Thank you Dr. Sarno and NYT for introducing him to me. I started to have chronic body pain approximately around Jan 2019 that began with my right leg around the outside of my knee. It was so difficult that I had to completely adjust how I crouched when at work (I cook for a living). The pain persisted until covid-19, I was laid off and it went away briefly…to come back as back pain! The pain radiated everywhere with pain in my feet sometimes. I tried physical therapy, massage therapy, all sorts of books with limited results. The only relief I had was when I briefly visited home for the holidays or when I was very sore from intense exercise. I finally found relief after reading his book and showing my brain WHO controls WHO. No more repressing all these ugly feelings anymore, past and present! I wish Dr. Sarno was alive today so I could thank him personally.
Tag: back pain
Sean’s Thank You
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
Jim’s Thank You
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.
Dustin’s Thank You
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.
Barbara’s Thank You
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!!
River’s Thank You
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.
Woojin’s Thank 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.
Danielle’s Thank You
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!
Painless’s Thank You
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,
Lisa’s Thank You
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.
Dan’s Thank You
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.
Elisabetta and Jon’s Thank You
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.
Jim Campobello’s Thank You
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!!
Dana’s Thank You
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!
Sharon’s Thank You
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.
Sarah’s Thank You
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
Steve’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I was one of your three month intensive program patients in 1982 at Rusk Institute. I had suffered horribly with back pain for seven years and had almost given up hope of a normal life or a pain free life. I was literally ready to walk the plank. I’m a Vietnam veteran and don’t give up easily but I was right at the edge.
I came home from your program pain free. You and Arlene worked wonders. She broke through my many defenses and I started naming and feeling feelings. I worked so hard in the program, as you and Arlene did too. It was almost more work than one human can do, but I gritted my teeth and hung in there.
My story doesn’t stop there. Since 1982 I’ve used your books to help almost one hundred friends and acquaintances. I feel it’s my duty to share what you taught me.
I regret so few doctors have adopted your technique. So we laymen continue to spread the message as best we can. God Bless You John Sarno. In a just world you’d have the Nobel prize for medicine.
Joni’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno:
I want to express my double thanks for your work, which has cured me not once but twice now. About 12 years ago, after typical back problems, I found Healing Back Pain in a bookstore and, thunderstruck, read it for more than an hour in front of the shelf, unable to stop and with hope for the first time in months. My back pain vanished within days. I eventually bought three more copies, including two I gave to doctors.
I’m even more grateful, however, for a more recent TMS resolution. I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis nearly three years ago and tried everything short of surgery. Since I was (wait – am!) a runner, hiker, and long-distance walker/trekker, this devastated my lifestyle and health. The coincidence (or not) of my 50th birthday added insult to injury. I was always troubled by the logic of the diagnosis and treatments, as even minimal research uncovers as much medical bafflement and impotence for PF as for back pain. Then, just as my PF finally seemed to be healing, shooting pains began in one of my ankles. (Um, yeah. I should have realized then…) In desperation, I stumbled on something online that suggested PF might be a TMS manifestation. I bought both your latest books and started running again the next day. Though I’d given up hope of ever doing long-distance walking again, I’m now planning for the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
I’ll be thinking of you the whole way. Resolving my back pain was good, but by giving me back my feet, you’ve really given me back my life, and I feel 10 years younger. I just have to remember TMS as the first answer, not the last answer, next time something hurts!
Thank you doesn’t cover it. Gratefully,
Joel’s Thank You
Beginning in February 1996 I was unable to stand straight, was in EXTREME pain in my back and right leg and taking prescription narcotics to try to manage pain. I had an MRI whereby I was told I had a ruptured L5/S1. I tried injections which provided no relief. I had 2 doctors tell me the only way I would ever get better was through surgery. I read your book, “Healing Back Pain” and finally saw you in September. You diagnosed me with TMS. I attended the group sessions and also went to a psychologist (Dr. Sherman) who specializes in TMS. On December 16, 1996 I was finally pain free, standing upright and off the pain medication. The picture I have sent was taken in February 1997 (I am on the bottom).
I had a recurrence in 1999 that lasted for about 6 months. I was pain free for about 9 years when in 2008 I had a recurrence. I went to a pain management specialist, as you were out of town and I wanted medication to try to relieve the pain. I told him I will be his worst patient as I only need pain medication to help get me through the next 3 weeks as I was going to be traveling allot and I believed my pain was mentally not physically induced. As part of his condition to prescribe me medication I had to agree to get an MRI. With my schedule it took about 6 weeks for me to get the MRI and by then I was 95% better. After reading the results of the MRI my doctor told me that not only do I have a problem with my L5/S1 but I have a problem with my L4 and I have arthritis. I asked him what he recommended and he said bed rest, physical therapy and to continue with the medication he prescribed. I told him I was basically pain free and I asked him how he can explain that. He told me he could not. I have been pain free since then.
Dr. Sarno, thank you for helping me avoid unnecessary and potentially damaging surgery and for helping me become a mentally stronger and together person. You are truly a special person and I wish you and your family good health and only the best life has to offer.
Liz’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve given me. You not only freed me of what felt like a life-sentence of excruciating and debilitating back pain, but your work has also helped me to become the person I am today. Reading Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection in 1997 not only changed my physical health drastically, it also opened my eyes to who I am and how I function. Your work started me on a journey from a girl who was emotionally unaware and detached from her inner-world, to an emotionally-rich woman who now works as a psychotherapist, helping others to identify and process their feelings and grow through a better understanding of themselves.
I was only 18 years old when I was diagnosed and relieved of TMS in 1997. It started with a twinge of pain between the shoulder blades while I was working as a counselor in a sleep-away camp. The camp nurse told me it was from the flimsy camp mattresses and would go away when I got home. But a few months into my senior year in high school, the pain grew stronger, more frequent and to more areas of my back. My pediatrician sent me to a sports medicine doctor. I had an MRI and other scans taken but they were inconclusive. So the doctor prescribed me muscle relaxants. When that didn’t help, my parents took me to a chiropractor. The chiropractor was convinced it was the after-effects of a car accident I had been in, but that never resonated as true to me (though it had to be for him to bill my insurance). He had me come in every week for an adjustment and time on a massage bed. As I would drive myself home from the chiropractic session, I would have some of my worst bouts of back pain (though the car accident hadn’t affected me physically, it probably had emotionally/ psychologically- triggering the TMS pain). I was a teenager but I would have to miss out on some social gatherings because I was at home writhing in pain, lying on a heating pad in bed, my mom trying to massage the knots in my back with massagers- to no avail. I felt like an 18 year old stuck in the body of an 80 year old. I was petrified I was destined to spend the rest of my life this way, since none of the doctors I saw could find the appropriate diagnosis, or cure. I felt helpless and hopeless and wondered how’d I go on.
At the time, my older brother was reading Howard Stern’s autobiography. He told my parents that in it, Howard had devoted a chapter to singing the praises of a medical doctor who had completely relieved him of his extreme and debilitating back pain simply by making him aware of how his personality and emotional management affected his physical well-being. My parents and I were skeptical, but we were out of options so called you, Dr. Sarno, out of desperation. You told me to read your book because that alone may cure me – I may never have to even go and see you. So I got the book but because of our skepticism, I still came to you for the physical exam and the lecture. Within a couple of months I was pain-free and back to normal. But more than that, I had also gained a lot of insight into myself, my emotional makeup and how I function. My experience healing from TMS began a personal journey of self-discovery and much personal, emotional and spiritual growth for me.
I often feel fortunate that I was so young when I experienced TMS and became relieved of it. At age 18, it was hard to attribute the pain to most other sources, and I was open enough to consider an “unconventional” diagnosis. Then I was lucky enough to take what I learned about the mind-body connection into the rest of my adult life and apply it. And now as a psychotherapist, I help my patients to make the connection between their physical health and inner-life as well, and introduce them to TMS and how they can recover from it. As someone who has recovered herself, it does not become just an act of generosity, but a sense of duty to help people find what works to become pain-free!
Dr. Sarno, words limit me in expressing the gratitude and appreciation I feel towards you for the tremendous contribution you’ve made to my life, as well as to countless others. And though you will no longer be practicing, I am confident your work will live on through the many people whose lives you impacted and will continue to impact through your books, your former patients, your successors, and the legacy you’ve imparted. And it is not just your lesson that moves me, it is also how you have delivered it. Considering the ground-breaking nature of what you have accomplished, and how many lives you changed, it never appeared to become about ego for you, or fame, or financial success. You always come off as very sincere and humble. For you it has always appeared to be about the message and not the messenger, and that too is truly inspiring.
Thank you. I wish you much peace and happiness in your retirement.
Steve’s Thank You
I am so pleased to have this opportunity to thank you, acknowledge you, and honor you.
Several years ago I limped into your office with excruciating lower back pain that severely impacted the quality of my life for 2 years. Prior to meeting you, I could not walk properly, run or dance without burning pain. I tried physical therapy, chiropractors, acupuncture, deep tissue massage, and even hanging upside down from my ankles for hours (inversion therapy). None of that worked. Then, NYC’s most prominent surgeons recommended back surgery and they had the MRI’s and X-rays to back-up their recommendations. As a last chance effort to avoid surgery, I went to see you. After working with you and Dr. Eric Sherman, one of your gifted psychotherapists, my pain disappeared. Treatment took less than a year and I have now been pain-free for over ten years.
Since I am a professional engineer, I was able to see the disc abnormalities on the MRI’s. It was therefore very difficult to not subscribe to the physical diagnosis given to me by so many doctors. In the face of my skepticism you held your ground and declared that while the pain is real, the source is not the disc but the mind. It was in your certainty that I found the courage to discover, confront and come to terms with painful emotions from which the pain served to distract me. When it was no longer necessary to be distracted from these emotions, the pain ceased to serve a function and went away.
I thank you for your courage to stand in the face of little to no agreement from medical establishment. I acknowledge you for being a doctor who, early on in your medical practice, told the truth to yourself and others when your patients did not get better using popular and lucrative (to medical and insurance companies) treatments—and then found a way to get your patients better. I honor you for distinguishing a new paradigm for the treatment of chronic pain.
The Collins Dictionary defines genius as “a person with exceptional ability, especially of a highly original kind; distinctive spirit or creative nature; a person exerting great influence.” Collins uses the example, “Mozart’s musical genius.” Future generations will no doubt use the phrase, “Dr. Sarno’s medical genius.” In every sense of the word, you are a genius. I am honored and fortunate to have been treated by you and to know you.
With deep love and respect,
Joy’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I was one of those children with a ‘nervous tummy.’ I had myriad allergies and seemed to catch every bug that was going around. In my teenage years I became, like my father, one of those ‘back people,’ withdrawing from the chaos of family life at intervals to lie painfully, but quietly, on my bedroom floor.
As I grew older and encountered the adult challenges of education, marriage and travelling abroad, I developed various TMS symptoms, often at a time when these diagnoses became ‘trendy’ – in the 80’s I had ‘IBS,’ in the 90’s I had ‘fibromyalgia,’ and both my doctors and I were pleased to have a clear, simple label to hang upon my condition. But then new symptoms would develop…At a time I should have been having fun, I was having tests (always clear), taking drugs (always placebos that wore off) and undertaking physical therapies (which made me feel temporarily better from the interaction with a sympathetic practitioner). I wondered if I were a hypochondriac, but I so, so hated being ill…
With the advent of the internet, I was able to search out ever more reasons for my symptoms. Luckily, whenever I typed in the words ‘back pain,’ I kept finding references to a certain Dr John E Sarno… I ordered The Mindbody Prescription and wrote the date it arrived on the book’s front page: 15th June 2007.
That was the date on which I started to reclaim my life. On every page, I got that frisson that everyone describes, the realisation that ‘Hey, this is describing me!’ I had thought I was unhappy because of my pain; I now realise it was the other way around! This was the key to me actually addressing the real problems, and thus healing both my pain and my life.
I thank you, Dr Sarno, for the vision, wisdom and experience you have brought to your pioneering work. I thank you for your courage in standing up to the inevitable short-sightedness of the medical mainstream. I thank you for your kindness in making this information so widely available at such a low cost, and for seeking first and foremost to heal. I thank you, as so many do, for giving me back control over my life.
And I wish you all the best for the happy and fulfilling retirement that you so thoroughly deserve!
With sincere gratitude,
Anonymous Thank You
23 years ago after my baby was born I was told that due to hernieted disks my back was too weak to support another pregnancy. I lived with chronic pain.
After seeing Dr. Sarno and attending his lectures I was pain free-through 2 more pregnancies until today. Those children are now 21 and 18. I have not had any significant back pain since then becuase when I start to feel a twinge I realize that it is just TMS.
I have given Dr. Sarno’s books to many people and saved them from chronic pain and surgery just from reading the books.
Dr. Sarno not only gave me back my life, he gave me two more beautiful lives to enjoy.
Cara’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
No matter how hard I try, I can not think of a way to express how grateful I am to you. You have truly given me my life back. At 26 years old, I thought that I was going to live the rest of my life in bed, in excruciating pain. I am now 100% pain free and it is all because of you. I was told by countless doctors that I will never be pain free, that what I have is an irreversible disease, that I need more surgeries, that I will resent any kids that I have because they will cause me so much pain, I will need 24 hour live in help to raise my kids, etc. For the first time in a long time, I am excited to live my life and know that it will be pain free.
In March of 2009, I felt pain in my lower back while at the gym. I had had some back pain in the past and figured that it would just go away. When it didn’t, I got an MRI 3 months later which showed I had a herniated disc at L5/S1. In the following months, I tried physical therapy, had multiple facet joint and epidural injections, and continued to get worse. In the fall, I was taking strong pain medications, wearing a heating pad every day to get through work, and going home to lay on the couch with a heating pad. Over the next couple months I had 2 surgeries, IDET and a microdiscectomy. My pain never went away and that next summer, I started to develop muscle knots all over my body. They started in my lower back and spread up to my upper back, shoulders, neck, jaw, ribs, stomach, etc.. I was diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome/fibromyalgia, put back in physical therapy, prescribed some new medications, etc. I was in excruciating pain all over my body 24/7. By January the next year, the knots took over my body and I couldn’t hold myself up. I spent the next 8 months getting intensive dry needling done 3x per week. I did not improve. I then started getting multiple medical massages per week, seeing a chiropractor and acupuncture. By January this year, I was at rock bottom, I had tried literally everything to get better and was starting to think I would have to live the rest of my life in bed. This is when someone recommended me your book. I saw myself in every page and started to feel better almost immediately. Now, I can honestly say that the knots I had for years are now gone, and that I am living a normal, pain free life.
Sending a lifetime of thanks your way.
Pete’s Thank You
I can’t thank you enough for the work you’ve done. I cured my chronic lower back pain just by reading your book, “Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection.” When I first picked it up, I actually cried – in part, because I saw myself and my symptoms in all of the pages; and in part, because I felt like I was reading the truth, with a capital “T.”
After years of suffering, I’ve been pain-free, with full mobility, for well over a decade. I never worry about how I sit, stand, lift or what activities I engage in.
I have had a few minor relapses. But, when they happen, I’m never afraid. I always know TMS is the cause. So, with a smile and the utmost of confidence, I continue all physical activity, and search my mind and my life for what might be causing this pain.
It’s incredibly liberating to be unafraid of back pain.
Most recently, I had a slight relapse which lingered. So, I jumped online to engage in some “knowledge therapy.” (I’d given away every copy of your book I’d had over the years!) I stumbled upon the TMS Wiki site, and I was heartened to find a growing number of practitioners who are embracing your work. Thank goodness there’ll be someone to continue spreading the word about psychosomatic medicine after your well-deserved retirement.
Thanks, once again.
Sienna’s Thank You
It is a pleasure for me to write you these lines trying to express my gratitude for your work.
In my early 30s my life entered a parenthesis after a back spasm that appeared from nowhere while playing tennis. After 4 years of debilitating back pain, unnecessary surgery, constant physical therapy and other treatments and many unanswered questions, my life became very limited. I was skeptical, faithless and depressed.
Last summer I came across your work and ordered all of your books. I started devouring Healing Back Pain and felt like I was reading my biography!! Finally, I had found answers to all my questions.. I started connecting the dots, everything made sense to me!!!
It took me only a few days to accept the approach and kept looking for help. Finding the TMS Wiki was a treasure for me, cause “knowledge is Penicillin”. This is how I learned about Dr. Schubiner’s book and looked for a practitioner in Europe. I was very lucky to hear about Georgie Oldfield in the UK, who helped me to reinforce the diagnosis and set the following challenges with confidence. I am now swimming and my instructor is just amazed with my daily improvements. Time, perseverance and faith are taking me further. I am still on my recovery journey and enjoying every bit of it. As almost every patient says, ‘I am sure this work changed my life for the better.’
This is me now and I wanted to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU DR. SARNO for giving my life back!
I feel committed to spread the word and help those struggling, victims of the conventional health system.
I hope you have a pleasant and well deserved retirement and enjoy spending time with your love ones. They must feel very proud of you!!
Sienna. Madrid (Spain)
Mark’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I am so glad to have this opportunity to thank you, because it is something I have been meaning to do for twenty years! My back pain started at age 32, and I had episodes of severe pain and back spasms that left me flat on my back in bed or on the floor for three days at a time. I remember crawling to the bathroom because I couldn’t bear the indignity of using a bedpan. That’s how bad it was. I pretty much gave up my active lifestyle of running and playing basketball. My sister also suffered from back pain, probably worse than mine. Fortunately for her (and for me) as a last resort before surgery she went to see you, and reported her success to me. She then sent me a xerox copy of your book, and within days I was on my way to a complete “cure”. So many of my severe symptoms were directly addressed in your book. My first episode was triggered by a sneeze while I was bent over and putting on a sock. I remember many times looking in the mirror and gasping at how crooked I looked. I am now 58 and have been pain free and active for over 20 years! It has truly been wonderful. All because of you.
At times I have felt a little guilty because I had been helped so dramatically by someone (you) and I hadn’t even bought your book! I have since purchased multiple copies of several of your books mainly to lend to friends who are suffering from back pain. I have tried to share my success with others with mixed results. It is very frustrating to see people suffering and going to chiropractors and acupuncturists and surgeons and drug dispensers while somehow being unwilling to accept the simple solution.
But for me, it has been one of the best things that has happened in my life and has really allowed me to enjoy my life to the fullest.
K’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
Words could never, ever express how grateful I am to have found you. I think my body always knew you were right. My awareness just had to catch up.
I had back pain for 25+ years. I was told my pain from from scoliosis and myofascial pain syndrome. I tried to find relief through Tylenol, chiropractors, physical therapy, and lifting light weights at the gym. Coinciding with my back pain for all those years was TMJ and headaches. They pounded and pounded, mostly during a stressful day at work. I did more PT, used a TENS unit, moist heat, tried acupuncture, and lifted weights more. Even if the pain subsided for a very brief time, it always came back.
Then, somehow, I found Healing Back Pain. It sounded just like me, I couldn’t believe it. Then I read The Mindbody Prescription and I related to that one even more. I made an appointment to see you; I knew I had TMS, but I had to hear it from you.
Thank you for changing my life. It is no longer ruled by pain every day. I have no limitations and that is incredibly liberating. I admire you for telling it like it is and for staying true to your convictions.
I will never forget you. I hope you have a long and happy retirement. I will miss you.
With gratitude forever,
Marie’s Thank You
I guess you don’t need to know the details of my back pain and MRI scan results as they aren’t relevant anymore. Suffice to say that for 10 years I had grumbling back pain and constant fear. For about half a year it got so bad that I pretty much stopped doing anything was in constant severe pain and taking ever increasing doses of various medications.
I found out about Georgie Oldfield first and followed her programme – which included the immediate advice to obtain your books – advice which I followed.
Gradually I resumed ‘normal’ life – not really knowing what normal might be as bit by bit I realised how fear about my back had infiltrated so much of my thinking and my life. Within 3 months of starting the programme I was off medications, within 6 months I was virtually pain free and I could do everything that I used to do.
In the past year I have resumed all my prior activities; lovely things like cycling, acting, dancing and just cuddling up on the sofa with my kids and necessary things like caring and shoveling snow and I have also taken up new things like open water swimming, (including swimming a mile in Loch Ness!) and getting a little dog (yeah – who would have thought you could feel excited about being able to bend down and pick up dog poop!).
Thanks you so much, your work has not only given me, and so many others, our lives back but given us the opportunity to build a better life. Have a wonderful retirement.
Anonymous Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno:
I first heard about your work through Dr. Andrew Weil’s website. I had been
dealing with chronic neck, shoulder, and back pain. On his advice, I read your
book, “The MindBody Prescription”. Upon my first reading, I saw glimpses of myself in
your descriptions, but was not convinced I had TMS. Over the next few years
I tried massage, Feldenkrais, yoga, pilates, and physical therapy to ease the
pain, all of which provided only temporary relief. A decade later, still
suffering from chronic pain, I re-read your book and ordered your DVD “Healing
Back Pain”. I was finally convinced that I did indeed suffer from TMS.
Not long after this, I began feeling tingling in my limbs. My doctor became
very alarmed and feared I had Multiple Sclerosis. I then had an MRI (which was
clear) and a battery of tests with a Neurologist and Cardiologist, all of which
were inconclusive. In a state of high anxiety following this scare, I decided
it was time to look for a more holistic approach to my medical woes and found
Dr. John Stracks at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern
University. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to discover on his website
that he specializes in TMS. He recommended a program and book called “Unlearn
Your Pain” by Dr. Howard Schubiner. This led me down a path of emotional,
spiritual, and physical healing over the past year. I no longer suffer from
neck, shoulder, or back pain. The tingling continues, but I believe that it is
actually a sign of renewed energy that had been blocked for years due to
repressed anger, sadness, and fear.
Thank-you so much for your groundbreaking work in the field of mind-body
medicine. You have changed my life and I share what I have learned with anyone
who I think can benefit from my story. I wish you many blessings in your
Kelvin’s Thank You
I started experiencing severe back pain in my mid-twenty’s – sometime in the late 1970’s. This was before the days of MRI scans and my family doctor diagnosed the pain as a “pulled muscle” and prescribed muscle relaxants. At first, I would have one of these pain episodes every few years, and then more frequently as time went by. I took the muscle relaxants and lay in bed a few days and the pain would eventually go away.
In August 1994 I began a new career which required much less physical activity but put much more stress on me psychologically. The back pain started occurring more frequently and was much more severe. In the fall of 1995 I went to a pain specialist who ordered an MRI. The results showed a mild herniated disc and he prescribed physical therapy. After several months of no improvement I decided to see a neurosurgeon who ordered a new MRI. He also diagnosed me with a herniated disc and recommended surgery. I had laminectomy surgery in my low back in May of 1996 and it took me about a year before I could walk normally again. I went a few years with only mild back pain, but started experiencing new health problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrists, tinnitus/bursitis in my shoulder, acid reflux and frequent respiratory infections – all of which I now believe to be related to the same syndrome.
Gradually, the back pain episodes started returning – getting more frequent and more severe each year. I started seeing another neurosurgeon in the summer of 2004. He recommended not having surgery unless the pain became unbearable. In November of 2004 the pain became so severe I was completely unable to work and requested that he go ahead and perform surgery. He preformed a disc fusion at L4/L5 in my low back. The results were very similar to my first experience. It was another year before I could walk without a cane, but I eventually got to a point where I had no back pain. However, the other symptoms of bursitis in my shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, acid reflux and the frequent respiratory infections still plagued me on a regular basis.
In February of 2006 the back pain returned suddenly and then rapidly got worse. Eventually, the pain became so severe that I could not get out of my chair or bed without a walker. I used the walker most of the time just to keep from falling. It gradually got a little better but I still had to use a cane to walk and get up out of my chair. I could not sit in my office chair or ride in a car for more than about 30 minutes without severe pain and I spent most of the day in a recliner or lying flat in bed – mostly in bed. I called the doctor who had preformed my previous surgery and made an appointment to see him and was planning to go through back surgery again. I didn’t know what else to do.
Then, on April 18th, 2006 (it was a Tuesday), I attended a doctor visit with my wife whom she was seeing to get some of her prescriptions refilled. She mentioned to him about her own experience with back pain and he started asking her questions about her history related to this. He told her about Dr. John Sarno in New York who was having a success rate of over 90% treating back pain and about something called Tension Myositis Syndrome, or TMS. He also told us about a book by this doctor called “The Divided Mind”. Of course, I listened intently because of my own back pain history.
This doctor told us that some people who suffer from long lasting or chronic pain often experience this pain because their subconscious mind uses it to distract them from unpleasant emotions and stresses of life. He showed us a picture of an iceberg and explained that the mind was very much the same – what we can see is very small, but under the surface is this huge structure that actually determines the course of the iceberg. He explained that the mind was very much the same. Underneath the conscious mind, which is the part of the mind where we think and reason and feel emotions, is a huge reservoir of feelings that we don’t even know exist. This unseen, unfelt (and often unreasonable) part of our mind can actually have more influence on our body than the conscious part.
Now, what was completely amazing to me was that when this doctor described the type of personalities that are prone to suffering from TMS, it was as though he was describing me personally in every detail. As I stated earlier, I had already had two back surgeries and was looking at a third. I was open to anything that would prevent me from going under the knife again.
So, I bought the book that day and had read most of it by that weekend. I had already improved so much by Saturday, just four days later, that I helped my son unload boxes and furniture from his move back home. I was still hurting, but knowing that there was nothing structurally wrong with my back and that the pain was psychological and not physical enabled me to push through the pain and lift heavy furniture and carry heavy boxes up the stairs to my son’s house.
Then, in May of 2006 my wife and I went to see Dr. James Rochelle in Mena, AR. He is an Orthopedic Surgeon and was trained by Dr. Sarno to diagnose and treat TMS. He also wrote one of the chapters in “The Divided Mind”. I was already about 80 to 90 percent pain-free by then, but my wife’s progress had been much slower. I was hoping that her hearing it from another doctor would help her accept it. He conducted an extensive personal interview and performed a physical exam on both of us and determined that we both have TMS. He talked to us at length and we stayed and attend his lecture that night. Since he was trained by Dr. Sarno, I assume that his exam and lecture are similar to what Sarno does. My wife and I both found his lecture and the information he sent home with us to be very helpful and he followed up by phone to check our progress a few weeks later. Since then, he has relocated to Kansas so we have not gone back to see him again.
The last time I had any significant, long lasting back pain was later that summer of 2006. By identifying the issues causing stress and repressed emotions that were current in my life at that time, I was able to ignore that pain and continue a normal life. I will occasionally have a mild TMS symptom, but they quickly disappear once I have identified the true source of the problem – that the cause is psychological, not physical.
Incidentally, I have not had a single episode of acid reflux in the past year; the bursitis in my shoulder has completely disappeared; I will occasionally have a mild episode of pain in my arm (I used to attribute this to carpal tunnel syndrome) or mild back pain – but, these quickly go away once I recognize the recent event causing the underlying stress in my life and deal with it accordingly.
While becoming pain free has been a great milestone in my life, and my reason for writing this is to hopefully help others become pain free, this whole experience has been used of God to draw me closer to Him and to help me identify areas in my life where I had not completely trusted Him and surrendered to His perfect will.
To know Jesus as Savior and Lord is the greatest experience anyone can ever have. The only way to receive complete peace (either consciously or subconsciously) is to place your absolute trust in Him as your hope of salvation and eternal life. According to the Bible in John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
He offers eternal life in Heaven as a free gift to all who will receive it – but the choice is up to you:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Louise Levy’s Thank You
Having suffered for 12 years with chronic back pain and undergone four spine operations during that time I am incredibly grateful to Dr Sarno and also to the growing amount of evidence that allowed and encouraged me to finally take a leap of faith and walk away from orthopedic surgical treatment and interventions for good.
For over 12 years i believed the label that I had degenerative disc disease at three levels of my lumbar spine based on the black discs that I saw on my MRI scan. I felt despondent with life, believing I had to resign myself to living with a condition that by its very nature, was only going to get worse and worse, possibly requiring even more surgery as time went by. It was only after my third spine operation that I really began to question whether it could be all down to ’emotional’pain’ as opposed to physical. I remember showing my spinal surgeon a copy of Healing Back Pain during one of my hospital consultation’s and asking him if he thought my pain could be emotional to which he replied ‘I don’t know I’m a spinal surgeon, ask me something about spines’.
Now, working as a Hypno-Psychotherapist and having trained with Georgie Oldfield as a SIRPA (Stress Illness Practitioner) I am extremely passionate about helping others suffering with chronic pain, supporting them through their own healing journey, in order that they not lose out a large chunk of their life believing they are disabled as I once did.
Thank you so much Dr Sarno, enjoy your retirement.
Irene’s Thank You
I was scheduled to go under the knife when I heard about you and TMS. This was over twenty years ago. At the time I had a two year old, 25 pound, very active baby in diapers, and when the surgeon told me I’d never again be able to lift over 15 pounds even after surgery I knew his cure would not restore my life to normalcy. A friend of my mother’s, who couldn’t have been more traditional with medicine, told me about you. After hearing many explanations for my back pain from GPs, chiropractors, pain management therapists, and back surgeons, none of which made sense, TMS was the first thing that sounded to me like the diagnosis fit the symptoms! I read your books, and I believed! But my back pain wasn’t going away and I knew I needed to see you. I had one hurdle to getting an appointment, though – I didn’t live in the NYC area. I spoke with you, and I’ll admit it, I probably begged, and I convinced you that I’d have the support I need in NYC (my wonderful aunt and uncle who lived in Queens) to come to NY for the 8 days necessary for an appointment and the lectures. (At the time you were doing a two-lecture series.) I recorded the lectures and listened to them over and over – they replaced the Raffi kids songs in the car for weeks! You gave me back my life, pain-free – thank you for that. Since then, when life gets stressful – work, kids going off to college, etc., if my back or my neck or my foot starts hurting, my husband says, “Pull out your Sarno tapes!”, and I realize he is right, and that’s what I do.
One other short anecdote – my brother was suffering from back pain at around the same time. He was living on the other side of the world, and I called him after seeing you and spoke to him for over an hour, and told him about TMS and the “think psychological” cure. Wouldn’t you know it, it clicked for him even faster than it did for me, and he was better in just a few days!
Thanks again, and I only wish there were more like you carrying on your legacy!
Irene from Illinois
Matthew’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
This is the “readers digest ” version (the “rest of the story” is posted @ http://tmswiki.wetpaint.com/account/MatthewNJ). I am on every page of MBP. 28 years of back pain, and just about every TMS equivalent in the book ( and some that are not there!) I read MBP and get somewhat better. I came to see you 1 year later (2004) and I improve some more. In 2005 I have vertigo and you send me to Dr. Bob Evans for counseling. This accelerates the process. In 2007 I have an ulcer for which I am hospitalized for 17 days. In 2008 I have a 6 month bout with severe back pain. I call you and you confirm my MRI is the same as it was 4 years earlier and “Matthew, you have more work to do” (with Dr. Evans). At this point I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, I am just not having back pain anymore. I start doing more mindfulness and meditation every day and things start to improve more rapidly. But it is a journey (“approximately one life time” according to Dr. Evans) and I am still on it. It is now March of 2012 and I am experiencing the worst stresses of my life. YET, I have NO severe symptoms.
Thank you Dr. Sarno for guiding me to the methods of gaining my life back!
Enjoy your retirement!
Laura’s Thank You
You certainly changed my life for the better in so many ways!
I was 33 years old and the mother of two daughters, ages 15 months and 6 months of age, when “out of the blue,”I began to suffer excruciating lower back pain/sciatica– worse pain than the two natural childbirths I had recently experienced.
I found your book “Mind Over back Pain” and immediately booked an appointment with you at NYU’s Rusk Institute.
Within a month my back pain was gone.
Over the years I’ve had other TMS symptoms– Shoulder/neck pain, and foot pain, for example, and sometimes it took me awhile to realize that this new pain was just another manifestation of my old symdrome.
I think of any new pain symptom as my personal canary in the coal mine– alerting me that I am getting too close to the edge of my emotional comfort zone.
Your work not only gave me a life free of chronic pain and possible addiction to pain medications, but it also opened my mind to many other facets of mind/body medicine and emotional wellness.
I have traveled the world and enjoyed an active life all because of you– here is a photo of my husband Russ and me at the Great Wall of China in 2011!
I am eternally grateful! You are an amazing human being.
Robin’s Thank You
There is nothing I could write or do to convey the appreciation I have for you and the work you have done to help me.
For 15 years I suffered with many of the traditional TMS symptoms, especially back pain and sciatica. Like many others, I was told it was due to structural abnormalities, bulging discs, etc… I saw chiropractors, physical therapists, naprapaths and even acupuncturists. None of them helped beyond a very short time period.
After having kids, the pain got so bad that I was ready to go to a pain management clinic, get surgery, take prescription medication or whatever it took to control the pain. But a friend recommended your book, Healing Back Pain. After reading it and The Divided Mind three times each, I was finally able to get rid of the back, neck, sciatic and shoulder pain that I had been dealing with for so long. I discarded my back supports, electro stimulation belt, heating pads, ice packs, and immediately stopped seeking medical treatment.
The symptom imperative kicked in and I hit a few speed bumps. However, today I am completely pain free and able to be emotionally and physically involved in the lives of my wife and one year old twin boys.
Thank you, sincerely,
JH’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno:
In 2000, my back had deteriorated to the point where walking over ten steps was practically impossible. I spent considerable time and money engaged with the ‘cures’ of the day: yoga, chiropractors, acupuncture, rolfing, prolotherapy,etc. Nothing helped. I therefore underwent surgery to correct the diagnosed problem of spinal stenosis. My surgery was deemed a success; within six months I was ambulatory again. It felt good. My instructions were clear: no heavy lifting, bend a certain way, don’t put too much pressure on your back, etc.
About 1 1/2 years later, I started to experience my initial symptoms all over again. The ‘pins and needles’ feeling in my legs returned, accompanied by pain and numbness. I could feel that within a month’s time, I’d be back walking like Groucho Marx. I felt hopeless, depressed and desperate. I got lucky: someone casually mentioned your name and to check out your books. In the Amazon reviews, I encountered a positive reviewer whose diagnosis was the same as mine. I ditched all of my advisors ( you gotta call this new chiropractor, he’s amazing!) and committed myself to your concepts, memorizing them and carrying them around with me. I stopped all attempts at having someone else ‘fix’ me. That was one of the more difficult things that I have ever done.
Approximately three months later, my back pain had ceased. It took about another year or two to conquer the fear of lifting things, but I did it. I’ve had a few TMS equivalents along the way, but thinking psychologically has given me a new lease on life. I’m profoundly grateful for all of your insights and research. Your work continues to have a large influence on my life—thank you for truly opening my eyes!
Elinor’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
Your books have changed my life and put an end to two years of extremely sever back pain, thanks to your brave and groundbreaking discoveries, i was able to become totally pain free, go through the pregnancy and birth of my twins, completely free of back pain, and go back to professional belly dancing. it’s 11 years later, i am a 100% pain-free. I will forever be grateful.
Yours with admiration,
My savior has passed away. The brilliant brave man who went against the mainstream to save the quality of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, mine included.
Thank you Dr. John Sarno, my life would have been miserable without your books and your wisdom.
If there is heaven, you are there now.
With my eternal gratitude and admiration, Elinor Carucci
Susie’s Thank You
I want to give you my thanks and love.
I have had chronic neck and back pain since I was in my early 20’s and I’m now 56. I went to a doctor a few times and they offered to have me get an MRI but we didn’t have insurance so they would just give me Motrin 800. I just lived with the pain that I had. Last year (2011) my back got especially bad while doing the exercise program Power 90X so I went to my regular doctor and he suggested a chiropractor or physical therapy. I had tried therapy once before for my back and I got worse. I went to a chiropractor to see if she could do anything. She started manipulating my back and neck. At that time all I had for neck issues was a little crunching. She did five treatments and I was in such pain with my neck I couldn’t stand it. She finally sent me for an MRI on my neck and then my back because my back wasn’t responding to treatment either. She certainly did damage to my neck so that was my last visit to see her. The MRI’S showed 3 herniated cervical discs, a broken L5 and a deformed tail bone. I started searching for help and some how found YOU. I read your first book and became 90% pain free and am now about 95% pain free from believing what you had to say. I continue to try to think what could be emotionally bothering me when I get pain and I try to clear my mind of guilt. You’re the best. Enjoy your retirement.
Susan in northern NY
Julie’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
You opened my mind to an entire new way of thinking about my body’s health and happiness. After reading your first book, recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil, I was hooked and read everything else you have written (that I know of!) and then read Candace Pert’s books, and many other authors with related material. It sure is a whole different universe than we all think!
My husband and I are both artists who paint imaginative realism and I also have a blog that is about health and fitness. In my health and fitness blog, I dedicated a post to you (http://juliebellfitness.blogspot.com/2009/08/dr-john-sarno.html )
in August of 2009, along with separate posts about Candace Pert, Andrew Weil, and Steven Gurgevich. For your blog post, I asked my husband to create the attached cartoon. I hope you like it!
I wish there was a way to say thank you that would come at least a little bit close to how much I mean it, but, please imagine that there is and then accept that from me.
Take care of yourself!
From Julie’s Blog:
Dr. John Sarno
I was going to talk about Candace Pert next, but I realized that it was Dr. Sarno who led me to Dr. Pert, so it makes sense to talk about him first. I first heard of Dr. Sarno’s work through Andrew Weil’s recommendation. Dr. Weil had been saying forEVER that most any kind of back problem could be helped without drugs or surgery and that Dr. Sarno’s book, “MindBody Prescription” was a good place to learn about his theory. I didn’t pay much attention until I had a really yucky time with back, knee, and hip pain that just wouldn’t go away. I went to all kinds of doctors, got all kinds of tests including blood tests to see if I had some weird rheumatoid problem. To make my long, painful story short and painless, I took Dr. Weil’s recommendation and read Dr. Sarno’s book and (FOR REAL!)within 2 weeks after finishing the book, I was perfectly pain-free and back to running, weight lifting, and yoga.
Dr. Sarno has put himself out on a limb by spelling out a treatment that really consists of education. No drugs, surgery, or special exercises, just a new understanding of how the body’s systems of creating pain works. And it was this new understanding that opened my mind to a completely different approach to thinking about the entire subject of health. The beauty of this education is that once you understand it, the back-and-forth communication between your mind and your body becomes a source of knowledge for you that you didn’t know you already possessed!
Enrique’s Thank You
I overcame severe RSI in my hands and lifelong pains including back, neck, and plantar faciitis, to name a few. As a result, I have been able to rediscover my childhood love of sport and exercise which I had abandoned so many years ago. Here’s a photo of me competing in an Ironman race in 2011, something which I would have considered impossible just a handful of years ago.
Thank you so much, Dr. Sarno. Your work made a huge difference in my life.
Barbara’s Thank You
Twenty years ago I called you after reading your second book, “Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection.” I had been confined to bed with severe back pain for three months. This was due to an “adjustment” by a chiropractor (the trigger) that I saw for my frozen shoulder. Interestingly, once I became focused on my back, the frozen shoulder and pain from that disappeared. You told me that there was nothing physically wrong with my back (I had seen a doctor and had an MRI) and that I needed to become active again.
Because I was not quite desperate enough at the time and still unsure of the TMS diagnosis, I pursued medical help for my pain. I had every test and treatment imaginable. I went to a pain clinic run by a doctor who was both a physiatrist and psychiatrist so I figured if anyone could help me it would be him. Not so….he recommended surgery; a spinal fusion. When he could not explain sufficiently how that would help my pain (maybe he was going for the placebo effect!), I refused the surgery and instead, called you again. By then I had been practically bedridden for over a year.
You were again so kind and helpful to me and referred me to Dr. Segal who had trained with you during the past year and was within 70 miles of my home. My daughter drove me as I had not sat for more than five minutes since the beginning of this ordeal. I had to lie on a couch in Dr. Segal’s waiting room for the same reason. However, after she examined me and took a history, she insisted I sit back on a chair with my legs crossed as she told me there was nothing structurally wrong with my back that could be causing this pain. Although my lower back hurt terribly, I was determined to do her bidding, as this was my last hope. Two weeks later I drove to her office for my follow-up appointment.
Getting better was the hardest thing I have ever done. I was weak from lack of exercise and extremely nervous about resuming a normal lifestyle. I solved these problems by enrolling in the wellness center in our local community college and taking a psychology class. That was in January 1994. One class turned into two, then three as I worked part time while studying psychology and social work. It took me ten years but in July of 2004, I finished grad school with an MSW in Clinical Social Work. My goal was to help others who were suffering the same way I had. I am now an LCSW-C (Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical) with a private practice specializing in helping others CURE their chronic pain and other psychophysiological disorders. My bookshelf is filled with your books and those of others who have been influenced by your work.
hank you so much for your hard work and perseverance in the face of negative feedback from your medical peers. And thank you especially for your kindness and willingness to help me when I needed it most. I will always be indepted to you for giving me a new life and new career!
I wish you a long and happy retirement.
Linda’s Thank You
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I would like to give my sincere thanks to you for giving my life back. I had severe right shoulder pain, spasms that would radiate into my neck and other areas of my back. After seeing a pain specialist and having him tell me that my pain could be related to some anger issues I searched the library for answers. There I found your books and read them both numerous times and found relief from the unrelenting pain. I did some psychotherapy and found much relief after unleashing some anger issues. I am so fortunate that I found your books in the library and reading as much as I could on the internet. I wish you a happy retirement. Thank you for dedicating your life in this area to help people with pain.
Caryl’s Thank You
Of all the untold legion of people you have helped, all of your books were written for only one person in the entire world: me.
I read MBP in 1988. At that time I had been reduced to abject terror by well regarded doctors here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It’s been 31 years of back pain now and I have voraciously devoured all books and materials by you and your wonderful disciples.
Two years ago, I got a computer and you, Doctors Dave (Clarke), Sopher et al., suddenly came alive, in a new way, through the dear voices of the more seasoned and grounded TMS’ers of the Forum & Wiki.
I thank you for all of them. Perhaps it will be the fiery passion of Steve Ozanich’s strong writing and personality that will finally catapult me over the top. I will never give up, especially now, after hearing the voice of a fellow 30 year sufferer.
I cannot find the words to thank you for beginning to change the face of medicine by patiently and generously shepherding your colleagues. If only your books were required reading in all Medical Schools.
Insight is born out of suffering. Thank you for having the guts to share yourself with all of us.
I am sorry that New York City has always been off the geographical radar for me. I’m sure all I’ve ever needed was your stamp of authority in person!
Best wishes to you and your wife in this new & ever challenging phase of your life.
You will remain in my heart until the day I die.
YB44’s Thank You
When I bought Healing Back Pain a few years ago hoping to relieve my sciatica, I also bought another book that was based on the premise that all back pain was caused by structural damage. I read your book with great enthusiasm. I barely skimmed the other book and eventually discarded it. Since fully accepting the TMS diagnosis – and it did take me a while – I have begun to enjoy my life for the first time.
Thank you, Dr Sarno, for the help you have given me and thousands of other people all over the world.
Allan’s Thank You
I am now 82. At 70 years of age I became progressively worse in terms of back pain. It was diagnosed as spinal stenosis. I lost most of my strength in both legs which was diagnosed as being caused by motor nerve impingement from the spinal stenosis. I walked with a cane and then only for a few feet at a time before the pain became too intense. I was anticipating that I might spend the rest of my life in a wheel chair. My son sent me Dr. Sarno’s book which I devoured. I read it over and over. This was the summer of 2000. The pain left. My strength returned. The pain never came back.
I sent a letter of appreciation to Dr. Sarno. I have his reply of October 19, 2000 framed on my wall.
KO’s Thank You
I was living in NYC, working in film production, and running 15 – 20 miles a week. Magazine articles warned about running on pavement and advised making sure there was enough support in running shoes. I never had a hint of a problem until one day on a particularly stressful shoot I was impatiently hauling an ice chest from one part of the set to the other, and it happened. I pulled a muscle in my back. The next morning I felt an electric-like jolt when I leaned over the sink to brush my teeth, followed by an incredibly painful muscle spasm that dropped me to my knees. When I could move again I called a friend who recommended a physical therapist. She listened to my story and told me I had probably herniated a disc and that the “electric” feeling was caused by the disc impinging on my sciatic nerve. I could picture it. My back kept spasming. I took muscle relaxers that made my tongue thick and uncooperative. The sciatica hurt, and I took pain pills that would have knocked out a horse. I slept on a mat on our hard wood floor. Nothing worked. Over the next few months the sciatica crept down my leg and finally reached all the way into my heel which became tingly and numb.
As it went from bad to worse, I went to chiropractors. I got Rolfed(TM). I got acupuncture. I got acupuncture with pulses of electricity running through it. I went to back specialists recommended by heads of athletic departments. I was X-rayed, CAT Scanned, and MRI’d. I learned I have scoliosis, extensive arthritic degeneration of my bottom 5 vertebrae, and several more slightly herniated discs that would surely cripple me if nothing was done. In any event, I was advised never to run again. The pain had become so bad, I couldn’t walk more than 3 or 4 feet without tearing up. I couldn’t sit upright, so I worked lying on my back. I slept with my right knee propped on hard pillows. A very expensive specialist with a posh office overlooking Columbus Circle told me I might never walk again if I didn’t have surgery immediately.
A producer I met gave me a copy of Dr. Sarno’s book “Mind Over Back Pain.” I was insulted. I didn’t accept the idea that this kind of pain was in my head. I had cat scans, mri’s, and an x-ray that showed the horrific problems in my spine. If I touched the place where the herniated disc was impinging on the nerve, the pain was so intense it made me nauseous. But I was terrified of back surgery going wrong. I wanted to run again. So I read the book. Cover to cover. It was encouraging. It made sense. I hoped it was true, but I wasn’t sure. I mentioned Dr. Sarno to the last back doctor I will ever see. He hadn’t read the book, but he’d heard of Dr. Sarno, and he scoffed at the mind-body connection in a smug way that I found offensive. So I called Dr. Sarno’s office to make an appointment to see the man himself. I was told he didn’t take many patients, and that the waiting list was months long. I begged. I pleaded. I somehow convinced his secretary to put me on the phone with him.
Dr. Sarno: “This is John Sarno.”
Me: “Dr. Sarno, thank you for taking my call. I read your book and I think I’m a Sarno patient, but I need to see you to be sure.”
Dr. Sarno: “You should read the book again instead.”
Me: “You don’t understand, I’ve…(and here I listed what I’d been through)…and I just need to be sure there’s really nothing wrong with my back.”
Dr. Sarno: “There’s nothing wrong with your back.”
Me: “I just need to see you in person.”
Dr. Sarno: “I’m not charismatic. I’m not going to ‘heal’ you.”
Me: “Please, if you could just see me so I can be sure.”
Dr. Sarno: “Young lady, it’s very expensive. And I don’t take insurance.”
Me (sensing he was going to give in): “That’s fine!”
Dr. Sarno: “(audible sigh) Ok. I’ll put you back on with my secretary.”
She had a cancellation for the next day. My husband carried me through the halls of NYU hospital to Dr. Sarno’s small waiting room where I lay on the floor. When he called my name, I raised myself with my hands underneath me, crawled into his office front-wise, and lowered myself gingerly onto the floor next to the chair that was there. He peered over the desk at me. A small man with salt and pepper hair and black glasses, he gestured impatiently at the chair, “Aren’t you going to sit?”
“I can’t.” I said and my tears started to roll.
“So you read my book?” he asked.
“Yes, twice.” I said.
“I have a new one coming out. I advise writing down everything that’s upsetting you. What do you do for a living?”
“I work in film production.”
He groaned. “You don’t know how many of you people I get in here.” I could see he was taking notes.
I had brought my scans in big envelopes. I asked him if he wanted to see them. He said no. I asked, “How do you KNOW there’s nothing wrong with my back?”
He waved his hand dismissively at the envelopes I offered, “You wouldn’t have been able to crawl in here like a crab if there was anything wrong with your back.”
I said, “But there’s a place there that hurts so much when I touch it, it makes me want to vomit.”
He lowered his glasses and looked over the desk at me, “Don’t touch it.”
I thought about that for a second. “Don’t you even want to examine me?”
“Ok.” He seemed resigned. He stood up and opened a door behind him that connected to a small examining room. As I scooted on hands and feet toward the room, I told him my leg was numb along the back and down to the heel. Once I had made my way up onto the table, he did a needle test on the back of my leg and confirmed, “You’re right. It’s numb.”
“Doesn’t that mean anything?”
“No.” He repeated some of the facts about TMS and how the symptoms develop that I recalled from his book. He told me he’d written a new book incorporating what he’d learned since he’d written the first one. I started to believe him.
I made myself stand up and walk out. The whole thing had taken 15 minutes.
In the waiting room I leaned on my amazed husband. It was painful. But I was standing, and walking.
“By the way,” Dr. Sarno said from his office door, “don’t sleep with a pillow under your knee anymore.” I hadn’t mentioned the pillows.
The pain and numbness took several months to go completely away, but my recovery started that day. There was nothing wrong with my back. Patients of Dr. Sarno were encouraged to attend a class he taught about the mind-body connection and how we needed to reinforce the association between chronic pain and life-stresses. I took the class.
I saw a therapist, briefly. I filled notebook after notebook with lists of things that were making me angry, scaring me, and upsetting me. I listed the same things over and over again. I was never going to be able to change most of the them, but acknowledging them, driving the association between the things on the list and the pain into my subconscious finally ended my ordeal.
I still get what I call “Sarno Things.” It’s my personality. At stressful times I’ve had mock arthritis, mock bursitis, mock “runner’s knee,” mock TMJ, mock carpal tunnel, mock plantar faciitis. As soon as I realize what is happening, I stop and make myself list everything that’s bothering me. If I’m running, I ignore the pain and make the lists in my head. And every time the pain goes away like a headache fades when you take ibuprofen.
I know I will never have chronic pain again. I don’t pay money to masseuses or chiropractors. I don’t worry about running on cement, or the shape of my running shoes. I run 20 to 30 miles a week. My life is my own, thanks to you, Dr. John Sarno. For as long as I live I will be grateful to you.
I hope you enjoy your retirement.
All the very best,