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Stress creates pain in particular part of the body through conditioning?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by dabatross, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    I dont know if anybody else has experienced this Im thinking that the brain associates stressful situations with certain parts of the body that you may be hypersensitive to and thats where pain arises. This theory stems from the fact that whenever I am stressed out about something, even if it's something I dont feel conciously stressed out about, I feel the pain symptoms in my eyes. I think over the last few years I've learned to associate it like this:

    When I am stressed I will feel pain and that pain will be in my eye muscles. So now whenever I get into a situation that I find stressful the place where I feel pain is in the eye muscles.

    An example was last week I went to a meeting, a pretty high profile one, with a big client and I wasn't super consciously nervous about it but I know i had nervous feelings inside and fear of having to sit at a table with all of these people and talk with them. I generally have social anxiety in any situation with people like this. I had a lot of symptoms in my eyes that day even though I hadn't been on the computer or done anything visually strenuous. This further proves the fact that the stress I feel translates into pain in my eyes. Why is this though? Why have my eyes been chosen as the place where my body turns emotional stress into painful symptoms?

    I think back and the two body parts that I experienced chronic pain in in the last 7 years were my feet and my eyes. Both were essential body parts that I needed to fulfill my job duties. For the first job I had to stand on my feet to get the job done. That is where my symptoms began. The job I currently have requires my eyes for use all day as a web designer. I believe through conditioning and fear is why my symptoms appear in these body parts.

    Because they are essential to my job tasks, I fear them hurting and being in danger so I worry about them. The more I worry about them the more I fear it. Then when stressful situtations occur I think inside "My eyes are probably going to hurt from this" which further intensifies the problem.

    I read in one of the TMS books somewhere that pain can be by association. If somebody tells you "typing causes wrist pain" your brain will use that as the place to create pain for you and thereby you fear it. The problem is even more prevalent when that is the main body part you need to do your job. Anybody have any thoughts on this? It can't be just coincidence that the two places where I developed chronic pain syndromes were the two body parts I needed to do my job. The fear set in like "if my eyes keep hurting like this I may be forced to quit" and the same thing happened with my feet "if my feet keep hurting like this i'll have to quit" and that job I eventually did end up quitting because the pain became too much.

    I appreciate anybody's thoughts on this because I think it rings true. Especially when internet sites, doctors, and other people tell you that "computers cause eye strain" and stuff like that, that kind of thing goes deep into your subconscious as something to fear.

    I just talked to my girlfriends stepmom, shes like 45 years old and works on the computer 8 hours a day, wears contacts, and has no eye troubles on the computer at all. Im 25 and I work the same amount of hours on the computer yet I get all of these eye symptoms. There is something odd about this... somebody who has worse eyesight than me, has presbyopia where it makes it hard for her to see up close due to her age, and she doesn't have any eye troubles when working on the computer for 8 hours. Something is amiss here.
  2. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    another thought i had is that emotional stress translates into pain into the body parts you're most worried about. If I was super worried about my leg hurting I bet thats where the pain would arise. However I was worried about my eyes hurting at the beginning of this so thats where the pain was created. After researching for years about it the more I read the more I became convinced that something was wrong with me and deeply ingrains that belief into your subconscious. Then it becomes an automatic process. The question remains is this: How do you break this cycle of stress creates fear... fear creates pain in the body... pain creates more fear and more stress... the cycle continues. I know that having two different chronic pain syndromes in a matter of 7 years, both having to do with my job, and both starting and ending the same way, is not just a coincidence.
  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    This really resonates with me, and is sort how I understand why people have certain symptoms. I remember occassionally feeling pain in my pinky finger, but it never really worried me so I just kept on working and it would go away almost instantly. Whenever my wrists/arms started to hurt I remember being really afraid of it. I heard of RSI before and thought that I had a serious problem and could no longer work with computers. I didn't care if my pinky was sore or hurt, but when it was my wrists I started to freak out about it. Perhaps what happens with TMS is that our mind creates a whole bunch of different little symptoms (pain in my pinky, wrists, arms, knees), but I only fear a few of these symptoms because they are essential to either my job or something else I really enjoy doing. Because I fear these symptoms I worry about them more and focus on them instead of my emotions. Then my mind becomes conditioned to create these symptoms whenever I become stressed or have other unwanted emotions.

    Dr. Sarno mentioned how back pain became an epidemic in society, and I think a lot of this is because people know of someone else who became debilitated by it. Therefore when their back starts to hurt they start to worry about it and it becomes chronic TMS pain. This is why I think it is so important to think psychological and to accept the diagnosis. As long as we continue to fear our symptoms and thinkt there is something physically wrong with us we will continue to have the TMS conditioned response to stress. It reminds me of the title of Dr. Schubiner's book, Unlearn Your Pain.

    I'm not too sure if this resonates with anyone else, but it is something that really explains my own situation, and perhaps yours as well. Understanding the fear and worry may help you better address these symptoms.


    Lily Rose likes this.
  4. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi again dabatross,

    I responded to some of your posts before on the Wetpain forum. I don't respond very often but I do read most posts here and on the TMS help forum. Many people express fear and anxiety. This comes through their writing to me so vividly. Remembering back to your earlier posts, you were one who expressed their anxiety. From what you write now I sense a lot less anxiety and far more introspection. To take Alan Gordon's image from his article Breaking the Pain Cycle, you are really pulling back that curtain and revealing what is there, much like Toto in The Wizard of Oz. This is a significant breakthrough and I applaud your progress. It's a long hard road for some. I know because I have been traveling for a while and haven't yet reached my destination. But I can see it in the distance. I think you now can too.
    JanAtheCPA and Forest like this.
  5. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    Thank you yb44 I appreciate your support. I hope you are getting better too. This is definitely a hard road to go down. Every time I have a bad day of pain my mind starts going back to bad habits. I'm actually going to write a post about that soon. A couple weeks back I actually had more better days than I had in the last 6 months. I wasn't wearing my glasses and I wasn't using timed eye breaks either which is strange because those are the things that are supposed to help.

    Forest, regarding your post "This really resonates with me, and is sort how I understand why people have certain symptoms. I remember occassionally feeling pain in my pinky finger, but it never really worried me so I just kept on working and it would go away almost instantly. Whenever my wrists/arms started to hurt I remember being really afraid of it. I heard of RSI before and thought that I had a serious problem and could no longer work with computers. I didn't care if my pinky was sore or hurt, but when it was my wrists I started to freak out about it.".

    I 100% agree with this. I think its the fear and anxiety about it that generates the pain. I read in the Dissolving Pain book that "pleasurable and happy feelings/emotions we let in and let them naturally dissipate. anger, fear, anxiety, negative emotions we fight tooth and nail to get rid of them. we try to distance ourselves from them and thats why they stick around". Thats paraphrasing what Dr. Fehmi said but in essence the reason the pain sticks around is because we fear it and fight it all the time. we dont feel the pain fully and try to distance ourselves from it and we fear it so it stays around. sounds like the opposite of what should happen right? you would think that fighting off the pain would make it go away faster but thats not what happens. what you said about the pinky is right. since you don't care if the pinky hurts it goes away naturally on its own, but since you scared of the pain in your arm it stayed around. the same thing happened to me. i've had other pains in the past but because i wasn't afraid of them interrupting my life they went away on their own.

    the reason i think i got pain in the two body parts i need for work is because i feared them being in pain/danger. the problem was i need these body parts to function on the job and that created stress like "what if the pain gets too bad and i can't work anymore" and that puts stress on you. so fighting off the pain and trying to get rid of it was my top priority which has consumed my life for the past 3 1/2 years. like other pains i've had in the past i truly think if I didn't fear the eyestrain anymore, soon it would be gone and i wouldn't even realize it. that happened to me with some pain in the past where it consumed my attention and i feared it for like 3 months. one day i just stopped caring for some reason (not sure why) and later on I discovered that I didn't have it anymore and I didn't even realize that.

    in essence what im saying is that if you fear the pain, it will stick around. if you dont fear it it will naturally go away. forest im thinking this is what happened in your case as well. when you read those success stories you were becoming less afraid of the pain, more confident in your ability to type, and when you made progress resuming normal activity that gave you more confidence. in doing so the fear was removed from doing the activity and over time you went back to normal again. if this is the case then the primary problem with TMS is fear of pain. what are your guys thoughts on this?
  6. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Fear is huge. It is why I think Sarno talks so much about accepting the diagnosis. If we accept that we don't have a strucutral problem and that we don't have TMS then there really isn't anything to be afraid of anymore. Living with chronic pain is so disheartening, frustrating and depressing. It is only natural for people in this state to be consumed by fear. One of the best parts of Sarno's ideas is that we don't need to be afraid of anything. Educating ourselves about what's going on is paramount to overcoming and addressing our fear. The more we learn about how our emotions affect our symptoms, the more we accept the diagnosis, and consequently reduce our fear of our symptoms.
  7. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member


    This got me thinking. Overcoming the fear really is a big, important thing. After I read the Divided Mind and all of the online success stories, my fear was totally eradicated and that helped me to get cured of the RSI. In fact, it may have been the main reason for my cure. As a side note, I would throw in doubt as well as fear as being important to eradicate. I think even a little bit of doubt is enough to keep the distraction strategy alive.

    Regarding fear/doubt and conditioning, as a TMSer and an athletic person, I have learned to be super aware when I get an 'injury'. If a reasonable amount of healing time has passed and the pain persists for an unusually long timeframe, I really start to doubt a real physical problem. A very interesting phenomenon about this is I find that that the doubt about Achilles pains being a TMS/PPD symptom is harder for me to overcome than other types of pains. I'm not sure exactly why that is. I'm actually exploring this in my journaling now.

    I get other pains such as knee, piriformis and other foot pains which I feel no fear about, but I get an Achilles pain and I do have a higher sense of fear about it and it lasts longer and creates more worry. It takes more mental effort for me eradicate the fear & worry. It's very interesting I think.

    I guess my Achilles heel really is my "Achilles' heel". Pun intended, of course. :)

  8. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    To add to this I will say, I've done a lot of reading on anxiety. Some of us are predisposed to it. Actually born with it. This can make cases (like mine) harder to eradicate. I've been worrying my entire life. When my dad and step-dad died within 24 hours of each other (both unexpectedly) in the early 90's, this set me on "high alert". And over the years, the "hits" just keep on coming. I'm exhausted from keeping high vigilance over things I can't control!

    I'm doing some interesting work in my journal right now that I think will help with my anxiety. But it's like trying to slay 2 dragons at once. Where do I start first? My anxiety or my TMS symptoms? My anxiety doesn't "hurt" per se, but makes me nuts - and I really really want this pain to go away.

    I know I'm making progress in that my lower back isn't as bad as my neck is, but both persist. I have a schedule coming up that will be impossible to fullfill, but again: my back hurts thinking about it, but "natural worry" won't let me forget about.

    Also had an achilles tendon injury years ago. The doctor (nurse practitioner) had to get an anatomy book to see why I couldn't walk (should have gimped outa there then). Her answer? I had pulled a muscle because I was fat.I have never, for the record, been overweight. And to have a doctor TELL me that was lovely. So I lay all summer with my leg on ice and my back on a heating pad.

    I'm going to continue to write in my journal, where I'm actually getting somewhere, and keep my money for other things - rather than co-pays.

  9. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    I started out to say: those who are predisposed to worry have a bit a job in front of them, since they're essentially born with it. Some may never show symptoms, others may never leave the house. But there is some evidence to show it's not because we don't TRY hard enough, it's because we can't help it.
  10. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    There's also the idea that anxiety is another TMS equivalent. I think this might be true...when I first felt the pain receding I had HORRIBLE anxiety.
  11. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    LOL, Veronica - chicken or egg? That seems to be the million-dollar question when you're talking about anxiety and TMS! Like Beach Girl, I think I was born anxious, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that I was not born with TMS. And there are also plenty of people who never experienced anxiety until they started worrying about their TMS symptoms.

    Me, I think that anxiety is part of the human psyche. It's just a longer, drawn-out version of fear, right? Fear was designed to keep us safe from the sabre-toothed tiger, but when fear turns into chronic anxiety, it gets in the way of self-knowledge and emotional healing, which is what is needed for TMS recovery. Which means that the brain uses anxiety as a form of distraction. Which means - there you go - that it's a TMS equivalent.

    Full circle.

    aka: chicken or egg?

    Forest likes this.
  12. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    I remember feeling anxiety even in childhood. I think it's because I tend to be someone who fixates on things. I feel this is in part because of my perfectionism.

    I had panic disorder over ten years ago. I read something in a book that marked me turning the corner in my recovery from panic: everyone feels strange or uncomfortable sensations in their bodies from time to time, but people with anxiety disorders tend to worry about them, which gives them power and they increase. So a "normal" person might think, oh, I feel a little dizzy right now, whatever, whereas someone like me might think, what is wrong with me? Maybe I'm going to faint? or panic? or go crazy?...

    I think this same type of thinking really fueled pain too. The fear of the pain is almost as bad as the actual pain.
  13. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    I would agree with this statement. I too have worried my whole life - and I had reason to. So my anxiety set off early. And as Jan said, we may ALL have anxiety but we don't all have TMS. I think people who have experienced more anxiety in their lives are also more likely to get TMS. Chicken or egg? I originally used this in that post and then took it out - great minds think alike!

    Oddly, I haven't worried about my back pain. I accepted it as "structural damage" and tried for years, to find the cure. Never did until I read "Mindbody Prescription". Then it all made sense. I suppose on a deeper level I've worried about it. And I'm STILL worried about doing anything physical without pain medication in my pocket. I'm getting there, but the fear (anxiety) is standing in my way.

    (there's no such thing as a "normal person") I've also had these weird new symptoms since starting to work with TMS. Like my right eye sees stars or goes "dark". I know why now and I don't panic. I think, maybe, in a small way, I'm making progress. My back hurt like hell last night, but I just let it rage and tried to sleep. Finally nodded off and woke with no back pain. And I keep uncovering more and more things which is why I think this is happening. But oddly, I'm not too worried about my body - other things? I run through the gambit of all the horrible outcomes. So anxiety is still playing a big role. I think it wants to rule, and I'm trying to get it to calm down. I will win this battle. My anxiety is simply putting up a great fight for control right now.

  14. Bawbee

    Bawbee Peer Supporter

  15. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love this thread. I wanted to bump it up to see what every one else thought.
  16. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    I've been moving slowly but surely on eradicating various conditioned responses(still more to go:( but I'm definitely seeing progress) and trying to live my life more normally again. I'm quite pleased but in the last couple of days I've noticed my anxiety levels are ramping up and I'm getting stressed about things that are really minor then feeling overwhelmed, uneasy and a bit OCD. I've been here before with this so I'm treating it as any other TMS symptom, but I have to say it really is so unpleasant even tho' the anxiety levels are relatively minor. I'm also feeling an increase in negative thoughts and having to try hard to talk kindly to myself and see the positive.
    I've been seeking distraction with friends but then I feel overwhelmed and want to be on my own so I can keep it together-it's not easy getting the balance right. Anxiety sounds relatively harmless but it can be one of the hardest things to deal with in my experience and just sucks the joy out of life even more than pain for me.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  17. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Solange, you're doing it right to get rid of anxiety by not letting yourself dwell on the negative.
    Minor problems can give us stress and anxiety so we have to turn our minds onto happier thoughts.
    Friends can help us as distractions, but they may not bring us calm and peace. That comes with
    meditation, I've found. Quiet thinking and deep breathing help relieve my anxiety. And I try to
    just think happy thoughts.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  18. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    Solange you are experiencing the Extinction burst. Claire Weekes will really be good for this and Eugene Gendlins focusing ok. Let me know if you got the audios or not ok. I can get it all together for you but I think if you tag her name in the search engine it should be pretty simple and Eugene Gendlins focusing too ok.

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