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Alex B. Surface approach or deeper approach?

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Andy Bayliss, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Hi Wonderful TMS Therapists and Physicians!

    I am helping someone to use Dr. Sarno's TMS practices, and the journaling is bringing up a lot of stress and re-traumatization. Can he be cured without doing this kind of work, by using a more "education approach" like reading and using the 12 Daily Reminders? This is his preferred route, because of his aversion to deep processing about painful memories.

    I don't know enough of the background of TMS sufferers who had success with the "lighter touch" (just reading Sarno, etc). I wonder if that group may exclude people with childhood trauma.

    So that is my question: Is there anecdotal evidence that folks with child-trauma can use more a more surface approach successfully? Or is this most likely to be the same group that Dr. Sarno found needed therapeutic assistance?

    I wonder if this question might be addressed in an anonymous poll here at the Forum as well, from successful TMS sufferers? We have a lot of data potential right here.

    Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

    Andy B.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2015
    North Star likes this.
  2. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Andy,

    This is a really great question, thanks for posting it. Let me start by pointing out one of the basic truths about TMS pain: it has a purpose. Your friend's pain is acting as a vessel of distraction that keeps him away from the pain and stress of the traumas that you are speaking about. The idea of pain having a purpose is really crucial to understanding TMS and why it arises and in your friend's case it seems clear as to what purpose is being served. Now comes the slightly complicated bit. Your friend can potentially get rid of the pain by doing things like acknowledging it for what it is, addressing the fear behind it and otherwise using the "lighter touch" that you speak about. However, it is very likely that something else will come up to take its place to keep him distracted! Remember, if TMS serves a purpose, then if the underlying driver behind that purpose is not addressed, the need will remain and your friend's mind will find a way to fill it. Now sometimes simply moving the symptoms around, thereby illustrating their cause and malleability, can give people enough confidence and empowerment to overcome whatever symptoms do arise. However, sometimes the need for distraction is too ingrained or powerful and it must be addressed at the source. When this becomes necessary it can indeed be very difficult for some people to go it alone. This is when working with a TMS therapist, like the many people that can be found on this forum, is something that I recommend. Those of us who do this work have a lot of experience guiding people through exactly that kind of challenging inner work.

    My suggestion? See how far you can get with the lighter touch. It's your friend's choice; if he doesn't want to do that tough deeper processing, he by no means has to. See if you can get the symptoms to move around, change or otherwise behave in a way that removes all doubt about their TMS genesis. By doing so, hopefully your friend can feel empowered enough to overcome his mind's need for preoccupation. If not, it may be necessary to get deeper into that more difficult stuff. The good news is that there are plenty of resources out there, including the wonderful community here on the forum and the professionals who frequent these pages.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    Forest and North Star like this.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Andy, I agree with Alex Bloom. Your friend hopes to take the easy way out of his TMS pain by avoiding confronting his repressed emotions.
    That wont work. Everyone who has healed from TMS pain knows that it takes deep soul-searching of our repressed emotions, and those often
    go back to our childhood, as mine did after my parents divorced when I was 7. That left me with deep insecurities that I kept hidden until I got back
    pain and learned about Dr. Sarno and TMS. Journaling about those early black years helped me to understand my parents better and that they
    had their own TMS which led to the divorce.

    So your friend should "face the music and dance." How's that for "tough love"?
    North Star likes this.
  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for your nuanced response on this. It adds a lot to my knowledge as a Life Coach for TMS. I am sure this comes up in the minds of a lot of people that begin to engage Dr. Sarno's work, this question, and the desire to avoid the depth of feelings (as you suggest Walt).

    With your experience, it sounds like there is a possibility to simply use understanding, by being at least partly aware of the fear and deeper emotions (which is apparent already). Understanding there exists ---and is at least partially experienced--- painful material that "needs distraction," combined with the knowledge that TMS is an attempt to distract. And adding other evidence like symptoms moving around, exceptions to the symptoms, knowing one's personality type, etc. This is how I understand the quote above.

    Can you say anything more about this sentence in bold? What kind of empowerment can overcome the mind's need to distract? Is this the classic "taking charge" like talking/directing to one's body/mind to reduce symptoms? Or in your mind, Alex, is it something deeper?

    With Gratitude,

    Andy B.
  5. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Andy,

    Again, a good question. Empowerment in this context can mean different things. As always with these matters, there is no single correct answer that is better than all others, within reason of course. I say that first simply to remind all reading that you don't want to start substituting the pressure of "getting this right" for the other issues that may be coming up in the first place. This keeps you right where you are.

    Now back to empowerment. In this context I was referring specifically to power that can come with the experiential realization that the symptoms that people are going through are a result of internal mechanisms that are not structurally based. I say experiential to distinguish this from the intellectual concept that one's suffering is rooted in TMS. Understanding this intellectually is the first step, one that many people who open themselves to this modality have already achieved. Someone who reads about TMS and starts to think "you know, this really seems like what's happening for me" has achieved this intellectual realization. But it is truly making the connection and seeing how it operates on oneself that can provide the empowerment I speak of. When symptoms start moving around, changing, expressing themselves in ways heretofore unseen, the TMS diagnosis can finally "click" for some people and this is indeed a powerful feeling. So while it is rooted in "taking charge" it is also something deeper.

    However, even this is sometimes not enough to fully overcome one's symptoms. In fact, for the majority of clients that I see it is not enough. Many of those I work with complain of the frustrations that come with reading about people who become aware of their symptoms and make the TMS connection and are suddenly cured while they struggle on, feeling as though the understand the connections but unable to progress. Like your friend, for these people it may be necessary to go into the deeper, more challenging but ultimately, in my opinion, more rewarding work.

    Hopefully this makes sense and answers your question.
    Forest likes this.
  6. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for your clarification here. I understand the kind of power you refer to. It is experiential realization, and fuels a greater confidence and understanding == power. This all makes great sense. I appreciate this thread very much guys.

    Andy B.

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