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TMS for life?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by MariaK, Jul 16, 2022.

  1. MariaK

    MariaK New Member

    Hi All,

    I was wondering why there seem to be two different messages on here about TMS. Sarno says that you can be cured of it completely. And also the PPD website and recent study also say you can have a complete cure. So, I'm wondering where this idea comes from for some that it is something you have to live with for the rest of your life? The main thing that Sarno states in his books from decades ago, is that once you know how TMS works, your symptoms will go away permanently.

    I'm curious to hear from both sides about where their belief comes from about this.


  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a great question, @MariaK! And an important one. Also, please be aware that the last book Dr. Sarno wrote was in 2006, and he had already revised some of his earlier thinking. The science of neurology and chronic pain has progressed massively since 2006. And for better or worse, technology and society have also changed significantly since 2006, which have their own impact on our mental health and brain function.

    In any case, my personal answer to your question is: it's not that simple. I myself have experienced both results. If you read my profile story, I list all of the many symptoms I was experiencing in 2011, many of which were leading me on the path to becoming housebound.

    To summarize:

    - I immediately experienced a hugely significant reduction in recent (and mysterious) shoulder pain before I had even finished reading my first mindbody book (The Divided Mind, by Dr. Sarno). 100% of that pain completely went away very quickly as I proceeded to get into "the work".

    - A few months into the process (doing the SEP, reading other books, engaging on the forum), I realized that after suffering from them for 20+ years, I had not had any of my disabling neck spasms or what I used to call 5-ibuprofen headaches since - well, I couldn't remember when I'd last had either of these, but it was "Before Sarno". And I still don't. The neck spasms had been somewhat frequent and quite disabling, while the headaches happened at least twice a month and knocked me out for most of a day. Both of those symptoms simply disappeared 11 years ago, and have never been back.

    - I finally acknowledged and accepted that I'd had an abnormal level of anxiety all my life (probably from before I was born, thanks mom!) but by doing this work I learned techniques for managing it, and got control over the increasing panic attacks I had been experiencing in 2011. I still very occasionally have what I think is exercise anxiety in certain situations where I am exerting myself and don't feel "safe", but I absolutely know how to stop a full-blown panic attack. Doing this work exposed me to very old memories of having some weird OCD behavior when I was quite young - and that was very illuminating. It explained a lot.

    - I fought and won a battle with depression (incidents of which I had only started experiencing in 2011, for the first time in my life at age 60). It's never happened since the fall of 2011.

    - I consciously learned how to almost instantly stop night-time digestive incidents - and this skill remains with me. I still need that skill, but the nights of digestive upset that would keep me up for hours are long gone.

    SO - thanks to TMS knowledge, I got rid of some symptoms, learned to manage others, and, more importantly, totally got my life back. The prospect of becoming housebound is waaay in the distant past. THAT is never going to happen, and I have Dr. Sarno to thank for that.

    All that being said, I am probably one of those people with an overactive nervous system, and the TMS fear mechanism still frequently tries to bring me down. Dr. Sarno acknowledged that TMS is a brain mechanism humans have had since primitive times- which means that it is NOT a condition that you can "cure". You absolutely CAN control it, and you can definitely get over symptoms permanently, as I have definitely experienced. But everyone experiences different degrees of recovery - and that's tied to a number of different factors, including childhood experiences, excess anxiety, depression, trauma... which are all uniquely individual.

    Like many people, I continue to experience new symptoms on a regular basis, although things were quite good, and symptoms were very few, for several years. Decades of anxiety doesn't help. Getting older doesn't help (the rage of age is a big factor). The deteriorating state of the world and society in the last several years (starting well before 2020) has not helped. And the pandemic was a huge setback - for many if not most of us.

    Bottom line: - my answer to your question is that it's far from being black and white. There is no one answer that applies to everyone, just as there is no one way to achieve recovery. What Dr. Sarno labeled TMS is a mental health condition. Recovery is absolutely possible, although we must accept a very sad truth, which is that some people will not achieve recovery simply by learning about TMS, because fear is the only state of mind that they know, and you can't recover if your brain won't allow you to visualize what recovery looks like.

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2022
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  3. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Well known member

    To echo what Jan has said, a friend had TMS hip pain, that has gone. Since that time she has has non-chronic pains, chronic sciatica and illnesses. So original TMS pain can subside but sometimes other symptoms come up. I think there are times that we don’t always recognize those as TMS. The TMS coach I used to learn calming skills has never had another chronic major TMS symptom after her healing.
    I think the pain does not always return when we can reliably recognize and feel our stressors when they happen, understand our personality traits which can create internal stressors and generally generate far less inner self tension.
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  4. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    My "guess" is that for the initial things Sarno was treating they can be "cured" completely. End of story.
    For the expanded use of Sarno-like treatment for other issues, it's more of a reduction of symptoms, etc.

    For the moment some of the post-Sarno expansion on his theories don't always resonate with me.
    I think that tends to happen when a lot of people become the next round of "experts" in the field.
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  5. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    The New Times Magazine published an article titled The Lives They Lived that was about some famous artists, innov0tors, and thinkers who died in 1917. The very first such famous person was Sarno. That piece was written Sam Dolnick, the associate managing editor of the New York Times. Years earlier, Sarno had cured him of persistent low back pain. Much of the article was about Sarno on a personal level, and he noted that Sarno suffered from his own recurring symptoms, namely, "an irritable stomach, itchy skin, shrieking headaches.” Sarno wrote about his irritable stomach in Healing Back Pain, where he called it heartburn, and in The Divided Mind, where he called it gastroesophageal reflux. Here is what he said in Healing Back Pain: “I have learned that heartburn means I’m angry about something and don’t know it. So I think about what might be causing the condition, and when I come up with the answer the heartburn disappears. It is remarkable how well buried the anger usually is.” Notice that there was not merely a reduction of the heartburn when he came up with the answer. Rather, the heartburn disappeared--until next time. In The Divided Mind, he wrote about going on a long trip with his wife, who loved to travel, and he suffered from gastroesophageal reflux. He said that he and his wife both recognized that the cause was “psychosomatic, and we tried to figure out what was making me unconsciously angry. . . . We obviously didn’t hit on the right answer because my symptoms continued unabated for the whole trip.” It was only after they got home that he realized that he was angry at his wife for having to go on a trip he did not want to take. As he put it, “My psyche wouldn’t 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 the severe gastrointestinal symptoms.”

    As far as I’m concerned, the skepticism implied by your quotation marks around “experts” is fully justified. But I wonder if you would be willing (whether here or elsewhere since I don’t want to highjack this thread) to expand on who or what does not always resonate with you?
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  6. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    Thanks, Duggit. That's a great Sarno anecdote.

    I think it's probably best for now that I keep my opinions to myself on the next generation of practitioners. I don't want to disparage anyone and I definitely don't want to derail anyone who is finding benefits from various therapeutic approaches.

    Plus I'm still new to these various schools of thought and even though they might not resonate with me or I may be skeptical and think they are the wrong approach doesn't mean that I'm right. Maybe down the road when I've had more time with all of this I'll share more thoughts on this topic.
  7. MariaK

    MariaK New Member

    Thanks everyone, who has responded so far. Now I understand it better. And you've given me a lot of food for thought. And thanks, @JanAtheCPA for explaining that he had revised his thinking in 2006. I did not know that.
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  8. Allund

    Allund Peer Supporter

    @JanAtheCPA I really love reading your posts. I also feel that living with anxiety for so many years makes progress more difficult. And I also felt that pandemic made me feel a big setback after a period of good progress.
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