It has been a long time since I’ve posted anything to this blog. What originally was intended to be a platform to self-publish my book/ short stories became a repository for my thoughts and feelings on politics, and the occasional essay about god knows what.
Right now I am sitting at work, reading about and researching something called TMS, which is an acronym for Tension Myoneural Syndrome. A concept that I was only somewhat familiar with less than a month ago.
Right now it is a major fascination of mine, and at the same time I am actively avoiding talking about it with my friends and loved ones. Typically, when I become excited about something I have a habit to go all in researching it, and usually I can’t help but talk about my newest interest.
TMS is different. It is different, because it feels like forbidden knowledge. If you talk publicly about it people may think you’re a crank, or a huckster. The concept, chronic pain isn’t the result of structural abnormalities (at least not typically), but instead by emotions and various types of psychological trauma.
The person most associated with this idea is the now deceased Dr. John Sarno, M.D. He was a maverick in the medical field who was preaching about the mind body connection before it became fashionable in the last 10-years.
Medical doctors hated him, even called him a quack, but time and time again he proved them wrong. He had treated and helped thousands of people with only an idea. The idea being that the pain, although real, is the result of your repressed rage and emotions.
This inner rage restricted blood flow to the certain parts of your body in order to divert attention the underlying emotional issues a person was experiencing.
Whether it was a slipped disc, a torn rotator cuff, or a sore neck this idea managed to help countless people. Among them were celebrity patients like Howard Stern, Larry David, Sen. Tom Harkin, news reporter John Stossel and more.
The treatment was simple: read one of his books, attend one of his lectures, journal about your feelings, meditate, and immediately resume exercise. Sarno believed that the pain was caused by emotions, but the location of it was based on whatever ailment was in vogue at the time.
I’ve read two of Sarno’s book, and I’m now on my third. Although, the books are not the most well written or even academic, his concepts and ideas are blowing my mind. Maybe I was a sucker, but TMS seems to fall in line with things I’ve noticed in myself and my own pain.
I’ve had a chronic back pain since I was about 21, and the pain has only progressively gotten worse since I’ve gotten older and taken on more responsibility. However, the pain could be dampened at times when I engaged in relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing. So naturally, I was susceptible to the idea that pain is as much a learned behavior as it is a result of physical trauma.
As much shit as Sarno might’ve received for his ideas, there is something to be said about the research that seems to support his ideas. I’m not a medical professional by training, but the countless research articles available at TMSwiki.org has me convinced that there is maybe something to this.
For some people it is easy to jump all in on this sort of stuff. For me it has been a little more difficult. I’m typically allergic to anything that has the feel of pseudo new age spiritualism, or even organized religion. It may be a limiting factor in my own recovery, still with the growing research and celebrity testimonials I find myself improving slowly day by day.
The daily journaling helps, even though at first it was an uncomfortable practice. As a faux-macho man, writing and reflecting on my feelings and past trauma was extremely uncomfortable. However, now it has become just another part of my day, and when I don’t get to journal something about me just feels off.
Perhaps the most profound effect from reading and studying Sarno and his books has been in the gym. I feel less fearful when I’m lifting a heavy weight, or running a long distance. I’ve always seemed sort of injury prone, nothing serious, but a rolled ankle or sore wrist is pretty common for me.
Knowing what I know about pain now, I feel more confident to attack a work out knowing that I can talk my way out of the occasional boo-boo I’ll experience.
Whether you believe any of this shit or not is up to you, but at the very least I encourage you to read one of Sarno’s book and to watch the documentary All the Rage if you are experiencing any sort of physical pain in your body.