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I find myself obsessed with my symptoms sometimes. How do I break that obsession?

Answer by Howard Schubiner, MD

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Howard Schubiner, MD

Dr. Schubiner's Profile Page / Survey Response / Bio / Psychophysiologic Disorders Association (PPDA) Board Member / Website

Your question is something everyone with TMS faces. It is what makes your pain so powerful a distraction. Underneath those obsessions is some pretty intense fear. Outwardly, it can be fear that you might "re-injure" yourself if you "do too much." It can also be fear that "maybe I really do have something physically wrong." If you have been checked out by an M.D. and nothing serious was found (such as cancer), you can use Dr. Sarno's method to treat the symptoms and ignore those obsessive thoughts. One way to do this is to consciously replace that negative thought with a positive one.

If you are saying to yourself, "this symptom will never go away, I'm never going to get better." You need to change that using the daily affirmations that Dr. Sarno lists in his book (Healing Back Pain) and on the Wiki. There are many good tools listed on the TMS Wiki under "so you think you have TMS." It might sound foolish but talking to your brain really does work. Getting angry at those negative thoughts will put them in their place. However, to extinguish them completely it is necessary to replace them with positive ones. Another tool is to find something you feel passionate about and engulf yourself in this. Your brain cannot dwell on the symptom if it is busy trying to learn something new or figure out a problem. If this doesn't help then seeing a psychotherapist who believes in TMS can help you uncover the covert fears that are really the problem.

What is going on in your life that you are really afraid of? What is trying to emerge from your subconscious that is so terrifying that your brain has produced the symptoms and the fear to distract you from going there? Think about any conflict you might be facing at this time or anger or resentment you might be repressing. Getting past the fear is usually the biggest hurdle you will face and those obsessive thoughts are keeping you afraid. You can get better and you will get better. You have already taken the first step.


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