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
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
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.
Dear Dr. Sarno,
I am writing to you from India. I have had RSI since 2001. I used to
experience pain while typing using my right hand. My left palm is partially
formed so using that hand was not an option. The computer is like a limb to
me and is vital not only in my work but also in my personal life since I
have other disabilities.
I have read some of your books and more importantly, met a number of people
who have used your techniques successfully. I am on the road to recovery and
wanted to thank you not only for your path breaking research but also for
the ecosystem of fantastic patients and professionals that you have created.
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.
Your books are so brilliantly written, clear, concise and make so much sense. I can’t thank you enough for being so honest and direct about your findings. You have created a formidable antidote to traditional medicine’s somewhat archaic approach to long-standing sufferers for whom delivery of medicine has been inadequate.
Again, I cannot thank you enough, Dr.Sarno.
Dr Sarno, your work has changed my life for the better in so many ways. There is no doubt that I am personally healthier now, but my whole career and as a result my life, changed massively after coming across your work. I want to thank you for the time you spent with me when I visited you in New York, which enabled me to really get a handle on your work and your approach with your patients. That was the start of the most exciting stage of my career and within a short time I was working exclusively with my own TMS Recovery programme. Since visiting you in 2007 I can’t believe the changes I have made in my own life and the numerous patients of mine who have had life changing results from my diving head first into your visionary work.
Thank you from me and thank you from all my patients past, current and future who are resolving their symptoms as a result of your pioneering work, rather than carrying on managing them as best they can. I wish you a very happy and healthy retirement in the knowledge that you are leaving a wonderful legacy behind, which will live on after all of us are long gone.
With Best Wishes,
At 35, I had been suffering recurrent bouts of crippling back spasms for at least a dozen years. After I had been scheduled for spinal surgery, someone recommended Dr. Sarno’s book. Within a few days, I canceled the surgery and resumed a normal, active life. In the 22 years since, I have had one memorable bout. I got so mad at my TMS, I got on a bicycle with it and wouldn’t get off until it stopped being such a pain! I eventually won, but it took about 10 miles. I regularly run, bike, kayak and consider myself in the best shape of my life. I have since read more of Dr. Sarno’s work, had a conversation with him on the telephone, and passed on many copies of his books to anyone who dares to say “My back went out!” Dr. Sarno, you have changed my life in so many ways. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Reading your books felt like awaking from a very bad dream. Thanks to you, I am not having nightmares anymore. You did not only help me with my pain, but you also greatly improved my terrible MS relapses. You have also shown me, how to see my true self and how to change myself into a better person, a loving husband and a future father.
You dedicated your life to helping people, with the majority of your colleagues not believing in you. The sacrifices you made for helping and curing us will be remembered.
The picture was taken before I got TMS. Thanks to you, I can go back now and take pictures like that again.
Thank you Benjamin
Dear Dr Sarno,
I wanted to write and say thank you for totally transforming my life with your work on TMS. Before I knew about TMS I spent 10 years in severe and debilitating back pain and couldn’t walk more than about 100 yards without being in agony.
After reading Healing Back Pain I finally had hope and within 6 months I was walking more and more without pain. This is a recent photo of me and my family at the ice rink. I have learned to figure skate and am doing jumps and spins, I still can’t believe I can do so much these days; I am so grateful to you for giving me my life back. I can never thank you enough,
In the year 2000 your Healing Back Pain book and tapes were a major turning point in my life. My lower back improved after 20 years of pain and back difficulties. There were no internet or forums at that time, and in the privacy of my own home was able to overcome my distressful situation. Later that year I took up windsurfing. At last I was in control of my mind-body and had the truth and a better understanding of how stress reacts with the body. Thanks to you, I am grateful to windsurf to this present day.
Thank you Dr. I am now retired myself and recommend windsurfing for the young at heart, perhaps I’ll see you on the water.
Andy, the fortunate windsurfer
Dr Sarno – Enjoy retirement. You have left us such a great gift with your
pioneering work on TMS. It’s my dream that your work will become part of
mainstream medicine in the future.