Some of you will have read the books by John E.Sarno. They are based on his work over many years, helping people with chronic muscular-skeletal pain and disability. Back pain is at epidemic levels in the USA.
In a nutshell, his belief was that our brains are capable of producing very real pain in order to divert our attention away from what is really hurting.
The first step he advises is to open our minds to the possibility that we are not suffering from some serious disorder - regardless of what may show up on an MRI scan - and that we can challenge our brains to stop playing nasty tricks. He is not talking about malingering, many of his patients have been very high-achievers, perfectionists. On the face of it, their back pains have been nothing but a huge hindrance, serving no useful purpose.
According to his theory, it all boils down to anger, narcissistic injury, usually going back into childhood. The demands of society to show "goodism" as he calls it. Not surprisingly, the teachings of Sigmund Freud are a cornerstone of his prescription for recovery. Happily for those of us who do not have the money or time to enter into longterm psychoanalysis, there is a lot we can do to help ourselves. You can also watch some of Sarno's lectures and interviews on You Tube.
Several things happened to cause me much anxiety over Christmas and new Year, and I think they are the cause of recent agonising muscular spasms in my low back and legs on both sides. In all cases, the behaviour of certain people left me feeling impotent and victimised. I have had sciatica for years, and mild arthritis. Thinking back, I can link bad acute episodes to times of depression and insomnia in my life. These latest pains are a new departure, and I was starting to fear some real injury. Then I reread Sarno's books, and the pains literally eased as I sat there.
Some people are deeply offended to be told something is all in the mind. Not me! I would far rather think this is my crazy brain causing me hell, than be told I have a condition that requires doctors or surgery.
It is so easy to start acting and thinking like an invalid. You become lazy, scared to make it flare up. A twinge and you are in panic mode, catastrophizing, you fear another bout of agony. Now I am telling myself it is just a twinge, get on with it.
I can't do much about the many things that have caused me to repress anger over the years and in the present day. My Northern Irish/Scottish background often makes the thought of fisticuffs seem very attractive. Only my age, small stature and the threat of being locked up stops me.
Spa pampering sessions have never appealed to me. I don't want hot stones or foot massages. I want to detox the part of my brain that has had to repress the fury, enabling me to live as a responsible law-abiding citizen.
I would seriously love a soundproof padded room (it may yet come to that of course) wherein I could let rip, punching, kicking, effing and blinding until I am hoarse. Some personalised effigies would be nice too, preferably attached to a punchbag. I am seeing a potential business here, any Dragons reading this?
Has your mind caused your body to suffer, and can you pinpoint what might have caused it? Are you in pain as you read this? If there is no obvious cause, could it be coming from inside your head?
A Moodscope member.