THE ROLE OF EMOTIONS IN CHRONIC PAIN The September issue of Health After 50 from Johns Hopkins Medicine has a two-page lead article with the headline “Finding Emotional Relief from Chronic Pain” which is a validation of TMS symptoms and healing, although it never mentions TMS or Dr. John Sarno. The article’s subhead reinforces this: “Positive emotional well-being can help improve the lives of individuals living with chronic pain.” I am going to summarize and quote from the article which, unfortunately, is not available online. A copy of the issue can be purchased from Johns Hopkins, attention Health After 50, P.O Box 8529, Big Sandy, TX, 75755, or email: email@example.com. I originally scanned the pages of the article and shared them here, but on second thought, removed them since Hopkins is touchy about reprints and might object. [My comments on parts of the article are in brackets and italic type.] The article says more than 110 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, persistent pain that lasts three months or more, and it is one of the most widely reported symptoms among older adults. For 6 to 14 percent of moderate to severe pain sufferers, the effects are intense and disabling. Chronic pain affects strength, mood, mobility, and the ability to complete tasks such as cooking, house-cleaning, even showering. “Also, depression and anxiety are often intertwined with chronic pain,” the article reports. “The effects of these mood disorders can greatly increase pain.” [Those with TMS know well how chronic pain can make us depressed and and anxious, both of which increase our symptoms.] The article then says: “Chronic pain can also take a profound emotional toll, especially when a means of relief seems out of reach. A first step toward emotional well-being may be accepting the possibility that finding 100 percent relief from pain might not be a realistic goal. However, when attention is moved away from loss and redirected toward reconstruction, an individual can recognize that a rewarding life is possible.” [But we who have TMS knowledge from Dr. Sarno know that relief from chronic pain is possible, total and permanent relief, if we have learned that the symptom is not caused by structural damage, but from our emotions; repressed emotions most often going back to our first seven years of life.] The article is based on research after three decades of studying chronic pain patients that was published last December in the British Journal of General Practice that focused on people with painful musculoskeletal conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and back pain. Patients reported thoughts common to those suffering chronic pain every day. These included the following, which are typical of emotions that are prevalent in TMS sufferers: Chronic pain affects the sense of “self.” Patients described their inability to maintain the social roles they once did and take part in activities they had in the past. This lead them to question their self-worth and feel betrayed by their body. [We know that Dr. Sarno says that low self-esteem is one of the main causes of TMS symptoms.] The unpredictability of pain limits the enjoyment of spontaneity in life. Pain suffers reported a lifestyle dominated by seemingly endless caution and a perceived inability to act. [Seniors definitely have this problem since many are afraid of falling. My mother, sister, and a favorite aunt all fell down stairs and suffered broken hips. I am 84 now and try to be careful and not fall, but I do notice I am extra cautious both walking indoors and out. Area rugs we can trip on are a real menace, and sidewalks and streets wet from rain or snow. I chose to live in a ranch house that is all on one level so there are no stairs to fall down.] Patients feel a need to explain or justify their pain. People felt they had to “legitimatize” their chronic pain to others. As a result, many patients highly valued a diagnosis that would lend a sense of credibility and integrity. [But often a doctor’s diagnosis, even enforced by x-rays or MRIs, can be misleading. They may show a structural problem, but as Dr. Sarno says, that may not cause pain. The pain is from TMS repressed emotions.] Patients feel lost in the healthcare system. Patients reported feeling frustrated and trapped, as many are referred from doctor to doctor without relief. [A very common experience with most people in pain, the seemingly endless referrals to specialists who wind up not finding anything structurally wrong. I avoid the referral merry-to-round by not going to a doctor unless TMS techniques can’t cure my pain. So far, they have.] The article then suggests six “coping strategies” for dealing with long-term pain: Work with your body, not against it. Build a new relationship of acceptance, understanding, and respect with your body. Recognize that although your body has been changed by your condition, you’re still the same person. [Good advice, and it is in line with Dr. Sarno’s TMS knowledge therapy. Don’t let pain sap your self-confidence. Don’t let your “inner bully” tell you that you are now hurting too much to be active and enjoy life. Tell your inner self that you are not going to let it bully you into giving up.] Find a “new normal.” Acknowledge the limits your pain imposes on you. Try redirecting your energy toward loved ones and activities you enjoy without trying to maintain the lifestyle you had before your pain began. If activities you enjoyed in the past now cause you stress or pain, look for replacement activities that offer you fulfillment and joy. [But try to resume normal activities such as house cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning the dishes, and taking walks even if they are short and indoor rather than outdoors. Try to get some exercise. If possible, do what Steve Ozanich sayshe did, in his book The Great Pain Deception: he had severe back pain but went back to playing golf despite it, and his pain finally went away, after he discovered his TMS repressed emotions.] Become part of a community. Consider joining a support group where you can share your experiences with others who understand them. Visit the American Chronic Pain Association website at www.theacpa.org/Support-Groups to find a group near you. [I strongly recommend going online to www.TMSWiki.org where you will learn more about TMS and meet others with pain like yours and learn how they either healed through TMS knowledge and techniques or are in the process of healing. It’s free and you will become part of a very caring and knowledgeable pain-healing community.] Stop hiding in your pain. Be open with those around you about your limitations and symptoms. Not wasting energy on hiding pain often provides emotional relief. Tell yourself that you don’t need to gain the approval of others. [This is also a very important part of TMS healing. Be positive that you are going to be pain-free and don’t let doctors or anyone else tell you any different. Your mind gave you the pain and your mind can relieve you of it.] Accept that recovery may not mean a cure. A relentless search for an elusive diagnosis can become all-consuming, thus sacrificing treatment to relieve symptoms. Instead, focus on problem solving and coping. [Those of us who believe our pain is not structural but caused by TMS have a different opinion on this one. We believe recovery from pain can be a cure. The TMSWiki success story subforum has many, many examples from those who have become pain free after practicing what Dr. Sarno calls “TMS knowledge.”] Become an expert. Understanding and meeting your own needs lessens reliance on others and enables you to make confident choices and feel empowered to experiment with new ways of doing things. [This is great advice. The best confident choice you can make, I believe, is to learn about TMS and let it lead you to a healthy, happy life. It is both a new way of doing healthy things, and an old one, since pain caused by our emotions, particularly those we repress, often going back to our childhood, was discovered by doctors and psychologists and philosophers back centuries ago. It is in recent years being accepted by more and more doctors and psychologists.] The article concludes by saying that those in chronic pain should not go it alone. They should seek the help of a psychologist, behavioral therapist, or psychiatrist who specializes in chronic pain. He or she can help you to replace negative thoughts with positive ones and develop a sense of freedom from your pain. Dr. Sarno says not all pain from TMS can be cured without professional help, and the TMSWiki web site offers free consultation with TMS practitioners for those needing the extra help. We in the TMS community hope you will join us there. We thank the Johns Hopkins people for their article and hope they will give consideration to my italicized comments about TMS as a way to cure even the longest-held chronic pain.