243 of 248 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2006
John's Sarno's books have totally changed my life! About 11 years ago I hobbled into a class I was teaching in severe back pain---pain I had experienced frequently over a more than 30 year period.
One of my students came up and said he had a book that would "cure your back pain once and for all." Of course, I dismissed his offer as politely as I could. After all, how in the world could a mere book cure my chronic back pain, when an aggregate of dozens of chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, osteopaths, and even an orthopedic surgeon had not been able to help?
I quickly forgot about the whole thing. The following week the pesky student showed up with Dr. Sarno's Healing Back Pain and strongly urged me to read it, again insisting that it would cure my pain. At this point, I decided to take the challenge, read the book, and then prove to the student that the book was a complete farce.
Quite to my amazement, I literally "found myself" described on virtually every page. Applying the principles in that book, I cured my pain about 95% simply by feeling the signs of an incipient bout of acute pain, then trying to release the emotions or psychological resistance which was causing the pain. And in the remaining 5% of acute attacks of severe pain, I simply take time to reflect on and then let go of the underlying conflicting emotions which have caused the pain, since I have not neutralized them in time.
My chronic severe back pains which had persisted for over 30 years, are now gone, except for a very rare acute bout, which lasts for only a very brief period of time. Thanks, Dr. Sarno!
The greatest benefit for me of Healing Back Pain is that I no longer have the tremendous FEAR I used to experience during every bout of pain, expecting that somehow irretrievable damage was being done to my "fragile" back.
Sarno's latest book, The Divided Mind, goes into much greater depth and detail about TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome), or the way chronically repressed emotions, particularly rage, in the unconscious mind create actual physical pain in the body.
In a culture such as present day America where chronic pain of all descriptions is so prevalent, Sarno's book provides a beacon of hope for millions of sufferers.
Dr. Sarno, through decades of successful clinical practice, has discovered that much chronic pain, though indeed physical (so it's not "all in your head") is of psychological origin. The difficulty for many patients is accepting this basic fact. For many, it is much easier to want a physical "fix" for pain than to even consider the possibility that repressed emotion may be a causative agent.
The Divided Mind deals with the psychology, physical manifestations, and effective curative approaches in great detail. The appended chapters written by other physicians who have adopted Sarno's theory of TMS in their clinical practices makes the book all the more useful and fascinating.
Although I felt the author's devotion to Freudian explanations is a bit one-sided and dated, I still believe this is a "must read" book for people experiencing chronic pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc., who are ready to "think outside the box" and look for new possibilities in healing themselves.
A most interesting book which will give you much greater insight into yourself.
215 of 222 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A casual look at Dr. Sarno's books leads some people to dismiss them because they know that their pain is real and are turned off by a psychosomatic diagnosis. It is important to realize, however, that just because your pain or illness is psychosomatic doesn't mean that isn't truly painful or doesn't really exist. The key is to realize that your brain has a relatively simple method for causing chronic pain, specifically the ability to restrict the flow of oxygen to your tissues. This ability can be used to help bury subconscious rage that is the product of daily stress, a traumatic childhood, or a perfectionist mentality.
In today's society, a person simply cannot afford to exhibit raw emotions and, as a result, your brain does whatever is necessary to keep those emotions from surfacing. Sometimes, just the awareness of this paradigm is enough to reduce or eliminate chronic pain. If you have chronic pain that just won't respond to conventional treatment, this book could be the solution that you've been looking for.
108 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2007
I was having excruciating pain in my right buttock area and an MRI showed a herniated disc. Well of course after phys therapy, steroids, etc., surgery was the option left. Just the word surgery made my pain worse and I was really scared.
I first read Mind Over Back Pain, then in chron order, Dr. Sarno's other books, this one being the latest. I enjoyed how he shared the new things he learned in each book. I then said to myself this could be TMS (tension myositis syndrome--pain caused by oxygen deprivation to muscle or nerve or tendon or ligament due to brain). I decided to see Dr. Sarno and was diagnosed thankfully with TMS. He did look at my MRI and said the herniation was large, but likely not the cause of my pain. I have followed his study program which is outlined well in this book and 2 weeks later the pain is basically gone. I am able to walk or sit with no burning or pain, even drive, which I had not done for weeks.
Dr. Sarno's conviction in what he is doing and saying was thrilling to witness. And unlike other doctors, there is no "it could be . . . " and so "try this . . ." It is "you have TMS", this is why, and here is what to do. I loved hearing that from him.
I highly recommend all his books. I am grateful to Dr. Sarno for writing these books and helping me be pain-free and I've told him so!
I was NOT a skeptic from the beginning, however, as I believe strongly that our mind (emotion) affects our body. If you are open to learning how you can realize and accept things about yourself, your life, and your childhood, read Dr. Sarno's books.
I am thrilled I am pain-free with no surgery!
So many people have similar problems and pains, but I have seen that some are not willing to accept that their mind plays a major role and there is personal work involved.
I highly recommend this book. There is explanation of TMS, whom it affects and what to do about it, other doctors' experiences, history of other professionals (living and deceased) realizing the brain plays a part in our physical health, letters from patients, etc. It is a great book. Read it and see for yourself.
94 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2006
John Sarno's book "The Mindbody Prescription" healed almost all the pain in my body. "The Divided Mind" has completed the healing: all my physical pain is gone. I'm not kidding. Ninety percent of my "OCD" symptoms are gone. My skin problems aren't totally gone, but they will be eventually. I'm going to buy another copy of this book, because my wife is reading mine. Also, because if this book should ever go out of print, I want to make sure I have a copy of it. I know that's a little nutty, but this book is THAT important!
I've re-read parts of Sarno's "Mindbody Prescription" many, many times in the three years since I first "accidentally" discovered it at my local library. ( I own two copies).
I know it's ABSOLUTELY INSANE that a mere book can cure
body pain, OCD and skin problems. The cure is also INSANELY simple: all these problems are caused by the genius of our own brains. Unconciously, we simply cannot bear to feel our repressed rage, fear, grief, sorrow, resentment and other emotions according to Sarno. So our brains, unbeknownst to us, invent various problems in our bodies, such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, tinnitus, chest pain (the doc said it wasn't my heart) OCD (yes, OCD!) and more to divert our attention from these unacceptable emotions. Our unconcious just can't handle them.
"All" we have to do is totally buy Sarno's explanation, and the pain or other problem goes away.. I admit, it's not easy. It's taken a LOT of work, even though I instinctively agreed with his reasoning.
As one of my therapists said, everybody is a genius, in his or her unconcious mind, and that same mind which diverts our attention from our painful, repressed feelings also puts up an epic struggle against us exposing its insane game.
You think I'm nuts? Fine. Don't believe me. John Stoessel, the famously contrarian ABC reporter, says Sarno's book eliminated his excrutiating back pain. The shock jock Howard Stern, who mostly sickens me, has also been relieved of his unbelievable back pain and OCD by Sarno's books. Andrew Weil, the complementary medicine guru, buys Sarno's explanation for the epidemic of pain disorders in our world.
I've used Sarno's explanation of my body so often with myself that if I have any pain, I can turn it off by just silently or vocally telling myself that it's just my brain! No kidding.
I absolutely agree that John Sarno should be given the Nobel Prize in Science or whatever category covers his work. Of course, I'm sure the MDs and other folks who make billions of dollars treating only the symptoms of our real problem, wouldn't agree. Tough.
Again: don't believe me: BUY THIS BOOK! It's a heck of a lot cheaper, and WAAAAAY more effective, than therapy or most "medicine."
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2006
I was predisposed to liking this book. Perhaps it was because in simply reading the introduction to Dr. Sarno's previous book "The Mindbody Prescription" I was able to rid myself of an incredible pain in my neck that I had off an on for years. That pain has left me - along with pains in my back and wrist for 4 years. Thank you Dr. Sarno.
So yes, I'm biased - but we all should be. For some bizarre reason society in general and the medical community in particular have dismissed Sarno's discovery that the mind can indeed induce pain in our body. Everyday, Doctors are not diagnosing patients properly and therefore treatments for a battery of chronic aches and pains remain unsucessful. They need to realize that physical symptoms are many times not caused by physical events.
If a coach in sports put up a 95% success rate, coaches from around the country, if not the world would beat a path to his door in an attempt to replicate that success. That's what Sarno has done. Last I checked a Doctor was supposed to help someone get better and while Dr. Sarno's approach isn't conventional, it's working. And it's so incredibly logical. The medical community tends to train its brilliant students as if they are auto mechanics. Guess what? Car engines don't cry. In keeping with the auto analogy, this industry is long overdue for an overhaul. They still believe the earth is flat - Sarno is proving that it isn't.
Oh yeah, I'm supposed to review the book. It's brilliant. What was so uplifting were the chapters by M.D.'s, other than Sarno who will hopefully keep the flame of common sense alive.
I predict in 50 years society will look back and laugh at how we treat patients today. We are indeed in the dark ages. Dr. Sarno has his finger on the light switch - I suggest you let him turn it on.
123 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2006
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A scathing, nonfiction, medical thriller! As a psychiatrist in private practice I had my world turned upside down by reading Dr. Sarno's book. Under the spell of modern, biological psychiatry I have often answered the question of what causes depression with the pat "Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance." During the reading of Sarno's work, for the first time it occurred to me to ask, "What caused the chemical imbalance?" One cannot understate the significance of this book in its explanatory power and its power to heal. Modern medicine is wasting billions of dollars and prolonging the suffering of innocent people in blind, ignorant materialism. Medicine fails tragically in so much of its diagnosis and treatment by being enthralled with the laboratory and treating the patient as an organism or thing, ignoring the person, and the source of the pain.
Dr. John Hagelin from "What the Bleep Do We Know?" states:
Every age, every generation has its built-in assumptions; that the world is flat, that the world is round, etc. There are hundreds of hidden assumptions, things that we take for granted that may or may not be true. Of course, in the vast majority of cases historically, these things aren't true. So presumably, if history is any guide, much of what we take for granted about the world simply isn't true. But we're locked into these precepts without even knowing it, often times. That's a paradigm.
Deepak Chopra chides modern "science" stating:
So what's the real nature of the world? What's it really like? We can't trust the senses. They give us a very distorted view. They break up that wholeness into a small fragment and we call it reality. We happen to agree about it. We even call it "objective reality" and we have a whole methodology that we call "science" to explore that. But, if you really understand what science is, then science at least until now has not been a method for exploring the truth. Science has been a method for exploring our current map of what we think the truth is.
And so Dr. Sarno sheds light on the grand delusion of modern "science" and "medicine" in this scathing thriller.
Read it...be fascinated...be shocked...be healed.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2006
Dr. Sarno does not pull any punches with his frank observations and conclusions regarding the true cause (and cure) for most pain and dis-ease conditions. He shook up my world as a chiropractic student in the mid-90's with his first books, and now I use and apply his methods regularly in my chiropractic practice, and have a copy of this book in each waiting room. Sarno's work has saved my own neck at times, and has been a valuable resource for my patients, who otherwise have been made to feel "crazy" by other doctors. This book should be required reading for high school "health" classes! People need to know this basic information if there is ever to be a solution to the "health care crisis."
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2006
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
If you've never heard of Dr Sarno or his TMS theory (Tension Myositis Syndrome) before, this is your chance to get a good overview by Sarno along with similar perspectives from other physicians who use the TMS theory in their own practices.
At first, the theory sounds counter-intuitive; how can this back or neck pain, tendonitis, plantar fascitis, numbness, weakness...be caused by the brain rather than a structural problem? Well, it can. I've seen evidence of this in my own life, though I still harbor some waning doubts. Sarno as well as the other TMS physicians who wrote this book provide dozens of examples from their own practices.
TMS is often criticized because there is no "hardcore" scientific evidence that it works. Fair enough. But the fact is, many of the conventional modalities used routinely, such as ultra-sound, TENS, most of physical therapy...lack the same evidence. This does not stop their unquestioned use daily in nearly every medical setting.
As the title makes clear, there really is an epidemic of mind-body disorders in this country and it is part of the reason we spend so many healthcare dollars for so little.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2006
Back pain . . . if you've had it or do have it (or know somebody who
has it), you must make yourself familiar with the work of Dr. John
Sarno . . . he wrote my all-time favorite book on the subject, HEALING
BACK PAIN, that helped me walk again . . . at the time, I read it, I
was suffering from a herniated disc and in really bad shape . . . within
a few days, I was up and about--and have never had problems since.
I then read and enjoyed his follow-up effort, THE MINDBODY
PRESCRIPTION, and was equally impressed . . . this one got me
realizing that the mind can affect more than just problems in the
back area; it also can be the cause of carpel tunnel syndrome and
a whole host of other ailments involving the neck and shoulders.
Sarno's latest book, THE DIVIDED MIND, is another winner . . . it is
a bit more technical than his earlier efforts, though that said, I found his
discussion of the views of Freud and others quote interesting . . . I also
liked how he supplemented this with views expressed by several
In addition, he addresses the entire range of psychosomatic (or
mindbody) disorders, including common stomach and bowel
conditions, skin disorders and even headaches . . . in his view,
the crucial interaction between the generally reasonable, rational
and moral conscious mind and the repressed feelings of emotional
pain, hurt, sadness, and anger appears to be the basis for
There were several memorable tidbits from the book; among them:
* The enormity of the problem is illustrated by an article that
appeared in the business section of THE NEW YORK TIMES
on December 31, 2003. It described how one such
expensive treatment, spinal fusion, is being widely performed
despite the lack of evidence that it has any value whatsoever.
The article went on to point out that the doctors, hospitals,
and manufacturers of the hardware used in these procedures
all have a financial stake in the performance of this operation.
That national bill for its hardware alone has soared to $2.5
billion a year. What the cost of treatment must be staggers
the imagination. My medical school professors would be
shocked and horrified at what has happened to medical
practice. The marketplace and economics factors have taken
* It is quite remarkable that I have been unable to find a single
mention in the medical literature questioning the reason for
these epidemics. And one never gets a reasonable answer
when one asks, Why is it that the millions of men and women
who pounded typewriters since the beginning of the twentieth
century never developed CTS? Again, medicine bears the
responsibility for these epidemics on two counts: first, by
failing to make the correct diagnosis, and then by attributing
the severity and long-term nature of symptoms. This is
important because it supports the mind's strategy, which is to
distract attention from what is going on in the unconscious mind
and focus it on a body symptom. By so doing it perpetuates the
process. The sad reality is that most of the people suffering from
conditions like chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and CTS will not accept
a psychosomatic diagnosis.
And this one I especially liked:
* So, whenever someone confronts their fear, resumes their activity,
and feels fine, I tell them to celebrate. CELEBRATE! I tell them to
talk to their brain--tell themselves that they are fine! There cannot
be a physical problem if they were able to do the activity without
difficulty. Celebrating is an important way to reprogram the mind. It
helps condition you to think differently about your body and will help
you immeasurably to undo the old conditioning and forget all that
Do yourself a favor . . . if you or anybody you know has ever had
problems with your back or anything related (including various
muscular pain), buy them THE DIVIDED MIND and his earlier
books, too . . . you will not be forgotten!
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2007
This excellent book, which in the first portion summarizes the findings of John Sarno, unfortunately assumes having read one of his earlier books, The Mind-Body Prescription, which better tells the theory. Still, I think anyone reading it would benefit, though not nearly as much as someone who had read the earlier work. My comments refer to Sarno's own writing only. The work of the other authors in the text are worth reading and make a valuable contribution to the study of repressed emotions as a cause of illness, if not the only cause. Someone should write an account that attempts to balance Sarno's views with the structuralist position, which applies to pain other than that induced by repressed emotions. Still, Sarno's views seem to account better for pain overall than mainstream medical works, yet his views will probably be dismissed by most structuralists unwisely. Sarno's views relate to the psychological causes of pain while the structural position pertain only to anatomical ones--the mainstream view. Anyone with some psychological training might be greatly impressed by Sarno's theory and should work hard to balance it. Reading the books helped reduce some of my own pain of long standing.