The Divided Mind

The Divided Mind

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by John E. Sarno

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The book that will change the way we think about health and illness, The Divided Mind is the crowning achievement of Dr. John E. Sarno's distinguished career as a groundbreaking medical pioneer, going beyond pain to address the entire spectrum of psychosomatic (mindbody) disorders.

The interaction between the generally reasonable, rational, ethical,


The book that will change the way we think about health and illness, The Divided Mind is the crowning achievement of Dr. John E. Sarno's distinguished career as a groundbreaking medical pioneer, going beyond pain to address the entire spectrum of psychosomatic (mindbody) disorders.

The interaction between the generally reasonable, rational, ethical, moral conscious mind and the repressed feelings of emotional pain, hurt, sadness, and anger characteristic of the unconscious mind appears to be the basis for mindbody disorders. The Divided Mind traces the history of psychosomatic medicine, including Freud's crucial role, and describes the psychology responsible for the broad range of psychosomatic illness. The failure of medicine's practitioners to recognize and appropriately treat mindbody disorders has produced public health and economic problems of major proportions in the United States.

One of the most important aspects of psychosomatic phenomena is that knowledge and awareness of the process clearly have healing powers. Thousands of people have become pain-free simply by reading Dr. Sarno's previous books. How and why this happens is a fascinating story, and is revealed in The Divided Mind.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Sarno (rehabilitation medicine, NYU) follows his popular books Healing Back Pain and The Mindbody Prescription with a new volume that expands on those earlier works. Many people suffer severe chronic pain symptoms that do not appear to have a significant structural cause. Sarno's controversial pain philosophy contends that, in order to avoid severe emotional pain, the brain represses unconscious emotions by temporarily depriving oxygen to certain areas of the body, which causes actual pain symptoms. In these cases, the secret to stopping the pain is not based on surgery or other traditional medical interventions but, rather, on acknowledging the emotional conflicts. Sarno's latest offers additional examples of patients who have been helped by his methods. While much of the basic material is covered in his prior publications, Sarno has updated the information and included six lengthy chapters written by doctors who embrace his treatment philosophy. Their case studies help to strengthen his arguments. Given the popularity of his previous books, this is likely to be another best seller. Recommended for all public libraries.-Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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The Divided Mind

The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders
By John Sarno

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 John Sarno
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060851783

Chapter One

What is Psychosomatic Medicine?

I remember the first time John R came into my clinic in 1996. He was a successful businessman in his early forties, well dressed and fit, radiating confidence. He seemed altogether at ease and self-assured -- until he bent to sit down. Abruptly, his movements slowed and he became so cautious, so fragile, so tentative that he was suddenly a caricature of the driving, confident man who strode through my door only moments before. His body language made it clear that he was either experiencing excruciating pain or feared the pain would strike him if he made the slightest wrong move.

As a medical doctor, I could empathize with his suffering. My specialty is mindbody disorders, and I see cases like this every working day. I hoped I could help him, which meant helping him to help himself, because with mindbody disorders, a doctor cannot "cure" a patient. It is the suffering patient who must come to understand his malady . . . and by understanding it, banish it.

As we went over John R's history, a picture began to emerge of an interesting and satisfying life. Married, three children. His own business, which probably took up too much of his time, but wasdoing well. I also heard a familiar litany of suffering and pain -- a chronic bad back of mysterious origins, sometimes inducing such severe pain that he could not get out of bed in the morning. His long and unsuccessful search for relief -- experiments with alternative medicine, prescription drugs, and finally, in desperation, surgery -- immensely expensive and only temporarily successful. Then the sudden onset of brand-new ailments: sciatica, migraine headaches, acid reflux -- the list of maladies went on and on.

As a physician, my heart went out to him. It was my job to help him. But I could only lead. Would John R follow? Would he understand the profound interconnectedness of mind and body? Would he grasp the awesome power of buried rage?

To the uninitiated, there is often something mysterious about mindbody medicine. In truth, the relationship of the mind to the body is no more mysterious than the relationship of the heart to the circulation of the blood, or that of any other organ to the workings of the human body. My first interview with John R indicated he would be open to the idea of mindbody medicine. Within a month of beginning treatment, his pains, which had tortured him for much of his adult life, simply disappeared, without the use of drugs or radical procedures. I still get an annual Christmas card from him. In his most recent one he reported that he continues playing tennis and skiing. Last summer he and his oldest boy walked the entire Appalachian Trail. The pain and the equally unexplained other disorders have not returned.

Many of my patients have an initial difficulty grasping the full dynamics of the mindbody syndrome. It is one thing to accept the concept that the mind has great power over the body, but quite another to internalize that knowledge, and to understand it on a deeply personal basis. Even when my patients come to fully appreciate the central element of the equation -- that it is their mind that contains the root cause of their physical distress -- they may continue to stumble over the secondary details, unable to accept the reality of their own buried rage, and remain puzzled over the fact that their own mind can make decisions of which they are unaware.

Sometimes it helps my patients to understand the mindbody connection if they step back and look at it from a broader perspective. Psychosomatic disorders belong to a larger group of entities known as psychogenic disorders, which can be defined as any physical disorders induced or modified by the brain for psychological reasons.

Some of these manifestations are commonplace and familiar to all, such as the act of blushing, or the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, or perspiring when in the spotlight. But these are harmless and temporary phenomena, persisting only as long as the unusual stimulus remains.

A second group of psychogenic disorders includes those cases in which the pain of a physical disorder is intensified by anxieties and concerns not directly related to the unusual condition. An example would be someone recently involved in a serious automobile accident whose pain may be significantly worsened by concerns about his or her family, job, and so on, not about the injuries. While mainstream medicine tends to ignore almost all psychogenic manifestations, it generally acknowledges this type, recognizing that symptoms may worsen if the patient is anxious. Doctors may refer to this as emotional overlay. In my practice, patients have reported that their pain became much more severe when they were informed of the results of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan that described an abnormality, such as a herniated disk, particularly if surgery was suggested as a possible treatment.

The third psychogenic group is the exact opposite of the second: it covers cases in which there is a reduction of physical symptoms in an existing disorder. In one of the earliest studies of pain, Henry Beecher of Harvard reported that in a group of severely wounded soldiers in World War II, it was found that despite the severity of their injuries they often required little or no analgesic medication because their pain was substantially lessened by their becoming aware that they were still alive, being cared for and removed from the dangers of deprivation, hardship, and sudden death.

By far the most important psychogenic categories are the fourth and fifth groups, hysterical disorders and psychosomatic disorders. Hysterical disorders are mostly of historical interest, although the psychology of both is identical. My experience has been primarily with psychosomatic disorders.

The symptoms of hysterical disorders are often quite bizarre. The patient may experience a wide variety of highly debilitating maladies, including muscle weakness or paralysis, feelings of numbness or tingling, total absence of sensation, blindness, inability to use their vocal cords, and many others, all without any physical abnormalities in the body to account for such symptoms.


Excerpted from The Divided Mind by John Sarno Copyright ©2006 by John Sarno. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

John E. Sarno, M.D., is a professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine. He has been practicing medicine since 1950. He is the acclaimed author of three earlier books on musculoskeletal pain.

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Divided Mind 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Those familiar with the research and writings of Dr. Robert Sarno will find this book far more detailed in the psychological background that he provides as introduction to his theories. He is analytical and observant and will convince most readers that there is a significant connection between mind and body. His theory of how we become "in pain" and what we need to do to relieve our pain makes a great deal of sense. As a former patient and one who has read his previous books, I find his arguments compelling, as they have worked for me on several occasions when I suffered great pain. While he is certainly not mainstream, he is supported by others in the medical community who use his method of pain relief with their patients, and several of them have written their own convincing chapters on the theory. For anyone who has an open minded attitude and is willing to listen (read), I highly recommend this book; you owe it to yourself to give it a chance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was first turned on to Dr. Sarno by Howard Stern. So I read Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. Since then I have been preaching the mind-body connection every chance I get. I don't have any TMS that I am aware of but I just find the subject matter fascinating. The evidence is overwhelming that so many people are suffering and they can be helped with only some therapy. In the Divided Mind I didn't expect to hear from other doctors on the subject but I was pleasantly surprised. It is good to hear from such a diverse group. I wish more people would read these books.
SupermexNY More than 1 year ago
Dr. Sarno is like a voice in the wilderness in a modern medical profession that tends to treat symptoms instead of the underlying disorders. Unfortunately, as Dr. Sarno points out, the symptoms are treated with invasive procedures that mask the true disorder of the patient. Highly recommended, especially for sufferers of chronic pain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent!  This book encourages people (and the medical profession) to look in the mirror and search for the true source of physical ailments.
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WOW AWSOME  ThankYou Vesna
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