I remember reading about mind body connection way back in 1957 in a book written by the famed psychologist Sigmund Freud. The book was a gift from my uncle for coming first in my high school class. But I never thought I will experience that connection in my own life till forty two years later! It was January 1999. My sciatica pain had disappeared 100%, and indeed it looked like a miracle!
Back to work the following Monday, I was not in any pain, and was not limping around from desk to desk. My colleagues were happy. Some were surprised, but no one asked many questions and I didn’t have to explain too much! If I had to tell them my story, they would have thought I had gone crazy!
As Dr. Sarno explained in his book, Healing Back Pain - the mind body connection, the cause of my pain was not physical. My pain was a psychological response to the unconscious repression of certain emotions. He called it Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) that literally means stress (Tension) causing muscle pain (Myositis).
My emotion was the intense anger towards my relative in Boston. He had made my life miserable by constantly interfering in my way of functioning, thus defeating his own very purpose of hiring me, which was to use my expertise to fill a void in financial management in his business!
My daily interactions with him and some of his pet staff members had become extremely stress producing. I would come home in the evening and tell my sob stories to my wife, who would try her best to comfort me. Later I would step out into our open parking lot, walk through the snow, scrape the white stuff on my car, and drive to the grocery store…all the time suffering in pain, and cursing the cold and the snow for it!
I did not know about Dr. Sarno, or his work with mind body connection, or his theory of TMS then!!
According to his now well accepted theory, events in your life could generate strong emotions like anger, hatred, anxiety and stress. When the source of these emotions are the actions of close family members, or people you cannot avoid in your life - like your boss at work- your natural tendency is to “overlook” the incident, and try to “forgive” the person who caused it.
Psychologically speaking, you are telling your conscious mind to suppress the bad feelings. You want to suppress it, because it may appear embarrassing, or mean, or shameful, even to think that someone very dear to you has messed up your life! How can a mother ever feel extreme anger, or hatred, towards her son?
The moment your conscious mind is aware of these intense feelings, and wants to suppress it, you are unknowingly sending a signal to your unconscious mind about that intention. Immediately, the Freudian concept of repression of emotions comes into play.
Your unconscious mind (also know as subconscious mind) starts a set of actions, which I have described in detail under subconscious mind power, that results in some form of muscle pain. The purpose of the pain is to divert your attention from your emotions and make you concentrate on the physical pain!
Unconscious or Subconscious?
Good question...Freud never liked the word subconscious and always insisted on referring to it as unconscious! But many modern thinkers, including Dr. Sarno, saw great sense in calling it subconscious as he explains in Healing Back Pain. I too agree.
When you say subconscious, you definitely know it is something "below" your conscious level, something "within" you...something you know exists. But unconscious? Sound like it is just not there! You don't know about it!! You've lost it!!! Get the feeling?
So I will continue to refer to it as subconscious, which is also the widely popular word throughout the world used to refer to that mysterious part of the mind that you know exists, but you are not aware of its functioning.
Dr. John E. Sarno and TMS
As early as 1965 when he joined the Howard A. Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University Medical Center, Dr. Sarno had noticed the role of mind body connection in generating physical pain. He successfully treated more than 10,000 patients over a period of fifteen years, before he wrote the book Healing Back Pain in 1991.
This book contains an intricate study of TMS, with hundreds of interesting case studies, lots of details on the mechanism of this psychosomatic disorder, explained in simple terms, and the current trends in the medical world as of 1991. His first book on the subject was Mind Over Back Pain published in 1984, in which he gave the name Tension Myositis Syndrome to this disorder.
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Click on Subconscious Mind to learn how it controls a part of the nervous systems to create different types of aches and pains, and how exactly the cure works!
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