TMS in Pop Culture
Movies and television shows often show people in physical and/or psychological pain… everything from back and neck aches to migraine headaches. Often, the characters learn that their symptoms aren’t structural but psychological. They may not attribute the psychological pain to TMS, but it’s often apparent in what their pain is and how it is resolved that it is from what Dr. Sarno says is one or more repressed emotions.
This is a home base for the TMSWiki community to share examples of TMS in pop culture. Besides movies and television shows, both present and past, examples may be found in books and even in songs.
The idea for this forum was suggested by our good friend Steve Ozanich whose book The Great Pain Deception is becoming one of the most important extensions of Dr. Sarno’s Healing Back Pain. Steve tells about his long journey to recovery from TMS pain and examples of others’ techniques for healing.
Eventually, the list of examples of TMS in Pop Culture will be categorized by the pain a character experiences such as Back Pain, Bursitis, Cancer, Diabetes, Eating Disorders, Hand or Arm Pain, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Colds, Dizziness, Fibromyalgia, Foot and Ankle Pain, Hay Fever, Headaches, Herniated Discs, High Blood Pressure, Hip Pain, Insomnia, Leg Pain, Muscle Spasms, Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain, Smell and Taste, Wrist Pain etc.
These symptoms are often not caused by any structural damage or aging but are examples of TMS pain, caused by or resulting in Anger, Anxiety, Argument, Bullying, Can’t Forgive, Childhood traumas, Competitiveness, Compulsiveness, Emotional/Tension Stress, Fear, Hatred, Low Self-Esteem, Guilt, Mortality worries, Obsessiveness, Panic Attacks, Perfectionism, Phobias, Placebos, Sexual Abuse, Type A perfectionist personality, Ulcers, Urinary disorders, ect.
They're everywhere in movies and TV. The idea for TMS in Pop Culture is to expand awareness. People aren't able to tell that the symptoms they have are a direct result of their lives, and how they react, or more precisely, how they don't react. It might increase awareness in a subtle way. Plus, it's fun.
Examples of TMS in Pop Culture are listed by television show or movie. Please share your own example of TMS in pop culture using the form at the top of the list.
- 1 Add to TMS in Pop Culture
- 2 Alice (1990)
- 3 All That Heaven Allows (1955)
- 4 As It Is In Heaven (2004)
- 5 The Big Bang Theory, Season 1 Episode 09 (2008)
- 6 The Big Bang Theory, Season 4 Episode 20 (2011)
- 7 The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)
- 8 Bored to Death, Season 3 Episode 7 (2011)
- 9 The Dick Van Dyke Show, Season 2 Epsiode 12 (1962)
- 10 The Dick Van Dyke Show, Season 3 Episode 20 (1964)
- 11 Dumbo (1941)
- 12 The Enchanted Cottage (1945)
- 13 Forbidden Planet (1956)
- 14 Fraiser, Season 7 Episode 10 (1999)
- 15 Girl, Interrupted (1999)
- 16 Frozen (2013)
- 17 Good Will Hunting (1998)
- 18 Grey's Anatomy, Season 9 Episode 12 (2013)
- 19 The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947)
- 20 Guys and Dolls (1950)
- 21 House of Lies, Season 4, Episode 7 (2015)
- 22 Kitchen Princess (Manga Series)
- 23 M*A*S*H, Season 5 Episode 20 (1977)
- 24 M*A*S*H, Season 8 Episode 21 (1980)
- 25 M*A*S*H, Season 9 Episode 17 (1981)
- 26 Mad Men, Season 1 (2007)
- 27 Meet the Fockers (2004)
- 28 Now, Voyager (1942)
- 29 The Paradise, Season 1 (2012)
- 30 The Princess Bride (1987)
- 31 The Razor's Edge
- 32 Remains of the Day (1993)
- 33 Sanford and Son (1972 - 1977)
- 34 Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
- 35 Seinfeld, Season 5 Episode 9 (1993)
- 36 The Shopworn Angel (1938)
- 37 The Simpsons, Season 12 Episode 10 (2001)
- 38 Still Standing, Season 1 Episode 1 (2002)
- 39 Stressed Eric (1998-2000)
- 40 Movies addressing additional topics
Add to TMS in Pop Culture
Submit your example of TMS in pop culture using the form. Feel free to also share your example in the TMS in Pop Culture forum thread
In this 1990 movie by Woody Allen, a married mother of two children in Manhattan falls in love with a handsome saxophone player and then suffers back pains. She consults an Oriental herbalist in Chinatown who says her back pains are in her mind, caused by guilt. He gives her magical herbs to cure her. Read more...
All That Heaven Allows (1955)
This romantic 1955 film presents TMS themes such as repressed emotions and guilt. Jane Wyman plays a widow whose grown children object to her considering marrying a younger man (Rock Hudson) not only because he is about 15 years younger then she but he works as a gardener, far below their social station in a small town. Friends also look down on her because of her genuine love for the younger man, so she decides not to marry the man she loves. After a few years of headaches and feelings of guilt and low self-esteem, she tells her doctor about it all and he recommends, “Marry him!” She follows his advice, and finds her guilt and headaches disappear, and that she is happy.
As It Is In Heaven (2004)
This critically acclaimed Swedish film tells the story of famous symphony orchestra conductor Daniel Daréus (Michael Nyqvist) who has had a bad heart since a childhood trauma involving bullying. He suffers an attack on-stage just after a performance and decides to retire indefinitely to a village in the far north of Sweden where he was born and grew up. He is asked to listen to the local church choir and becomes its cantor, teaching the boys singing skills. This ultimately restores his own joy in making music.
Though there are other examples from the choir members and others in the village, the TMS Daniel suffers due to boyhood bullying is the film's most direct reference to TMS-related themes.
The Big Bang Theory, Season 1 Episode 09 (2008)
In “The Cooper-Hofstadter Polarization” (Season 1 Epsiode 9 of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, aired March 17 2008) Sheldon contemplates whether a certain physical symptom could be due to fighting with his best friend:
- Penny: Well I’m just asking if it’s difficult to be fighting with your best friend.
- Sheldon: Oh. I hadn’t thought about it like that. I wonder if I’ve been experiencing physiological manifestations of some sort of unconscious emotional turmoil.
- Penny: Wait… what?'
- Sheldon: I couldn’t poop this morning.
The Big Bang Theory, Season 4 Episode 20 (2011)
In “The Herb Garden Germination” (Season 4 Episode 20 of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, aired April 7, 2011) Sheldon and Amy explain do a riff on memes:
The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)
The theme of low self-esteem is the subject of the 1934 film The Barretts of Wimpole Street (later remade in 1957). Poet Elizabeth Barrett is a homebound invalid kept almost a prisoner by her father who may have unwholesome feelings for her. She thinks she will never be desirable by a man, retreating into her only two pleasures: poetry and her dog. Through poetry she meets the poet Robert Browning, they fall in love, and that gives her the courage to leave her father (taking her dog with her, of course) for a full recovery from feelings of low self-esteem. Love, as always, triumphs over anything including TMS.
Bored to Death, Season 3 Episode 7 (2011)
In “Forget the Herring” (Season 3 Epsiode 7 of HBo's comedy series Bored to Death, aired November 21 2011), Ray is given Dr. Sarno's Healing Back Pain to overcome his back pain.
Watch “Forget the Herring” below:
The Dick Van Dyke Show, Season 2 Epsiode 12 (1962)
In “Gesundheit, Darling” (Season 2 Epsiode 12 of The Dick Van Dyke Show, aired December 12 1962) Rob begins to fear he is allergic to his family when being in close proximity to Laura and Richie makes him sneeze. Ultimately, this (TMS) diagnosis is proved wrong when a clear pathology is found.
Watch “Gesundheit, Darling” on Hulu
The Dick Van Dyke Show, Season 3 Episode 20 (1964)
In “The Brave and the Backache” (Season 3 Epsiode 20 of The Dick Van Dyke Show, aired February 12 1964), Rob discovers that his bad back and other (TMS) symptoms are being triggered by a forgotten early childhood trauma.
Watch “The Brave and the Backache” on Hulu
In Walt Disney's Dumbo, the baby elephant Dumbo holds onto a feather in his trunk giving him confidence to do things like leap off a high platform in a circus act, where his big ears like wings would fly him safely into a bucket of water below. When Dumbo loses the feather, he realizes he no longer needs it as he has gained the self-confidence it represented and he can fly without it.
The Enchanted Cottage (1945)
Based on a 1920s stage play, this romantic fantasy tells the story of Oliver Bradford (Robert Young), an Air Force pilot who is disfigured by war wounds, and Laura Pennington (Dorothy McGuire), a homely maid, who meet at a New England cottage (he a tenant, she the cottage's caretaker) and fall in love. Their feelings for each other "transform" them, making each seem beautiful to the other.
The message of the movie is one from which we all can benefit. We all live in an enchanted cottage of our own mind. How we perceive our pain and have faith we will overcome it is the miracle that can set us free. One of several strong TMS concepts for healing.
Forbidden Planet (1956)
This 1956 sci-fi movie was far ahead of its time in delving into repressed emotions. Set in 2200 A.D., a space ship commander (Lesie Nielsen) lands his United Planets space cruiser with a crew of 14 men on Krell, a planet far from Earth which had earlier been destroyed. They are warned not to land by a survivor of an Earth colony sent there 20 years earlier. He is a scientist (Walter Pigeon) who tells them that he and his grown daughter are the only survivors of that Earth colony, all the others including his wife, mysteriousy dying at the hands of an invisible, terrible monster that prowls the planet. One of the crew members learns the nature of the monster and, in dying himself, tells Pidgeon: “That thing out there – it’s you!” He says it is the scientist’s own subconcious mind that is bent on destroying him. Pidgeon knows this is true and ultimately dies in confronting the monster, telling it “I deny you! I give you up!” The “id monster” dies with him. Pidgeon’s rejection of the monster in him sets off a chain reaction that destroys the planet moments after Nielsen (the sole survivor of his crew) escapes with Pidgeon’s daughter.
Watch this clip from Forbidden Planet about the “id monster” in us:
Fraiser, Season 7 Episode 10 (1999)
In “Back Talk” (Season 7 Epsiode 10 of the sitcom Fraiser, aired December 9 1999), Fraiser's back seizes up when he blows out his birthday candles. By the end of the episode, he is better.
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
The following scene between Susanna (Winona Ryder) and Dr. Wick (Vanessa Redgrave) from the 1999 movie Girl, Interrupted talks about the meaning of ambivalence:
- Susanna: I'm ambivalent. In fact that's my new favorite word.
- Dr. Wick: Do you know what that means, ambivalence?
- Susanna: I don't care.
- Dr. Wick: If it's your favorite word, I would've thought you would...
- Susanna: It means I don't care. That's what it means.
- Dr. Wick: On the contrary, Susanna. Ambivalence suggests strong feelings...in opposition. The prefix, as in "ambidextrous," means "both." The rest of it, in Latin, means "vigor." The word suggests that you are torn... between two opposing courses of action.
- Susanna: Will I stay or will I go?
- Dr. Wick: Am I sane...or, am I crazy?
- Susanna: Those aren't courses of action.
- Dr. Wick: They can be, dear - for some.
- Susanna: Well, then - it's the wrong word.
- Dr. Wick: No. I think it's perfect.
The song “Let It Go” from the 2013 Disney animated film Frozen has some great TMS-themed lyrics touching on perfectionism and goodism. Mainly, though, the song is about repression and the freedom that comes from just letting go. Here are some of the lyrics:
- Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
- Be the good girl you always have to be
- Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
- Well now they know
- Let it go, let it go
- I am one with the wind and sky
- Let it go, let it go
- You’ll never see me cry
- Here I stand
- And here I stay
- Let the storm rage on
- Let it go, let it go
- And I'll rise like the break of dawn
- Let it go, let it go
- That perfect girl is gone
- Here I stand in the light of day
- Let the storm rage on,
- The cold never bothered me anyway
Watch the scene where Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) sings “Let It Go” below:
Good Will Hunting (1998)
In this 1998 movie, Matt Damon plays Will Hunting, a rebellious working-class young man in South Boston with many emotional problems who is struggling to find his identity. He is a mathematical genius but works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he sees complex math problems on a blackboard. He can solve them, but not his own personal problems of guilt and low self-esteem. He had been in the foster care system and suffered a lot of abuse while growing up, continually getting into trouble with the police for minor infractions of the law. He sees a succession of therapists but they are unable to help him, until one psychologist, played by Robin Williams, finally figures him out, then gives him the simple yet profound solution by telling him, “It’s not your fault.” This message rings true for Will, and ultimately it sets him free.
Watch the “It’s not your fault” scene below:
Grey's Anatomy, Season 9 Episode 12 (2013)
The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947)
This 1947 movie touches on the strong emotion of guilt, and how guilt can cause TMS psychological or physical pain, or both. It follows war widow Janet Ames, whose husband was killed in World War II when he threw himself on a live grenade to save his five fellow soldiers. A few years after her husband's death, Janet goes in search of the five survivors to see if any of them deserved her husband’s sacrifice.
Along the way, Janet is injured in an automobile accident. Though her physical injuries were not severe, she goes into a case of hysterical paralysis which makes her unable to walk. (Here is an example of how emotional trauma and turmoil can greatly intensify physical symptoms.) Smithfield "Smitty" Cobb, one of the surviving soldiers and a psychiatrist, tries to help Janet with the emotional problems that keep her from walking while also dealing with his own survivor's guilt. He puts Janet under hypnosis during which she goes on a mental journey in which she talks to all of the men whose lives her husband saved. This enables her to become at peace with her husband’s death, and she then helps Smitty to overcome his own guilt of having been one of the men her husband gave his life to save.
Guys and Dolls (1950)
In the 1950 Broadway musical Guys and Dolls (made into a movie musical in 1955), Adelaide, one of the main characters, discovers that her chronic cold is a psychosomatic symptom due to her frustration that she and Nathan, her fiance of fourteen years, still have not gotten married. She sings about this discovery in “Adelaide's Lament.” Here are some of the lyrics:
- It says here:
- The average unmarried female
- Basically insecure
- Due to some long frustration may react
- With psychosomatic symptoms
- Difficult to endure
- Affecting the upper respiratory tract.
- In other words, just from waiting around for that plain little band of gold
- A person can develop a cold.
- It says here:
- The female remaining single
- Just in the legal sense
- Shows a neurotic tendency, see note: (looks at note
- Chronic organic symptoms
- Toxic or hypertense
- Involving the eye, the ear, the nose, and throat.
- In other words, just from worrying if the wedding is on or off
- A person can develop a cough.
- You can feed her all day with the vitamin A and the bromofizz
- But the medicine never gets anywhere near where the trouble is.
- If she's getting a kind of name for herself, and the name ain't his
- A person can develop a cough.
- From a lack of community property
- And a feeling she's getting to old
- A person can develop a bad, bad cold!
- (ADELAIDE sneezes)
Watch “Adelaide's Lament” (performed at the 1971 Tony Awards by Vivian Blaine, from the original Broadway cast):
House of Lies, Season 4, Episode 7 (2015)
In “The Next Olive Branch Goes Straight Up Your Ass” (Season 4 Episode 7 of the Showtime series House of Lies, aired March 1, 2015) Clyde discusses his allergies to cats with his father, who argues that his allergies are psychosomatic:
- Clyde: Yeah, well, you know that I'm allergic.
- Father: No, as a matter of fact, I didn't know that. Because you haven't let me see you over the past two years.
- Clyde: Well, I was also allergic two years ago, dad. How about that?
- Father: Look, she's a service cat, all right. She gives me a lot of comfort service...
- Clyde: (Sneezes) (Meowing) (Groans)
- Father: You know, that stuff is all in the mind. Have you read Sarno?
- Clyde: That's about back pain, dad.
- Father: Also...all in the mind.
Kitchen Princess (Manga Series)
Written by Miyuki Kobayashi and illustrated by Natsumi Andō, this Manga series follows Najika, a teenage girl who is studying to be a chef.
Throughout the series, there are various nods to TMS. In one chapter, Najika asks the boy she is falling in love with to get an ingredient for a cooking contest she entered. In doing so, he is run over by a truck and dies. Making matters worse, mean girls at Najika's school taunt her by saying he would still be alive if he had not run the errand for her. As a result of all this, Najika loses her sense of taste and smell.
Earlier in the Kitchen Princess series, Najika has tendonitis-like symptoms (wrist pain) that seem to be exaserbated by emotional factors, as she is both nervous about an upcoming cooking contest, and has just had a huge fight with her boyfriend. Her wrists start to bother her while she is practicing for the cooking contest, but at the contest, after other contestnants say mean things about her, Najika's wrists hurt so badly she is unable to stir the ingredients. After her boyfriend reassures her about the contest, essentially making up for their fight in the process, her pain is instantly gone.
Kitchen Princess also touches on the impact perfectionism can have on one's health. In another chapter, Akane, a classmate of Najika's, develops an eating disorder. Akane is an inspiring model and pushes herself to be thin, pretty, and perfect. Her mother also puts lots of pressure on her. Akane starts involuntarily throwing up everything she eats and gets very sick. Najika makes a recipe Akane’s grandmother, who passed on, used to make to coax her into eating. Akane remembers how her grandmother was loving and supportive, and told her how she did not have to push herself so hard. With this realization she gets better.
M*A*S*H, Season 5 Episode 20 (1977)
In “Hepatitis” (Season 5 Episode 20 of the television series M*A*S*H, aired February 8 1977), Hawkeye develops back pain, as a result of his anger at still being in medical service in Korea while other doctors were back in the U.S. making money for their work.
M*A*S*H, Season 8 Episode 21 (1980)
In “Goodbye, Cruel World” (Season 8 Episode 21 of the television series M*A*S*H, aired February 11 1980), Sidney Freedman helps Sgt. Michael Yee, an Asian-American soldier and war hero, deal with his deep guilt by giving him a trembling hand. This diverts Sgt. Yee's attention from his guilt and his suicidal attempts, providing him with a physical symptom to divert him from his powerful emotions.
M*A*S*H, Season 9 Episode 17 (1981)
In “Bless You, Hawkeye” (Season 9 Episode 17 of the television series M*A*S*H, aired March 16 1981), Hawkeye comes down with fits of inexplicable, uncontrolled sneezing. He thinks it's just an allergy, but after taking tests for every possible allergy and not getting any relief, Colonel Potter thinks it might be psychological so he has the MASH psychiatrist, Sidney Freedman, talk to him. Freedman goes right to what he know is TMS repressed emotions from childhood and asks Hawkeye what he recalls. Hawkeye says he had a very happy childhood, especially remembering fun times fishing in a pond with a favorite cousin he worshiped. But one day he fell out of a boat while fishing with his cousin and nearly drowned.
Thinking more about that day, Hawkeye realizes he has been repressing an emotion all these years of really hating the cousin he worshiped because he remembers that the cousin pushed him into the lake as a prank. By being able to recall that real repressed emotion of hating his beloved cousin for nearly causing him to drown, Hawkeye was able to stop sneezing.
Dr. Sarno and others say that our first six or seven years are implanted in our subconscious mind. The incident recounted in this episode occurred when Hawkeye was 7 years old.
Hawkeye's sneezing spell was triggered when Hawkeye checked a new soldier for battle wounds and smelled the young man's wet burlap knapsack. Sidney Freedman says in the episode that a smell of something today can trigger the boyhood emotion that can cause pain - or in Hawkeye's case, sneezing.
Mad Men, Season 1 (2007)
Spanning across the first few episodes in the first season of HBO's drama series Mad Men, mother and housewife Betty Draper's hands shake and become numb, seemingly out of the blue. In “Ladies' Room” (Season 1 Epsiode 2, aired July 26, 2007), these symptoms cause Betty to crash the car with her two children in it, leading her to see a psychiatrist.
Meet the Fockers (2004)
In this comedic sequel to the 2000 film Meet the Parents, Rozalin Focker (Barbara Streisand) says to Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), “Ah, lovely. You know, most back pain is psychological. We carry our emotional baggage right here in our muscles.”
Now, Voyager (1942)
In this 1942 romantic classic, Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis), an isolated spinster, suffers from severely low self-esteem and a complete lack of self-confidence, stemming mostly from her mother's constant verbal abuse and criticisms that Charlotte is too plain and no man will ever love her. With the help of her sister-in-law and a psychiatrist, Dr. Jaquith, Charlotte is able to leave the toxic environment her mother created. She transforms into a beautiful, confident, independent woman. Charlotte takes a long cruise and meets Jeremiah "Jerry" Duvaux Durrance (Paul Henreid). The two fall in love, but he is already married to a woman who will not give him a divorce. Charlotte stays in touch with him after the cruise and meets his daughter, Tina. Tina reminds Charlotte of herself, and takes Tina under her wing. Though romantically, Charlotte and Jerry do not end up together, Charlotte is able to see all the positives in her life, telling him, “Don’t ask for the moon when we have the stars.”
The Paradise, Season 1 (2012)
The first season of this seven-episode Masterpiece Theatre series (aired on PBS on Sundays, September 25 - November 13, 2012) about Britain's first department store and those who work there often showed the stress that dresssmaker Edmund Lovett, the heroine's uncle, was under as the department store, which his niece worked at as Edmund was unable to hire her himself, threatened to put him out of business. In one episode, a friend tells him, “There is a cure for everything that ails you: Cheer up!”
The Princess Bride (1987)
The following is a well-known quote from the 1987 film The Princess Bride, starring Cary Elwes and Robin Wright.
- Buttercup: You mock my pain.
- Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
Watch the scene starting with “You mock my pain” below:
The Razor's Edge
Based on the novel by W. SOmerset Maugham, this 1946 film starring Tyrone Power clearly represents how repressed emotions can have a detrimental effect, and how mental imaging, improving self-acceptance, and other techniques can relieve TMS pain.
Tyrone Power plays Larry Darrell, a young Marine pilot in World War I. Though Larry returns home safely, he is disillusioned and stressed about the moral values of post-war America and questioning society in general. He decides he needs to find a purpose in life, and leaves to explore life around the world. while he is abroad, the US suffers the 1929 stock market crash, affecting Larry's former lover as well as his best friend Gray Maturin (John Payne), both wealthy before the crash, and who had married each other and also had two children.
After several years, Larry returns and learns that Gary is ill, from anxiety and other stresses caused by losing all his money. He has migraine headaches, pain the back of his head, can’t sleep, has depression, low self-confidence, and is a nervous wreck. Larry visits him and finds him in bed. Larry then attempts to help Gary with some mind-body techniques he learned while in India and Nepal where he spent some time with an elderly Hindu guru mystic who brought peace to Larry’s troubled mind. The following is a transcript from that scene:
- Larry: (to Gary who is in bed with all his anxiety and pain) I’m going to try to help you. Mainly, to help you help yourself.
- Larry asks Gary to close his eyes and hold out the palm of his right hand. Gary does this. Larry puts an old coin from India in Gary’s hand.
- Larry: Close your hand tightly over the coin. Then squeeze your hand closed. I will count from one to ten. Before I reach the count of ten, the coin will drop out of your hand by itself.
- Gary does this and the coin drops out of his hand before Larry counts to ten. Gary is puzzled about it.
- Larry: I thought it would give you confidence.
- Next, Larry takes out a pocket watch and tells Gary who is sitting up in bed:
- Larry: Your eyes will grow heavy and after a short while you will be obliged to close them.
- Gary does this and his eyes close.
- Larry: In one minute, you will wake up and have no more pain.
- After a minute, Gary wakes up and says his pain is almost entirely gone. He asks how Larry did that.
- Larry: I merely put an idea into your head. I didn’t do anything. You did it yourself.
- Gary: (his headache and neck pain and all stress is almost all gone) It was a miracle!
- Larry: It wasn’t a miracle. You can cure yourself, in time.
- Larry lets Gary keep the coin, to help him gain self-confidence if pain returns.
Larry performed a form of hypnosis on Gary but mainly it was giving him confidence that he could find in his mind relief from stresses that cause physical pain.
Remains of the Day (1993)
In this 1993 British film, Anthony Hopkins plays an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist butler “downstairs” in a country mansion between World War I and II who is so devoted to managing the “upstairs” master’s estate that it consumes his life and shuts out any feelings for love. He represses his emotions for the woman (Emma Thompson) he works with who loves him, so he loses her to another man but doesn’t seem to care because his work has become his life.
Sanford and Son (1972 - 1977)
What helped make Redd Foxx's character a household mainstay in the homes of yesteryear? It was his fake heart attack rhetoric and movements that he displayed when he was under stress or wasn't getting his own way. When watching "Sanford and Son", one would anticipate ol' Fred Sanford yet again pulling off this comedic romp that never got tiring to watch, unless you were Lamont.
Here's a video of the legendary fake heart attack:
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Saving Mr. Banks is a Walt Disney movie about how the novel Mary Poppins became the movie of the same name. Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers, the author of the book, who strongly resists the efforts of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) to make it into a movie musical.
We gradually learn through flashbacks that Travers is a strong candidate for TMS. Travers suffered lifelong anger and repressed emotions regarding parental stresses, feelings of low self-esteem, and financial security. Disney talks to her about it and suggests that she can find happiness if she forgives her parents, as well as herself.
Seinfeld, Season 5 Episode 9 (1993)
“The Masseuse” (Season 5 Epsiode 9 of the sitcom Seinfeld, aired November 18 1993) has themes about rejection and goodism. George is upset because Jerry's girlfriend doesn't like him. The following interaction ensues:
- Jerry: Look, it’s not like you’re going to be spending a lot of time with her.” But that doesn’t do it for George, so Seinfeld tells him: “Not everybody likes everybody!
- Karen:What difference does it make, anyway? Who cares if she doesn’t like you? Does everybody in the world have to like you?
- George: Yes! Yes! Everybody has to like me. I must be liked!
The Shopworn Angel (1938)
A scene from this 1938 classic shows a London showgirl (Margaret Sullavan) singing the old World War I marching song, “Pack Up Your Troubles.” The lyrics are a prime example of how to stop pain caused by TMS repressed emotions such as fear and anger or just being in a miserable situation that causes stress and anxiety. The popular marching song told soldiers going off to World War I to smile. They couldn’t laugh about it, but they could smile.
Here are the lyrics from the 1916 marching song, “Pack Up Your Troubles,” as sung by Margaret Sullavan in The Shopworn Angel:
- Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
- And smile, smile, smile,
- While you've a Lucifer to light your fag,
- Smile, boys, that's the style.
- What's the use of worrying?
- It never was worth while, so
- Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
- And smile, smile, smile.
The Simpsons, Season 12 Episode 10 (2001)
In “Pokey Mom” (Season 12 Epsiode 10 of FOX's animated comedy The Simpsons, aired January 14 2001), Homer Simpson suffers from a back injury. Although he goes to see a chiropractor, his pain only goes away after he accidentally falls on a garbage can. He then opens a business for healing back injuries using this garbage can, which turns out to be fairly successful.
Watch a clip from “Pokey Mom” of Homer's visit to the chiropractor:
Still Standing, Season 1 Episode 1 (2002)
About 12 minutes 30 seconds into the pilot episode of of the sitcom Still Standing (aired September 30 2002), Bill, who had pain in his neck leading up to this point in the episode, expresses a few things he finds annoying about his wife Judy. Afterward, he noticed that his neck pain had disappeared, exclaiming that it “felt great!”
Watch the full episode below:
Stressed Eric (1998-2000)
The British-New Zealand cartoon series Stressed Eric follows Eric Feeble, a highly anxious 40 year old American divorcé living in London. Eric is constantly under stress (visually shown by a throbbing vein in his temple) at home as well as at work.
Each episode of Stressed Eric shows the various stressors in Eric's life, whether it be from his two children, six-year-old Claire and ten-year-old Brian, his ex-wife Liz who calls him constantly, his rich and successful next-door neighbors, his rude and demanding boss Paul Power ("PP"), or his useless secretary Alison.
Movies addressing additional topics
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
- As Good as it Gets
- The Aviator
- Baby Boom
- Breaking the Waves
- Educating Rita
- The End of Innocence
- The Odd Couple
- Pelican Brief
- The Sheltering Sky
- Three Colors Blue
Limb and spinal problems:
- 23 Paces to Baker Street
- Born on the Fourth of July
- Whose Life Is it Anyway?
- Ever After: A Christmas Story
- Mean Girls
- My Bodyguard
Self-esteem, questioning negative beliefs about our self and rediscovering our strengths:
- Billy Elliot
- Children of a Lesser God
- Dead Poets Society
- Erin Brockovich
- Field of Dreams
- The Full Monty
- Forrest Gump
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- Mr. Holland’s Opus
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- My Left Foot
- The Other Sister
- Places in the Heart
- The Shawshank Redemption
- Secrets and Lies
- The Turning Point
Childhood abuse (emotional and physical):
- Antwone Fisher
- Bastard Out of Carolina
- Dolores Claiborne
- Jane Eyre
- Mommy Dearest
- The Prince of Tides
- Radio Flyer
- Sling Blade
- Stand By Me
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