do you need people to understand your condition?


Then you might want to give this article a read.

Seeking to be Understood: The Need for Approval

“…The truth is, many of us are looking for the approval of those closest to us on some level or another. And often this is disguised by the desire to have someone understand what we are talking about or going through, anything important to us about ourselves. I always thought I just wanted them to “get it.” In reality, I wanted them to get it so that they would be okay with me.

Let’s take another example. I once was dealing with a bad physical illness but it was not being diagnosed by doctors. I felt afraid that those around me would think it wasn’t so bad and I was imagining it. And I was very upset when they would get frustrated with me for my fatigue when I couldn’t stop it myself and was trying everything. I began doing research online and explaining to my loved ones what i was finding that I knew was applicable. But sometimes they would believe what I knew, and sometimes they wouldn’t, no matter how I explained it.

I realized that I needed to begin changing this focus on other people in order to feel peace in myself. And I knew that I had to begin letting myself know that I am my own person, and if I know something myself, that is enough…


having hope in the new year

The best part of a new year: it’s the best time to consider the possibilities. And I hope that anyone reading this is blessed with all good things in 2015 and especially those of us who have daily pain or struggle with our health. The possibility that this is the year you overcome is strong. And why not? Hope is a pretty amazing and magical thing. Read this blog entry below about how hope HAS healed. I have posted this before and it never gets old (for me).

This is my favorite from this blog post:

“As described by Dr. Bernie Siegel in Love, Medicine & Miracles, a chemotherapy regimen called “EPOH” was being studied in a research protocol for efficacy. Most of the study centers were reporting consistent results—some benefit from the chemotherapy, but nothing earth-shattering. But one study center was getting dramatically better results, so the research team investigated. What were they doing differently?

Turns out the doctor in the center with better results had renamed the chemotherapy regimen. Instead of telling his patients they were getting EPOH, he rearranged the letters and dosed them with HOPE.”

Is your need for approval causing you pain?

Another great blog from MindBodyGreen. This struck me for two reasons: 1) I am very interested in Dr. Sarno’s belief that pain (even if there is evidence of structural defect) is likely rooted in emotional issues; and 2) this author says a strong need for approval can force the body into a constant fight or flight response which just happens to be how RSD/CRPS is often described.

” Sociologist Martha Beck says, “Pain is like a life coach in your body. It’s what made me a life coach because I started paying a lot of attention to what made me hurt and what didn’t. It turned out my body was trying to steer me away from a life that was absolutely wrong for me and into a life that was absolutely wonderful.” Approval addicts, no matter what your approval seeking personality type fear that survival = “fitting in.” Fitting in takes many different forms, for some it means not doing anything to rock the boat, for others it means being all things to all people, still others think it means to never ask for help. For me, it meant being the “best” at everything (which by the way is impossible). The bottom line is that when you have an irrational fear that your survival depends on external approval or at the very least not making people mad, bored or annoyed, you see other people as threats. You perceive social interactions as threatening and that sends the body into a near constant state of fight or flight. … There’s a name for this phenomenon. Psychologists call it rejection sensitivity.

In a nutshell, people who experience rejection become more sensitive to it. They’re more likely to interpret an ambiguous social exchange as rejection. It’s a tendency to feel deep anxiety in social situations that develops into a kind of paranoia about rejection. Our bodies are not set up to cope with chronic exposure to this a biochemical response to feelings of rejection and despair. So … this leads to “dis-ease” in the body. “

Changing your thinking to change your pain

I swear I am not getting kickbacks from Dr. Sarno…I have seen such a difference in the last few months just by talking to myself. Yeah, I know. Crazy and a bag of chips. Sh*t, now I want chips…

Where was I? I now tell myself the cause for any of my symptoms is psychological. Even a simple headache or feeling fatigued. I am placing blame in a different place. I would say if you have chronic pain that has been vetted by a doctor, you might want to try Dr. Sarno’s books. Even if you have other symptoms (also vetted by an MD) perhaps you want to read his books.

This is a great blog entry.

“It became a medical controversy when Dr. John E. Sarno’s book, “The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain,” was published in 1998. In it, the renowned physician explained the vital connection between mental and bodily health, insisting that many painful conditions—including most neck and back pain, migraine, repetitive stress injuries, whiplash, and tendonitises—are rooted in repressed emotions…Sarno believes the brain has seen fit to reduce the blood flow to the painful areas. The real culprit is the rage, and other powerful feelings in the unconscious. “The pain had to be created as a distraction to prevent that from happening.”

1. Knowledge is power. In most cases, Sarno notes, psychological factors were involved—life stresses, perfectionism, or childhood trauma. Given this, the goal is to thwart the brain’s strategy.
2. Repudiate the structural diagnosis for the pain. The pain will not stop unless you are able to say, “I have a normal back; I now know that the pain is due to a basically harmless condition, initiated by the brain to serve a psychological purpose, and that the structural abnormalities that have been found are normal changes associated with activity and aging.”
3. Acknowledge the psychological basis for the pain. “The brain tries desperately to divert our attention from rage in the unconscious,” Sarno writes. “This is an automatic reaction of the mind, not based on logic or reason. So we must bring reason into the process.” He suggests asking yourself, “What is the sense in producing pain to distract one’s attention from the repressed rage?” Then decide, “I would rather deal with the rage than have the pain.”
4. Accept the psychological explanation and all of its ramifications as normal for healthy people in our society. “We must say to ourselves, ‘It’s all right to be the way we are: illogical, unconsciously enraged, like a child having a temper tantrum. That’s part of being human, and it’s universal.’”
Then, Sarno says, take these next steps:
Think psychological. I tell my patients they must consciously think about repressed rage, and the reasons for it whenever they are aware of the pain. This is in contradiction to what the brain is trying to do. This effort is a counterattack, an attempt to undo the brain’s strategy. It is essential to focus on unpleasant, threatening thoughts and feelings to deny the pain its purpose.
Talk to your brain. It sounds silly, but it’s effective. The conscious mind addresses the unconscious, the more forcefully the better. Successfully treated patients report that when they feel a twinge of pain, the kind of thing that used to be a harbinger of an attack, they talk to or shout at themselves and the pain disappears. You tell your mind that you know what it’s doing, that you know the physical pain is harmless and is a distraction from the repressed rage, and that you no longer intend to be intimidated.
Make a written list. List all of the pressures in your life, since they all contribute to your inner rage. There are self-imposed pressures, typical of the conscientious perfectionist, and the pressures of everyday life—which also include happy things like marriage and children, since they also represent great pressure. You should also list anger left over from childhood. Here’s the goal: By consciously identifying and dealing with sources of pressure, you reduce their potential negative effect in the unconscious.
Set aside a daily reflection or meditation period. This part of the treatment is essential for very busy people who feel they don’t have a moment to think of anything but their work during the day. This is best done in quiet and solitude, so a time must be found each day when you can sit and think about what it takes to get better.
5. The bottom line. “For some people, simply shifting attention from the physical to the psychological will do the trick,” Sarno says. “Others need more information on how the strategy works, and still others require psychotherapy.” But in every case, he is confident that knowledge is essential to the cure. “By making people aware of what is going on both physically and psychologically, we frustrate the brain’s strategy.”

Your unconscious rage might be causing your pain

This is the premise of Dr. Sarno. He believes there is a response that happens in our bodies to both conscious and unconscious emotion. It is a response that affects nerves and muscles and causes very real pain.

First, be sure if you are having pain that you get it checked out. I am not a doctor and certainly anything that hurts should be looked into. But maybe then read Dr. Sarno. Even if you are told you have stenosis or a bum disc. Maybe especially if you are told that. RSD, back pain, arthritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow… what if all you needed to feel better was to read a book? I have seen a difference in myself.

The following is from the blog linked below written by a man who was actually a patient of Dr. Sarno.

“Like many of the traders on Wall Street, I was at the time suffering from inexplicable severe lower-back pain. The doctors and chiropractors I had seen had provided me with all sorts of implausible explanations for my pain—years of jogging, or my swiveling high-back executive desk chair, or how I cradled the telephone was to blame…Sarno’s message was that in the overwhelming majority of cases, back pain was a symptom created by the unconscious mind as a distraction to aid in the repression of strong unconscious emotional issues. The hopeful message I took from his book was that there was nothing structurally wrong with my back and that I should resume normal activity as soon as possible….Two years later I developed intense shoulder pain. Within a matter of days, my shoulder went from being sore to being unable to move…Sarno was intrigued by the sudden appearance of my intense shoulder pain and talked to me about the “ping-pong” effect he had noticed in some of his patients. That is, once one symptom disappeared, another emerges as a distraction. Call it symptom substitution or moving symptoms or “the symptom imperative.” He examined my shoulder carefully and concluded that there was no structural injury that was causing my pain, no need for surgery. Within days, the pain disappeared—more than 15 years ago…Sarno believes that most people are incapable of accepting the notion that the cause of their pain is not a structural abnormality or an injury, rather their unconscious minds at work. Radical, costly and ineffectual procedures recommended by the medical establishment, such as fusing of the vertebrae of the spine, are, remarkably, preferred by the majority of patients over an approach that requires the patient to examine his unconscious rage.”

We can unlearn pain.

A quick article worth the read for pain patients feeling hopeless.

“…just as pain can be learned, it can be unlearned… I’ve found that most chronic pain sufferers have the capacity to break free from this condition. It’s just a matter of finding the right tools.”

“Over 50 million people in the US are suffering with chronic pain, but many of them don’t have to be. Recent studies have shown that often chronic back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia symptoms, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine headaches, and many other forms of chronic pain are not the result of structural causes, but of learned nerve pathways in the brain…John Sarno, MD, was one of the first physicians to hypothesize that many forms of chronic pain are reversible. He referred to this condition as Tension Myoneural Syndrome (or TMS).”

Treating Chronic Pain

Great article on mind/body disorders and Dr. Sarno.—t_b_265351.html

“Psychosomatic does NOT mean that “it’s all in your head” or that you are making it up. That is a common misconception among the medical community and lay people alike. What psychosomatic does mean is a mind-body connection, specifically that there are disorders that appear to be purely physical (i.e. back pain), but which have their origin in unconscious emotions. In other words, how we feel emotionally affects how we feel physically. Unfortunately, doctors aren’t trained to recognize this in medical school as true, and are therefore not trained in how to treat it.”

“Here are some of the conditions that are often mistakenly treated with drugs and surgery only: back pain, neck pain, heartburn, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers and stomach pains, eczema, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, TMJ, repetitive stress injury, shoulder pain, chest pain, pelvic pain, and depression.”

I find this to be a good reason to stay off the message boards and such with all the people talking about how bad they have it and describing their pain. It’s too much emotionally and I definitely feel it physically.

A great read

A friend with RSD recommended his books to me a few years ago and I didn’t “get it.” I associated Dr. Sarno with back pain which I now rarely have. I knew about him back in the early nineties when I was a Howard Stern junkie. But I always associated him with back pain. Stern actually credits him with healing his chronic back pain and OCD in just a few weeks. Another friend of mine mentioned his books recently and I have read one and I have two others open now. I think this one specifically might be great for people with RSD. A link to the book as well as a link to a 12 minute Stern interview with Dr. Sarno are both below.