This video is a clip from The Story of Pain, a documentary, being developed by Rumur, about Dr. Sarno and TMS. Rumur is a production team made up of Michael Galinsky, Suki Hawley, and David Beilinson.
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.
As a second year medical student, I began to experience back pain for the first time in my life. I serendipitously came across your work and it changed my life forever. You taught me the greatest lesson I ever learned in medicine: to cure disease, you must treat the cause. Symptomatic treatment is poor medicine. You also introduced me to the powerful and fascinating realm of psychosomatic medicine, which is the missing dimension in so many of the diagnoses we as physicians encounter today.
I could never thank you enough for what you have given me. You are my mentor and hero in medicine and anything I ever achieve professionally will be because of you. You dedicated your career to patient care, which speaks volumes to the type of person that you are. You have healed tens of thousands of patients in your office and millions more through your books. You knew you were right, but decided that it was more important to spend your time curing people than proving all the nonbelievers wrong through research that would never satisfy or change them anyway. You put your patients before your ego and kudos to you for doing that.
Thanks for inviting me to one of your patient panel sessions a few years ago. It was a dream come true to finally see you in person. For the record, I have never had any back pain since reading your books. That isn’t to say that new TMS equivalents don’t pop up from time to time, but they too are easily squashed once I put my mind to it. You have armed me with powerful tools to live a healthier and happier life and to empower patients, friends, and family to do the same.
The story has only begun. There is now an army of young physicians and researchers who are intent on preserving your legacy and continuing your work for decades to come. I am certain that when all is said and done and we look back on the history of psychosomatic medicine that your name will be right next to those of Freud, Breuer, Alexander, and others who have left a lasting impression on this field.
I wish you the happiest and healthiest of retirements. You have certainly earned it.
Thank you, Dr. Sarno!
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I have never met you. But because of your work, I can play Beethoven’s Spring Sonata on the violin to my children.
Eight years ago, when I stumbled upon a copy of The Mindbody Prescription in a bookstore, I had not typed on a computer in seven years and had not touched my violin in nine. After reading your analysis of chronic pain, I recognized it was the first explanation that explained all of my experience of chronic pain — all of my symptoms and why physical therapy helped. So I accepted the cure–to acknowledge and accept unconscious rage. In fact, I didn’t just acknowledge it; I felt it. By the time I left the bookstore, I was livid with rage — at the fact that I had been crippled for years; at the wasted time; at my job that bored me; at family members who had hurt me; at friends who did not love me enough; because I did not know what decisions to make; because I was disappointed in myself; and at the vast disproportion between my desires and their total satisfaction.
And as the rage built up into a scream inside my head, I felt warmth flow into my hands. And I knew my hand pain was over. It has never returned.
My only regret is that, because the book was so good, and my healing so quick, I never got a chance to thank you in person.
Thanks, Dr. Sarno!
You have changed my life. You are about to retire so I’d like to use this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude to you and tell you a little bit about how you reached me and impacted my life so profoundly.
While the occasional neck pain started for me around 4th grade it became a permanent companion after graduation from Cornell in 1998. In addition to the neck and shoulder pain I often couldn’t even rotate my neck to the right. My discomfort was very obvious to friends and family. I must have seen a dozen chiropractors, physical therapists and doctors over the years. MRIs showed bulged discs that were used to explain the pain. In 2008 it got severely worse with the fingers of my right hand getting tingly, pain moving down my shoulder and the right arm becoming so weak I couldn’t do a single push up anymore.
Here starts the miracle. One day I sit in a Borders coffee shop browsing books and came across your book “The Mind-Body Connection”. It immediately sparked my interest in wanting to know more. Being very visual, instead of buying the book I ordered your video “Healing Back Pain”. In the following 3 weeks all I did was watch your video twice and paired that with daily reflection and journaling. Once a day I read the accompanying study guide out loud to myself and thought about the material. Finally, I put about 50 potential stress factors on paper and picked one a day of my top 10 to write a paragraph about it. I also would re-read my journal daily even if I didn’t add to it. After about 3 weeks my decade long back pain disappeared and never returned again. It is now 4 years later and I am still in perfect health and 100% pain free. The solution was so simple, quick and within reach all those years.
Interestingly, shortly after my pain completely disappeared, the world economy and stock market melted down. I’m a portfolio manager and also manage money for family and friends. This was probably the most stressful time in my life but I felt the healthiest ever and remained completely pain free. To me it very much proved your point that healing doesn’t require the removal of stress factors but requires awareness and understanding.
Words cannot express my gratitude to you for dedicating your life to this research. With it you made a profoundly positive impact on the quality of my life and I cannot thank you enough.
Your work is so meaningful to so many. You are one of my most significant influences. A lifetime of confusing pain about my body’s way of informing me gratefully came to an end when I met you. Now, I use my occasional pain as a signal to understand myself better. I am devoted to carrying on your sound message to others.
With deep gratitude and love,
I feel my life story has two very distinct segments – “Life before meeting Dr. Sarno” and “Life after meeting Dr. Sarno.” The positive changes in my daily life since meeting you three years ago are truly that dramatic and powerful. After nearly a lifetime of chronic pain, I came to you desperate for even the slightest improvement. My diagnoses of Post Polio Syndrome and Fibromyalgia were completely dominating my life. My world, year by year, was getting smaller and smaller. My body, day by day, was getting weaker and weaker.
I was indeed shocked when you were adamant that I repudiate both diagnoses in order to get well! That was just the beginning of the many ways I needed to learn to change my thinking and to connect with what was really going on emotionally.
Although I had already experienced over a decade of psychotherapy, without the understanding of how TMS worked, it was impossible for me to get better. That was the missing link, and all attempts at healing were futile without it. My gratitude to you also extends to your introduction of Dr. Bob Evans to me within weeks of meeting with you. I continue to see him weekly, and the results are nothing short of astonishing! The boundaries limiting my personal world are falling away, one by one. In fact, I am one of the few women I know who truly feels that as I age chronologically, I am getting younger and more vibrant emotionally and physically. To me, your life’s work is nothing short of a miracle. Thank you, beloved Dr. Sarno, for my miracle.
I wish for you all the blessings that you have given to others.
With the greatest admiration and gratitude,
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I am delighted to have this opportunity to say thank you for your wonderful work with TMS. I am 81 and due to the symptom imperative have had most of its symptoms during my lifetime. Thanks to your books, over the past decade I have been able to learn my way back to normal each time, sometimes with a struggle but always succeeding in the end. Your latest book, “The Divided Mind,” is a masterpiece; it should be required reading in all medical schools.
Many thanks and best wishes on your retirement.
It is hard for me to adequately express the deep gratitude I have regarding your work and professional contributions. Not only have your ideas and treatment benefitted me personally, but you have transformed how I conceptualize and work with clients. I have been working as a psychologist treating TMS for several years now and my clients continue to benefit from your pioneering ideas and treatment. You have paved the road for so many people to heal from their pain, and we are all deeply grateful for this.
Thank you so much,
Jonna Lee Barta, Ph.D.
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