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

May 18, 2014

Medical Truth. Buy this book, practice the techniques, and hang in there! You will heal.
After 3 years of chronic low back pain and neck pain, I am healing. John Sarno's diagnosis is the truth, medicine is WAAY far behind in understanding the connection between emotions and illness, especially chronic pain. I bought this book in February with very consistent, badly affecting pain everyday and am now down to a daily 1 or 0 in pain. My biggest advice is HANG IN THERE, the book says it takes 6-8 weeks to heal completely and it has taken me much longer than that, don't be discouraged if you are still in pain after that time frame. Everyone is different and it took me 3 months to get to where I am now but the results are UNBELIEVABLE, pain is almost nothing to me now and in time it will be nothing and chronic pain will only be a memory.

Here are some KEY tips that helped me to heal:

1. Stop covering up your feelings. In the past, if someone said something offensive towards me, I would cover up the feeling by thinking about it, rationalizing why they said, what they said, the context, blah blah blah but the FEELING is what is important. My mind would say I'm not offended but the truth is I am. FEEL THAT FEELING and tell yourself it's ok to feel this. I am ok.

2. Stop letting your thoughts torture you. In the past I would let my head spin in worry for hours and hours, thinking oh maybe this will happen, but what if that happens. Take charge and say NO to your worry thoughts. It will suck for a while because worry is a habit and it takes time to break so you will be stopping your thoughts A LOT but eventually the worry slows down and dissipates. Channel that inner rage at your thoughts. Tell them to shut up! I wont take this abuse anymore, I deserve to feel good and I choose to feel hopeful.

3. Practice positive thinking and prayer. This will vibrationally help you to heal. Feed yourself POSITIVE ENERGY as much as you can, believe in your healing, no matter what the pain is telling you. Listen to My Morning Jacket, spend time in nature, get off Twitter and Instagram and all that noise, pet your dog, think about great things that have happened to you.

4. Journal. Write about what makes you angry, sad, scared, insecure. Write it out. I would oftentimes feel the repressed rage boiling up to the surface as I wrote. This is exactly what the pain is trying to distract you from, it is great to feel that rage there.

5. Cry, scream, beat the hell out of something. Get those emotions moving. If you have chronic pain, you have stale emotions sitting in you. Lay on your bed and breathe deeply into your belly, make a sound as you exhale, this helps to rouse the old emotions, bringing them to the surface. Keep breathing into it and cry it out, beat your pillow, whatever you're feeling.

6. Don't worry about setbacks. I had so many times where the pain would go down, only to come back with a vengeance. I was afraid I would never heal, but the fact that you can get it moving up and down like that at all shows that things are changing. Keep practicing, hold strong, and eventually the pain starts to lose the fight.

Good luck and god bless.
5

November 30, 2016

Sarno will be remembered as one of the most influential and greatest doctors this planet has ever seen
This is the real deal. I am not paid by anyone to write this, I'm just a regular dude here to attest that the information contained in this book will heal you if you put faith into it and really stick to it. Just about any kind of physical pain you have will be healed after reading this and giving it time. I've spent tens of thousands of dollars on different kinds of alternative health therapies and spent years of my life going to regular doctors and specialists to try to get back to where I was in life. None did it, save for Dr. John E. Sarno. Howard Stern once said that this man deserves the Nobel Prize. I HIGHLY agree with Howard. Sometime down the line, maybe 100 years from now, Dr. Sarno will be remembered as one of the most influential and greatest doctors this planet has ever seen.

If you still don't believe me, shoot me a comment on this review and maybe we can chat via email. I used to walk around with a cane due to my pain and now I'm climbing mountains, back to work, sprinting, weight lifting, you name it. Good luck.
5

November 29, 2016

I am forever grateful to Dr Sarno
I have found the cause and cure for my horrible hip & leg pain that I suffered for more than 10 years!!! IT CHANGED MY LIFE!! What a great relief! I actually read Dr. Sarno’s book 10 years ago and had experienced very good results. The book was recommended by my friend Judy, who got help from reading this book and cured her TMS. (Thank you, Judy!) I was quite sure that I was having TMS back then. However, I failed the battle because and I didn’t know how to handle recurrence episodes, so I thought I was not having TMS. What a big mistake!! I gave up on the theory, put the book back to the book shelf and went back to my old treatments – physical therapy, acupuncture treatments, chiropractors, pain killers, massage, ice, etc., for 10 years!! I really wish I held onto Dr. Sarno’s theory and saved myself so much unnecessary suffering…

During the past 10 (2004 – 2014) years, I was not in constant pain, but every year I had at least 2 -3 episodes. Each episode will last for about 2 months. My physical therapists told me that my core muscles were too weak; that’s why I kept injuring myself if I lift something heavy or slip my feet on ice. I had trouble to walk during the attacks, because the muscles in my hip areas were having spasm which made my hip alignment crooked, one leg will become shorter than another. During each attack, I had to accept the truth that I will have to live with the pain for about 2 months. My physical therapist said that strengthening and stretching my muscles will be my only solution.

Because of the excruciating & debilitating pain, I sometimes had to use crutches. The buttock muscles were having constant spasm and the pain travels from one side to another. I can never forget the worst situation I had before, was that one night I didn’t have my crutches with me so I had to crawl from my bedroom to bathroom at night…

On 12/30/13, I had another attack right before my husband’s eye surgery. I was under a lot of stress because his other health issues plus his eye surgery. During this most recent episode, I went to my PT who already became my friend to receive my usual massage and adjusting treatments for about 1 month and yet the pain still kept traveling to different areas between my hips and legs and the pain just won’t go away.

On 1/23/14, I was so depressed and feeling hopeless. I felt that my life is over because of this never fading problem and it made me not able to function. Out of desperation, I suddenly thought about the book “Healing Back Pain” by Dr. Sarno that I read 10 years ago. I picked it up from my book shelf and read it again from chapter 1 carefully. This time I again see myself on each page of this book like 10 years ago. To help myself even better, I also read a lot of reviews from Amazon about this book; I realized that there are so many people had the same problem as me. A lot of them are even more serious than me and they were cured. I also found out that for some people it does takes longer to be cured 100%. Not everyone was cured 100% instantly. For some people it takes 2 day, some 1 to 2 weeks, or even 1 to 2 months, or ever longer. Be patient and do not doubt!!

Another very important aspect that we should know is sometimes TMS can come back because our brains are so deeply ingrained by the previous diagnosis and experiences. We just need to learn how to deal with it by shifting our attention to our emotion and reading the daily reminder that Dr. Sarno suggested. The pain should go away in a very short period of time. I also watched some video online to help to understand how other people got help by Dr. Sarno’s theory.

This time, 10 years later, the result was amazing! I’m now 100% cured! It took me about 1 week to get 100%!

Here is a record during that amazing 1 week. I’d like to share this with you to hopefully be of any help to you --

The 1st day – I read the book and felt 90% better immediately. I stopped messaging myself and doing any strengthening and stretching exercises that I supposed to do in the past. I can feel that my both legs were stronger and most of the pain was gone, but right buttock still has some mild pain and tightness.

The 2nd day – Read more of the book and some Amazon book reviews. I can walk normally and felt stronger than yesterday. Later on, I felt a short period of pain in my groin area and I immediately shift my focus on my emotion, not my physical, and the pain just disappeared instantly. But the tightness in the right buttock was still there.

The 3rd day – I read more of the book and the Amazon book reviews. I did laundry and cleaning work without any pain but with the same tightness in my right buttock.

The 4th day – I went grocery shopping for 2 hours without any pain and with just the same tightness in the right buttock area. Read more of the book and watched some video regards to Dr. Sarno’s theory.

The 5th day – I shoveled the snow for 2 hours with no pain. I was so proud of myself.

The 6th day – I felt I was 95% better. I can still felt the tightness in my right hip area though. I went to my PT that day for the last time because the insurance company needed an evaluation report done by my PT. During this past 1 week, I purposely didn’t do any strengthening & stretching that I supposed to do and yet I my PT checked on me and said that my hip alignment was perfect. Both legs were in the same length. I told my PT about this book and cancelled all the booked appointments for the following weeks and asked her NOT to loosen me up on my right buttock since I didn’t want the treatment to confuse my brain.

The 7th day – I was 100% better. The last bit of pain and tightness in my right hip area was totally gone.

During the following months, I got 2 or 3 times of very mild soreness here and there, but they didn’t last and never affected my walking ability. All I needed to do was to review Dr. Sarno’s "daily reminders" on page 82 and to resume writing journals every night to focus or "think" psychological and the pain will go away instantly.

However, I have to say, it does take TREMENDOUS courage. When my hips gave me the old signals that I used to think that it was about to go into spasm, I had to ignore it, and walk, bend over, or lift something, and ignore my fears. I had to force myself not to massage the sore muscles, refuse the PT treatments and be patient to let it go away itself. I had to talk to myself and deal with the fear everyday. This was the most difficult aspect of this healing, though. But it is WORTH it.

I feel that I’m gaining back my confidence and ability to live my life. I’m hopeful and very thankful. I’m no longer feeling as a victim but wish my experience can be a blessing to other sufferers. Not only did it cure my pain but it gave me tremendous insights into my own psychology which were incredibly valuable. I realized that I am/was a very anxious person. I constantly live in fear. Especially about my pain, immobility and my husband and my kid’s health conditions; these are probably my biggest worries.

I can only hope that more doctors and health care providers will read this book and accept this theory to help thousands and thousands of people who are suffering from TMS pain and yet are being treated incorrectly.

I ordered several Dr. Sarno’s books to share with people around me. I thank God for Dr. Sarno and would recommend his book and theory to anyone who is in chronic pain. Even if you are not in pain, it’s good to have the knowledge that the connection between body and mind as a prevention and maybe you can help other people by mentioning this book. If you are in chronic pain, please read this book with an open mind. Just like a reader, Steve Rankel, commented in his Amazon book review for this book ”Why do we as humans think everything must be hard? Complexity is not the measure of something's value. Results are.”

I am forever grateful to Dr Sarno. Thank you Dr. Sarno from the bottom of my heart!! You are an amazing doctor. I appreciate you for regaining my health, my life, and I admire you for your honesty and courage to challenge the mainstream medical society. Please keep teaching others how to take advantage of the healing capabilities God gave to all of us.

Dr. Sarno, you truly deserve Nobel Prize!!!
3

June 15, 2018

One of the strangest books I've read.
I've long suffered with back pain. I have scoliosis, arthritis and the typical stuff people get as they age (degenerative disc disease, sciatica, etc). I don't normally go for books like this but like others I was getting desperate so I gave it a read. I knew Dr Sarno would offer a non traditional approach to healing back pain but I never expected this.

Dr Sarno believes that back pain is caused by the subconscious mind in an effort to keep you from thinking about or dealing with unpleasant or painful thoughts and feelings. It accomplishes this by depriving oxygen to the nerves and tissues surrounding the spine. This is a condition he calls TMS. Conveniently, this is not a condition that can be measured, viewed on imaging or the like. You just got to take his word for it. If this sounds crazy, hang on, it gets crazier.

One might think that the solution to TMS would be psychotherapy then, right? Well, not exactly. Dr Sarno thinks that the important step to recovery from TMS is to understand how TMS works. You see once the subconscious mind becomes aware of the fact that you have discovered this big trick its trying to pull on you then it knows it can't use that anymore and relent on your back pain.

One thing I found particularly interesting about all this is how its written. Normally pseudo-scientific books will dress up their theories with lots of sciencey and clinical sounding words. To a reader untrained in medicine, this may make the claims seem more authentic. Dr. Sarno makes no attempt at all to do any of this. In fact, he goes out of his way to explain his theory in the most raw and uncomplicated terms possible so that his theory will be easily understood. It seems clear to me that Dr. Sarno honestly believes everything he has written in this book.

So Sarnos treatment is bunk then right? It's like this, read the book. Do what Sarno recommends. If you feel better then it isnt bunk at all. My back pain does feel better after reading the book but that might be because ive lost some weight and started exercising.
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

November 14, 2016

Worked for me and I am infinitely grateful!
This book saved my life - after years of recurring lower back pain, I was able to get rid of in ONE DAY. Not even kidding. As a caveat, I think my situation met the criteria for why this worked - I did have an actual injury (two herniated disks) years ago, I had been exercising, taking meds, I got a new mattress, bought a new ergonomic desk and desk chair, did all the things that should have made it better. But it wasn't. In fact, it was getting worse. I'd wake up in pain, I'd go to bed in pain. The idea of walking around or standing for even an hour sounded like torture.
Then one day in Dec 2015, I read this book. I practiced the technique that day and Voila! Problem solved! I couldn't believe it actually worked. Days later I stood for 4 hours cooking in the kitchen, and I didn't spend the rest of the day on my back. I went to Six Flags and walked around for hours and even rode a roller coaster - and it wasn't a problem. I have been able to act and feel like a typical 35 year old again. It's amazing. And I'm writing this review 11 months later so I can attest to the longevity. Of course, I have a spasm here and there, but they leave quickly and are far and few between. If you have pain, it's worth a shot. It worked for me!
5

June 28, 2016

I wish I could buy this book for everyone who ...
I wish I could buy this book for everyone who has ever experienced debilitating back pain or any other kind of chronic pain. I don't have time to write the long review this book deserves but I will just say this: I went from being in excruciating pain for years with a "verified" spinal/nerve injury that would flare up periodically to being completely pain-free almost over night. I now bike several times a week, I can sit for hours and hours with no pain at all, I can walk miles, and I can lift heavy objects. In addition, I teach 6th grade and run around my classroom every day during the school year. If I sense a bit of a backache coming on, which is rare, I have the tools to address it. Please, buy this book and read it with an open mind. It could change your life.

Thank you, Dr. Sarno.
5

August 2, 2018

Severe Back Pain Gone
I purchase all of my books from Amazon but rarely feel compelled to write a review. However, in this case I felt compelled to "give back" and maybe help someone else. Over the last fifteen years or so I have had off and on bouts with back issues. Two different colleagues of mine who previously had significant back issues recommended Healing Back Pain to me. I trust them both yet I was very skeptical. Then, approximately six weeks ago I was in the office cafeteria and I was struck with pain in my lower back that was so severe that I was literally immobilized. I had to sit down for twenty minutes just to be able to slow "walk-slide" (e.g. slide my feet along the ground without really lifting them). The pain radiated from my lower back and down both legs. I'd never experienced anything like it. I consulted my physician, went to the chiropractor, took anti-inflammatory drugs and a regimen of steroids. Nothing worked for me and the pain was incredible. I was only able to stand up for a minute or two at a time without significant pain. I continued to read Healing Back Pain and followed what it said. I also watched several of Dr. Sarno's videos. After a few weeks the pain started to dissipate. I am happy to report that today I have no residual effects. I am back to my normal activities, including very heavy weight lifting. Every once in a while I can feel a twinge and I remind my brain what is occurring and the twinge goes away. For anyone with significant back issues, I realize that this is very hard to believe. However, it worked for me and I am now pain free. If you are reading this and decide to give it a try, I really hope it works for you too. Back pain is a terrible thing to endure.
5

November 17, 2018

This book has been crucial to my life and happiness!
I have read all of Dr. Sarno's books, but I always go back to this one. Whenever I feel ANY pain in my body from shoulder , neck, back, legs, WHATEVER...I turn on the audio version of this book and within a few days I am back to normal.

Many years ago I had severe shoulder pain that lasted about 2 years, my doctor told me it was a torn rotator cuff , filled me up with pain pills and sent me off to physical therapy. When that didn't work ( it made it worse ) he wanted to do surgery. ( I did not do the surgery.) That is when I found Dr. John Sarno. It WAS NOT an instant fix, but slowly over several months ALL of my pain went away and has STAYED away! This was back in 2008! I went to my doctor 6 months after finding this book and he asked me how my shoulder is doing. I told him it's completely healed. He was astonished and asked me how? I told him that I read a book- HE LITERALLY LAUGHED AT ME!

Look, it is a hard pill to swallow and when I tell people about this book that saved my life, they usually get angry with me as if I don't believe they are in real pain which must have a real physical reason. I get it, most people will not have faith and believe in this simple idea. I could not put on my T-Shirt without extreme , sharp, debilitating pain. Now I am pain free for more than 10 years!

Here it is in a nutshell: Good luck!
Dr Sarno’s 12 Daily Reminders

1. The pain is due to TMS and not a structural abnormality.
2. The direct reason for the pain is mild oxygen deprivation.
3. TMS is a harmless condition caused by my repressed emotions.
4. The principal emotion is my repressed ANGER.
5. TMS only exists 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 normal physical activity.
9. I will not be concerned or intimidated by the pain.
10. I will shift my attention from the pain to the emotions.
11. I intend to be in control, not my sub-conscious mind.
12. I must think psychological at all times, not physical.
5

January 17, 2018

Like Dr. Sarno says
This book has not only changed my life, but my family’s, too. I was bedridden for months with severe back pain, diagnosed with a disc herniation, but the many doctors and practitioners I saw were unable to help me. Upon reading this book, progress began immediately. One reviewer compared his pain to a light with a dimmer that gradually dims until it goes out. I found this to be true for me, over a period of several weeks. Some people’s pain stops quickly while others progress more slowly. Like Dr. Sarno says, don’t be too preoccupied with how long it’s taking, just start affirming the truths in the book and the brain will start to believe it and stop the pain. A family member who has suffered with back pain for seven years has made amazing progress and his pain continues to decrease. We’ve both had equivalents of TMS (arm pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, etc.) and they have improved drastically, too. Thank God for Dr. Sarno! A modern day healer.
5

September 3, 2017

WOW, I only wish I read this several years ago! MUST read if you experience pain and looking for a real solution that works.
AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME BOOK. I have always been aware of the mind body connection. Wish I would have read this before my back injection. I have spent thousands on decompression therapy and more. IF YOU HAVE BACK PAINS, HEADACHES etc... Just read the book. After looking back in my recent past, everything came together as I was diverting my emotional issues. And by burying them, my body decided to keep me focused on pain. My stomach acid pain is gone too. That was the first thing I noticed after reading this and viewing some of the youtube videos on Dr. Sarno. This should be mandatory reading before surgery and pills and all the other stuff that doesn't work.
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
1

September 3, 2018

Pure nonsense
Bought this on a friend’s recommendation. Maybe the stupidest book I’ve ever read. Basically states that every single structural problem in the spine doesn’t generate pain. In other words - it’s all in your head. If you have a spine injury, please go see a qualified spine doctor.
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
1

October 1, 2018

Please see a doctor in addition to reading this book
So the book focuses mostly how how unresolved conflict and stress cause back pain. So for years I followed the advice given in this book, and ignored more frequent bouts of back pain. Until one Day I could barely walk. Turns out I had a serious issue that required surgery. A piece of disk and bone were removed from my back. While I do believe the book probably has some merits, please do yourself a favor and get evaluated by a real doctor first to make sure you don’t have a serious issue before you ignore it like I did.
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
1

January 17, 2019

Does your back ache?
If so, don't buy this book. In no way does it offer any solution to pain, except to suggest it is caused by your repressed emotions.
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!

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