Q&A: What's the difference between Conversion Syndrome and TMS?

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What's the difference between Conversion Syndrome and TMS? (Question by HilaryN, after this BBC article was posted on the TMSHelp forum)

Answer by Audrey Berdeski, DC

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Audrey Berdeski, DC

Audrey Berdeski's Profile Page / Survey Response

There really is no difference. Dr Sarno wrote that the terms psychosomatic, TMS, conversion syndrome, and even what used to be called hysterical pain, are all descriptors for any physical pain that has a psychological origin.

This woman's story in the article however is confounded by the fact she is taking anti-depressant medication. Granted she might need to have her brain chemistry altered in order to be relieved of her psychological symptoms, which will also impact her physical symptoms. But according to Sarno, "Mindbody symptoms exist to serve a purpose. If you thwart that purpose by taking away the symptom without dealing with its cause, the brain will simply find a substitute symptom or disorder". By the intensity of her stressors she had significant emotional pain, so both treatments were probably warranted. My fear for her is that the medication may take away the symptom without addressing the cause. Until she is able to understand the unconsious cause(es) of her physical symptoms, she may (okay, more than likely she will) manifest new ones.

I would recommend that she continues the psychotherapy, preferably with someone who understands TMS, and has been psychodynamically trained. Can someone send her a copy of The Mindbody Prescription? She has had the psychotherapy but says that she can still not quite believe her symptoms were caused by her psychological condition, and she is better but not cured. Perhaps the Dr.'s in that ward she was treated in could use a good book to read too. Is there anyone who would like to speak to Dr.'s in Psych wards about Dr. Sarno's work? We need people to reach out to educate the medical community about TMS. The more docs we can educate about this, the more people that can be helped.


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