“The subject is pain. But we’re not talking about pain that’s due to some sort of structural abnormality; but rather the pain that is generated in us when we put ourselves under pressure to be perfect and good.” –Dr. John Sarno, M.D.; Rehabilitative Medicine, New York University Medical Center
“I have never met Dr. Sarno. I have seen miraculous results of people I’ve sent to him. Results from people who just read his books.” –Dr. Andrew Weil, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine
There’s a film documentary coming out that might change your life, spare you surgery, save the country millions of dollars, get people off drugs and change the way we think about pain. The pain we’re talking about here includes:
- Back ache (me!)
- Plantar fasciitis (me!)
- Tendonitis (me!)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (me?), and more
I say this with a ton of confidence because the movie is based on the proven work of John Sarno, M.D., whose many books have changed lives.
Whose lives? Senator Tom Harkin, John Stossel, Howard Stern, Larry David, mine, friends I won’t mention because that’s their personal business.
I’ve been in contact with one of the staffers on the film’s promotions crew and we’ve been emailing back and forth. She was so interested in my story that she asked me to share it with you on my blog and mention the movie in hopes to get more people to support it or at least spread the word.
Here’s the public pitch for “All the Rage” (of which I am a proud Kickstarter backer):
“All The Rage” is a film that can save America from untold suffering and economic collapse. This isn’t hyperbole. The cost of pain has risen from $56 billion per year in 1986 to $636 billion in 2012. Dr. Sarno knows the reason. The pain is caused by stress related to the repression of our emotions. Sounds crazy, but it makes sense. In the 70’s he predicted this epidemic. The cure is knowledge and this film can deliver it.
Here’s the trailer for it (my favorite place at 2:22 is when Senator Tom Harkin is speaking at a formal hearing about his successful experiences due to Sarno and the man on the other side of the table can’t seem to answer him):
I have written here and here about my own journey with mindbody and chronic pain. I have written here candidly and humorously about my eye-opening journey regarding PreMenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD — the opposite of “euphoria” is “dysphoria”) and it wasn’t until last week when I was corresponding with a member of the promotions team for “All the Rage” that I made the connection about my personal Sarno-related issue (which I’ve yet to really talk about because I suppressed so much of it), that it revolves around my anger; my deep rage that I have relative to my own personal story; and the fact that my PMDD is quite likely related keenly to mindbody medicine.
I want to include a clip from the film. It’s an interview with Dr. Sarno’s wife, Martha, who was a revolutionary speech pathologist. In her work she made the connection between the indescribable (no pun intended) trauma in her patients’ personal lives and their inability to speak. I can’t share it with you because you need to be a Kickstarter “backer” to see it. But I’ll quote her:
…They were so focused on the disability; ‘fix the speech,’ ‘fix the language,’ forgetting that these poor people were going through horrors in their lives. They couldn’t express themselves. Their families were desperate. And nobody ever talked about how they felt…
Martha Sarno changed all that. She made that connection and now because of her work and incorporating the psychological aspect into her healing regimen, she radically changed treatment of speech pathology issues. In the clip, she continues to speak about how her husband’s work is a threat to established orthopedists and rehabilitative specialists and surgeons everywhere… What Dr. Sarno has uncovered will end a lot of country club memberships for a lot of fancy doctors and health insurance people…
All of a sudden the pain was gone, it was the closest thing I’ve ever had in my life to a religious experience, and I wept. –Larry David
I’ve tinkered for years with the concept of writing a memoir. I even wrote a fictionalized one about three years ago. At the time, my mother was still alive and I never felt “correct” about what I wrote or shared. I felt as though I owed her some sort of coverage or protection despite the years of emotional trauma and neglect. I still, at 47, am reluctant and almost fearful about writing anything really personal on my blog or in a book because it would offend my father, who is still living. Regardless: I suffered in my childhood and adolescence due to my mother’s addictions and mental illnesses. I also believe there was a great deal that could have helped her and it wasn’t done. She endured a tremendous loss: her second son was born and died three days later and she never met or held him. In those days, 1965, you didn’t talk about your problems. You bucked up. I can’t imagine her grief. She self-medicated for that and enormous anxiety. She told me a little about her grief from losing John a few months before she died, but it was masking her rage. She said that too.
I’ve never disclosed a lot of what I grew up with. I’ve alluded to it and I know it doesn’t compare to some other peoples’ issues, but it’s my story so it’s real to me. I’m sure I’ll catch hell for saying this much; some form of silent treatment, but I’m an adult and I realize that if I continue that narrative, that everything was roses and carrot cake, that I will continue to have muscular pain, tendonitis, undiagnosable GI stuff (food sensitivities and reactions which make no sense) and sciatica.
How do I know they’re not real? Because they come and go. Because X-rays and MRIs (yes, lots of insurance billing going on) tell me that they see nothing. That there’s nothing wrong. But the pain and the symptoms are real. What do you do then? If you’re me, you learn to compensate. You build muscle anyway; go for a row anyway; run a few miles in pain anyway; do push-ups with elbow or shoulder pain and downward facing dogs with sciatica burning down your leg. Why? Because when the stress is gone, the pain is gone. I also choose the push through it because my mom didn’t.
When I shared a friendship with someone, I never connected the unbearable neck and shoulder pain I had during a conflict and then just as a matter of course as time wore on. Even now, I can feel it creeping back in. When we separated, the pain almost melted away. If I think of her, the pain comes back. Last week, I considered reaching out to her because I felt bad about how things have gone, but then two nights ago I had a dream that I was in her car and she took me on a wooden roller coaster in her car (I couldn’t buckle my seat belt) and I couldn’t get off the ride. It was as vivid as reality: my stomach swelled upon the rise to the crest of the first hill and then I felt the plunge and g-forces of the drop and my body ache on curves and my head hurt on the loop-de-loops. When I woke I was nauseated and exhausted and my back hurt. I know now that there’s no chance I can be well — I would be ignoring my very body’s signals! — if I ever resumed that relationship.
If you can allow yourself to allow the experience (yes, lots of allowing going on) that your throat gets a lump in it when you feel like you’re going to cry, then you can allow yourself to allow to understand how continually bracing yourself against a psychic and emotional tidal wave composed of unexpressed feelings ( disappointment, anger, fear, jealousy or other heavy emotions), can leave your body looking caving in to protect itself or … for a way to express it.
And that’s what this is about: your body’s expression, quite literally, of that emotional repression. In a yoga sense, a lot of this ties in so beautifully with the chakra systems and the sides of our body which experience “dis-ease.” In mindbody medicine, concept is that your psyche can’t deal with the emotional pain, so it “distracts” you by referring the pain to your back, jaw, brain, digestive system… it’s not that different from a panic attack. How does a panic attack get you to not think about the emotional stuff, what’s really bothering you? By telling your body you’re dying.
Dr. Sarno talks a lot in his books about “goodism” and “good-ists” — those people (all of us) who feel pressure to Do The Right Thing, Always, based on what is morally or socially correct and acceptable. For example: sometimes you just don’t want to go to a _____________ but everyone is going to be there and having a great time, so instead of honoring your needs, you go to ______________ and then you get a headache or your back goes out or your stomach hurts. It’s all related, trust me.
How to stop it? Well, in the meantime before the movie comes out, read any of the books Sarno has written and join thousands of other people who feel relief just from READING A BOOK. Why does that work? Because you realize you’re not crazy OR alone. There’s no placebo, no waiting room, no patronizing nods of sympathy from a jaded receptionist. No looking for a parking space.
Most of Sarno’s patients don’t require psychotherapy or other similar interventions (some may) and there’s no fear about changing your personality. You don’t even have to talk about it or consider a memoir like yours truly. You’re fine the way you are, but your pain can go away.
I read twenty pages [of Dr.Sarno’s book] and my pain almost cuts down by 75%.–Jonathan Ames
What this movie and book and movement are giving to me is the confidence to move forward with writing my memoir because I feel like I have a relevant space to hook it into: health and personal advocacy. I’ve already decided that my first line would be, “I never knew how angry I was until I wasn’t anymore.” My well-being and health had been held hostage by my anger at my parents for the lies I witnessed and the confusion and pain I endured. Thanks to the emails I’d shared with the movie publicist, I connected that my food issues began in the spring of 1994 when I was planning my wedding. That was my first trip to the Gastroenterologist. All my “flare ups” happen in the spring when I was planning the wedding. I also saw a cardiologist then because of panic attacks (this just came back to me right now); my heart was all wonky but brought on by anxiety. I am convinced my PMDD was related to my rage from growing up with all that dysfunction as well.
You don’t have to hail from a dysfunctional family to benefit from Sarno and this film (even though about 80% of us are from dysfunctional families or are in families with some measure of dysfunction surrounding them). You could simply be disappointed that you never felt ______ in your life and are dealing with chronic pain and nothing you’ve done so far seems to help.
I don’t think I’ve ever asked you for help, but today I am. If nothing else, please spread the word to help support this cause. The Kickstarter campaign ends December 17, 2014.