About twenty years ago, I was poor as a church mouse working survival jobs and trying to pursue an unsuccessful acting career. I had a herniated disk, and unbearable back pain. Prior to the injury, I ran about 4-6 miles daily. With the onset of back pain, I was sidelined for over a year, desperate for relief from chiropractors and doctors that I could not afford. Unsuccessful actors can’t really afford health insurance. I was in a LOT of pain and very depressed about my lack of physical mobility.
One day after work I went to the large library in midtown Manhattan in search of books that could offer me exercises to relieve my back pain. Instead I came across Doctor Sarno’s book,”Mind Over Back Pain, the Mind-Body Connection.” I remember checking the book out from the library and reading the entire book, cover to cover, one afternoon in the middle of Central Park. Everything about TMS resonated so strongly within me.
Three days after finishing the book, I was back on the treadmill running my daily miles. I’ve been running and swimming four or five days a week since.
I have a Pay It Forward policy regarding Doctor Sarno’s books. Whenever a friend complains of back pain, I purchase the book as a gift with the insistence that the friend passes it on to someone else who may complain of back pain in the future.
My copies of Sarno’s books retain a prominent place on a shelf in my home library.
Thank you, Doctor Sarno. Our world is a sadder place without you today.
Much love and gratitude,
Thank you Dr. Sarno.
As a poor college student, paying to go to a chiropractor every week to manage my headaches left me with just enough money to break even. I felt stuck and google searched for alternatives. I found your book, got it, read it and applied it. Haven’t been back to a chiro since. It’s been over 3 years.
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I can never thank you enough for saving me from not only crippling pain but also from seeking relief with back surgery.
I stumbled onto a back pain forum 5 months ago looking to see what others were thinking about after being told that surgery was the only answer, and someone mentioned your name and books.
They have been my saving grace.
This morning I went to look at the TMSwiki.org forum and saw that you passed away. I am only sorry that you did not receive the Nobel Prize for saving so many from a lifetime of pain and suffering. I will do my best to honor your legacy by sharing my own experience to all who will listen, and even to those who won’t!
Rest In Peace.
Thank you, Doctor!!
In the late 90s I suffered from neck and upper back pain. I was truly suicidal as I was living in pain 24/7 and was told I would never be able to do physical activity again. Back then back and neck surgery meant being in a body cast for months.
I tried everything, from acupuncture to mediation, to needles in the neck. Nothing worked. Until one day I was walking in a book store and decided to buy his book. Everything made sense. I was cured within 2 weeks. I have shared my story to anyone who would listen and I know dozens who have also been cured. I haven’t had any issues since then and I also read his book “The Divided Mind” which has also helped me overcome other pains that I would have otherwise been alarmed at. Thank you Dr. Sarno for being my hero, my God. There will never be another like you.
Dear Dr. John E. Sarno,
Thank You! You saved me!
I will not go into details of my pain and time spent in bed without being able to move.
I will always be grateful for finally finding you online and first listening and reading to what was available. I ordered 2 of your books. I resonated with your words in the first paragraphs. I put into practice what you advised and slowly my pain went away. The best part of it, is that it never came back. I was dealing with back pain for over 4 years since the birth of my son. The tests confirmed I have a herniated disk but I believe, as you say, this is simply another grey hair or another wrinkle.
I did your work. I treated what was really in need of treatment and today no pain! I apply this treatment to other ailments that seem to come my way and too, it works:)
I share what I have learned. You are a Legacy! I will never forget you and I will continue speaking of you whenever it is needed.
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
Dear Dr Sarno,
You are my hero. You saved me. I had lost my life to chronic pain and disability. Your dedication and selfless pursuit for the wellbeing of others restored faith in me. From the moment I accepted your work I knew I could deeply trust and believe that I would be cured. You did not let me down. Your expert work will not be in vain. The truth you uncovered all those years ago will become mainstream treatment for those in chronic pain. I hope there are other true doctors out there like you. We have lost the best one.
Rest in Peace
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I knew about your book for years before reading it (including hearing Howard Stern’s testimonials) but from what I had heard about it I thought I had to “face my demons” in order to get rid of my back pain. Ultimately the pain was too much and I decided to seek out your book. During the first hour of reading my pain started to disappear and I was encouraged to keep reading. By the end of the book I noticed a tremendous improvement in my condition. Within a month I was 90% pain free and within three months was 100% pain free. I’ve since read the book two more times and have given a copy to friends who complain about back pain – I can tell it’s TMS from their description of their symptoms.
One of the best parts of being free of back pain is the ability to exercise as much as I like. Here’s a photo of me finishing my second 5K – at age 50! Thank you Doctor Sarno, you’ve given me my life back.
Dear Dr. Sarno,
THANK YOU SOOO MUCH for all the knowledge and support system you have created for TMS. I am deeply grateful and also inspired by your work.
This is briefly my story: My name is Christina Samara and I’m a body psychotherapist. Three months ago I had the first episode of TMS. It was low back pain and I couldn’t walk at the beginning for 2 days. Then , the pain hit my right leg and yes as you say it was excruciating! For three months I was desperate, I thought I would be on a wheelchair or I could even loose my leg from diabetes. Many imaginations…, I ‘m in very good condition as I swim daily and do yoga.During the summer time I learn to windsurf and I do Stand-up-paddle SUP. At he beginning I did not pay attention to it, I couldn’t handle it. After two motnhs that were very difficult for me and my family as I was incapacitated I decided to follow your method. My sister had been cured from your books that she discovered, 10 years ago. I am grateful to her, she has been my coach and my support group along with my psychotherapist. I went to the doctor, I took anti-inflammatory drugs, alternative medicine drugs, bitamin B, which was very helpful to calm down my nervous system and fears, did, shiatsu, accupunture but all of it was placebos and just a support. TMS books, your books were the main help, I read and re-read your books over and over again, I did my daily TMS affirmations as a prayer. It took me 30 days and today I can say I am cured!!!! Since I took my health in my hands as my responsibility I started to journal every day and reflect and then I added some imagery and possitive affirmations work inspired by L.Hay and W.Dyer. It was more than a full time job. I quited everything to be by myself all day long and read, write, meditate and believe that i will be cured.
Psychologically speaking, when it all started I had just begun to work as a therapist, very challenging and my first client touched a lot on my personal issues. Along with being such a perfectionist and a people’s pleaser I had the best profile for TMS. Through TMS therapy and my personal psychotherapy I changed completely, to be what I am today, to give myself priority, to give not only to others but to myself first, to please me, to respect my needs and desires. Today I am very eclectic in what I do and want and I am very clear and very disciplined on this. Being a good therapist and a good mother is not easy and I have to take care of myself with respect! I learnt sooo much about me and I’m grateful cause I could not have grown and become better as a person and as professional if I had not been through this proccess!
My goal now is to spread my knowledge and help other people. I would love to be trained as a TMS therapist and offer my services here in Athens ,Greece. I hear so many cases every day but there is noone to support TMS. This is sad! So I would love to specialize in TMS and offer my services to people who are in pain and I know very well what it means to be in pain and how to get out of it!!!!!
Thank you Dr. Sarno for all you have offered to us, this is soo valuable!!!. In any event your work is a treasure!
With my Best Regards,
Dear Dr. Sarno:
I am writing you to let you know that your book Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body connection has greatly changed the course of my life.
You see I had become a slave, my mind and the medical system worked together to make me believe my back was not well. I was as sure of this fact as the night is black. For years, I spent thousands of dollars on medical treatment and rehabilitation which provided temporary relief at best.
Your beautiful book rid me of my shackles. I am happy to report to you that I am now a free man. I have transformed from a boy who dreaded picking his clothes off the ground, to a powerful 31 year old man who is capable of deadlifting 200 pounds off the ground with ease. This became a reality thanks to your work.
I hope this letter finds you well and I hope you know what a powerful and positive impact your work has had on this planet. The world is a better place because of you.
Thank you Dr. Sarno.
Unlike many of the contributors to this project, I have had lower back pain for less than ten days. Your book, Healing Back Pain, has transformed those ten days into a blessing, because it helped explain to me not just my back pain but so many other problems I have been having all my life. It has also revealed to me a very strange side of my mind.
I have heard about your book before I had any back pain. So I never read it. I was told about it by my spiritual guide and teacher, in a casual discussion. He said anybody who has back pain should read that book, explained a little about your argument, and told me one should be cured by the time one finishes reading the book.
Then, two months later, I was suddenly suffering a terrible pain in my lower back. I was sure: A Disk. Because of so many hours driving my car. I don’t want to go to a doctor.
Then, I remembered the book and found it on Kindle. And downloaded it in ten minutes. Now I know my story may not be typical because of two things: First it was my teacher who told me about it, so I was already convinced with the argument before I have started. Second, I have already read Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns, also recommended to me by my teacher, and was aware of how cognitive therapy works and convinced of it.
Then I started reading. Half way through the detailed description, I stopped. I told myself, I don’t need convincing, or understanding, I got the point and I am totally game, and skipped to the chapter about treatment. As I started reading that chapter, my pain was already going away. But it is what happened after and is still happening that is amazing, and in a sense creepy.
First, I started talking to my brain and exploring my feelings. Luckily I am very close to a lot of negative feelings and resentments. As I did, the pain in my back started going away. Next day, I decided to start driving again. The pain would come, I would think about by negative emotions, and talk to myself, and it goes.
Then, the following day I was driving. Back pain. Talked to myself. Pain went away. But then, I started having a headache, and stiffness in the shoulder muscles, the usual symptoms I get when driving. At that moment it dawned on me that this is also TMS. I immediately started talking to my brain again, and both went away.
During the last three days, this has happened so often. The pain and stiffness rotates very rapidly and with immediate response to my train of thoughts. Last night, I was feeling pain in my back, talked to myself, pain went away, but then, I was kneeling and my knee cracked and I felt a soaring pain. For a second I was taken aback. Something has snapped in my knee. Then, I realized what was going on. The crack has nothing to do with the pain. I focused on some negative feelings, and talked to my brain, and I got up walking pain free. Same, with heartburn. I don’t usually have heartburns. But since I started the exercise, the brain seems to be trying to find an outlet for the deception.
This is not the end of my story. I don’t know how it is going to end. But certainly it is a startling start for a self-discovery journey, and hopefully for a pain free life. Thanks to you, Dr. Sarno.
Moatasem al-G, Cairo, Egypt, 2/5/2017
Dear Dr. Sarno,
Last March I read Healing Back Pain, and it has been responsible for completely solving my 9 and a half year problem with pain. It didn’t happen overnight, but took about 6 months for me to internalize and embrace. I recently went on a 4 day backcountry skiing trip, where you work for every turn. I climbed longer and pushed it harder than I ever have in my life. I truly have my old life back, and am even stronger than I was 10 years ago.
I tried chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, psychologists, orthopedic doctors, a cranial sacral specialist, a kinesiologist, an Osteopath, a Fibromyalgia MD, a Hypnotherapist, hormone specialist, and half a dozen others. Nothing provided any substantial relief. But now I know that the physical defects that show up on the MRIs are not responsible for all that pain.
I’m also writing to say thank you for a friend who has also identified with TMS and is thrilled to have read your book. She also is getting her old life back. I’m currently in the process of sending your book with a note to past doctors and therapists that might benefit from my story. I hope others find relief from your book. Thank you for your years of hard work!
I am a 63 year old physician. Short story–
-I was an ENT surgeon- In 1982 (age 29) began my own practice.
-By 1994 I had so much neck, back and shoulder pain that I had to stop operating.
-I went into business (non-medical)-opened 40 franchises in 2 years and hated every day of it. (Made a lot of money)
-In 1996 I began a 3 year dermatology residency program. It was broken up by 3 surgeries, addiction to prescription pain
medication, PT, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathic therapies. It took me 6 years to complete the dermatology
residency and I began to practice as a dermatologist in 2002. The neck, shoulder and back pain continued at a 4-5 level
daily with flares at times.
I was introduced to your books and philosophy by an MD colleague in 1994. My head was not in the right place to even consider anything new.
Howard Stern mentioned your name on radio about 3 weeks ago. I pulled out your books. I have stopped my Celebrex 200mg BID that I started when Vioxx when off the market. I have tried unsuccessfully to titrate to lower levels.
I stopped my 45 minute 4 times a week back and neck exercises and began riding an upright bike again (I’ve only been able to ride a recumbent since 1994). Today I bowled 2 games. I tried that 10 years ago and suffered for weeks.
My pain is about 70-80% better at the 3 weeks mark! Having been trained in osteopathic medicine, I have never been able to prove what we did actually helped patients, but it did.
Thank you for your continued observations and beautiful documentation and writings.
I am a 41 year old male who has played baseball almost all of my life. I’m also an artist and a marathon finisher. At 39 I was hit with the worst pain I have ever known and was taken to the ER and was subsequently diagnosed with a herniated disc at L5-S1. The doctor actually winced when he viewed my MRI. So I was put on strong painkillers, prescribed PT twice a week and was injected with spinal steroid injections multiple times. When none of these things worked for any length of time, my next step was spinal surgery. Before I scheduled my surgery a friend of mine recommended a book called “Healing Back Pain” by Dr John E Sarno. I was willing to try anything. So, without a thought I downloaded the audiobook and started listening to it. My first thought was almost hatred toward my friend because the book immediately states that while the pain is real, it doesn’t come from a physical source. Which to me meant “it was all in my head.” What??!! So…I could not move at all without screaming out in agony (in front of my wife and three young daughters) and this book was going to tell me it’s all in my head? Well the book doesn’t even come close to saying that. But that is what I wanted to hear it say. So I calmed down, swallowed my pride and continued to read the book. Page after page describes me exactly. Everything Dr Sarno was saying, my whole spirit was wholeheartedly agreeing with. It was all making so much sense. So after reading the book, journaling, resuming all normal physical activity and trying to convince my unconscious mind that the source of my pain was not a “bad back,” my pain started to subside. In all it took about 6 months but the pain disappeared. No more painkillers, no ibuprofen, no physical therapy, no being careful with my back, full return to all physical activity without a care or thought about my back or sciatic nerve pain. I’ve thrown away all of my back braces, wedge pillows, heating pads, supports and crutches. Snowboarding, baseball, golf, running, backflips on my trampoline and diving board and best of all…lifting my little girls in the air again. I’m a man of faith and I believe God miraculously answered my prayers by pointing me to Dr Sarno’s books. I’m back to the best shape of my life and I try to remember every day how far I’ve come with no surgery. I once was so careful with every move I made and now I don’t even think about my back, at all. I believe in miracles. The pain is absolutely non-existent and I am beyond thankful for Dr Sarno’s courage and knowledge.
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I love you! I got your book a long time ago. It’s copyright is 1991, and it is the only book I never loan to anybody, though I do recommend it. My book is currently “decorated” with 17 post-it markers for salient points.
You helped me with back pain all those years ago, and for that I am grateful. I made up a bracelet – kind of like a rosary – to review the Daily Reminders, which I use periodically.
After a year of mega stress, my heart, which had been checked out (atrial ectopic beats) and was deemed to be okay, started acting up. I again delved into your wonderful book and the reminders. This morning my heart started kicking up a fuss, so I sat still, located the anger I was not dealing with, and happily my heart went back to normal, and I went on to do the work planned for the day.
“Think psychological not physical”, is my mantra! Yay!
I am an American living in New Zealand (since 1980) so even though I am not geographically near to NYC anymore, I am near to you in my heart. You have done such wonderful work, and I am so very very grateful to you.
Much love from “a free range oldie” living in a “Foreign Land”
My Special Thanks to Dr John E Sarno, MD!
I’ve wanted to write you for several years just to express my gratitude for you healing my back pain but I’d always set it aside for one reason or another, then when I googled your name to help out someone else recently with your info, I found that you had retired and that there was a letter writing campaign for you. Well, this is my opportunity to thank you personally…
Just some background first, I work in the building industry selling new homes and in 1993 I stubbed my toe when I hit the plastic mat under my office chair while assisting some clients. It hurt so bad that I wanted to scream but I had to wait until they left and then when they did, I started experiencing back pain in my lower right hip, a severe stabbing-like pain! A co-worker suggested that I go and see a chiropractor that she knew, he was able to get me pain-free temporarily but little did I know at the time that I would be visiting him off and on for the next 10 years!
Next, I went to my family physician who prescribed over time anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depressants, painkillers, physical therapy, various exercises for the back and possible future surgery and/or steroidal shots to the spine which I objected to since the pain moved around and would change in intensity on a daily/weekly basis. In the meantime, I’m trying acupuncture, traction, chiropractic adjustments, electro-stimulation, heat and cold therapies etc., from alternative medical providers.
Around 1999, I decided to change professions and rent office space and begin work as a business broker. It just so happens that the office manager named Juli, tells me about your books after a discussion of our various back ailments and how she was bed-ridden on some days and that the book had cured her!
Well, after much skepticism I eventually went out and bought the book, Healing Back Pain and went straight to the chapter regarding the cure and wondered how this book would cure me without any medical procedures. So, when nothing happened I put the book down and proceeded to have back pain over the next 4 years.
It was 2003 and I had gone back to selling new homes again, but one day came down with a severe back and sciatica attack down my right leg it was so bad that I had to crawl up the stairs to my loft at home and have my wife bring food to me! I told my boss that I could no longer drive the hour plus trip one way to my job each day and that I would wait the 3 months for something closer to home to open up. At this point, I ended up buying Dr Sarno’s two other books, Mind Over Back Pain and The Mindbody Prescription and read them all. It was like the information was jumping off the pages because everything that I was experiencing was there. Yes, I had an MRI earlier which showed a bulging disc in the L4/L5 area but as Dr Sarno explains it was just aging of the spine.
His discussions of personalities, especially perfectionism and goodism hit me right between the eyes they were so right on! Also, some of the equivalents like eczema, stomach discomfort, frequent urination and respiratory infections among others were common with me. So, to get cured I started writing out all of the things that could be causing my internal unconscious rage and ended up with several legal-sized pages starting from childhood to now….
Most of it work-related since I’m in an imperfect business selling new homes where I have no control over interest rates, construction times and quality, loan approvals, buyer qualifications, monthly sales totals, etc.,
Needless to say, I was cured in just two or three weeks! I could now do the elliptical and stairmaster at the gym which I had stopped doing for years due to the back pain. I can say now that I’m entirely pain-free except on occasion when I’ll get that nerve pain again but I can usually figure out what brought it on right away.
So Dr Sarno, I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your dedication and determination to find THE CURE for BACK PAIN thru your TMS diagnosis and going against the established Medical Profession and risking your very livelihood in order to help us! You were a God-send to me and others and I know that you have been blessed immeasurably by all of your patients who’ve gotten their lives back!
A little over 20 years, in my early 30s, I was a very active, visiting the gym daily, playing a lot of tennis. Seemingly out of the blue, I began to have back pain. It became debilitating. There were days I could not go to work. There were times when walking down the street, my back would freeze and I would have to lay down on the sidewalk, in pain. I tried every technique: rest. breathing. stretching. It only go worse and worse. When not prostate, I walked hunched over. It was frightening.
Someone told me about Sarno’s book. I bought a copy and walked across the street to a park where I sat and read it all the way through. As I read, the pain lifted. Completely. It has never returned, except for very brief and minor occasions. When it does return, I either thumb through the book, or try to recall its message. It always works instantly.
I realize this sounds unbelievable. But it happened exactly as described. His theory is very persuasive and the evidence in my case is absolutely conclusive. My back pain was connected to financial stress and upon realization of this, the pain disappeared.
Hello Dr. Sarno,
In 2008 I contacted an energy healer. I had never done anything like this before but I had been suicidal for nearly two long years at that point. My issues were completely emotional up to then until the day of my session with this energy healer. That morning I found I couldn’t lift my head off of the pillow and I had severe body pain like never before. I couldn’t believe how much pain I was in and I called my twin sister to tell her that something was seriously wrong with me physically.
During my session this energy healer asked me what was worse my physical or mental issues? I couldn’t believe it but I actually had to say “physical”. Weeks prior to this first session through email contact, I had learned about “goodists” and he gave me a question sheet to answer and talked with me about hidden anger. But it was during my first session with him that I learned about you. He had seen you and been treated by you and was able to tell me about his own back pain and how he was a “energy healer that could help everyone else but he couldn’t even help himself.”… and then he told me about the affirmations and how important it was to see that my body pain had an emotional root or component and that the pain was a distraction. He asked me if I wanted to know why after 6 weeks he had found that made his back pain vanish. I said, yes, of course. And he said “nothing”. It just left.
Dr. Sarno, I never took medicine for and never allowed a doctor to document the diagnosis of “Fibromyalgia” in my file and I never felt hopeless about the body pain. I’ve always from the start been saying the affirmations and I didn’t have any trouble coming to terms with the emotional root of the body pain. TMS gave me hope enough to begin to build within myself the solution to the whole of my life’s situation.
It was for me to see, for me to work through, to build, to change, and succeed with and your insights and contributions through TMS gave me the tools so I could experience true inner power. Thank you for your sight and your vision. If I had learned about Fibromyalgia through any other means, I know I wouldn’t be here writing this right now. TMS empowered me. No words can thank you enough, Dr. Sarno and I’m thankful for the opportunity to write you. I won’t stop talking about TMS and sharing your books.
Hugs and Love,
I am a reader from Shanghai, China, of Dr. Sarno’s brilliant books – Healing Back Pain, The Mindbody Prescription and The Divided Mind.
I feel so lucky that I could come finally across the ones providing enlightenment and shedding light on the problems that have puzzled me for about a decade. I began to have a persistent upper back pain ten years ago, and meanwhile have intermittent (in fits and starts) pains in joins of arms or legs and unspecific loci across the back trunk. When in bed at night, having to once sit up before I needed to roll over laterally. Visiting a lot of physicians over many years ended up in fruitlessness.
Earlier in this year, I tried to find out some medical book on the symptoms overseas at amazon.com and located ‘Healing Back Pain, The Mind-Body Connection’ by Dr. Sarno. The striking phrase at the bottom of front cover, ‘Without drugs, without surgery, without exercise, back pain can be stopped forever’ appealed to me largely. How incredible the remark is! But as I got through down the book, the skepticism gradually faded away.
The principle behind the TMS theory perfectly fits in with an obscure idea of mine (or a hunch?) that mind must have something to do with body. The obscure idea has been around in my mind for several years due to the disappointment and frustration after the inefficiency and inefficacy in the diagnosis and treatment of my symptom. Saying ‘an obscure idea’ is because it has been purely my subjective conjecture based on no ground and unsystematic. I have no medical background. Thanks to the potential or underpinning of my own idea, I was able to assimilate the idea of TMS very quickly, and on the point when finishing the reading, I feel getting relieved. Inspirited miraculously, I continued reading ‘The Mindbody Prescription’, and got further insight into the unconscious. I am currently reading ‘The Divided Mind’ and very much impressed with Dr. Sarno’s remarkable findings of what disorders are mediated through the autonomic-peptide system.
In China, the mainstream modern medicine which is ultimately physical-chemical has been ubiquitously and inveterately deep-seated in the minds of the Chinese people to an extent that, as I observed, is more overwhelming than that in the United States as Dr. Sarno commented. For example, when I talked about the psychosomatic mechanism to the people around me, including my family members, I was considered ‘being absurd or simply nonsense’. Citing Dr. Sarno’s mention in ‘The Divided Mind’, on page 31, ‘Experience suggests that in the United States only 10 to 20 percent of people with a psychosomatic disorder are able to accept the fact that their symptoms are emotional in origin. Many are downright hostile to the idea. Though there are large numbers who seek psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, they represent only a small portion of the entire population.’ Comparably, however, the percentage of the acceptance of the idea by people in China is much less. My father-in-law, 82, has recent years been experiencing heavy attacks, about 7-8 times in a month, from headache, abrupt blood pressure elevation (around 200 mmHg./150 mmHg.) usually accompanied with dizziness, vomiting, tinnitus at uncertain times, possibly whenever in a day, whether in daytime or at night and whether the postures when standing, sitting or being prostrate. What seems to be odd is that he restores gradually to the normal with high blood pressure subsided after three or four hours silently lying in the bed. Seeking to get the cause of the disorders clarified, we took him to the examinations by specialists for several corresponding sections of the medicine using CT, MRI, electrocardiogram, blood-testing and some other measures, and also hospitalized. Unfortunately, however, no exact or accurate cause has been determined until now. I realized in light of TMS manifestations that his symptoms are inclusively characteristic of and pointed to TMS in origin featuring symptom imperative. It is regrettable that the lack of the practitioners specializing in psychosomatics in China gets us into trouble finding an appropriate way of treating him.
I make an effort to try to enlighten my wife about the psychosomatic idea by acquiring a Chinese-translated version of The Mindbody Prescription for her in hope of a further influence on other family members.
I really found myself enjoying every sentence of excellence in all the three books by Dr. Sarno. Dr. Sarno challenges the contemporary mainstream medicine not only in the U.S., but in the globe including China by bringing to light the truth of the ultimate (root) cause of seemingly structural abnormities in terms of the psychosomatic connections and interactions. In my view, the creation of the TMS theory ought to be qualified and eligible for Dr. Sarno to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In spite of the colossal impedance and hurdle by the prevailing mainstream medicine facing the psychosomatic medicine, the laureateship of Dr. Sarno is prospective, and it is not until in a historical stage in the future that in which the psychosomatic medicine transcends physical structural medicine and supersedes its status as a dominant medicine.
I admire your groundbreaking works and your wonderful wisdom, and heartily thank you, Dr. Sarno.
Dear Doctor Sarno,
Thank you! Your work has changed my life.
For ten years I suffered from what I believed was worsening carpel tunnel, and sciatica, as well as excruciating lower back pain. It was common knowledge amongst my friends and family that no one could possibly be doing all of the strenuous and detailed carving work that I was doing on a regular basis as an artist, and not suffer the consequences.
I got on a treadmill of physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and anything else that held some promise to help relieve the pain. It was expensive, and time consuming, and while some of it worked, the relief was only temporary.
It got to the point where I couldn’t turn my head without my hands falling asleep. I couldn’t use my hands as well as I needed to, I stopped being able to ride my bike (my primary means of transportation), and at it’s worst I could barely sleep without waking up with aching and numbness in both my arms. It was a daily misery that was spiraling downward and I thought that at the age of 35 I had ruined my body. I felt old and done.
Then a friend recommended that I look into your books. She said a friend of hers who had been scheduled for back surgery had healed herself with your books, and was now a runner, who never had to get that surgery after all.
As soon as I picked up your books I understood that I had TMS. It took reading them all for me to believe that even my particular pains, the ones that felt so deep seated and undoubtedly nerve related, could also possibly be the ones you were talking about. I read all three books multiple times, listened to them all on audio, and did “The Mind-Body Workbook” by David Schecter.
It took a little while for my pain to completely abate, because, as I came to understand from reading related books by one of your therapists Francis Sommer Anderson, when you are suffering from deep seated childhood trauma, as I was, having grown up with severely drug addicted parents, sometimes the cessation of pain is a process that takes weeks, months, or even longer.
I made an appointment with Dr Rauschbaum at the Rusk Institute — the only availability they had was 3 months out, and by the time I got there, the pain had subsided. However, the day before my appointment, I was tying my shoe, and a new stabbing pain appeared in my heal and ankle. When I got to my appointment, Rauschbaum guessed the exact location of the pain, and let me know that sometimes the mind makes a last ditch attempt, on occasions like, before a TMS appointment, to convince the you that dire pain is your fate. As soon as I walked out of the office the pain vanished.
Now, if things get especially rough, like with a recent death in the family, I get a return of pain or other psychosomatic symptoms like hives or psoriasis, but, now I know what it is, and I just have patience with it, and if it doesn’t go away, I return to reread one of your books, make sure I’m keeping up with my journalling, or watch some testimonials on youtube of people who have recovered, and that’s generally enough to help it go away.
Now, not only am I largely pain free, but I am also am an emotionally healthier and more empowered person as a result of the process. It has deeply affected my understanding of physical health and emotional well being, and I’m grateful for this increased wisdom.
Also, I started learning to surf again this year (another thing I had had to give up because of the pain), and I feel like I’ve gotten my body back. I”m alive, and it’s incredible!
In July 2014 I desperately went to what I thought was “yet another physiotherapist” to find a solution to my chronic tennis elbow symptoms. I could barely lift a mug of tea despite having had 4 steroid injections over the course of 18 months, innumerable sessions of physio, physical therapy, magnets, kinesiology, kinesio taping, you name it, I tried it!
I went to see a therapist in Galway thinking that he would finally physically strip the muscles back in my forearm and free up the pain in my elbow. No. Instead he told me that there is no such thing as tennis elbow or tendonitis and recommended I read The Mind Body prescription.
I’ve since gone on to read A Divided Mind. I distinctly remember a morning when I got severe elbow pain and I immediately stopped and analysed the emotions that I had just gone through (and buried) just prior to the pain. I was astounded to witness the pain appearing as a distraction from the emotional pain. I stood still and allowed the emotional pain to flow through me. It took about 40 seconds. Then the “debilitating” pain disappeared.
One year on and I rarely even think about elbow pain. When it comes up I can quickly source the anger or emotional pain at its root and it disappears. Most importantly I fully understand that the pain is a manifestation of my mind.
I am a person with severe TMS and I’ve had many equivalencies since. But I’ve also managed to deconstruct and fully recover from lower back pain and piriformis syndrome. I’ve reduced my tinnitus significantly. I’ve vastly reduced the incidence or tension headaches and neck pain. And I have had months long respite from prostatitis and pelvic pain. I’m open now to looking at my food allergies.
Even just listing all the pain disorders here is an eye opener yet again to the effect TMS has had on my life and the wonderful cure and opportunity that Dr Sarno has offered to me. Thank you!
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I am so glad to have this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for me. In 1997 I began having neck pain which soon spread to my arms and hands. I was working long hours on a computer at the time and so was diagnosed with RSI. I spent over a year on many traditional and alternative treatments. These included physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, Rolfing, Alexander Technique, and prolotherapy injections. None of these had any significant or lasting effect. Tests revealed tendinitis, inflammation, and muscle spasm. I was unable to work, drive, or do everyday activities like tying my shoes. I was told by doctors that no one ever recovers from a condition like mine and I should accept the fact that I would have a life of disability. I very much wanted to have children, and it was a constant sadness to me that I might never be able to because of the pain.
I had heard of your books, but my reaction was very resistant at first. However, over time, I became desperate enough to give them a try. Your description of the “goodist” described me exactly.
I began to use the do-it-yourself program you outline in The Mind Body Prescription. I stopped all physical treatments, and concentrated on your book. I was also lucky enough to get an appointment with you at NYU Medical Center. I had a lot of improvement in the time between starting the at home program and the appointment. Within 6 weeks of seeing you and attending your lecture I was completely cured.
I had so much confidence in the cure that my husband and I immediately decided to start a family. I now have two beautiful teenage boys. I have remained pain free since December of 1999. I have absolutely no restrictions on my activity.
I know this is a long story, but I hope the details might be helpful to other people with RSI. Your work is brilliant. I am so lucky to have found your ideas. You have permanently restored my life.
Dear Dr. Sarno,
For over 20 years, chronic back pain has dogged me, sitting has been a nightmare, and exercise has been severely limited. But, thanks to you and your books, all that has changed.
Recently, I retired from teaching and moved with my husband to a foreign country. Shortly after our arrival, my pain escalated to the point that I could barely walk. I tried cortisone shots and chiropractic, even though they had never helped much in the past. They did not help this time either. Fear set in: Would I be an invalid in my mid-fifties—in a foreign country? In desperation, I searched the internet and found your books. I downloaded The Mindbody Prescription and The Divided Mind onto my Kindle and began to read, re-read, and devoted myself to therapeutic journaling—sometimes up to two or three hours a day. Because I had no access to English-speaking psychotherapists, I was on my own with only your books, the success stories written by your patients, the TMS wiki site, and my husband’s support. Finally, after two months of persistent study and journaling, the pain was 95% gone.
As a young woman, I had been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. At that time (1978), I found life-saving help in a new book by psychoanalyst Hilda Bruch who explained how perfectionism and goodism were integral aspects of the illness. I accepted the psychosomatic diagnosis and got better with the help of psychotherapy. When I regained my weight, I left therapy feeling quite proud of my ability to overcome this serious illness. But soon I began to develop a string of other symptoms: interstitial cystitis, skin problems, IBS, odd aches and pains, and finally— out of nowhere—crippling low-back pain. My doctors and I were utterly blind to the connection between these symptoms and the earlier eating disorder. Now I see this series of unexplained illnesses as nothing more than the “symptom imperative” at work. Your books helped me see this pattern and finally uncover the long-repressed anger that was fueling the need for all these crippling symptoms.
Today, I walk rigorously up and down hills, swim, and sit as long as I like. I feel stronger, healthier, and more alive than ever before in my adult life. It is liberating, to say the least. I owe this freedom to you. Thank you, Dr. Sarno!
Thank you, Dr. Sarno!
For years I have wanted to thank you for changing my life for better. This is a minimal way I feel I can communicate with you and share my appreciation.
I am probably the most fervent advocate of your teachings in the Dominican Republic. I have purchased and continue to purchase several of your books and frequently lend them to friends here.
My story… For two years I suffered from acute pain and had ups and downs… carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, bursitis, etc. I visited a wide range of traditional and non-traditional practitioners (Chinese and Japanese acupuncture, osteopathy, Feldenkreis method, cortisone shots, pain killers, Ceragem Korean massage beds, Inverter table, etc.). I had been seen by rheumatologist, orthopedist, geriatrician, endocrinologist, etc.
None could give me a clear diagnose of what was causing this terrible pain. Most provided temporary relief. But the pain would recur. The pain got so severe I had to work standing up. I could barely sit.
I was in severe pain when a friend noticed my acute discomfort when having dinner at a restaurant and said he would help. The next day he lent me two of your earliest books. He explained the books had been lent to him by a friend who had consulted with you in New York and had been cured. My friend had also been cured by reading the books and today is a triathlete.
As many others have written, I saw myself (unforgiving perfectionist personality) reflected in the explanations in the books and recall curing myself by reading and re-reading the chapters in less than a week.
I have had several recurrences and have just gone back to reading your books. The latest was when I noticed a close friend suffering from TMS. I had to retake the reading to get cured again.
The books are like bibles to me. When cured I have felt like the biblical Lazarus: I got up and walked. I now understand miracles. And I understand one has to believe to be cured.
I cannot thank you enough for your brilliance and sharing your knowledge. You should have already won the Noble Prize for helping so many people.
I will do all possible to continue to spread this knowledge.
Dear Dr. Sarno,
About a year ago I was in the worst state physically and mentally. I was in the process of interviewing surgeons to have surgery on the discs in my neck, which were believed to be causing the excruciating pain that radiated down my shoulder and arm. I was unable to sit, walk, and drive, which basically meant I spent a lot of time on my back, medicated. This was no easy task with two small boys. I was no stranger to chronic pain and had suffered for most of my adult life. My diagnoses ranging from irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, herniated discs, migraines and high blood pressure just to name a few.
As I lay on my basement floor, unable to move and realizing I couldn’t live my life like this any longer I was reluctantly going to pursue surgery. Then, enter my brother-in-law who had been suggesting your book to me for several years after his success with your TMS theory. This time I had finally agreed to read it. As I read the pages I began to wonder could this book be written about me. Of course it wasn’t, but I represent so many others who are struggling with chronic pain and desperate to find relief.
Your words resonated with me and I began to open up to the possibility that my pain could be emotionally charged. I especially found comfort in your words explaining that the pain I felt was very real, but originating from a psychological concern rather than a mechanical one. I had done every conventional and alternative treatment recommended that should have cured my pain and none of them worked. Now I know why, the pain was not being caused by a physical problem. Within six weeks of reading your book and subscribing to your theory of TMS, I was able to walk my kids to school, do hot yoga and drive a car without pain. Fast forward to today, it has been just over a year and I have been pain free and feeling better than ever! When life begins to stress me out, I reach for your daily reminders and I’m able to manage my mind and body as a whole and keep chronic pain away for good. I am eternally grateful for your dedication to TMS and hope to continue to see your work and legacy provide the shift our culture needs in the treatment of chronic pain.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Dear Dr Sarno,
I was trying to find a contact for you, when I came across this site. I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for changing my life. A few years ago I was going in to hospital for back surgery when I came across your book “Healing Back Pain” in a local bookstore. I live in Ireland. I had never heard of you. I had tried everything else.
After reading your book I cured my back completely. It was astonishing. I understood exactly what you were saying and it worked 100%.
Over the years since then I have had chronic neck pain, an ulcer and chronic knee pain. I suffered these for a while until I remembered your book, and was able to heal every one of them, instantly, once I realized it was TMS.
I recently fixed my severe ankle pain, again instantly, when I remembered what I had learned from your book.
I have bought all your books and with the input in them from all the other specialists, I have been able to address many of the underlying issues that brought on my TMS.
You are an amazing man. Thank you so much. The world needs you. You are so far ahead of your time, that we will all have passed on, before your books are compulsory on all medical courses, which they will be.
Sean Mac Oisin
Dear Dr. Sarno,
You had diagnosed me with TMS in 1995. Thank you. You gave me the knowledge I needed to recover from a variety of physical ailments namely severe back spasms and a very embarrassing condition that I refer to as my “personal pain problem” for which I’d sought help from gastroenterologists and gynecologists, underwent a battery of “tests” and then “exploratory surgery”: all of which revealed nothing, leaving my doctors and surgeon completely frustrated and baffled. I am a very conservative person and revealing this “personal pain” to anyone (even the doctors) was very embarrassing for me. They knew I was not making this bizarre pain up!
It wasn’t until I met you that I discovered the problem behind my “personal pain problem”! You informed me that as I worked through the process of healing from my back issue, that I would also heal from my personal pain problem! I am thrilled to inform you that I have!
I think what really solidified my belief in your TMS theory was the fact that my pain would intensify drastically each time I had an appointment with Dr. Fran Anderson! I’d be sitting in the back of a cab, on my way to her office and, like clockwork, the pain would escalate so quickly! Suddenly I would experience pain where I never even had any before! It was amazing! Like my subconscious knew what I was about to do and was screaming “NO! STOP!” The escalation of pain did not surprise me though because I had read in your book to expect this to occur when we first begin the process of healing. For me, the intensifying pain was simply an affirmation of your theory being absolutely confirmed!
Dr. Sarno, before I met you and attended your lectures my life was really falling apart. I was on the verge of losing my job of 25 years, I had ceased all of my sporting activities for fear that I was going to hurt myself even more. I was so depressed.
You gave me my life back! You gave me the gift of knowledge about what was going on in my mind and to my body. You have educated me and given me all I need to know to live out the rest of my life free from the many manifestations of TMS. I will be forever grateful to you Dr. Sarno!
I thank you for having been a very significant part of my life experience!
May God bless you as you have been such a blessing to me!
With long lasting gratitude,
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I have never met you, and I am sure you have lost count of the number of times you have heard this, but I would like to sincerely thank you for showing me the way to heal my 30-year chronic low-back pain! I’ll try and keep my story short, but my back pain started when I was an active 17 year old, after which began a 30 year long saga of pain and suffering.
I was initially diagnosed with a bulging disc on the sciatic nerve which began “my life with a bad back”. After decades of seeing numerous medical specialists and receiving numerous treatments which included surgery, acupuncture, physio sessions, epidurals, and facet joint injections my pain persisted and increased. All of these only gave me temporary relief, if that. Gradually, I slowly but surely lost the ability to lead a normal life. The last 10 years in particular were quite bad as I was living with an average level of 8/10 pain, not being able to sit for more than a minute or two without extreme pain, and avoiding many of the activities one takes part in as part of a normal life. Somehow though I soldiered on by continuously adjusting my life, but the effect of the pain was really starting to take its toll mentally, no different really than being in a torture chamber. Eventually I reached the stage where I had given up any sort of hope of reducing my back pain and became resigned to the fact that I would just have to somehow live a life of taking prescription pain killers, and avoiding anything that caused my back pain to increase above the already ‘normal’ but high pain levels. In the end, no other treatment seemed to give me even a slight reprieve from pain, not even as a placebo. Even the pain killers slowly started to become ineffective requiring higher dosages. Looking back it is clear all of these treatments were aimed at the symptoms rather than the cause. I, as well as my family, had become a prisoner to my back pain.
That was December of 2013. Then one day I came across your book Healing Back Pain on the internet, and after reading a few reviews, I thought, “sounds too good to be true”, but I ordered the book, as well as The MindBody Prescription and received them a week later. I read the books in a few days and as a goodist, I could see myself all over them. I started to put some of the ideas and TMS exercises into practice, and about 2 weeks later I started to notice some reduction in my pain levels. My progress however stagnated a bit for a while, and then I mustered the courage to seek a psychotherapist. In Australia, TMS-aware psychotherapists (or medical professionals) are as rare as hen’s teeth, but funnily enough one of probably the only two TMS practising psychotherapists in this country had a clinic a few blocks away from where I lived! It took another 4 months or so of work with somatic psychotherapy but I finally started to get in touch with a huge reservoir of repressed anger that I had no idea even existed. It is July 2014 now and even though I am not totally pain free, I have reduced my pain levels significantly (by 70 % or more) and I am starting to do things I never even dreamed of doing before. I can now sit down and watch a movie, go to a theatre show or work in front of the computer, instead of lying down all the time. I have stopped worrying about my back, and have not had a flare up now for 4 months, something that used to happen every few weeks or so. For most of the day now I don’t even feel any pain. I have even jumped back on my bike which was collecting dust for the last 10 years in the shed. I recently even went to an 8-hour training course which involved sitting for most of that time. Focussing on feelings and emotions instead of the physical has definitely worked. It’s like my life has started again.
While I still feel some back pain now and then and have some more work ahead of me, I feel I have the knowledge and tools to completely conquer it and I am confident I will eliminate it in the near future. So once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your pioneering work and your strength of conviction in unravelling the truth about TMS.
Now when people ask me, “How is your back?” I answer, “Really good thanks!”. They look at me a bit puzzled and ask “What did you do to make it better? Special exercises? Swimming?” I smile at them and cheekily say, “I got better by ignoring everything that I was ever told about my back!” It gets their attention, and then I show them a copy of your book. To this day I always try to spread your good work.
The following letter was translated from Spanish to English.
Hello Doctor Sarno,
Although I never met him because I live far away in Peru, I had the opportunity to read his book “The Divided Mind.” I found myself on each page and thanks to the understanding that occurred in my mind I overcame pelvic pain I had with me for 3 years.
I remember having a desperate phone call with my limited English. I asked for help. He told me to read my book over and over and so I did. I felt pain whenever I read it until one day the pain that was 24 hours a day began to dissipate, and started to be 12 hours, then 6 hours a day. And then out of the blue one day I stopped hurting. I remember that day like it was the first and I thank God for coming to you.
I wish him well :D regards
From Lima – Peru.
Dear Dr. Sarno,
In my late teens I began a 10 year journey of one physical ailment after another and it continued until I studied your work. It started with knee pain, mild carpel tunnel syndrome, then lower back pain, severe allergies, asthma, pancreatitis and finished off with severe ulcerative colitis, all with no known cause and most with no known cure other than surgery for a couple of them. I tried cortisone shots in my knee, braces and therapy for my knee and wrist, inhalers and nasal spray for allergies and asthma, stretches and chiropractors for my back, a wheelbarrow of pills, juicing, fasting and diet changes for colitis. I even had a visit at one of the top four hospitals in the United States in search of help for pancreatitis and colitis only to come home with no answers. I was at a loss. In my mind, being in my mid 20’s, I should have been at the peak of health.
As a long time listener of Howard Stern, I heard him mention you several times over the years but always about back pain. I dismissed it because I only had a brief encounter with it but one day he went a little deeper and touched on the mindbody connection. It triggered something and I bought all of your books. I’m now almost 31, take no medication and I’m in the best health of my life. My breathing tests since studying your work have been “perfect” the pulmonologist says and he has taken me off all inhalers. The allergies remain but have been reduced by 90 percent.
During the time period I was studying your work I had an accident and suffered a Type 4 AC shoulder Separation. After I healed up through physical therapy and was feeling great, I put your theory of pain returning to the site of an old injury to the test. I randomly started feeling a severe pain in my shoulder as if someone was trying to drive a nail into it, it did not follow suit to what I had been doing physically and I “talked my self out of it”. The pain tried a couple more times to come back, I immediately shut it down and it hasn’t returned. I can’t thank you enough and as everyone else says, I am forever in debt to you Dr. Sarno.
Dear Dr. Sarno
Five years ago, I was a 24 year old woman that had given up on life after battling immense pain for over a decade. I had vowed to take my own life at the end of that year until I was given a gift that would change my life forever. Someone had known of my pain and gave me your book. Within a month I was pain free and by the end of that year I was able to celebrate my life and the hope that I had gained instead of giving up. I had never even met you but yet, you were the only one that helped me through the hardest part of my life. I can still remember how many tears of joy I cried while reading your book and I still to this day smile every time I hear your name or hear of a story of someone else that healed their pain because of you. I only hope that one day everyone living with pain will hear of you and give your books a chance because so many are in need of healing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you have done, I will forever be in your debt because I am alive now. I still battle TMS every so often but as soon as it emerges, I recognize it for what it is and realize that I am in control of my pain and my body and not the other way around. This is has changed my life in so many other ways other than just a healing of the body. My mind is at peace and that is something I never thought would happen. Thank you for giving me my life back.
You are my hero Dr. Sarno.
Dear Dr. Sarno,
You are my hero. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. You literally saved my life. Your incredible dedication & caring is quite simply amazing. I have tried to “spread the word of Sarno” for the last 25 years & I hope that I’ve helped some people help themselves. I genuinely love you. You are an amazing man. I hope you are well. You deserve nothing but the absolute best in this world & beyond!
Thank you so much,
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I can’t thank you enough – you have changed my life. I put my back “out” about six years ago and was laid up for about 9 months until a friend recommended your book “Healing Back Pain” and I read a short write-up about your work in “Time” magazine. It made perfect sense to me, so I ordered the “Mindbody Prescription” and did what your patient recommended – I started writing everything down that I could possibly be angry or upset about. Well, at the time I thought that I was pretty in touch with my feelings because I had been in Primal Therapy since 1980. But I just started writing anyway and ended up with 2 full pages – LOL!! What came out was that I had been trying to be the good wife to my husband and was completely unaware of what I wanted. So, within two days I was out of bed (scared out of my mind, of course, thinking I’d end up in a wheelchair) and haven’t looked back!! I have been pain free since then!! And I had it bad – sciatica pain down my right leg and one of my little toes was completely numb. All gone!!! But the really cool thing aside from the back pain is that I have been using your method for everything now – if I feel like I’m getting sick, I either write down or just think about what it is that I’m not looking at. And then I don’t have to get sick. It’s incredible!!
So, you have changed my life – like I said, I can’t thank you enough!!!!
All the best to you- enjoy your retirement!!
Dear Dr. Sarno,
From the time I was eighteen to the age of twenty-one I suffered with debilitating back pain. I couldn’t get out of bed some days. I had to stop doing all the physical things I loved like training in the martial arts. The “doctors” (and I had many) told me I had slipped discs, herniated discs, degenerative disc disorder, twisted spine, pinched nerves and sciatica. I went to every different kind of doctor, surgeon, chiropractor, acupuncturist, and faith healer you can imagine. By the time I was twenty-one I was clinically depressed because of my pain and contemplating suicide, which I felt at the time would be my only relief.
Then I found your second book Healing Back Pain. Two weeks later I was completely pain free and twenty years later I am still pain free. I am also a much healthier person in general than I have ever been thanks to what I learned from your book. As far as I’m concerned you are a genius and you saved my life. Those that have never suffered the pain I suffered and realized the miracle of your treatment will not understand what a treasure you are for humanity, but I know. When you said, “Don’t listen to your doctor, do the things you love and don’t be afraid of pain” it was as if a divine light went off in my head. I felt that finally there was a doctor that knew what he was talking about and wasn’t just trying to sell me drugs and surgery. Your concepts of TMS saved my life and as a result I was able to save another person’s life.
A friend of mine was randomly complaining about her constant back pain that had been plaguing her for some time. Her doctor told her the same hogwash they told me; slipped discs and jargon. I told her my story and explained to her your theories of TMS. She accepted them and a week later she was pain free. That’s all it took to help someone else! The truths you discovered are radiating out into the world and saving people from unnecessary suffering. Whether you are ever acknowledged by the half wits in the medical community or not, you are a saint in the hearts of thousands, and someday millions, of people throughout the world. You will go down in history as a true healer and that legacy is well deserved.
Thank you Dr. Sarno. Thank you for being brave and putting the health of your patients above the money you might have made selling drugs and surgery.
Thank you. I am forever in debt to you.
The following is Woojin’s original letter to Dr. Sarno written in Korean, his native language. An English translation of his letter is below it.
존 사노 박사님!
저는 한국에서 두 아이를 둔, 한의사입니다.
2012년 겨울 무렵부터 아프기 시작한 허리가, 2013년 5월경부터 심하게 아파지기 시작했습니다. 병원에 가서 진단을 하니, 허리 디스크라고 하였습니다. 직업이 한의사라, 친구,선배들 한의원 다니며 침과 한약으로 치료도 해보고, 양방병원 치료도 여러 방면으로 해 봤으나 그리 큰 효과를 보지 못했습니다.
여름에는 가벼운 윗몸일으키기를 하다가 흉추부위(등허리)에서 “뻑”하는 소리와 함께 숨쉬기 힘들정도로 고통스러웠습니다. 이때부터 고통의 시작이었던거 같습니다. 이후 경추부(목) 통증도 새로 생기도, 팔꿈치, 손목, 무릎, 발목 등, 몸의 큰관절들은 다 고장이 난 듯 통증이 심했습니다. 2013년 11월 경부터는 통증이 더 심해져 집에서 꼼짝없이 누워있기도 했습니다. 서 있기도 힘들었는데, 당시에는 하루에 서너차례 집앞 공원 산책정도만 했습니다. 그 무렵 둘째 딸도 태어났지만, 아이 안기도 힘들어서 너무 괴로웠습니다. 병원 검사도 몇 번 더 했습니다. 증상의 양상이 강직성척추염(ankylosing spondylitis, bamboo spine)이 의심스러워 두번이나 검사를 해봤으나, 아니라고 진단받았습니다. 통증은 심한데, 진단상 그리 심각해 보이지 않는다는 얘기만 들었습니다. 그렇게 겨울을 지내면서 단지 재활이라고는 공원 산책만 했습니다.
크게 차도를 보이지 않아, 굉장한 실망감과 우울감, 가족들에게 미안함으로 힘들었습니다. 게다가 더 심해질 것 같은 공포감도 컸죠.
어느 날, 친구가 읽어보라고 선물해준 사노 박사님의 책, “The divided mind” 를 읽게 되었습니다.
TMS라는 자가진단을 내리고, 책을 읽고 걷기 시작하는데, 정말 놀랄만큼 통증이 줄어들었습니다. 걷기도 수월해졌습니다. 너무 놀라워서 책을 꼼꼼이 정독했습니다. 그 이후, 걷는 시간과 강도를 늘리고 있습니다.
“reservoir of rage”의 개념을 받아들이는 것만으로도 통증이 많이 줄어 너무 놀랍습니다.
2014년 4월 2일이 제 인생의 터닝포인트 날입니다. 이젠 희망이 생기고 즐겁습니다.
비록 멀리 한국에서 편지를 쓰지만, 사노 박사님께 무한한 감사와 존경을 드립니다.
누나네 가족이 볼티모어 살고 있어서, 지금 할아버지, 할머니, 제 아들 셋이 여행을 갔습니다. 그 곳에서 제 부모님과 아들, 누나네 가족도 사노 박사님께 감사해 하고 있습니다.
미국에 가게 된다면, 꼭 박사님을 뵙고 인사드리고 싶습니다. 행복하고 건강하게 사시길 기도합니다.
한국에서 최우진 드림 (woojin choi)
The following is the English translation of Woojin’s letter to Dr. Sarno.
Dear Dr. John Sarno,
I am a herbalist/oriental physician in Korea and the father of two small children.
I started having back pain since Winter 2012, and it grew severely from May 2013. My doctor said it’s a disc herniation. Since I’m a physician of oriental medicine, I went to numerous famous acupuncturist and herbalist but did not see much improvement.
In Summer 2013, I heard a breaking sound in my upper back (thoracic area) while doing sit-ups, and a literally “breathtaking” pain started. I think this was the beginning. The pain appeared in neck, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles as if all the important joints are all broken. I could not even move but just stayed home because of the pain since November 2013. The pain was so severe that it was hard to even stand still. I could barely walk around my house for short 3-4 times a day. My daughter—the second child—was born around that time, but I could not even hold her in my arms because of the pain. I had several more medical inspections. The symptoms were similar to ankylosing spondylitis, and I went through a complete medical examination for it twice. The results were, however, negative. I was only heard that the results do not show anything significant although the pain is severe. I could only do some promenade around my house for a rehabilitation that winter.
As there was no improvement, I was very disappointed, depressed, and sorry for my family. And the fear—what should I do if the pain grew more and more?—was enormous.
One day, my friend bought me your book “The Divided Mind.” I diagnosed myself as having TMS. I started walking right after finishing your book. Gosh, the pain was significantly less. I could walk easily. It was really surprising, so I read your book with care again and again. I am increasing the walking time and distance little by little.
I was very surprised that the pain decreased much just by accepting the concept of “reservoir of rage.”
April 2, 2014 is the turning point of my life. I now have hope and am ready to enjoy my life.
I can only send you this letter at the other side of the globe, but I give you sincere thanks and respect.
My parents and my son are visiting my sister’s family in Baltimore now, and they thank you very much for your work and how it helped me.
If I have a chance to go to the States later, I really want to meet you in person. I pray you stay happy and healthy.
I had a knee problem and had tried everything. Doctors named it chondromalacia patella. Surgery was the only option. Then I came across the name of Dr. Sarno and read his book. I applied his techniques and it’s amazing, I am completely free of knee pain. When I got my knees MRI scanned there was no evidence of it, but the pain was there. After applying Dr. Sarno’s techniques it was completely gone.
I am writing this so that other sufferers out there can use his technique and become pain free. It’s truly sad that pain is inevitable but the suffering is optional.
Thanks with all my heart
Dear Dr. Sarno:
There are not enough words to thank you for saving me from the chronic pain that ruled my life for 10 years. I suffered from chronic back, shoulder and knee pain. It was baffling because it all started in my mid-twenties when I was basically at the peak of good health. I was an extremely active person all my life up to that point. In fact, I was training for a half-marathon when it all began.
After seeing countless doctors and physical therapists, and receiving countless (wrong) diagnoses over the years, I was at my wit’s end. My active lifestyle was relegated to walking on the treadmill and riding the stationary bike. My chair at work felt like a torture chamber for my back every day. And, I was also no longer allowed to wear my coveted high heels. My doctor finally prescribed knee surgery, but never actually saw anything on the MRIs or X-rays for my knee (or my back or shoulder) that would indicate I needed surgery. I am now convinced it was completely unnecessary.
A very smart person introduced me to your book, and I will forever be grateful. I devoured it and saw myself on every page and I took steps to get to the bottom of what was causing my pain. That was nearly two years ago. Since then, I have returned to my active lifestyle. Yoga, Pilates, jogging, Spin, Zumba. You name it. I am no longer afraid of physical activity. The doctors can no longer tell me that I’ll “hurt myself” if I do any of these activities or that I am “not built” to do them. I also have amassed a closet full of high heels that I proudly wear on a daily basis. And I no longer consider my chair at work to be a torture chamber. I have nearly forgotten what it felt like to be in constant pain all day, every day. It’s almost hard for me to believe that it’s truly gone.
I played on a softball team last summer for the first time in almost a decade. I can’t explain how invigorating it was to be on the field once again after so many years on the sidelines. I was scared to sprint around the bases at first. But with one crack of the bat, adrenaline kicked in and I took off like a shot – like the old Danielle. And I haven’t looked back since.
Whenever the pain acts up, I am able to turn my attention to the emotional factors that are contributing to it. Your book has taught me a lot about myself and made me recognize the stressful factors in my life that were contributing to the pain. Now I will be in tune with what my body is trying to tell me for the rest of my life. I can’t thank you enough for your books and all that I have learned from them. Thank you for giving me my active lifestyle – and my life – back!
Dear Dr Sarno
I am indebted to you for rescuing me from myself. I had a minor injury 6 years ago that turned into a nightmare of chronic back pain for 2 years. Eventually it got so bad I couldn’t sit which meant I had to stop work and spend most of my time lying on the floor. I shut down my life completely because of this pain.
When I read your book The Mindbody Prescription, I recognised myself on every page. It then only took me a couple of months to fully rid myself of pain by using your techniques and, at the same time, working with a therapist who helped me to unload the emotional baggage I was carrying around.
This year, after pushing myself too hard in a job I was struggling to keep up with, I again find my body has something to say. Again it has stopped working. My doctor says it is ‘adrenal fatigue’. I am suspicious that this may be the new ulcers/RSI/whiplash/back pain equivalent as I see so many books are being published about it right now. So I am applying the same techniques I learnt from your books and, having now finally given myself permission to leave this job, the symptoms are going and I am feeling much clearer.
During my back pain episode and now through this fatigue episode, I found that creative writing helped me to work through and understand what was really going on; how I had gotten into this and how I would get out. I have recently set up a blog, http://painfatigueandme.wordpress.com/about/, where I have uploaded my pain journey writing in the hopes that other people who are suffering unnecessarily might recognise themselves in my story and find their way to your books.
With love and thanks,
Dear Dr. Sarno,
In 2003 I began to experience chronic back pain that was so severe that it kept me from sleeping at night.
I immediately contacted my physician, who did a full work-up, with MRIs, CT scan, bone scan (because the pain radiated from my sacrum area), and physical therapy. He supplemented this treatment with (at different times) opioid painkillers, neurontin, Lyrica, and NSAIDs.
The workups showed two herniated discs but nothing else that was exceptional. The PT temporarily relieved my pain, but it returned all too soon. Chiropractic had a similar result, as did cranio-sacral therapy. I increased my daily exercise regime and added stretching. Still no relief from the chronic night-time pain.
I continued to take an exploratory and proactive approach to my chronic pain. I began to attend yoga classes and received acupuncture. I underwent a full series of Rolfing sessions as well as a six-month long course of weekly shiatsu massage. All of these ‘alternative’ treatments were wonderful because of the relationships that formed around them, and they were very emotionally revealing, but they didn’t vanquish my back pain. I stretched, I learned to release trigger points, I read all the books I could find about back pain.
Still no lasting relief from the chronic pain.
My PC doc and my ortho specialist arrived at the conclusion that surgery would be the next step, but they warned me that it is often ineffective at relieving chronic pain.
One day, I found *Healing Back Pain* at the library. I checked it out, went home, and read it in one session. I realized almost immediately that this approach applied to me and my situation.
I entered treatment with a psychologist and began to practice gentle stretching exercises (Chinese qi gong). Within a few days my pain was drastically reduced, and within two months it had entirely gone away. I no longer had to take painkillers or lose sleep. Best of all, my emotional life became more satisfying and well-integrated. I became a happier and (I hope) better adjusted person because of this learning experience.
I continue to be free of back pain ten years later. Every once in a while, when I feel a twinge in my back (or a stomach upset or a skin problem) I turn my attention to factors in my emotional life, and that does the trick. I’ve helped several friends and relatives arrive at the same resolution for their issues, including orthopedic pain, gastrointestinal issues and fibromyalgia.
I believe that many people find secondary gain in TMS pain and are unwilling to confront the psychological issues that cause it. I only hope that one day, physicians and other health-care practitioners embrace your approach more readily. It has the potential to save them, their patients, and the health-care system from the disastrous effects of chronic TMS pain.
I have been suffering from recurrent episodes of chronic back pain over the last 10 years.
The intensity of the pain has been ranging from moderate to intense in relation with my life style and working activities. Over the year the problem turned into a regular 2 weeks pain over the space of a month. I have seen numerous doctors and was diagnosed with all sort of conditions. Shorter leg, spine disorder, L4 stuck to L5…
I have been very fortunate to come across your book “Healing Back Pain” which has had a very strong and immediate impact on the understanding of my underlying problem.
Within a matter of weeks I have rediscovered full physical activities without any restraints or compromise.
I am very happy to enjoy again running and my new life in charge of my body.
And for this I cannot be thankful enough.
Dear Dr Sarno,
It was back in 2007 when my then boyfriend (now husband) and I, in a rather stressful professional moment, started having pain in our hands.
The pain increased for both of us day after day, reaching our necks and backs. Yet we didn´t dare to complain, we were young, we were in love, we had friends…How dare we say anything was wrong?
I still remember the day when we really accidentally learnt about your work. It was the first day I had to leave work early out of pain, my husband had been at home for over a month by then. We thought we had googled everything, we thought that that was it, our life as we imagined it was over, we were destined to perish with our RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)…
And then we stumbled upon a random, rather basic website of graduate students who were “saved” by you. We thought of giving it a go, Funnily enough, we were booked to go to the annual RSI conference in London the day after, where we met some people who were volunteering presenting your work. We looked for them (they weren´t given any visibility) and had a long chat. Possibly the most important chat of our lives.
Well, after that chat something clicked in my mind and I was pain free within hours. My husband took a bit longer, but within 14 days he was back working more than full-time (he had to make up for the time lost). Since then we have started a mind-body journey. We know a lot more about ourselves, whenever we have some pain or a cold that takes a bit too long to go away we ask ourselves where we are mentally and emotionally.
I haven´t stopped reading literature related to the mind-body connection since then, and my curiosity cannot be satiated. I am young enough to think that I can change career and if I do, that would probably be my area of work.
I credit you for our health and I admire you for your intellectual honesty, courage and humanity to challenge mainstream knowledge.
I am so glad I found this website, I hope this message reaches you.
Thank you very much from both of us.
I suffered constant, debilitating back pain for two years. Then my wife discovered “Healing Back Pain” and had me read it. I was extremely skeptical but gave it a try out of desperation. (My orthopedist had just recommended spinal fusion surgery.) Within two weeks I was noticeably better, completely cured in a month. Dr. Sarno virtually saved my life.
I’ve had occasional equivalent symptoms in the two decades since then, but I pull out one of his books, work on the process, and they go away within days. I’m 65 years old and happily healthy. Thank you Dr. Sarno!!
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I read your back pain book while recovering from my second c-section, and fighting off very unpleasant back pain. I was seeing a physical therapist at the time. As an older mother, I really thought my days as an active person were over. Reading your book restored my back completely, no more physical therapy needed. Also, it gave me profound insight into the power of emotions, primarily anger, to affect the body. Now, I am a boxing student and my back is great! Many thanks for the inspiration and exciting life!
In 2006 I was injured at my job of 2 months at a school for the developmentally disabled. Ruptured L4/L5. The pain was so bad I could not sit even to use the bathroom. I was devastated as I had just moved into my 1st place, a 3rd floor apartment! In the few years before the injury I had left an abusive/alcoholic husband of 20 years then got involved with a man just like him and had finally left him, I’d quit my very stressful job at a dialysis clinic, went to college at 40, graduated with a 3.99 GPA, and got my dream job! After the injury the Dr. told me if I didn’t get a discectomy/laminectomy I would lose the use of my left leg. He asked me if I wanted to look like the lady in the waiting room with a brace on her leg and a cane! Of course I didn’t! I hiked and danced for fun! So I had the surgery and before long I had more pain, weakness, and numbness then before. I was told a fusion was the only option. Of course that made things worse.
I went to a thrift store one day and your book, “Mind Over Back Pain” was lying on the floor. I asked my Mom to pick it up and hand it to me as I was unable to bend. She did, I bought it and devoured it. At first I thought, “This guy is nuts! I know why I have back pain and it’s not because of me! How dare he!” But I read on and you got me! I was a believer! I read your other books and saw myself there too. I stopped going to Dr’s. Stopped taking pain meds and started doing the inner work that was needed. I read the TMS Wiki posts where I learned about Michael Brown’s “Presence Process”. I attempted it many times and finally completed it. I started hiking and dancing again and began volunteering for Hospice and then got a job caring for an elderly couple on a beautiful horse farm. On 11-11-11 I married a man I met 2 weeks after my injury. He’s taken care of me, taught me to do yoga, meditated with me, and most importantly showed me that I deserve LOVE.
This pic was taken when he and I took a trip to Washington and hiked at Mt. Rainier National Forest. I could never have done that if not for YOU! I don’t even want to imagine what my life would have been like if not for YOU! Thank YOU from the bottom of my integrated heart!
I read Healing Back Pain in the mid-1990’s, saw myself on every page, and it changed my life. I have never met you, but I owe you the a great debt for saving me from a life spent in pain in doctors offices. I had knee pain at that time that cortisone shots and physical therapy could not heal when a woman who had had severe back pain (including 2 operations) and was swimming 2 miles a day suggested I read Healing Back Pain even though my pain was in my knee. The next day I had a appointment with yet another doctor who told me I had fibromyalgia. I got off the exam table, thanked him, paid my bill, and never looked back.
Now when I have pain, I talk to/yell at my brain and reread your books as the basis to think about things that are bothering me. It has really helped to understand what is actually happening physically. For example, when I had recurring urinary tract infections, it helped to understand how the brain causes infections and allergies by suppressing or increasing the immune system. Once I understood this, it confirmed for me that this was a TMS equivalent, and I my last infection literally disappeared overnight.
I must also thank you for describing the subtle childhood emotional abuse of some TMS sufferers in the Divided Mind. I felt like you must have been sitting on the couch of my childhood home. I cried for an hour knowing I was not alone and did not imagine it. I have reread that section many times and it has been a great comfort.
Thank you, and I wish you peace and health in your life. I know you have brought a great deal of that to mine.
Thank you so much for eliminating my chronic back pain. I am deeply indebted to you. This doesn’t have to be posted; I can’t be bothered to add pictures, etc… but I just wanted to give you this message.
I often mention your technique to others, but it’s mostly fallen on deaf ears. I can’t understand why.
I went to other “specialists”, but nothing worked, until I did your program and I also used it for other pain.
Thank you so much.
Love Avnita x
I have never met you, only once read your book “Healing Back Pain” that was recommended by a friend. I owe you so much gratitude for changing my life! I suffered from over 8 years of chronic back pain. I was told I had bulging discs, spina bifida occulta and pars defect/spondylosis. Not only did I have back pain, but I have had 7 surgeries on multiple joints. 4 on my knee, one on my hip and both shoulders with rotator cuffs tears. To my surgeons amazement, I was a 34 year old homemaker and tore my rotator cuff without any accident or trauma! To dig deeper as to explain why I had so many issues at such a young age, I visited a rheumatologist who discovered I may possibly have Degenerative Back Disease and would probably have to take medication the rest of my life while my back disintegrated. Then read your book…
Before my pain issues I was a top runner in my state of Indiana and had a cross country scholarship to college. As my life stressors accelerated, so did my pain issues. After my junior year of college I could no longer run more that a 5K. As an adult I dreamed to run the Chicago Marathon. I had surgeries, physical therapy, took all the supplements I could find for my “bad joints” just so some day I could run again. Acupuncture, chiropractors and massage therapists too. Nothing helped long term. One issue would resolve just to have another injury occur. I couldn’t get past a 5K run without developing another injury or having significant pain.
I read your book March of 2012. To be honest, I got very angry! I couldn’t believe that all these years I had listened to all these Dr’s and professionals, when it turns out they were wrong all along. I put my running shoes on and went for a run, pain popped up here and there. Within a few days, the pain was gone.
I sit here writing this letter to you, not knowing if you’ll ever read it. But wanted to tell you that it has been 7 months after reading your book and I just completed my dream of running the 2012 Chicago Marathon!!! Not only did I simply finish, I smashed it! I ran it in 4 hours 2 minutes! I put your book down after reading it and haven’t stopped running since! I have no plans of stopping with a marathon either. The sky’s the limit! I feel like I’ve been given my life back and I credit you for that.
Forever grateful, Sarah