Tribute to Dr. John Sarno
Dr. Sarno is a pioneer in the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who began to question commonly held dogma about back and musculo-skeletal pain syndromes. Approximately 30 years ago, Dr. Sarno began to realize that some people with back pain had similar X-ray and CAT Scan findings as people who did not have back pain. He started to search for underlying causes that might better explain this discrepancy. Dr. Sarno also noticed that most (88%) of his back pain patients had histories of having headaches (both migraine and tension), irritable bowel syndrome, other gastro-intestinal syndromes, bladder symptoms, and other so-called functional disorders (i.e. disorders for which medical doctors have little understanding). He wondered if back pain could be caused by psychological processes and after trying out this concept with many patients, he discovered that back pain is often caused by a variety of psychological processes, such as anger, fear, guilt, resentment, worry, and sadness. This understanding allowed Dr. Sarno to help thousands of people with chronic back pain, neck pain and many other disorders.
I have worked with Dr. Sarno and he has helped me to understand how important a role the mind plays in many illnesses that were thought to be purely physical. Dr. Sarno is aware of the advances I am trying to make in the field of Mind Body Medicine by creating this web site and by adding several psychological and educational exercises to help people with MBS/TMS, such as mindfulness meditation and therapeutic journaling techniques.
In my opinion, Dr. Sarno has not received enough credit for his discoveries. He is often revered by those who have benefited from his work, but the wider medical community has not embraced his work and his theories. Although it is obvious (to me) that a wide variety of physical and psychological disorders can be caused by stress and emotions (both conscious and unconscious), Dr. Sarno was a leader in understanding that musculo-skeletal disorders, such as back pain, neck pain, and fibromyalgia, are frequently caused by a complex interaction between the mind and the body.