Freedom From Fibromyalgia

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By Nancy Selfridge, MD and Franklynn Peterson

Three Rivers Press Publishing, 2001.

Available at


Freedom From Fibromyalgia discusses Dr. Nancy Selfridge's treatment plan for the condition. It consists of three parts: part 1 describes the nature of Fibromyalgia pain and its causes; part 2 discusses tools that can be used by patients to become healed; and part 3 outlines the structured program. The book focuses primarily on anger and the subconscious.

Chapter 1: Fibromyalgia: Misunderstood, Misdiagnosed Misery

In the first chapter Selfridge discusses the symptoms of Fibromyalgia and other illnesses that are commonly found in Fibromyalgia patients. It is suggested that Fibromyalgia is routinely disguised as Arthritis and Lupus. Also, patients routinely have several other symptoms and illnesses. 50-70% of patients also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, IBS, migraines, or depression.

Of all the symptoms of Fibromyalgia one of the most distressful to patients is what is known as “Fibro Fog.” This condition is investigated at length, including a discussion about scientific tests about “Fibro Fog.” This gives great insight into the symptom and gives the reader an understanding of how to overcome it.

Chapter 2: Eight Fibromyalgia Fables

People have come up with all sorts of fables to explain and delegitimize Fibromyalgia pain. However upon closer examination these fables fail to hold up to the facts about the condition. Selfridge addresses each of these common fables, and points out how each one is flawed. The chapter successfully shows that a person's Fibromyalgia pain is real, and it is not made up in their head.

Chapter 3: Fibromyalgia 101: What It Is

After realizing that Fibromyalgia pain is real, the third chapter seeks to explain the science behind the pain. Selfridge goes into great detail about how the central nervous system sends signals, like pain, throughout the body. She also discusses how the immune system is connected to the central nervous system by being able to send neuropeptides to the central nervous system. The connection between the central nervous system and the immune system has led many researchers to focus on a mind body connection.

The next part of the chapter describes Dr. John Sarno's TMS theory, and how Selfridge utilized his theory of pain to cure her own case of Fibromyalgia. The chapter ends with Selfridge grouping Fibromyalgia in with other TMS symptoms, and suggesting that the most effective way to be cured of the condition is to examine one's repressed emotions.

Chapter 4: Put Your Knowledge to Work

Chapter 4 is the start of the second part of the book that is focused on teaching the reader the basic tools of treating Fibromyalgia. The primary thing for a person to do when they are starting out is to remain positive and avoid negative thoughts, people, and situations. Selfridge gives great advice on key steps a person needs to take to ensure that they are successful in the program, including time-management tips and what to do with your personal relationships.

Selfridge then goes describes the necessary steps to begin the treatment program. Lastly, Selfridge encourages the reader to give their Fibromyalgia a vivid and descriptive name. Having a visualization of the condition can make it easier for a person to eliminate flare-ups in their future. The chapter continues to give helpful tips on how to start treating Fibromyalgia, and includes information that can be very helpful for people just starting out.

Chapter 5: Simplify: Make Room to Get Better

Fibromyalgia patients tend to live busy and frazzled lives, and they tend to ignore their own needs. This chapter is designed to help people simplify their lives and find time to focus on their needs. Dr. Selfridge suggests that the best way to do this is to eliminate one thing in your life that you don't need, enjoy, won't miss, or something that is dragging you down. The chapter gives helpful tips on how to take a serious look at one's life and act like an outside consultant.

Chapter 6: Meditate to Access Your Mind

Meditation can be a useful tool in developing self-awareness and end the distraction of pain. This chapter serves as a guide to teach people how to meditate using techniques that are designed to combat Fibromyalgia. The meditation sessions are designed to last 30 minutes and Selfridge provides easily to follow instructions that help a person get in touch with the present.

Chapter 7: Cut Old Angers Down to Size

Chapter 7 gives the reader tips and suggestions on how to overcome anger in the short and long term. Selfridge instructs the reader to uncover anger from specific events in the past, present, and future. One way to do this is by using the Anger List provided in the book that gives the reader prompts that help in uncovering anger. In order to fix how people react to anger in the long term, Selfridge provides several tips and techniques that seek to reprogram how a person responds in certain situations.

Chapter 8: Journaling, Self-Talk, and Visualization

Most TMS programs have some aspect of journaling in them, and Freedom From Fibromyalgia is no different. This chapter gives tips and guidance on how a person can effectively journal and uncover repressed emotions. Selfridge gives many tips including that a person should not write about their pain. To help people think of ideas to journal about, Selfridge developed a Fibromyalgia Time Line, which is a form the reader can fill out and begin to understand what events in their past had a significant emotional impact.

While the section on Self-Talk is only a couple of pages it does give great insight into how Dr. Selfridge used the technique to rid herself of flare-ups of pain. The other technique described in this chapter is visualization, which calls for the reader to visualize their pain going away. There is a brief retelling of how a former patient of Selfridge's used visualization to rid herself fibromyalgia.

Chapter 9: Put Your Dreams to Work

Through understanding one's dreams, a person can gain great insight into their subconscious. In this chapter, the reader learns valuable techniques that can help them remember and understand their nightly dreams, and why doing so can help them overcome fibromyalgia. Selfridge gives many tips on how to “harness your dreams” including writing down your dreams as soon as you wake up.

Chapter 10-14: Selfridge's Structured Treatment Program

The last five chapters of the book consist of the treatment program that is to be completed by the reader to be cured of Fibromyalgia. The program consists of activities and assignments to be completed twice a day for six days a week. An outline of the program can be found in Chapter 10. Each week focuses on a different aspect of overcoming Fibromyalgia. Some of the techniques vary week to week, but journaling is part of the assignments every week. In the end of the program Selfridge provides some advice to individuals who have completed the program, but are still in pain. Also, it is suggested that some people may need more time with the program, and they should continue going through the weeks multiple times in they want to.

Interesting Ideas From the Book

The following are several interesting ideas and points that were raised in Freedom from Fibromyalgia. Any one who has read the book is free to write about any idea that they found interesting in the following section.

  • Make Sure You Truly Want to Be Healed: Dr. Selfridge points out that people with Fibromyalgia adjust their entire life around their pain, including personal relationships and their careers. A person may have become dependent on friends and family members, and may be weary of becoming self-reliant again. Or a person may be receiving disability from the government (Selfridge pg 72). This implies that while a person may want to be free of pain, they may not want to loose the help or the extra money they have received from pain. In order to recover one must want to be pain free more than having someone else do the dishes or mow the lawn. A person must decide what is more important, a disability check or a pain free life.
  • End Relationships Built on Pain: Dr. Selfridge urges readers to evaluate their personal relationships, and end any one that is based on pain. This can even include attending chronic pain support groups (Selfridge pg. 74). In order to get better people need to focus on positive aspects of life. Relationships built on pain may only focus on the negative aspects of the pain, and therefore be a hindrance in a person's recovery.

TMS Wiki member ForestforTrees posted the following review of this book as a forum post.

Overall Freedom from Fibromyalgia is a good book. Selfridge is able to bring a unique expertise to the subject, since she not only treats patients with FMS, but she also overcame FMS/TMS using the strategies outlined in the book. Her focus on Fibromyalgia makes it the go to TMS book for anyone with FMS, specifically because she discusses at length all aspects of Fibromyalgia, and how it relates to TMS.

The book consists of an educational component along with a structured treatment plan. While the book focuses on Fibromyalgia, the treatment plan is designed to heal anyone with TMS. Among the techniques and tips utilized, Selfridge makes an interesting suggestion on how to simplify your life. She explains the need to adjust one's life in order to limit the amount of stress and anxiety that can contribute to TMS. There are several worksheets in the book that help the reader examine their life, and develop a plan to eliminate unhealthy parts of it. The program she outlines really lets the reader take control of their treatment, by using easy to follow techniques to get better. This book builds of a lot of Sarno's work and would be helpful to anyone with TMS, not just Fibromyalgia. Customer Reviews

An Amazon Customer said:

As a sufferer of fibromyalgia for the past three years, I looked far and wide to find help. One can find testimonials for miraculous improvement from just about everything from colostrum, animal livers, getting rid of chemicals in fruits and nuts, too much phosphate, too little glycosamine...too many iffy possibilities!!!

Finally, I found a book which explains in plain terms how emotions cause the release of certain chemicals into the body and in turn, how these chemicals affect our health. This understanding of the mind/body connection from very measurable indicators has served to help me understand how my pain is triggered, and more importantly, how to control it. It is not fluff, it is NOT blame the victim. On the contrary, by taking control of one's thoughts, lifestyle, and state of mind, one also takes back control of one's life from a very real and very tenacious disease. Thank you, Dr. Selfridge and Mr. Peterson, it has helped a lot. I have shared this book with my Dr. in the hopes that he, too, will find it useful in treating his other suffering patients.

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