Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection Info

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Dr. John E. Sarno's groundbreaking research on TMS (Tension
Myoneural Syndrome) reveals how stress and other psychological factors
can cause back pain-and how you can be pain free without drugs,
exercise, or surgery.

Dr. Sarno's program has helped
thousands of patients find relief from chronic back conditions. In this
New York Times bestseller, Dr. Sarno teaches you how to identify stress
and other psychological factors that cause back pain and demonstrates
how to heal yourself--without drugs, surgery or exercise. Find
out:
  • Why self-motivated and successful people are prone to
    Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMS)
  • How anxiety and repressed anger
    trigger muscle spasms
  • How people condition themselves to accept
    back pain as inevitable
With case histories and the
results of in-depth mind-body research, Dr. Sarno reveals how you can
recognize the emotional roots of your TMS and sever the connections
between mental and physical pain...and start recovering from back pain
today.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection:

5

Jan 04, 2013

CHANGED MY LIFE! I have written this on so many sites now since reading this. In short, I am a long time sufferer of low back pain. Pain runs down the leg and all over the core area. Had surgery at age 19 in 2002. All my love of sports and competing was ruined. Angry most of the time and when I'm not, I am in pain and wishing something would change my life. I have done surgery, PT, Tensunit, Injections, Massages, Trainers, Creams, More pills than any person in life should ever take... I have CHANGED MY LIFE! I have written this on so many sites now since reading this. In short, I am a long time sufferer of low back pain. Pain runs down the leg and all over the core area. Had surgery at age 19 in 2002. All my love of sports and competing was ruined. Angry most of the time and when I'm not, I am in pain and wishing something would change my life. I have done surgery, PT, Tensunit, Injections, Massages, Trainers, Creams, More pills than any person in life should ever take... I have done it all.

I was feeling better for about 6 months when I had major setback once again. I turned to this book after I decided the pain of riding to the doctor in my truck was not worth the meds I would get when I got there. Funny part was I bought this book 2 years ago and forgot. When I heard about it on Howard Stern's radio show, I bought it again and when I received it, I went to toss it on the same book shelf when I realized, I already owned it... It sat there for 3 weeks until this day and I decided I had nothing else to turn too.

I got to page 90 when I knew this was special. I Called my dad immediately and told him about this. I finished the 225 page book in 24 hours and I bought the next two within 2 days.

My pain was gone already. I could care less if this is weird to some people. All I know is TMS is for real in my eyes and Dr. Sarno is a genius.

I emailed him and found out he retired last year at 90 years old. The next day I received a call from Dr. Sarno. I was star shock like never before. What an amazing man.

Some day the world will be talking about how Dr. Sarno was WAY ahead of his time. And the fact that he took the time to call me and answer all my questions just because I wrote him an email shows how caring he is. All he asked from me was to pass this word on and I am doing it as much as I can.

Thank you Dr. Sarno. ...more
5

Apr 20, 2013

I'm guessing people will have mixed feelings about this, but I felt this book helped me.

It does drag on (as many people have noted).

It does show it's age in some of its comments (Page 68 is TMS worldwide, and basically assuming the entire African continent does not experience this issue or stress comes to mind - yeah, 1980s early 90s clueless much? A better statement might have been about work environment culture rather than just lumping continents and ethnic groups).

This book isn't just about I'm guessing people will have mixed feelings about this, but I felt this book helped me.

It does drag on (as many people have noted).

It does show it's age in some of its comments (Page 68 is TMS worldwide, and basically assuming the entire African continent does not experience this issue or stress comes to mind - yeah, 1980s early 90s clueless much? A better statement might have been about work environment culture rather than just lumping continents and ethnic groups).

This book isn't just about back pain, even though that's the main focus. It discussed other physical symptoms and ailments that can be alleviated when a person looks at the emotional and other stress factors hidden in their lives; and how we're not always even aware we're hiding such things from ourselves. When I looked at the full list of issues I thought to myself - I've experienced half of these in my life; and often, when one gets better, another picks up. Hrm...

Having put the mental blinders on to barrel through high school and college as my father fought cancer (which is just one thing I was keeping at bay that I've continued to have to heal from), I can see quite well now how people suppress things just to get by day to day. But at some point, you're burning yourself up - whether emotional exhaustion or things finding a physical outlet instead.

Many people will lash out and say "but I have a real medical problem!" Which can absolutely be true. The problem arises when you acknowledge one and deny the other - neither can be ignored or denied. If you have an issue, see a medical doctor - it may not be all in your mind. But don't rule out what's going on in your mind. They both must be attended to. ...more
2

Jan 06, 2017

The premise of this book is all right there in the title. There is a mind-body connection and recognizing it you can heal your back pain. At it's core I believe this premise. Unfortunately I did not like this book for a variety of reasons. As has been stated in other reviews, it is repetitive and doesn't actually explain the process of healing. The author is dismissive of others and arrogant. The research cited is old. I read the 2016 reprint of the 1991 version of this book. I think the only The premise of this book is all right there in the title. There is a mind-body connection and recognizing it you can heal your back pain. At it's core I believe this premise. Unfortunately I did not like this book for a variety of reasons. As has been stated in other reviews, it is repetitive and doesn't actually explain the process of healing. The author is dismissive of others and arrogant. The research cited is old. I read the 2016 reprint of the 1991 version of this book. I think the only thing newer than 1991 in this version is the preface, the chapters themselves seem unchanged.

I am going to break down my impression of the book for you chapter by chapter.

1. The Manifestation of TMS
Sarno uses the term Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) to describe the compilation of painful symptoms that he believes are a result of emotional situations. This chapter describes those symptoms, which can be anything, and their onset, which can be acute or slow-onset. He also proposes that these symptoms are related to specific emotional situations and can occur during or after these situations. He explains that TMS is characterized by recurrent acute attacks, by limited activity due to fear, and by fear of never getting better.

2. The Psychology of TMS
Sarno believes that stressors cause tension which is really "repressed, unacceptable emotions" (p35) which then cause physical symptoms. Despite not being a psychologist, he throws around a lot of diagnostic terminology and Freud. But the take-home from this chapter is that your back pain is probably due to repressed anger, because the mind would rather deal with physical symptoms than unpleasant emotions.

3. The Physiology of TMS
This chapter explains Sarno's hypothesis that TMS is due to poor oxygenation due to an autonomic nervous system response to a psychological need. This chapter is the first place he dismisses the role of inflammation in back pain. (Even though he used the suffix -"itis" which literally means inflammation when naming this syndrome.) But don't worry too much about this chapter, "focusing on the physiology and symptomatology of TMS is actually counterproductive, tending to perpetuate rather than alleviate the problem." (p82)

4. The Treatment of TMS
Finally, yes, what we are all waiting for. This is why we started reading this book in the first place. He explains that this pain exists to distract the brain from the repressed unpleasant emotions. The treatment is two-fold. First understand what is going on, acquire information, "the information provided is the "penicillin" for the disorder" (p84). Second, act on this information to change the brain's behavior. These actions include a. Thinking psychological. When your back hurts think about an emotion that you are repressing. b. Talk to your brain. Tell it to quit repressing that emotion. c. Resume physical activity. In the next chapter he explains that most of the abnormalities that might be seen on imaging, possibly aren't causing any symptoms. But a more striking argument I think is that a lot of people without symptoms might have the same physical abnormalities. (Of course, be cautious here. I believe there are plenty of physical reasons that folks should limit physical activity.) d. Discontinue all physical treatment. This must be done to fully convince your brain that the pain is emotional and not physical. Oh, and on page 101 he mentions about 5% of people might need psychotherapy to deal with all these repressed emotions.

Up until now, I was on board with the book. I have had back pain for a year and a half. I have done six months of physical therapy and three months of chiropractic posture adjustments. I have had lab work and imaging. I have changed my exercise routine and tried massage and acupuncture. The last two years have been the most stressful of my life and I am sure that I am repressing some emotions about that. Sure, I can even trace back some specific situations around the time the back pain began and intensified. I began to lose faith though after reading about the treatment. I wish there were more details. Does he really mean, ignore the pain and acknowledge the emotions. That's it!?

But the dismissive arrogance of the next two chapters is what really turned the tide for me.

5. The Traditional (Conventional) Diagnosis
This chapter was very frustrating to read. He went through common back pain diagnoses and dismissed them one at a time. "Most disc herniations are harmless" (p 120). Of pinched nerves, "to attribute symptoms to a physical abnormality is a sad diagnostic error" (p128). Of arthritis, "I have not found that this is pathological" (p129). Of spondylolysis, "rarely responsible for back pain in my experience" (p129). And on and on. Every (conventional) diagnosis is dismissed as not causing symptoms in his experience. He again dismisses inflammation as important in back pain. He cites only the definition of acute inflammation "an autonomic reaction to disease or injury" (p140) and denies that TMS is either of those things, completely disregarding all the possible causes of chronic inflammation that could relate to back pain.

6. The Traditional (Conventional) Treatment
This was another frustrating chapter to read. First he says "therapeutic eclectism is a sign of diagnostic incompetence" (p142) meaning that because there are many different treatment options for back pain (surgery, medication, manipulation, acupuncture, massage, etc), and because one size doesn't fit all, obviously these treatments must all be wrong. He doesn't acknowledge that different treatments work for different people for a multitude of reasons: different anatomy, different physiology, different medical and injury histories, different approaches to health care, different expectations, etc. He describes the placebo response as one that only works for a short time. And then he lists many different (conventional) treatment options and says they only work because of the placebo effect. "When someone reports feeling better... (of resting an injured part), I think placebo" (p145). "Surgery may sometimes produce a desirable result because of the placebo effect" (p148). Muscle strengthening: "placebo effect" (p149). Manipulation: "On occasion, dramatic relief of pain follows a manipulation, suggesting that the person is having a good placebo response" (p147). He completely misrepresents acupuncture, describing it as similar to a nerve block (p145) which might treat pain but not the cause. He also misrepresents meditation, relaxation and biofeedback, saying there is "considerable fuzziness about this subject", despite the entire premise of his syndrome is the presence of stressors. For the third time he dismisses inflammation as playing a role in chronic back pain.

7. Mind and Body
Well, this book continues to be frustrating to read. Two of the chapter subheadings use the word "current" despite, as I previously mentioned, that the information is 25 years old. But the laugh out loud moment is found here. After dismissing every (conventional) treatment as a placebo effect, on page 170 he has the audacity to say "The best evidence of the validity of this concept is the fact that patients are able to stop the process simply by learning about it.... Many people have reported resolution of their back pain syndromes after reading my first book, making it quite clear that they were "cured" by the acquired information. This could not be a placebo." First of all "best evidence" but not evidence-based, since all of the data in this books seems to come from follow-up surveys with his own patients. Secondly, I don't even know how to describe how ridiculous it is to believe that being cured of a syndrome through acquisition of information couldn't possibly be a placebo!?

In the next edition, I would like to see the research significantly updated. We've come a long way since 1984 (first ed) and 1991 (second ed) in our understanding of the mind-body connection and this outdated book should not be taking any credit for those advances. I would like the racism on page 68 removed. (He cites a doctor who said in 1988 that Africans don't get back pain because they don't "seem to generate anxiety as we do. Entirely logical.") I would also like the inherently misogynistic discussion of hysterical symptoms that starts on page 170 to be removed. In fact, I think the whole premise of the book that the pain is all in our head, is a dangerous concept that has historically been used to disadvantage people.


In conclusion: Since starting this book, the back pain that has been bothering me for the past year has much improved. ...more
5

Jun 09, 2013

No book has changed my life more. I'm amazed and so thankful I was told to read this book. Anyone who has suffered from ANY difficult to diagnosis condition should read this. After 3 years of struggle with numerous doctors and procedures and tests and who knows how much in medical bills, I literally have had zero back pain since reading this book and adopting Dr. Sarnos beliefs. I know I sound like I drank the Koolaid, but its true!! It's weird, and crazy, I know. But its also so awesome and No book has changed my life more. I'm amazed and so thankful I was told to read this book. Anyone who has suffered from ANY difficult to diagnosis condition should read this. After 3 years of struggle with numerous doctors and procedures and tests and who knows how much in medical bills, I literally have had zero back pain since reading this book and adopting Dr. Sarnos beliefs. I know I sound like I drank the Koolaid, but its true!! It's weird, and crazy, I know. But its also so awesome and there's no denying the effect it's had. I feel like the first time in years, I'm getting my life back - no pun intended ;) ...more
2

May 06, 2012

First I will say that if this book worked for you then, more power to you! I am a big believer in his premise that tension can result in physical pain manifesting itself in various forms. With that said, the other 180 pages of this book consisted of Dr. Sarno complaining that most people don't believe him and the medical profession discounts his discoveries. His proof consists of stories from his patients and how he cured them and leaves out anything based on facts. Instead, he uses phrases like First I will say that if this book worked for you then, more power to you! I am a big believer in his premise that tension can result in physical pain manifesting itself in various forms. With that said, the other 180 pages of this book consisted of Dr. Sarno complaining that most people don't believe him and the medical profession discounts his discoveries. His proof consists of stories from his patients and how he cured them and leaves out anything based on facts. Instead, he uses phrases like "it is my belief" and "I think that".

So, great premise but poorly written gets you 2 stars. ...more
3

Sep 10, 2009

The idea that deeply repressed anger can cause physical tension, resulting in not only back pain but digestive and sinus problems and headaches....yes, I can get behind that.
However, I agree with the other reviewers here who have said the book is too vague and repetitive. OK...Doc, so yes, I am tense, stressed out, and anxious and my back hurts like H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, but what specifically am I supposed to do about it?
That said, it is nice to see a medical professional actually doing
The idea that deeply repressed anger can cause physical tension, resulting in not only back pain but digestive and sinus problems and headaches....yes, I can get behind that.
However, I agree with the other reviewers here who have said the book is too vague and repetitive. OK...Doc, so yes, I am tense, stressed out, and anxious and my back hurts like H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, but what specifically am I supposed to do about it?
That said, it is nice to see a medical professional actually doing
research into the mind-body connection. This is an area that needs to be explored and de-stigmatized.

However again...my back still freakin' hurts! I guess I'll just have to reach for the ibuprofen again and keep doing my stretches.

...more
5

Jan 21, 2014

This book pulled me back from the brink of life-threatening problems. And I'll be the first to admit that the book sounds boring. "Healing Back Pain." Yawn!! I don't remember where I got the book. All I know is I'm glad I did.



The book is nothing as it seems. The second half of the title ("Mind-Body Connection") is really what the book is all about. "Bad backs" are just perhaps the most prevalent form of "recurring and chronic" physical pain, and so Sarno (or perhaps somebody at the publisher)

This book pulled me back from the brink of life-threatening problems. And I'll be the first to admit that the book sounds boring. "Healing Back Pain." Yawn!! I don't remember where I got the book. All I know is I'm glad I did.



The book is nothing as it seems. The second half of the title ("Mind-Body Connection") is really what the book is all about. "Bad backs" are just perhaps the most prevalent form of "recurring and chronic" physical pain, and so Sarno (or perhaps somebody at the publisher) went with the title.



We've all had physical symptoms that we've attributed (correctly) to our minds. Someone cuts us off in traffic and we get a headache. The boss gives us a tongue lashing in front of our co-workers and we get heart palpitations. And on and on it goes. That the mind can cause physical symptoms is disputed by no one.



But where is the line drawn that says the body can cause certain physical symptoms and not others? Sarno would say it's not very clearly drawn, if at all.



'Oh, that's quackery! Certain pains and symptoms are physical!' we cry. Well, yeah, I would say even Sarno would agree with that. If you're in a car wreck, you're going to have pain. But what Sarno argues is that a very great amount of the pain we experience is caused by our emotions and not our bodies. And more specifically that that pain is caused by subconscious repressed emotion. Sarno's theory postulates that the repressed emotion we often have built up through the years is so threatening to our minds, that instead of experiencing the emotion consciously (which our minds consider too dangerous to do), we develop physical symptoms, most often physical pain.



So it's the same principle as getting the headache or heart palpitations but on a macro level. So what sort of things does Sarno say can be caused by this repressed emotion? You'd be very surprised.



Of course back pain is there, as are endless varieties of muscle spasms and aches. But there are things like gastrointestinal diseases (eg. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, recurrent urinary tract infections), myriad skin issues (eg. hives, eczema) and all the way to heart disease and cancer. And again, Sarno wouldn't say such physical problems are never organically caused, but that very often, perhaps most often, they are not.



The good news is that Sarno lays out very clearly the ways to recognize when the process of repressed emotion is causing physical symptoms. He gives great examples of how people subtly and progressively become overwhelmed by the repressed emotion within them and how that leads to physical pain and illness.



But while the repressed emotion is subconscious, it is not unconscious. There is a solution. The first step of which is recognizing (no matter how clearly it seems that the pain is physically caused!) that the pain or disease is caused by the repressed emotion. When experiencing back pain (or whatever) Sarno would say to himself, "What am I avoiding feeling?"



And this sort of thinking opens the tiny crack in the door of our subconscious just a little bit wider--and often the pain (or physical illness) dissipates. Sometimes unbelievably quickly, sometimes over a longer period of time. But the fact is if your pain is not organic, Sarno's method works! I can attest to it personally. A couple of years ago I was so overwhelmed with physical problems I thought I was on my way out. Then I discovered this book. Yes, this book saved me. And if you pick up a copy of this book and you're helped like I was, you'll also want to pick up Sarno's The Mindbody Prescription.

...more
5

Jun 21, 2018

All the stars!! If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. If a book can make your pain go away, that is all that matters. I’m surprised that anyone is even mentioning anything about writing style, etc. People complain that he is repetive and that he sounds like he’s trying to convince you of something. First of all, if your pain goes away from this book, are you really concerned about the writing? Second, the reason he is repetitive is because in order to make the pain go away, you All the stars!! If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. If a book can make your pain go away, that is all that matters. I’m surprised that anyone is even mentioning anything about writing style, etc. People complain that he is repetive and that he sounds like he’s trying to convince you of something. First of all, if your pain goes away from this book, are you really concerned about the writing? Second, the reason he is repetitive is because in order to make the pain go away, you need to reach the deep part of your brain that is trying to distract you with this pain, so you may need to hear the message several times.

I’ll now tell you my story since I believe that reading other people’s success stories is one of the things that help make the pain go away.

I have had head pain for a couple of years. I already knew about John Sarno and actually read one of his other books so I was already strongly suspicious that this pain was psychosomatic. I just didn’t know what to do about it. In the past couple of months I started to DO more things to make the pain go away, such as getting massages, doing asanas, going to a reiki healer and using hot compresses. Unsurprisingly (now that I read the book) all of these things would temporarily make the pain better but ultimately led to more intense pain. My brain was trying to get me to be hyper focused on my pain and every time I did something that involved attention to the pain it knew it was working so it gave me more pain. It put me in a loop that I couldn’t break. It is very similar to OCD in this way. Reading the book helped me to break the loop. Just really understanding what was happening made this brain trick less powerful. I also knew that I must have some repressed emotions (who doesn’t?) but I wasn’t sure what they were or how to access them. I then came across a YouTube video of a John Sarno meditation. When I did this particular meditation, deep emotions came up (and pouring out) and the pain disappeared. I’ve continued doing the meditation and leaning into emotions that come up in my daily life. I am much more aware now of how often I was sweeping my emotions under the rug. I thought I was being strong until this time but I was really just repressing. I would say that may pain is about 70% improved at this time and it has only been a few weeks. It is much less intense and also less frequent. I am confident that it will completely go away but I was eager to write about my results so far.

Also, I want to mention that I avoided this particular book for a long time because the title was about “back pain” and I don’t have back pain. The title is a misnomer. If you have any chronic pain or any condition that the doctors can’t really help with, please read this book! You have very little to lose and everything to gain!

Here is the link to the YouTube meditation in case you want to try it after reading the book:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HCe6PAp...
...more
5

Nov 08, 2013

it really is like a miracle.

I've been dealing with lower back pain for many years now and after a car accident in 2009 it got severe enough to put me on medical leave of absence for about 2 years. I quit my real estate investing career partly bcos of this injury.

last week I came across an article in psychology today.

it basically says for some people with chronic pain the problem is no longer physical. but rather the brain getting stuck
re
creating the memory of physical pain.. maybe to distract it really is like a miracle.

I've been dealing with lower back pain for many years now and after a car accident in 2009 it got severe enough to put me on medical leave of absence for about 2 years. I quit my real estate investing career partly bcos of this injury.

last week I came across an article in psychology today.

it basically says for some people with chronic pain the problem is no longer physical. but rather the brain getting stuck
re
creating the memory of physical pain.. maybe to distract you from emotional pain.

I looked up on Amazon, the book referenced in the article and was amazed at the reviews. people with 5, 10 or more years of chronic pain claiming their pain disappeared just by reading the book or at worse having a conversation with dr. John sarno, the author.

I'm happy to report that the last 4 days have been unbelievable for me. I have just started the book but my pain level and duration is about 90% less.

I notice it starting and I remind myself of the theory and then create the courage to test the theory instead of seeking the nearest bed or couch or firing up my yoga videos.

I'm carrying my giant 7 month old baby more, am more pleasant to be around, and with new found freedom probably travel more... but first let me go finish the book.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

After daring to allow my son to drive me in a bumper car ride at an amusement park and feeling no pain I must declare that I've healed my back pain 100%.

The fear of a sudden attack of back pain, more than the pain itself, severely limited my life... afraid to do a lot of things that might trigger it and limiting most activities to about 6 hours/day... it practically disables you.. and to not have that fear nor the pain is life transforming.

I must thank Dr. John E Sarno for sticking by his findings of Tension myositis syndrome and standing by and publishing his research and against conventional wisdom and the disapproval of his medical peers to help so many people conquer decades of chronic debilitating back pain. ...more
4

Feb 09, 2012

Interesting book recommended by my chiropractor. At first I thought it was kind of hokey, but the more I read the more I started to buy into the concept that most back pain is caused by suppressed anger and fear. The back pain is the mind's way of giving you something to deal with besides confronting the emotions. I've been having back pain for years and paid my chiropractor way more money that I would like. But since reading the book and using the techniques, when I have had flare ups they are Interesting book recommended by my chiropractor. At first I thought it was kind of hokey, but the more I read the more I started to buy into the concept that most back pain is caused by suppressed anger and fear. The back pain is the mind's way of giving you something to deal with besides confronting the emotions. I've been having back pain for years and paid my chiropractor way more money that I would like. But since reading the book and using the techniques, when I have had flare ups they are quickly resolved through examining my emotions and dealing with them. I'd recommend it to for anyone with consistent back pain. ...more
5

Jun 27, 2011

This book gave me the tools to save myself from the chronic pain that was destroying my quality of life. I'd recommend it to everyone who has chronic pain of any form. Deal with this component of the pain to find what damage or issues is left, so it can then be dealt with appropriately is what I've told my loved ones. Might be surprised just how much is related to this issue! I was willing to do ANYTHING to quit hurting... come to find out what I needed to do was read even if it wasn't with an This book gave me the tools to save myself from the chronic pain that was destroying my quality of life. I'd recommend it to everyone who has chronic pain of any form. Deal with this component of the pain to find what damage or issues is left, so it can then be dealt with appropriately is what I've told my loved ones. Might be surprised just how much is related to this issue! I was willing to do ANYTHING to quit hurting... come to find out what I needed to do was read even if it wasn't with an open mind to start! ...more
1

Oct 29, 2013

This book seems to be fleshed out with repetition and case studies. It reads like a sales pitch. I agree that pain and emotion are linked and therefore this book has some benefit, as long as you don't read it as a definitive cure. Mechanical problems are real pain that can cause emotions that can heighten the pain (catch 22). But perhaps being aware of how our emotional state impacts the areas that are already weak, is something worth considering. However this book DOES NOT HEAL BACK PAIN!
4

Feb 04, 2015

An eye opener, analyzing back pain and many other illnesses in a completely different and sensible perspective!
5

May 18, 2012

I'm going to tell you a secret. It's one of those unbelievable stories that people sometimes tell you and you walk away having barely paid attention until you're sitting alone in near tears because of some pain and it makes no sense. That's when I want you to remember me.

This was my miracle. I had been a long time sufferer of back pain and repeatedly diagnosed with Scoliosis. When I say long time suffer, I am saying from the time I was 20 until I was over 30 I had daily non stop back pain. Most I'm going to tell you a secret. It's one of those unbelievable stories that people sometimes tell you and you walk away having barely paid attention until you're sitting alone in near tears because of some pain and it makes no sense. That's when I want you to remember me.

This was my miracle. I had been a long time sufferer of back pain and repeatedly diagnosed with Scoliosis. When I say long time suffer, I am saying from the time I was 20 until I was over 30 I had daily non stop back pain. Most of the time it was just there, like walking around with a knife stuck in me in a few spots. If I didn't move too fast than it wouldn't be so bad, but if I bent to pick up a piece of paper the wrong way, I would not be able to stand up straight for days on end. A rare golf outing may or may not end me for a week. It was a crap shoot.
I was told surgery was likely the only answer that would help alleviate the pain however it would never fully go away. I had heard about this book like many other through Howard Stern. In 2004 I finally bought it and like many others, it just sat on my shelf.

Then that day came when I just wanted to sit and cry. The pain was bad but the frustration I felt was far worse. I could not do the things I wanted to do. I could not succeed in work or play because of constant pain. So I opened the book.

Here is the miracle part. The part no one believes. I was half way through the book when the constant pain I felt for most of my adult life just disappeared. That's it. It was just gone. I got up out of bed for the first time in days and could stand up straight. No soreness, no stiffness. It was just gone.

I have been many many years without constant pain. I am human so there are times when I have what I would call a "normal" back ache. After moving, or 36 holes of golf, or painting my kids room. Nothing like I used to have. When pain does come up, I just re-read this book and I am free again. I continue to get diagnosed with Scoliosis and the doctors often ask if I feel any pain. Some of them I tell about the book. None of them ever believe me.

I have bought more than 30 copies of this book. Any person I know personally that tells me of their back pain, I will buy it for them. I tell them my miracle story and as you can imagine, most do not believe it. For some it has worked, for most it does not. I do not know why.

My advice is, open your mind before you read. Give it a chance. I have no idea why it worked other than Dr. Sarno's explanation.

Good Luck. ...more
5

Mar 11, 2015

I have to admit I was skeptical when I read the premise of this book. In essence, Sarno advises that the vast majority of back pain is psychosomatic. We choose to experience back pain rather than addressing the deeper psychological issues that plague us. These psychological issues can range from the important (e.g. physical abuse as a child) to the trivial (e.g. some jerk cut you off in traffic today). We would rather experience the physical back pain than deal with these often complicated I have to admit I was skeptical when I read the premise of this book. In essence, Sarno advises that the vast majority of back pain is psychosomatic. We choose to experience back pain rather than addressing the deeper psychological issues that plague us. These psychological issues can range from the important (e.g. physical abuse as a child) to the trivial (e.g. some jerk cut you off in traffic today). We would rather experience the physical back pain than deal with these often complicated issues. In addition, polite society doesn't appreciate us sharing these psychological issues in a public venue. However, our friends and family are perfectly willing to swap stories about chronic back pain. So, we swallow the pain caused by the deeper issues. Walla, back pain!

Sarno had some great support for his idea on the topic of ulcers which he also views as primarily psychological. This resonated with me, because I've often wondered, "Where did all the ulcers go." Everyone who was anyone in the professional world had one in the 1970s, then they disappeared overnight. Sarno believes this is because having an ulcer became synonymous with being worrywart which is again unacceptable in polite society.

His prescription is seemingly bizarre. You have to lay out all the things that have pissed you off in the past or are pissing you off now. If you can make an honest catalog of these issues and believe in your heart that they are the source of your back pain, your pain will magically go away. You don't even really have to address the underlying issue. You just need to acknowledge it.

I have to admit I felt like a schmuck recording every real or imagined ill that anyone had done to me, even though the exercise was done in private. It made me feel petty. I can also certainly understand why none of us are encouraged to share these issues with family or friends. It would irritate them!

Despite the fact that the exercise was uncomfortable, it worked. I rock climb, mountain bike, and ski. I do all of these aggressively for a 45 year old, and I have been free of back pain for almost 6 months now.

Despite Sarno's odd prescription, I would recommend reading the book if you have any chronic back pain. It worked for me!
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4

Nov 10, 2008

I got about 3/4 through this book and then moved and never picked it back up. However, the last 1/4 of the book are examples of diagnoses with Sarno's comments on its relevance to TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome). I gave the book 4 stars b/c I thought the last 1/4 was a bit redundant.

Sarno has many years of medical practice under his belt. And, thankfully, he has gone beyond textbooks and rote exercises and linked the conditions of the mind with back-pain. I do like how he has made this link. I I got about 3/4 through this book and then moved and never picked it back up. However, the last 1/4 of the book are examples of diagnoses with Sarno's comments on its relevance to TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome). I gave the book 4 stars b/c I thought the last 1/4 was a bit redundant.

Sarno has many years of medical practice under his belt. And, thankfully, he has gone beyond textbooks and rote exercises and linked the conditions of the mind with back-pain. I do like how he has made this link. I don't 100% support his suggestion that all patients push past their pain to not be crippled by TMS. I understand that he is suggesting not becoming victims to our mind conditions. However, if oxygen is not getting to muscles in the back -- how about a massage, or good, living food, and then some movement!?

I also found this book especially helpful considering that I am a yoga teacher. He identifies key areas to test for TMS in the body. Of course, I am not going to diagnose people; at least I know what to look for.

It's a good and easy read. And, for those of you with chronic back pain -- let Sarno set you free! ...more
5

Apr 18, 2015

I suffered a back injury in 1998 and continued to suffer pain from it until 2005 when I read this book by Dr. Sarno. That's all it took. In fact, I don't think I read more than half the book and my pain was gone. When I say pain I mean there were days when I couldn't get out of bed or drive a car. The book stopped all of that and it took years before I felt any kind of pain again. Why? Because Sarno says that back pain is really a subconscious defense mechanism against stress. Once you I suffered a back injury in 1998 and continued to suffer pain from it until 2005 when I read this book by Dr. Sarno. That's all it took. In fact, I don't think I read more than half the book and my pain was gone. When I say pain I mean there were days when I couldn't get out of bed or drive a car. The book stopped all of that and it took years before I felt any kind of pain again. Why? Because Sarno says that back pain is really a subconscious defense mechanism against stress. Once you consciously understand where the stress comes from the pain goes away.

Over the last ten years I would have some stiffness from time to time but no debilitating pain until last month when I was struck again. So much time had passed I couldn't remember why the book worked the first time and I couldn't locate my copy. After missing a day of work this week I purchased a digital copy and read it again. My back has felt better every day and I was strong enough today to lift weights at the YMCA.

Forget surgery or rehabilitation or medicine. Read this book. ...more
5

Jan 17, 2017

Changed my life. After 9 1/2 years of chronic pain, I no longer suffer. I feel like my old self again. I have my body back! It didn't happen overnight. Took at least half of the year to fully accept and internalize. But Now I'm just as strong as I was 10 years ago!
3

Sep 27, 2008

I don't suffer from back pain, thankfully, but the ideas here apply to several forms of cronic pain. Interesting theory that I might dismiss if I didn't know of so many people who felt it helped them.
5

Jan 28, 2013

I'm pretty sure this book will change my life and ultimately have a larger impact on me than anything I've ever read. When that happens, in 4-6 weeks, I'll go back and up the rating to a 5.
5

Jun 19, 2017

I am not going to say this book is particularly well-written or an easy read. It's written by a doctor in technical terms, and it's sometimes redundant. It presents some ideas that you need to have an open mind to contemplate, especially from an MD. It wasn't easy for me to take in, but I went slowly and let his ideas sink in before I did anything with it, then I read it again.

In 1993, I was in a stopped car, turning into my driveway off a highway when we were rear-ended by someone driving I am not going to say this book is particularly well-written or an easy read. It's written by a doctor in technical terms, and it's sometimes redundant. It presents some ideas that you need to have an open mind to contemplate, especially from an MD. It wasn't easy for me to take in, but I went slowly and let his ideas sink in before I did anything with it, then I read it again.

In 1993, I was in a stopped car, turning into my driveway off a highway when we were rear-ended by someone driving 78mph. Luckily I suffered only whiplash and hyper-extended my low back. I went to a chiropractor for years which temporarily alleviated some pain, but it never went away. I missed a lot of work because I couldn't get out of bed or walk many times over the next several years. I was prescribed a lot of pain killers that didn't have any significant effect on my pain. I couldn't ride my horses, I couldn't lift hay bales or dog food bags without paying for it for weeks afterward. In 2001, I was finally able to convince (with the written pleas of my chiropractor) a nurse practitioner of my doctor's to allow me to get an MRI, which showed that I had severe herniations (bulged discs) at L4/L5 and that 80% of my nerve function was being throttled by them, causing terrible sciatic pain and a chronic limp. My surgeon told me that it was the largest herniation she'd seen in 17 years of practicing sports medicine and had never seen someone so young with such a significant disc injury. She gave me a list of options we could try, but in her professional opinion she thought if I didn't correct the discs I would be in Depends by my 31st birthday. No thank you - I had laser laminectomy/discectomy surgery the following week.

I won't say the surgery didn't help. I did experience some relief. But after PT and checkups and some time had gone by, I started to experience the same out-of-the-blue twinges and debilitating sciatica that I had pre-surgery and was in a lot of pain again. Sometimes I could go for months without an issue, doing all the things I needed to - and sometimes picking a paperclip off the floor would put me in bed for 4 days. It made no sense. I couldn't trust my body. I felt pretty hopeless, like I was never going to function at my best again or without pain in my active lifestyle. I was depressed and anxious and so so careful about everything I did, physically.

In 2006 I found an editor's draft of this book on eBay and read it, because I was out of options. It was hard for me to take, that my mind created a place in my body to store my emotional pain and that was why I was still suffering. I didn't want to believe that, it flew in the face of what I knew. I had MRI scans to prove there was a major problem there, I had a famous doctor's opinion and her experience to back it up. But I was desperate and finished the book anyway. Then I followed his suggestions for 64 days. It wasn't easy. It was emotionally painful, I felt kind of stupid, but I could see the benefit in processing the emotions through his protocol regardless of the outcome, so I kept at it.

I have not had a single incidence of sciatica or low back pain or incapacitation in 11 years now. Have been to a chiropractor 3x in that span, only for my neck. I have been able to ride my horses, race cars, buck 200 bales of hay, exercise, run, do yoga, dance, ride my bike, lift my rototiller up onto the tailgate of the truck, sit in an airplane seat for 5 hours, work all day weeding the garden, *ENJOY SEX AGAIN* - with no issues outside of infrequent minor muscle pain, and I owe it to this man's body of work and research. For $7 and some time, a notebook and a pen, I cured myself of the pain that had been incapacitating and limiting me for 13 years. I have been recommending this book to everyone I know ever since. I can trust my body again to function like it's supposed to and I live my life without fear of hurting myself. It's completely opened up my life. It's fantastic to be out from under that fear and chronic pain. I can't recommend it enough. ...more
3

Sep 23, 2012

An interesting book. A friend of mine told me this book cured her long-standing back pain issue. Although I don't currently suffer from back pain, I was sufficiently intrigued to want to know more. Dr John E. Sarno identifies a condition he refers to as TMS, which stands for Tension Myositis Syndrome. In a nutshell, Sarno believes that TMS is a condition whereby some physical pain (in this case back pain) is actually caused by the subconscious mind repressing emotions. To overcome the pain, the An interesting book. A friend of mine told me this book cured her long-standing back pain issue. Although I don't currently suffer from back pain, I was sufficiently intrigued to want to know more. Dr John E. Sarno identifies a condition he refers to as TMS, which stands for Tension Myositis Syndrome. In a nutshell, Sarno believes that TMS is a condition whereby some physical pain (in this case back pain) is actually caused by the subconscious mind repressing emotions. To overcome the pain, the patient has to firstly understand the nature of TMS, and then confront their emotional issues. Page 82 of the book contains a useful summary of daily reminders that give a good idea of the key messages:

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

I am very open and receptive to this kind of holistic approach to illness - and there appear to be plenty of people who have been helped by Dr Sarno's approach - including two of my friends.
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5

Jul 24, 2013

I wanted to find a place to shout out loud about this book and thank god for goodreads now i can do that!

First and foremost Dr. John Sarno is a god and I owe him my life, I would happily die for him. That being said here's my story:

I was diagnosed with DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease) only when i was 19 years of age, and i shook me to my core. I was devastated. The pain, the agony of back ache is beyond what I can describe, living in constant pain and unable to perform daily activities, its I wanted to find a place to shout out loud about this book and thank god for goodreads now i can do that!

First and foremost Dr. John Sarno is a god and I owe him my life, I would happily die for him. That being said here's my story:

I was diagnosed with DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease) only when i was 19 years of age, and i shook me to my core. I was devastated. The pain, the agony of back ache is beyond what I can describe, living in constant pain and unable to perform daily activities, its hopeless and more so for me because I had my entire life in front of me and I couldn't imagine living it in such pain. I was sick of the pain medication and my passion of working out had to be abandoned. I was devastated.

Then I stumbled upon this book and it changed my entire perception of pain. Soon it all made sense, more so because I wanted something to believe in and slowly it started to go away. I don't know if its placebo or whatever, I was feeling better and that's all i ever wanted.

Now, its been more than 2.5 year since I have finished this book and I can proudly say that i am pain-free still. I go to the gym daily and I play all sports and i do everyday activities with all the ease in the world. My life has been turned upside down.

If you are in any kind of chronic pain, this book is godsend, read it and transform your life...

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3

Feb 02, 2008

i'm giving this book only 3 stars because the form was so poor and very repetitive. sarno spends most of his chapters defending his theory on TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) and trashing other back pain remedies.
however the content of the book is interesting and might possibly be the cause of the current breakthrough i'm experiencing with my shoulder this week.
his point is basically that most back pain is caused by tension due to repressed emotions. all one has to do to relieve symptoms is to i'm giving this book only 3 stars because the form was so poor and very repetitive. sarno spends most of his chapters defending his theory on TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) and trashing other back pain remedies.
however the content of the book is interesting and might possibly be the cause of the current breakthrough i'm experiencing with my shoulder this week.
his point is basically that most back pain is caused by tension due to repressed emotions. all one has to do to relieve symptoms is to understand the brain's defense mechanism and acknowledge what is going on. this is not a traditional exercise book since all one has to do is believe in the possibility of sarno's theory and then just apply it by talking to the brain and asking oneself what possible emotions might be causing a particular tension.
i actually witnessed my shoulder getting in more and more pain the other day as i was getting angrier and angrier with a specific situation at work. and it certainly was a somewhat frightening experience.
thousands of patients swear by him and say the book has "saved their lives". i sure hope i will be coming back here for a positive update soon. ...more
5

Feb 24, 2014

In this book, Sarno discusses his theory that TMS is a syndrome in which the disorder is benign, because there is nothing physical causes back pain. He goes into length theorizing that any physiological abnormality stems entirely from a person’s emotional process.

I found the book's premise of TMS definitely an interesting diagnosis, theory and concept. Sarno wrote this book hoping to reach younger, more open-minded medical students with his holistic, mind-body treatment of back pain, as well as In this book, Sarno discusses his theory that TMS is a syndrome in which the disorder is benign, because there is nothing physical causes back pain. He goes into length theorizing that any physiological abnormality stems entirely from a person’s emotional process.

I found the book's premise of TMS definitely an interesting diagnosis, theory and concept. Sarno wrote this book hoping to reach younger, more open-minded medical students with his holistic, mind-body treatment of back pain, as well as to encourage those who suffer from the pain, to consider an alternative approach. I believe everyone who practices medicine or health and wellness, should read this book.

My full book review can be found here: thoughtnotebook.org/anm/artbase/?a=94&z=27

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