1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this link: http://go.tmswiki.org/newprogram
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Official Thread Section 1 Introduction

Discussion in 'Alan Gordon TMS Recovery Program' started by Walt Oleksy, May 22, 2014.

  1. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    I thought misery loves company.
  2. cirrusnarea

    cirrusnarea Well known member

    Just messin, Walt. Thanks man.
  3. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    This would be a great time to send yourself some self compassion then. When you are depressed its because your thinking of sad thoughts and hopelessness over and over, get a feel good journal and write about all of your best times in life and it ill build you up. Plus it would be good for you to do some incantations like " I feel super, I feel super, I feel great, I feel great.... Do this over and over for at least 5 minutes and scientifically speaking you will not be able to stay in that depressed state ok. And remember we have like 8 to 9 billion people on this planet, You have narrowed your thoughts down to just some girls. There are thousands of girls somewhere that would love your attention. You have to be in an upbeat, energetic, encourages state though and that will happen with your incantations ok, you can do this.
    Bless you

    P.S. Remember Love is within us ok, you will never find it anywhere till you find it within.
    cirrusnarea likes this.
  4. cirrusnarea

    cirrusnarea Well known member

    Thanks, Herbie, this is probably the worst depression I've been in. Not suicidal or anything though. I will take your advice.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  5. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    I would tell myself very sternly, "Stop depressing! I am not going to be depressed! I am going to think HAPPY!"
    and visualize myself doing something relaxing and fun. Then shake your arms and whole body and imagine you are shaking the blues away.

    I'll see if that song, danced by Ann Miller, is on Youtube and post it here. Found it!

    cirrusnarea likes this.
  6. Shanshu Vampyr

    Shanshu Vampyr Well known member

    "Put your faith in what you most believe in,
    Two worlds, one family,
    Trust your heart, let fate decide,
    To guide this life we live..."

    Hey, somebody has to quote Tarzan, right?

    Kind of a goofy way to start my post, but I think it's terribly relevant to TMS. I was one of those Type T's who tried seemingly everything and just did not get better. I'm here because Alan gave me my life back, so clearly I'm in the 20% and not the 80% majority.

    It's been said, and I agree with Forest's advice, but I would just like to re-iterate: Beware of falling into the TMS quicksand during your recovery. The more you work towards an outcome, sometimes, the farther away you end up pushing it.

    It's Perfectionism and Striving 101.

    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  7. Marian

    Marian Peer Supporter

    Oh man, this is a great thread. Thanks for starting this.... just catching up now!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  8. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ann Miller had more energy than most ten other dancers,
    and she rose from minor movies at minor studios to the top of the ladder at MGM.
    She was a queen of perseverance.
  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forest: "Back when I was first learning about TMS, what I will call the "reading and rereading approach" was very prominent within the online TMS community, much more prominent than it is today. I think that this approach needs to come back because it works very well for a lot of people (though everyone is different of course). Dr. Sarno describes how knowledge is the penicillin for TMS: "The most important factor in recovery is that the person must be made aware of what is going on; in other words, that the information provided is the “penicillin” for this disorder" (p. 71 in Healing Back Pain)."

    I've been studying TMS for about 16 months now, and I continue to be confused about what constitutes effective treatment. Maybe this is partly due to the fact that while I have eliminated my TMS pain syndromes, I am still dealing with TMS equivalents, and therefore, not completely recovered. I'm intrigued by the idea of recovery occurring through the "reading and rereading approach" discussed by Forest above. I don't like digging up the past and attempting to process the emotional content I uncover, so I would be happy to jettison this approach.

    Dr. Sarno described the process that he used at the Rusk Institute in all of his books. In the Divided Mind, in the treatment program section, he wrote the following:

    1. If you have not already done so, read the entire book you are using a bit at a time (Healing Back Pain or The Mind-body Prescription). After that, read the psychology or treatment chapter every day. Pay close attention to what you read, especially when you see things that remind you of yourself.
    2. Set aside time every day, possibly fifteen minutes in the morning and thirty minutes in the evening, to review the material I am about to suggest.
    3. Unconscious painful and threatening feelings are what necessitates the pain. They are inside you; you don’t feel them.
    4. Make a list of all the things that may be contributing to those feelings.
    5. Write an essay, the longer the better, about each item on your list. This will force you to focus in depth on the emotional things of importance in your life.
    (p. 142-143 in The Divided Mind. Some text boldfaced by me for emphasis.)

    It seems to me that the treatment process from the Divided Mind involves more than "reading and re-reading". Numbers 4 and 5 (which Sarno elaborates on in some detail in the book) sound a lot like journaling to me. They appear to facilitate the process of "thinking psychologically", which I believe is the intent of most forms of journaling.

    Forest: "Note that this is how Steve Ozanich healed and how I healed. It took a huge amount of persistence, but it got the job done. We did not do deep psychological work as part of our cure. If this surprises you, remember that 80% of Dr. Sarno's success stories did not do this sort of work as well."

    I think it's easy for people to interpret this 80% figure as being 80% of all people with TMS. It's important to keep in mind that Sarno screened people who sought his help, and only accepted those who were "a good candidate for the program" (the Divided Mind). Sarno states "There is no doubt that this practice has been a factor in our statistically successful program".

    Sarno discusses three categories of people who recover from TMS in the Divided Mind: "How does one explain that some people are "cured" simply by reading one of my books, that some need to see the doctor and go through a formal program, and others additionally need psychotherapy?" I believe the 80% figure applies to the screened patients that "see the doctor and go through a formal program", rather than those who are "cured" by simply reading books. I wish someone would do research on those people who recover by reading only--what percentage of people with TMS is this and what differentiates them? Sarno states in the Divided Mind, "For patients with mild symptoms, the mere knowledge that the symptoms are psychosomatic, without further psychological insight, is curative in and of itself and undoubtedly explains many of the book "cures". "

    Forest makes the argument that more people may benefit from "knowledge therapy" if they improved the manner in which they read books and the repetition needed. I think this argument can be made regarding journaling, as well. All "journaling" is not created equal, as all "reading" is not created equal. While there may be some therapeutic value in pouring out one's thoughts and emotions onto the written page, in order for journaling to be effective in healing TMS it must go deep enough to uncover patterns of emotions, thoughts, and behavior that are connected to one's TMS symptoms.

    I think there is an element of semantics in this debate over how much psychological insight is needed to recover from TMS. I believe we can all agree that recovery involves a certain degree of "thinking psychologically". Some people may be able to accomplish this in their heads in a more organic, less linear manner. While some of us need to write things on paper, and more literally "connect the dots" for us to see the psychological connections that have led to our TMS. Some people may require the relationship and feedback of a trained therapist to begin to "think psychologically". Perhaps is comes down to learning styles.

    As individuals with TMS who are desperate to recover and reclaim our lives, we don't have the luxury of approaching our TMS treatment as a research project. When I learned about TMS and TMS healing techniques I used the "scattershot approach"-I tried everything I could all at once. As a result, I am uncertain which of the myriad techniques I've used have been essential in getting me this far along the road of recovery. Could I have eliminated everything but the "knowledge therapy" described in Healing Back Pain? If I read and re-read my Sarno and other TMS books will this be sufficient to carry me all the way to recovery? I feel the other techniques contained in Alan Gordon's Recovery Program (especially mindfulness and addressing conditioning) have been beneficial to me personally and have improved the quality of my life. But what role they play in my recovery from TMS is unclear.

    Clearly, we need more research to be done so we do understand what the essential elements of TMS healing are for each category of TMS sufferers. In the meantime, we need to keep debating the topic on Forums like this, keep reading books on TMS, and keep recommending to others what we feel has helped us on our healing journeys.​
    yb44, Msunn, Forest and 1 other person like this.
  10. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Excellent post Ellen, I think people should definitely start looking at these questions.
  11. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Movie stars are just people, like us. They may even have more TMS than we do,
    because they have bigger egos and wants to be loved more by everyone.
  12. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for bringing this up, Ellen. I always love your posts. You take time to think things through and write with great psychological insight and unselfish, other-centered care. This post, in particular, brings up some vital points that are worth looking at for everyone.

    I think it is prudent to be very agnostic about how we interpret TMS theory. I am a big fan of something called the pessimistic induction:

    Before I switched majors to math and computer science, I was a philosophy major for three years in college, and I loved studying philosophy, even though I could somehow never get myself to finish the reading. :) Our department took a historical approach to philosophy, so I've read a great deal of old philosophy, from ancient to early-modern and contemporary.

    What struck me was that every one of the major thinkers that we read thought that they had finally figured everything out. Every one. Each one of the thinkers seemed to think that they had reached the pinnacle of philosophy and that it was finally done. We could all go home now because philosophy was finally a science and we had figured it out.

    Yet, universally, the next thinker to come along disagreed with them. They said that the previous thinker (i.e. the one who thought they had all figured it out) was also wrong. But now, finally, this next thinker claimed that they had finally figure it all out. Not surprisingly, the thinker who came after them disagreed. And so on.

    Loosely speaking, induction just means learning from experience, so the pessimistic induction is a warning to scientists and philosophers. We may think that we have finally figured everything out, but that is just hubris. The next great thinker to come along will congratulate us for our contributions and explain that we actually didn't have it quite right.

    That's fine. They're right. We don't understand things as well as we think we do. No one does. The human brain has roughly 86 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, and what we understand about it is absolutely dwarfed by what we don't understand. We have many neat experiments, but we fundamentally don't know how it works.

    I have a lot more to write, but I'm afraid that I've got a huge amount of work to do before Sunday and have written too much already!!

    The bottom line is that I salute your interest in the idea of collecting additional information. Fundamentally, we all know that something amazing is happening here. We all know that people's lives are being transformed because we see the stories popping up in our success stories subforum. Many people have different theories about what causes the changes that we see, but I think that we are wise to acknowledge that we don't fundamentally know what causes people to heal. As a group, we are all in the situation that you described:
    I do think that the solution is in front of us, though. It is in the success stories that are posted. Fundamentally, we need data and that is where our data is. We just need to canvas those stories to see which of the many approaches we see swirling around actually works.

    When I first started working on the Structured Educations Program, I basically copied what I had seen before. The SEP has lots of journaling in it because Dr. Schechter's workbook and Dr. Schubiner's book have lots of journaling in them. However, as the years have passed, I have read more and more stories, and I've gotten more of sense that, as I quoted Dr. Gwozdz saying in an earlier post in this thread, there are many people with fat journals who are still in pain. My recollection (which could be flawed, as I've never done a systematic study) is that most of the success stories didn't depend on deep journaling. Basically, they just got out there, and lived joyful lives, ignoring the pain.

    What do we say to those people who do their best to get out there and live joyful lives in spite of the pain, but the pain still persists after a year or more of ignoring it and living their lives (it may take this long!)?

    I don't know. Really, I don't. I'm a proud agnostic who won't fall prey to the pessimistic induction. At least I know what I do not know.

    I can see two options, though. One option is to assume that they actually have a deep repressed emotion that they have failed to dig up. However, if I look at the success stories, I don't see any stories where people describing tremendous progress arising from cathartic journaling sessions. I also don't see many people reporting that huge insights from journaling were key to their recoveries. On the contrary, most success stories seem to be about people who, like myself and Steve O, just lost their fear (fear is crucial) and resumed physical activity, without allowing their symptoms to distract them any more (I do believe it's there to distract you, after all).

    The other thing that I don't like about this assumption is that it makes people feel really bad about themselves. Through this forum, the chat room, and the call-in group, I've become friends with many people who are still in intense pain, and I care deeply for them. I've heard their voices, and I just can't turn to them and say, "you just need to work harder." Maybe it's not blaming the victim, but it feels like that, and I care too much for them for that. Could you really turn to Lavender or Miffybunny and tell them that you know that the problem is that they haven't done enough psychological excavation? I can't. God bless anyone who can, but I can't.

    BTW, one might call this assumption the "lancing the boil" theory of TMS.

    So, what do I say to people who are still in pain? Well, my philosophy is that when you don't know something for sure, the only responsible thing is to admit that you don't know it for sure. You might wish you had an answer, but either you do or you don't. Based on the pessimistic induction, I can't tell Miffybunny that I know what is causing her pain. Being convinced that you have a deeply repressed emotion makes you feel like you are flawed and I don't want her to feel that way about herself.

    The second explanation, which makes a lot of sense to me, is that a certain amount of TMS is simply part of the human condition. You hear Dr. Sarno saying this in some of his later interviews, and my hunch is that compassionate clinicians tend to gravitate to this position over time.

    Consider thefollowing statistics from The Divided Mind: (179-183). They describe a retrospective study of Dr. Sarno's carefully pre-screened patients from 1999.


    What about the 56% of people who don't have "little or now pain" or the 30% of people who have more than 20% of their pain? One could assume that they simply failed to heal themselves by not accepting the diagnosis fully or not doing the difficult work. I'm sure that that is the story for some of them, but for many of them, my bet is that the pain was a very strong motivator and that they were willing to do whatever they could to get rid of it. Seeing Dr. Sarno was very expensive, and people wouldn't do that unless they were serious.

    Maybe a certain amount of TMS symptoms are just part of life. Certainly, if you look deeper, you'll see that even among many of our most amazing success stories, they accept an occasional ache and pain as just a natural part of life.

    If anyone does try systematically looking through the success stories subforum to get an idea of what works, please let us know what you find!

    The hard part is distinguishing between techniques that people used while healing and the techniques that actually caused the healing. For example, people may have grimaced a lot while healing, but we shouldn't presume that grimacing leads to healing. That is just correlation, not causality.

    Attached Files:

    Msunn, yb44 and Ellen like this.
  13. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forest, these are all very useful and helpful thoughts commenting on Ellen's terrific post.

    I agree that some symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, and pain don't necessarily come from repressed emotions
    or our perfectionist or goodist personality. They can come from just every living in this world that has become so
    fast-paced and full of events in our lives, our country, and in the world that can take the joy out of life.
    We need to counter those events with positive thinking and not internalize things we can't do anything about anyway.

    I've begun combining meditation with saying the Rosary every day. Christians have found peace and joy in saying
    the Rosary for thousands of years. Combined with meditating on the journey of Jesus is, I am finding, very calming.
    I began this about two weeks ago and asked Mary for a favor and after only a week, she gave me what I prayed for.

    The other night I watched a tv program in which a former Protestant explained how and why he converted to become
    a Catholic and he gave two examples of how Mary gave him favors he prayed for.

    I'm not suggesting everyone become a Christian or a Catholic, just that praying to a higher being of any religion can
    be combined with meditation to help with any TMS symptom or any need.
    Msunn likes this.

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