Educational Program Day 13

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Educational Activity: Dr. Marc Sopher began having back pain in his thirties, and it was so severe that he said he couldn't even sit down. Like many others Dr. Sopher used traditional treatment for pain, but nothing helped until he visited Dr. John Sarno. After changing the way he thought about his pain, and understanding the psychological cause of it, Dr. Sopher became pain free. He is now an avid runner and treats patients with TMS. Dr. Sopher wrote a book on TMS called To Be or Not To Be... Pain-Free. Journalist Jonah Lehrer wrote an article called The Psychology of Chronic Back Pain for Best Life Magazine, in which he discusses Sarno's approach and the science behind how the unconscious mind can create actual pain and other chronic symptoms.Click here to read the article.

Armchair Linguist: On Anxiety (This forum post is used with the permission of Armchair Linguist)

I'm glad you found success. I think that many also find success with anxiety from Dr. Sarno's work. I did, and it did not "take my nervous system months to calm down". I was able to break the conditioned cycle of anxiety and see significant changes in how I felt immediately, although the work is ongoing to some extent.

With pain and anxiety, and pain caused by anxiety, it is hard to see how you can deny this is connected to TMS, since it follows the fundamental principles that the pain is psychologically caused and can be dealt with by understanding that fact and following through on it by working with the source. Sarno acknowledges the body tension aspect in the very name of the syndrome.

I also found that insight psychotherapy has been helpful in discovering the roots of my anxiety. It is not just a habit from various random encounters; it has a source in repeated childhood experiences. I do not think the therapy community has abandoned treatment for these problems entirely, though not all therapists are compatible with this approach.

It's great that a slightly different approach worked for you. Because of the psychological source and conditioned results of conditions as seemingly unrelated as "FMS", "RSI", anxiety, back pain, and depression, many approaches that address the psychological source work for each. Some, for example, swear by mindfulness meditation, others by TMS. I hope you won't assume that your success with something else means that TMS and/or psychotherapy doesn't work, but just that there are more tools in the toolbox.

For the past two days you have journaled on past events, which is very important in understanding how your past attributed to your symptoms. However, current stress can also be a major contributor to TMS symptoms. Therefore, today choose an item from your current stress list and journal about that. Instead of using the free write journal method, today you will use a technique called Unsent Letters. The basis of this technique is to write a letter to someone in which you express how they make you feel. Since this letter will not be sent, you can feel comfortable writing your true emotions. Think of a person who seems to cause you stress or anxiety, and place their name in the prompt. Then continue to journal.


I feel the following

Work the List: After you journal, take a couple of minutes to add a few items to one of your lists. Make sure there are items on all three lists. Try not to overthink this. Simply add anything that may contribute to your symptoms.

Question To Ponder
What TMS-related book, article, or news story have you found the most helpful in solidifying your belief in the diagnosis? If you feel comfortable sharing, then post your response in a thread in our Structured Program forum. We would love to hear from you.

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