So You Think You Might Have TMS

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You've been hearing, reading and learning more about it, and you think that you too may have TMS. What should you do next? Below are some basic steps and programs that we offer that will help you get started on the right track. If TMS is a brand new concept for you then to get the most out of the ideas on this page we recommend you start with reading a John Sarno book such as Healing Back Pain or The Mindbody Prescription.

How to Get Better

See a doctor

Accessible version of this video

You may be suffering from a serious structural medical condition rather than (or in addition to) TMS. Failure to rule this out can obviously have very serious consequences (for example, cancer can cause back pain). By ruling out any structural cause, you will also be able to gain confidence in this approach. You may also find the following YouTube video helpful. It was produced by Dr. Howard Schubiner to help people decide whether his online TMS recovery program would be appropriate for them. To find a TMS practitioner near you, please visit Find a TMS Doctor or Therapist

Accept the diagnosis

First and foremost, recovering from TMS requires that you take an active role in your treatment. Since your symptoms are caused by repressed emotions, a doctor cannot give you a prescription to heal you. Healing must come from within. The first and most important step you need to take is to accept that you have TMS and that your symptoms are benign. There is nothing structurally wrong with you.

You do not have a bad back. Typing on the computer keyboard is not the cause of your RSI. Running does not cause your shin splints. Sitting for short or long periods, or walking even just in the house does not cause your back pain. Your back does not hurt because you are sixty or eighty or older.

You have TMS, which means that all of your symptoms are caused by repressed emotions and not structural or external factors. Once you truly accept the diagnosis, you will no longer fear your symptoms, no longer worry about them, and notice that they begin to fade away. It is not good enough to believe your pain is caused by TMS repressed emotions. You must believe that 100 percent and tell that to your unconscious mind so it gets the message and stops the pain.

Education is the key to accepting the diagnosis. Read a TMS book to gain an understanding of the mindbody connection, and the true cause of your symptoms.

Resume physical activity

Once your symptoms begin to reduce and your confidence builds up, begin to engage in physical activity. Exercise and physical activity will reinforce the message that your symptoms are benign. It may take some time for the message to sink into your unconscious. Exercising will help this along. It will also increase your confidence and help you find more joy in your life. Both of these will reduce the emotional tension you have built up.

Repudiate the physical

Assuming that you saw a competent physician, any serious medical conditions have been ruled out. Since you do not have a physical problem, do not engage in activities that seek to treat your symptoms from a physical perspective. This includes: acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, massage, use of ergonomic devices, back braces, and shoe inserts. If you are on pain medications, you may want to begin to think about gradually getting off of them. For more info on this read: When should I stop taking pain medications?. All of these activities reinforce the belief that you have a physical condition. Recovering requires that you stop all physical treatments, and begin to address your condition from a psychological perspective. Don't quit using medication or painkillers "cold turkey." Ask your doctor how to slow down or stop using them so as to avoid withdrawal problems.

Read a TMS book

Reading in Library
Dr. Sarno said that "Information is the penicillin to this disorder." The more knowledge you gain about the TMS process and the true cause of your symptoms, the more confidence you will have in this approach and in yourself. Read and reread one of Dr. Sarno’s books or another TMS book and learn more about this condition. For a list of TMS books check out our Books page.

Use Affirmations

Many people have reported how helpful affirmations are in recovering.This essentially involves talking to your brain. While it may feel slightly odd to talk to yourself, people have reported that it allows them to gain control over their thoughts and take a more active role in their recovery. To learn more about affirmations and self talk visit the page: Affirmations.

Dr. Sarno has also listed 12 Daily Reminders for people to review throughout their recovery. These can serve as a form of affirmations to be reviewed once a day. They are:

  1. The pain is due to TMS, not to structural abnormalities
  2. The direct reason for the pain is mild oxygen deprivation
  3. TMS is a harmless condition, caused by my repressed emotions
  4. The principle emotion is my repressed anger
  5. TMS exists only to distract my attention from the emotions
  6. Since my back is basically normal there is nothing to fear
  7. Therefore physical activity is not dangerous
  8. And I must resume all physical activity
  9. I will not be concerned or intimidated by the pain
  10. I will shift my attention from the pain to emotional issues
  11. I intend to be in control - not my subconscious mind
  12. I must think psychological at all times, not physical.

Our Programs

In addition, to the activities mentioned above, the PTPN also has a number of programs designed to help you recover from chronic pain. You by no means need to do all of these activities to recover, however some of them may resonate with you. Different things work for different people, so explore these programs to find the one that will help you the most.

community letters

TMS Forum

Education is key to healing from TMS. While reading a TMS book can be a helpful resource, so too can reading and posting on our TMS forum. Interacting with those who have or have had TMS is a great way to gain insights into your own symptoms. Our forum consists of five main subforums: General Discussion, Support, Alan Gordon TMS Recovery Program, Structured Educational Program, and Practitioner’s Corner. All of these subforums contain information that you may find helpful in your own recovery.

TMS Recovery Program

TMS practitioner, Alan Gordon, LCSW, has developed and contributed a free TMS recovery program to the TMS Wiki. Alan Gordon describes the goal of the program "to generally provide you with a deeper understanding of why you have your pain, how it’s being perpetuated, and what steps you can take to eliminate or significantly reduce it." In addition to telling you what to do, it will show you how to heal, via clips of recordings of sessions with actual TMSers. If you have any questions about the program, feel free to post in the Alan Gordon TMS Recovery Program Forum.

Structured Educational Program

Alan Gordon's recovery program is very successful at providing the information one needs to recover. However, there are also people who require a more structured approach to their recovery. If you find yourself asking, what do I do day by day to get better?, check out our Structured Educational Program. It contains daily activities for you to do for six weeks. It is designed entirely by people who have had TMS, and aims to teach you about all of the various techniques you can use to recover, as they did. If you have any questions about the program, feel free to post in the Structured Program Forum.

Drop-in Chat

Each Saturday at 3 PM ET we have an open chat discussion for anyone who is interested in learning more about TMS or in need of peer support. Like the forum, our chat room is a great resource for anyone starting out.

Call-in Discussion Group

Every Saturday, the PTPN hosts a TMS call-in discussion group, which provides a space where people can deepen their understanding of TMS through discussion with others. This discussion group is unique in that, although it is held online, it is a live, vocal discussion. Each week the group focuses on a particular section of a TMS book, decided upon the week before. Some participants read along with this schedule; others join the conversation to discuss other TMS-related issues. Anyone is welcome to join the conversation, whether they have read any of that week's (or previous weeks') chapters or not. The goal is to foster a lively discussion about TMS among peers.

Q&A with an Expert

doctors at monitor
As you start learning about TMS, you are bound to have questions about how to get better. To help provide answers to some of the most common questions people have, we started a Q&A with an Expert program. This program consists of some of the most prominent TMS doctors and therapists in the field who respond to questions asked by our forum members. Reading through these expert responses will provide you with new insights to questions you may have. These articles include:

Thank you, Dr. Sarno

Dr. Sarno retired from his practice in the Spring of 2012. To pay tribute to his work, and to show our appreciation, the PTPN developed the Thank You, Dr. Sarno project. In this project we collected personal thank you notes from those who have recovered from using this approach and put them in a bounded scrapbook to give to Dr. Sarno. We received over 60 contributions and the final book was over 100 pages.

With the hopes of showing our appreciation of Dr. Sarno publicly, we also displayed these personal messages online at This website contains all of the contributions included in the first volume, and many more that we received after we delivered the book.

Our goal is to continue developing this tribute site, and to add more and more contributions as time goes on. If you want to contribute to this project, please visit Be Part of the Thank You, Dr. Sarno Project.

Visit the media library subforum

Like reading TMS books, watching videos on TMS can be equally beneficial. Our media library subforum has a wide collection of TMS and mindbody videos. These include success stories, interviews, group discussions, and presentations on TMS. Our media library can provide you with a new way to view your symptoms.

Next: TMS Personality Traits
DISCLAIMER: The TMS Wiki is for informational and support purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. See Full Disclaimer.
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