say do not google symptoms! I did it myself back in the back pain day, and what the searches brought up was very frightening! :eek: Then the brain starts down the "what if" pathway. . .
  7. Shanshu Vampyr

    Shanshu Vampyr Well known member

    Right. On.
    Derek Sapico MFT likes this.
  8. Steve Ozanich

    Steve Ozanich TMS Consultant

    This part of meme transmission fascinates me. Dr. Sopher wanted me to research how monetary compensation lead to chronicity and new symptoms. But I was most fascinated by how being exposed, even for a few seconds, to a disorder could amplify and create new symptoms. I've received some great emails from people telling me how they read about some disorder and got it the next day. I also wrote about Jessica and her mother telling her she hoped the pain didn't spread to her feet, from her hands. The next day she couldn't walk. Some people catch things and others don't. They key is in the personality.

  9. Susan

    Susan Peer Supporter


    The tie between monetary compensation and symptoms is my story. I retired last year with a very generous monetary package. Two weeks after the last paycheck arrived In early 2012, I became anxious and TMS roared in. Luckily, having found this site and started intensive emotional work has helped me tremendously. I am still not there, but I am extremely confident I have the unconscious "on the run".


  10. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    this is beyond true. im sure many of us didn't have certain pain problems until we started obsessing about them. as ive said in the past on here i didn't start having eye strain issues until i got a job working on the computer and began worrying and obsessing about eye strain. i had been working on the computer for 12-13 years before i began having eye strain and i was doing all of the same things. it was when i started worrying and obsessing about my eyes, thinking about every little sensation in them, that eyestrain became amplified and turned into a chronic problem. i think hypochrondria is like TMS in a lot of ways in that is the obsession with the symptoms that causes the symptoms.

    i truly think if i didn't wake up every day thinking about "how are my eyes going to be today" that they would heal on their own. its a slow process and a really difficult one to break because when you have OCD and anxiety problems (like me) pain becomes your obsession. i used to be obsessed with playing guitar, then doing digital art, then video games, on and on, until i arrived on a pain condition. then i became obsessed with ridding myself of that pain condition. referring to my other post, its extremely hard to break the obsession with pain when the TMS healing process is so unlinear. you start having better days and you say to yourself "ok its getting better now i feel a lot more confident" and then bam you have a worse day again and your hopes become shot to hell and doubt starts creeping back in. i remember reading about this in steve's book too so i think its a common thing for people with TMS to have this back and forth type stuff.

    thats probably why its so important to say "i dont care if the pain is there or not" because if you do care, then you're probably going to be obsessing about it going away. by obsessing about it you're focusing on it and just driving the pain. if you truly dont care if its there anymore then there is no reason for obsession and eventually the pain fades. this happened to me in the past with another pain condition but my eyes have a stronger hold in my brain because i need them for my job. it can't be just coincidence that pain symptoms arrive in certain places in your body.

    referring to steve's book again about Mark Twain, he started having pain in his hands when he was writing because he really didn't want to write that stuff. his brain created a physical problem in his body to get him out of that situation. i truly believe the same thing happened to me in two different jobs. foot pain in one job to get me out and then eyestrain in another job that either served as a symptom imperative or tried to get me out of this job as well. i know there were fears associated with starting the computer job so its possible my unconscious saw this as an opportunity to use my eyes as a pain outlet to force me out of the situation.

    anyhow for me personally and maybe some of you i think the main driving force behind the pain is anxiety and obsession (anxiety and OCD being two sides of the same coin). treat the cause and the pain goes away so for me the cause its freaking out about pain being there and constantly thinking about it. it gets to the point that even when im drunk as hell im STILL thinking about how my eyes are doing "are they going to be worse after this wears off, yadda yadda yadda"
  11. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Well....it's hard not to obsess when you're in pain. My issue is I've grown to accept it as my companion, rather than forge ahead with the deeper work. I haven't given up, (no way - no how) but feel I'm on a plateau where I'm accepting both: the diagnosis and the pain.

    This is an inspiring thread to get back on the train away from pain.


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