The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain

The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain

by John E. Sarno


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446675154
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 10/28/1999
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 36,608
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.64(d)

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The Mindbody Prescription

By John E. Sarno

Warner Books

Copyright © 1998 John E. Sarno, M.D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-67515-6


Pain, disability, misinformation, fear-that quartet has plagued the Western world for decades and the plague shows no sign of abating. Back, neck and limb pain are rampant, and statistics indicate that the epidemic is spreading. Disability in American industry from low back pain continues to increase year by year.

Industries that employ large numbers of people working at computers are experiencing great disability and health insurance problems because of a new pain disorder known as repetitive stress injury (RSI). Millions of Americans, mostly women, suffer from a painful malady of unknown cause called fibromyalgia. While gigantic medical industries have arisen to diagnose and treat these conditions, the plague continues.

This book is about that epidemic. It describes both a clinical experience that has identified the cause of the pain disorders and a method of treating them. Sadly, mainstream medicine rejects the diagnosis because it is based on the theory that the physical symptoms are initiated by emotional phenomena. Intelligent laymen in large numbers have embraced the concept, however, no doubt because they are not burdened by the bias imposed by a traditional medical education.

As if the pain epidemic were not of sufficient magnitude, a large group of physical disorders have been identified as equivalents of the pain syndrome, since they appear to stem from the same psychological process. These maladies have occurred commonly for years and, taken together with the widespread pain maladies, are universal in Western society. I refer to many of the headaches, gastrointestinal symptoms and allergies, as well as respiratory, dermatologic, genitourinary and gynecologic conditions that are the stuff of everyday life.

If most of these are psychogenic-that is, they originate in the mind (and it is my goal to demonstrate that they are)-we have a public health problem of staggering proportions. The medical, humanitarian and economic implications are obvious and will be enumerated.

This book is about emotions, illness and wellness, how they are related and what one can do to enhance good health and combat certain physical conditions. The ideas are based on twenty-four years of successfully treating an emotionally induced physical disorder known as the Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). Although I will provide an up-to-date description of that condition, my major focus is the impact of the emotions on bodily function.

That connection came close to being accepted by Western medicine in the first half of the twentieth century and then fell into almost total disrepute. Repudiation of psychoanalytic theory, increased interest in laboratory research and the tendency of doctors to shy away from psychological matters (they see themselves as engineers to the human body) are the likely reasons for this historical trend. As the century draws to a close, few practitioners, either in physical or psychological medicine, believe that unconscious, repressed emotions initiate physical illness. Psychoanalysts are the only clinicians who have held to that concept, but their influence in the larger fields of psychiatry and general medicine is limited. In the physical medicine specialties virtually no one adheres to the idea.

Despite the lack of interest of mainstream medicine, much has been written on the "mind-body connection." Careful studies have been conducted that relate psychological factors to pathological conditions such as coronary artery diseases and hypertension. I know of only one investigator outside the field of psychoanalysis who has identified unconscious emotions as the cause of a physical illness. One reads of stress, anger, anxiety, loneliness, depression, but they are discussed as conscious, perceived emotions. In many instances these feelings are thought to aggravate underlying structural pathological processes, such as herniated discs, fibromyalgia or repetitive stress injury.

In view of the widespread Freud bashing of recent years I may be courting disapproval to state that my concepts descend from Freud's clinical observations and theories. But I know this only in retrospect, for I did not set out to prove Freud right. My developing ideas were the consequence of clinical observations; they were not based on preconceived notions about the mindbody connection. As with Freud's patients, I found that my patients' physical symptoms were the direct result of strong feelings repressed in the unconscious. In addition, I have drawn on the concepts of three other psychoanalysts: Franz Alexander, founder of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, did pioneer work in mindbody medicine in this century; Heinz Kohut conceptualized what is known as Self Psychology and pointed out the importance of narcissistic rage; Stanley Coen suggested the crucial idea that the mindbody disorder I was studying (TMS) was a defense, an avoidance strategy designed to turn attention away from frightening repressed feelings.

This book addresses physical disorders that are caused by repressed, unconscious feelings. Because these disorders are very specific, they can be accurately diagnosed and successfully treated.

The Tension Myositis Syndrome is currently the most common emotionally induced disorder in the United States, and probably in the Western world. Since the publication of Healing Back Pain, other painful conditions of significant public health importance have emerged. They, too, are manifestations of TMS.

The book is laid out in three parts. Part I is a discussion of the psychology that induces these physical maladies, and it includes a chapter that might be called a bridge, for it describes the psychoneurophysiology of psychogenic processes: in other words, how emotions stimulate the brain to produce physical symptoms. After traversing this bridge (which sounds more formidable than it is), Part II takes up the various emotionally induced physical maladies, beginning with TMS, the disorder that introduced me to the world of mindbody medicine, and including such ailments as the common disturbances of the gastrointestinal tract, headaches, allergies and skin disorders.

Part III discusses treatment for these disorders.

For those who are interested, an appendix covers the more academic aspects of the mindbody (psychosomatic) process.

A word of caution to the reader: What follows is a description of my clinical experience and the theories derived from my work. No one should assume that his or her symptoms are psychologically caused until a physician has ruled out the possibility of serious disease.


Excerpted from The Mindbody Prescription by John E. Sarno Copyright © 1998 by John E. Sarno, M.D.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

John Stossel

"For fifteen years, my life revolved around my back. I took time off from work, conducted meetings lying on the floor, and slept with ice bags. Could this be psychogenic? I had considered Dr. Sarno's idea preposterous, but ten years ago I was talked into seeing him. I haven't had back problems since. If Dr. Sarno is right about other psychogenic pain, America is wasting billions of dollars. What a tragedy." -- Correspondent, 20/20

Anne Bancroft

"John Sarno has changed my life and the lives of all the people to whom I have recommended him. He was healing patients with the mindbody connection long before anyone else I know. He is a true miracle worker."

Benjamin J. Sadock

"Dr. Sarno describes in clearly written and understandable language how emotions influence and cause illness... He has cured thousands with debilitating chronic back pain and now offers curative approaches to other painful conditions... I recommend this book highly." -- Professor and vice chairman, Department of Psychiatry, NYU Medical Center

Howard Stern

"My life before Dr. Sarno was filled with excruciating back and shoulder pain. For twenty years I also suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and thought my back pain was due to my height or some sort of spine problem and that my OCD was a chemical imbalance and only treatable with medication. But all my thoughts were wrong. Imagine the miracle in my life when in a matter of weeks my back pain disappeared. Imagine my shock when I applied Dr. Sarno's principles and never suffered a single symptom again. Quite simply -- I owe Dr. Sarno a lot."

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The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw Dr. Sarno ten years ago for back pain . Within the first week after seeing him I was cured. I've never had any back pain again. I couldn't walk my pain was so bad, I was hunched over. I had to stay home and lie on the floor for days. My days of sleeping on a hard floor or crawling to the bathroom are gone since I became Dr. Sarno's patient. Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain which is an excellent title since I now have knee pain and sometimes the pain goes to my groin and hip. This title made me aware that ten years later Dr. Sarno is now treating all areas of the body, and the mind and the body work together was always my way of thinking. I'm fortunate to have found Dr. Sarno.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very skeptical that this book would help. I was in severe pain in my neck. I had surgery 9 years ago for herniated discs and they acted up every so often. I was on all kinds of medicine including muscle relaxants. Anyway a friend suggested this book and at that point I was willing to try anything. Well, it worked! I am in no pain at all!! I read the book, practiced the suggestions and seriously I am in no pain. Just keep an open mind and give this book a shot. I am on no medicine and am able to workout again without any restrictions. I highly recommend this book.
Kid_LB More than 1 year ago
Good follow-up to HEALING BACK PAIN. Somewhat repetitious, but enough new material.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book - introduces a whole realm of possibilities for those that suffer from body aches and pains. Must read!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I understand and can appreciate some of what the doctor says about pain. I do agree that the patient must take responsibility and face factors that might be contributing to their pain. However, I have a herniated cervical disc and have been in terrible pain for months, if something is pinching on a nerve - it will cause pain. You cannot 'think' it away. I believe the book is good for 'some' people that do not have serious conditions, but these techniques suggest that if you don't get cured then something is wrong with the person (patient)but the truth is that we do not have control over every physical condition that happens to us and it is not always our (the patient's) fault if we do not get better. Pain can easily cause people to become depressed and we have to keep hoping and believing that we will get better. For 45 years, I never had any pain like I am now experiencing. I know what it is like to live in pain every day and I don't want people to feel worse after reading this book because their pain does not diminish. It is not their fault.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had bad Repetitive Strain Injury in my hands. I could only work at a computer for 20 minutes without pain. I discovered Dr. Sarno's theories in this book and the book by Fred Amir and six weeks later I am working at a computer for five hours per day. I don't know if it can help all cases of RSI or even most cases but I wouldn't be surprised.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book explores the mind-body connection and will make you take a good look at how stress might influence your physical symptoms. It may not work for everyone, but it will get one thinking if stress plays any part at all in your condition. I feel that you have to treat both the mind AND the body and that just treating one in isolation is not enough. I hear many stories of people "telling" their pain to go away, have it actually go away, and then come back again on them repeatedly. Rarely does this kind of treatment permanently cure a chronic condition. Commonsense leads me to believe that regardless of what causes something like back pain, the pain does cause certain changes in your body (such as smaller and weaker back muscles) that must be addressed. You may have gotten rid of your pain with a psychological treatment, but the physical toll the pain took on your body (smaller and weaker back muscles) must be dealt with through a physical treatment as well. Yout back muscles don't automatically recover without proper exercise too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you suffer from nearly any kind of chronic pain or disease, this book can cure you. Pain and illness are epidemic, and this book is the tool you need. You will regain your health! I had chronic illness, neck pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, foot pain--I could go on and on. I thought stress was a factor, but this book taught me that ANGER is the key. You'll have to do some work--journal, think about what's bothering you, be introspective--but isn't your health worth it? The cure is in your hands. Don't wait any longer! Don't be afriad of having a weak body or immune system any more! Buy the book. Make notes in it. You can recover.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a Freshman at Phillips Exeter Academy, and for the past two years I have suffered from severe voice dysphonia. I have been to countless physicians, trying to correct this malady, but to no avail. Only resently did my new doctor recommend Dr. Sarno's brilliant book of repetitive stress injury. Being a very driven and perfectionist student, I found that Dr. Sarno's diagnosis of a psychosomatic physical symptom fit me precisely. I have since begun following his steps for treatment, and have noticed some improvement. However, it is a long process to recovery, and I was disappointed at Dr. Sarno's brief mention of spasmodic dysphonia. I am hoping, though, that the insights gained from this intriguing read will assist me on the road to regaining my voice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The chapters on psychology may be a bit too detailed for most people, nevertheless, this is an excellent reference book for understanding a variety of ailments and bodily pains, often misdiagnosed, but usually caused by tension. It is also a good complement to Dr. sarno's Healing back pain, which helped me recover from chronic pain in my back, legs, knees, feet, neck, arms, and hands, and almost completely disability. Combining guidelines provided by Dr. Sarno with techniques used by Olympic athletes, I was able to design a nine-step repid recovery program that allowed me to improve immediately and recover within four days. After my recovery I shared my research and experiences with individuals as well as in seminars I conducted for the University of California, CIGNA, and other organizations. My story is detailed in Rapid Recovery from Back and Neck Pain: A Nine-Step Recovery plan and serves as another testimony to the accuracy of Dr. Sarno's diagnosis. Rapid Recovery from Back and Neck Pain is now available at