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Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,325 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
Do you have back, neck, or shoulder pain that keeps recurring or won't go away? Does back pain keep you from living a full life? If so, you may be suffering from TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome)—and you don't have to take it anymore!
Dr. John E. Sarno is a medical pioneer whose mind-body approach has helped patients overcome their back conditions—without drugs or dangerous s
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Published January 17th 2004 by Macmillan Audio (first published January 1st 1991)
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Jan 06, 2013 Trent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CHANGED MY LIFE! I have written this on so many sites now since reading this. In short, I am a long time sufferer of low back pain. Pain runs down the leg and all over the core area. Had surgery at age 19 in 2002. All my love of sports and competing was ruined. Angry most of the time and when I'm not, I am in pain and wishing something would change my life. I have done surgery, PT, Tensunit, Injections, Massages, Trainers, Creams, More pills than any person in life should ever take... I have don ...more
Mar 30, 2010 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got about 3/4 through this book and then moved and never picked it back up. However, the last 1/4 of the book are examples of diagnoses with Sarno's comments on its relevance to TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome). I gave the book 4 stars b/c I thought the last 1/4 was a bit redundant.

Sarno has many years of medical practice under his belt. And, thankfully, he has gone beyond textbooks and rote exercises and linked the conditions of the mind with back-pain. I do like how he has made this link. I
Apr 20, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm guessing people will have mixed feelings about this, but I felt this book helped me.

It does drag on (as many people have noted).

It does show it's age in some of its comments (Page 68 is TMS worldwide, and basically assuming the entire African continent does not experience this issue or stress comes to mind - yeah, 1980s early 90s clueless much? A better statement might have been about work environment culture rather than just lumping continents and ethnic groups).

This book isn't just about b
Oct 10, 2009 Gaijinmama rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The idea that deeply repressed anger can cause physical tension, resulting in not only back pain but digestive and sinus problems and headaches....yes, I can get behind that.
However, I agree with the other reviewers here who have said the book is too vague and repetitive. OK...Doc, so yes, I am tense, stressed out, and anxious and my back hurts like H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, but what specifically am I supposed to do about it?
That said, it is nice to see a medical professional actually doing
Brad Cramer
Feb 09, 2012 Brad Cramer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book recommended by my chiropractor. At first I thought it was kind of hokey, but the more I read the more I started to buy into the concept that most back pain is caused by suppressed anger and fear. The back pain is the mind's way of giving you something to deal with besides confronting the emotions. I've been having back pain for years and paid my chiropractor way more money that I would like. But since reading the book and using the techniques, when I have had flare ups they are ...more
Laurel Marlantes
No book has changed my life more. I'm amazed and so thankful I was told to read this book. Anyone who has suffered from ANY difficult to diagnosis condition should read this. After 3 years of struggle with numerous doctors and procedures and tests and who knows how much in medical bills, I literally have had zero back pain since reading this book and adopting Dr. Sarnos beliefs. I know I sound like I drank the Koolaid, but its true!! It's weird, and crazy, I know. But its also so awesome and the ...more
May 10, 2012 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First I will say that if this booked worked for you then, more power to you! I am a big believer in his premise that tension can result in physical pain manifesting itself in various forms. With that said, the other 180 pages of this book consisted of Dr. Sarno complaining that most people don't believe him and the medical profession discounts his discoveries. His proof consists of stories from his patients and how he cured them and leaves out anything based on facts. Instead, he uses phrases li ...more
Jun 27, 2011 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me the tools to save myself from the chronic pain that was destroying my quality of life. I'd recommend it to everyone who has chronic pain of any form. Deal with this component of the pain to find what damage or issues is left, so it can then be dealt with appropriately is what I've told my loved ones. Might be surprised just how much is related to this issue! I was willing to do ANYTHING to quit hurting... come to find out what I needed to do was read even if it wasn't with an o ...more
Feb 14, 2015 Gerard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eye opener, analyzing back pain and many other illnesses in a completely different and sensible perspective!
Dec 29, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty sure this book will change my life and ultimately have a larger impact on me than anything I've ever read. When that happens, in 4-6 weeks, I'll go back and up the rating to a 5.
Gregg Bell
Jan 22, 2014 Gregg Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book pulled me back from the brink of life-threatening problems. And I'll be the first to admit that the book sounds boring. "Healing Back Pain." Yawn!! I don't remember where I got the book. All I know is I'm glad I did.

The book is nothing as it seems. The second half of the title ("Mind-Body Connection") is really what the book is all about. "Bad backs" are just perhaps the most prevalent form of "recurring and chronic" physical pain, and so Sarno (or perhaps somebody at the publisher) we

Bahar Amiri
Jul 06, 2010 Bahar Amiri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
مشکل کمر درد اکنون بسیار شایع شده است و دنیا به یک راه حل اساسی نیاز
دارد .این مسئله ای نیست که بتوان آن را نادیده گرفت
شاید باور کردنش سخت باشد! شاید کمردرد غول بی شاخ و دم و شکست ناپذیر این زمونه باشد که درمان اون یک خوابی بیش نیست ولی آقای دکتر سارنو در این کتاب به شرح یک روش ابداعی می پردازد که براساس “ارتباط متقابل ذهن و جسم” پایه ریزی شده است. وقتی صحبت از ذهن می شود منظور همان انرژی نامحدود است که قادر است بر تمام بیماریها و دردها غلبه کند البته چون این قدرت بالقوه هستش و باید آن را به کار
Sep 24, 2012 Nigeyb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book. A friend of mine told me this book cured her long-standing back pain issue. Although I don't currently suffer from back pain, I was sufficiently intrigued to want to know more. Dr John E. Sarno identifies a condition he refers to as TMS, which stands for Tension Myositis Syndrome. In a nutshell, Sarno believes that TMS is a condition whereby some physical pain (in this case back pain) is actually caused by the subconscious mind repressing emotions. To overcome the pain, the ...more
Nov 08, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it really is like a miracle.

I've been dealing with lower back pain for many years now and after a car accident in 2009 it got severe enough to put me on medical leave of absence for about 2 years. I quit my real estate investing career partly bcos of this injury.

last week I came across an article in psychology today.

it basically says for some people with chronic pain the problem is no longer physical. but rather the brain getting stuck
creating the memory of physical pain.. maybe to distract yo
Feb 02, 2008 May rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chronic pain sufferers
Recommended to May by: honey o.
Shelves: non-fiction
i'm giving this book only 3 stars because the form was so poor and very repetitive. sarno spends most of his chapters defending his theory on TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) and trashing other back pain remedies.
however the content of the book is interesting and might possibly be the cause of the current breakthrough i'm experiencing with my shoulder this week.
his point is basically that most back pain is caused by tension due to repressed emotions. all one has to do to relieve symptoms is to un
Jan 17, 2014 Clio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Last summer I went through a lot of emotional stress that kept increasing, and somewhere along the way I developed a mild back pain that I thought was caused by bad sitting positions. During the peak of that stress that back pain returned with a vengeance and I spent a week unable to sit or stand properly. I took increasingly strong pain medication but nothing seem to work. Someone who knew of emotional troubles around that time recommended this book to me, and it worked immediately. Before I ha ...more
Kat Lahr
Feb 24, 2014 Kat Lahr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Sarno discusses his theory that TMS is a syndrome in which the disorder is benign, because there is nothing physical causes back pain. He goes into length theorizing that any physiological abnormality stems entirely from a person’s emotional process.

I found the book's premise of TMS definitely an interesting diagnosis, theory and concept. Sarno wrote this book hoping to reach younger, more open-minded medical students with his holistic, mind-body treatment of back pain, as well as
Vix Southgate
Nov 02, 2013 Vix Southgate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book seems to be fleshed out with repetition and case studies. It reads like a sales pitch. I agree that pain and emotion are linked and therefore this book has some benefit, as long as you don't read it as a definitive cure. Mechanical problems are real pain that can cause emotions that can heighten the pain (catch 22). But perhaps being aware of how our emotional state impacts the areas that are already weak, is something worth considering. However this book DOES NOT HEAL BACK PAIN!
Sep 07, 2011 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: done
I think Dr. Sarno has some good ideas. You can get bogged down with the medical terms (I think).
I did get something out of this book, but feel like for it to truly work, a person suffering from back pain would also need to pay him a visit (or visits). I got the book off so not much was invested! Back pain sufferers, give it a try!
Dec 29, 2010 Jeffrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
A mind-body connection is certainly within the realm of reason, but the author chooses to use anecdotes and surveys rather than clinical studies to convince the reader of his results. Not very convincing, if you ask me.
Deirdre Keating
I don't suffer from back pain, thankfully, but the ideas here apply to several forms of cronic pain. Interesting theory that I might dismiss if I didn't know of so many people who felt it helped them.
Tom Stamper
Apr 18, 2015 Tom Stamper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I suffered a back injury in 1998 and continued to suffer pain from it until 2005 when I read this book by Dr. Sarno. That's all it took. In fact, I don't think I read more than half the book and my pain was gone. When I say pain I mean there were days when I couldn't get out of bed or drive a car. The book stopped all of that and it took years before I felt any kind of pain again. Why? Because Sarno says that back pain is really a subconscious defense mechanism against stress. Once you conscious ...more
Jerry Kaczmarowski
I have to admit I was skeptical when I read the premise of this book. In essence, Sarno advises that the vast majority of back pain is psychosomatic. We choose to experience back pain rather than addressing the deeper psychological issues that plague us. These psychological issues can range from the important (e.g. physical abuse as a child) to the trivial (e.g. some jerk cut you off in traffic today). We would rather experience the physical back pain than deal with these often complicated issue ...more
Apr 26, 2011 Cball rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with back pain
hmmm. I have no idea what to think of this book. I have "episodes" of severe back pain where I am limited to lying on the floor for days, if not weeks at a time. I've tried PT, MRIs, yoga, weight lifting, you name it, I've done it. So when 2 people from totally separate parts of my life recommended this book to me, I immediately checked it out at the library.

I'm all for whoo-whoo. But this takes the "whoo" to a whole new level. The premise: the back pain is very real (which I definitely knew); h
Mar 01, 2008 Stephan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for every US citizen.

What Dr. Sarno (NY University med ctr) has discovered (and mainstream medicine has ignored) is that chronic pain is usually a psychosomatic phenomenon. That means it's real physical pain/tension, caused by the mind.

You're thinking "but I have that old injury/slipped disk/bad posture/etc that explains my pain". That's probably not the reason for the pain. "Slipped disks" are what doctors like to blame pain on when they don't know what els
Jeneba Charkey
If this works for you - great. Undoubtedly there is great truth in identifying the relationship between chronic pain and deeply repressed rage. But to posit that there is no causal relationship between, say, a herniated disk and sciatica other than a subliminal circuit created by the brain to avoid reconciling with deep anger????? Come onnnnnn!!!
Dec 05, 2014 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting introduction to an alternative treatment to back pain. Sarno believes that some (not all but perhaps most) back pain is rooted in emotions: the mind makes the body hurt to take attention away from repressed anger or fear. It's an interesting theory and one I'm looking forward to exploring further.

The book itself wasn't one that lends itself to reading every page. The author spends much more time talking about the ineptness of other medical professionals than about his own
Sep 10, 2014 Michaela rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not for serious back problems

I was referred to this book by two very well-being friends in dealing with my constant back pain. Unfortunately this book did not help me at all. truth be told I did not read the whole book. I made it halfway before I couldn't read it anymore. I understand how this can help people that have muscular problems or unexplained medically back problems. I have verified by numerous drs mechanical problems with discs degenerating and compression of nerve roots. if you have s
Apr 14, 2014 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to give this four stars, but a few things stopped me:

1) I still don't completely understand the process, though I do understand the concept.
2) I haven't put it to practice yet. I actually completely forgot to try.

Sarno suggests that some (not all) of our chronic pain is actually a distraction created by the body to help our brain suppress some of our more unacceptable emotions. Sarno indicates that acknowledgement of the repression will relieve the pain, and outlines a plan of acknowledge
Mary Helene
Jul 04, 2010 Mary Helene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary Helene by: Lulu McPhee
Although I wish there were a more up-to-date and less defensive version of this book, the premise is excellent - that our own repressed emotions cause physical pain. I've been wondering myself if I might, for that reason, keep an anger journal, password protected on MS Word. I'm going to explore other ideas for expressing anger but I am reluctant at the same time, to fan it. Back to the book: I agree with the premise, but wish the presentation were better.
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“It is perfectly acceptable to have a physical problem in our culture, but people tend to shy away from anything that has to do with the emotions.” 4 likes
“There's nothing like a little physical pain to keep your mind off your emotional problems.” 3 likes
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