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TMS, anxiety and a glass of wine - advice needed

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by TG957, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    When Dr. Sarno says to "think psychological," he means to think about "not only our self-imposed pressures to be perfect and good, but . . . the many things going on in our outside lives: our work, career, family (both immediate and extended), finances, illness, aging, and mortality, just to note the most important." The Divided Mind p. 104. Is politics among the less important outside things that might nonetheless be worth focusing on. I am going to explain why I don't think so, why I believe focusing on politics can actually prevent recovery from TMS, and what one should do instead.

    When Dr. Sarno discussed thinking psychologically in "The Mindbody Prescription," he reproduced the Holmes-Rahe list of stressful life events. There are 43 items on the list. Stress about politics is not listed. Perhaps one could argue that number 19, which is "change in number of arguments with spouse," encompasses arguing with your spouse about politics. But number 19 probably concerns something deeper that is going on [see below regarding displaced anger].

    More importantly, in The Mindbody Prescription, Dr. Sarno addresses this frequently asked question: "I know I am angry. I can feel it. In fact, I often show it. Why do I still have pain?" Here are excerpts from his answer:

    "Because the anger you know about and express is not the anger causing your pain. . . . TMS is not a response to conscious anger felt or expressed."

    "Bear in mind, we repress anger that violates our image of ourselves. . . . We get angry outside and do not allow it out."

    "Finally, anger you are aware of may be what is known as displaced anger. That is, you become overtly angry at something relatively unimportant, like a traffic tie-up or poor service in a restaurant, instead of at your spouse or a parent, because the latter is simply not allowed by your psyche. This is very common among my patients." (Emphasis added.)
    The remarks by Sarno quoted above concern anger. What about anxiety (e.g., regarding politics)? Sarno wrote in Healing Back Pain (p. 37): "Anger and anxiety are discussed together for I think they are closely related and are the primary repressed feelings behind TMS and other disorders like it." Sarno referred patients who were having difficulty overcoming TMS to psychologists trained in Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP). ISTDP is precise about the close relationship between repressed anger and anxiety: anger triggers anxiety.

    Now, what about anger (and anxiety) regarding politics that we experience. If we experience it, it is not repressed. That means it does not violate our image of ourselves. If anything, it validates our self-image.

    I want to suggest that maybe the anger (and anxiety) about politics that many people like to talk about on the Internet in connection with TMS is really displaced anger that is experienced instead of the anger causing the TMS. Sarno indicates the anger that causes TMS usually is at a spouse or a parent (or other loved one). In The Divided Mind pp. 125-26, Sarno recounted an episode of repressed anger at his wife: "My psyche would not permit me to be consciously furious at my wife and neither would my reasonable self--so to be absolutely sure the rage remained unconscious, the brain dished up [my] severe gastrointestinal symptoms. The rage, of course, was the reaction of that unconscious child-primitive--selfish, narcissistic, and totally unconcerned with the needs and desires of anyone else. Not very flattering." In my experience, cutting through displaced anger to the anger that is not very flattering isn't easy to do, but it is the main route to overcoming TMS. To sum up, I think discussion of politics on this forum is not only contentious and off topic but also potentially detrimental to TMS recovery because it distracts from the anger causing the problem.
  2. riv44

    riv44 Well known member

    Reading back in this thread I notice there were some contentious moments. Another way I think about these interactions is the metaphor of "The Hook." I can respond to a provoca
    I run groups professionally for people contemplating the way the use alcohol. Yes anxiety is a major factor. The label alcoholic is not useful and often causes more shame. You are right that anxiety is the root, and is completely biopsychosocial. I do my groups on zoom. I don’t want to advertise here but feel free to pm me or look at rivkahlapidus.com for more about my creds and harm reduction approach. I haven’t kept up with this thread to see the contentious factor, but I imagine that people get very doctrinaire about alcohol. There are several good manuals in amazon or your friendly local bookstore on moderation management or controlling your drinking. TMS should not be another label that one has or doesn’t have. You know that you are experiencing unbearable anxiety. Covid19 has brought our planet from emergency to hyper emergency. Pm me if you want to hear more.
    Megs likes this.
  3. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you for the offer! I am doing fine now. Meditation and mindfulness works wonders!

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