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The Great Pain Deception: Faulty Medical Advice Is Making Us Worse

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Recipient of 2 awards in the 2012 International Book Award contest. The Great Pain Deception was awarded Runner-Up Finalist in "Best New Health Book" of 2012 and also honored as Finalist in "Health: Alternative Medicine."

Back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, hand and foot pain, rarely come from herniated discs and joint failures. Pain, such as fibromyalgia, is a deception of the mind created by the brain to keep dark, threatening, and sad emotions from entering consciousness. The vast majority of pains and symptoms emanate from a mindbody process stemming from a personality of perfectionism. However, pain is not "in the mind" of the sufferer--and is often misrepresented as such by people who reject a mindbody process for reasons of ego and monetary gain.

Symptoms inside and outside of the body are primarily the result of emotional conflict hidden within the body and outside of awareness. We live in a world of medical marvels. However, those marvels have become a double-edged sword, often creating more problems than they resolve. John Sarno, MD, at the NYU School of Medicine discovered in the 1970s that back pain was not coming from the things seen on the imaging, such as herniated discs, arthritis, stenosis, scoliosis, etc. Pain was coming from oxygen reduction through the autonomic nervous system due to elevated tension levels, but had been errantly linked to the "normal abnormalities" seen on MRIs and X-rays.

Most physicians refused to believe his findings even though his success rate in healing the most troublesome of pain-cases was well above theirs. Dr. Sarno labeled the disorder TMS, or tension myoneural syndrome, currently being called The Mindbody Syndrome. Inside The Great Pain Deception Steve tells his compelling story of a 30-year battle with pain and ultimate healing after discovering Dr. Sarno's work. After Steve healed he began receiving hundreds of emails, calls, and letters, asking for his help--too many to respond to, so he decided to write his experience down in a book. After 10 years of research, Steve has conveyed an amazing testimonial of triumph over tragedy, an inspiring story of healing that is a must read if you suffer from any ailment from mild to severe. The only thing standing between good health, and healing, is ego. Pain and unpleasant symptoms serve a purpose. Disease is the report card of how happy we are; feedback of a life not lived. Symptoms are anger flowing over into the physical realm, signs of internal conflict. Pain and illness are the virtual language of the unconscious mind. When we are untrue to ourselves and needs, living by the codes and wishes of others, denying our deepest desires--symptoms then form to reveal the deeper conflict.

Modern medicine is pointing us toward our bodies in the attempt to cure us through engineering the human system. These high-tech processes are often making us worse by ignoring the message that the body is trying to convey through such things as colitis, irritable bladder, fibromyalgia, skin disorders and an infinite variety of other symptoms, including cancer. This book does an excellent job of exploring the realm of mind within body--and ultimate healing.

400 pages, Paperback

First published December 13, 2011

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Steven Ray Ozanich

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews
Profile Image for John Braine.
358 reviews37 followers
May 23, 2020
Does this book need a professional graphic designer?


I'm afraid this is one of the worst covers I've ever seen. It's not just the lack of professionalism in the design and typography but the imagery just screams "I'm a conspiracy nut!".

Does this book need a professional editor?


One example: I kept getting thrown by the switch from first person narrative to third person narrative. A paragraph would start talking about you, and then suddenly switch to she. This happened over and over. I think there was so much eagerness to use a female pronoun (as should be the case), that a consistent tense was completely lost. And the formatting, as it appears on the Kindle version really needs some work.

So far so bad. 1 star then?

Oh no. 10 stars where's the ten stars button?!

So - it's not perfect. But I did want to give some balance rather than just a load of gloating. Because the stuff above is irrelevant and frivolous in the grand scheme of things.

I've been in chronic pain for 15 or 16 years. I've lost count of the times I've wanted to cut off my own arm with a knife. I thought I had been battling with RSI all these years. But it wasn't RSI. Maybe at the very start, it was (Repetitive Strain Injury), and maybe there were some physical ergonomic issues. But if you have done everything *physically* possible to get rid of the pain, and it persists for 15 years, then it's so obvious (in hindsight) that the remaining chronic pain was not physical.

So it was all in your head?


That's one of the most misleading and damaging phrases in medical history. The pain was very physical. The pain was in my arms. But it was triggered by my brain. There's no way of saying this without sounding melodramatic, but it's simply a fact of TMS: My brain sent pain to my arms to distract me from emotional pain. It was trying to do me a favour.

That's TMS (tension myositis syndrome) in its most simplistic definition. And the only way to beat it is to use the conscious part of your brain to convince the autonomic part of your brain. "I know what you're up to, but you can stop it now, I'll deal with my emotions better I promise". I suspect I somehow gave my brain permission to do this because for years when my Social Anxiety was at its worst I said I would take the worst physical pain over mental pain any day of the week. Boom!

So - how do you convince your brain to stop sending pain to your body? Knowledge. Knowledge. Knowledge.

I read Doctor Sarno's book (the amazing doctor who discovered TMS), and I finally GOT IT and finally believed it (years after hearing about this book), and finally accepted that this wasn't "some weird stuff that might work for other people, but not me". But the Sarno book was only a starting point. I then listened to Sarno's book (The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain) audiobook. And then watched the movie: http://alltheragedoc.com/ and then spent the last month totally immersing myself in the world of TMS, constantly feeding my brain with this medicinal knowledge. ( I also started seeing a therapist. And made sure I meditated every single day.) But I think this book was the key in driving the knowledge to my brain. It really drove home many points. Again and again. And by the time I got to the end, I no longer had the "I want to cut my own arm off" kind of pain. It's a miracle!!!

TMS sufferers are generally of a type: Goodists, perfectionists, people who want to be seen as good nice people and care way too much what other people think of them (no matter how hard they try not to give a ****). That's me all over. I saw myself all the way through this book.

I'm not 100% free of my chronic pain yet. I've maybe had a 50% pain reduction. But I can't express the relief and hope from discovering the answer to so many issues in this book. And getting some real pain relief after 15 long years.

- - - -

2020 Update: I'm pretty much 100% free of chronic pain now.
Profile Image for Kelly Martin.
Author 2 books41 followers
April 15, 2014
In my late thirties I began a rather painful experience of back pain and back spasms and as someone who also has had anxiety since a young child I wanted to be able to heal from this condition. A friend had mentioned TMS to me some time ago, but back then I was not prepared to listen to him but I am now.

After reading Dr SARNO's book I wanted to know more. I found Dr Sarno's while thorough, a bit too technical for me, and was recommended this book on a forum on-line. Boy was I glad to read it.

Steven comes from it at a different angle, this books comes from someone who really has been there with physical pain issues.

I have always been interested in self-healing but did not know the level to which pain and then mind-body-spirit connection really went, and it was a lot deeper than I had ever imagined.

I would find sitting at the computer incredibly hard, I was in pain a lot of the time and once I moved away from the PC my back was fine, so I knew something else was going on here. Something unconscious.

After reading 'The Great Pain Deception', I have hardly any back pain when sitting at the PC. And the once ongoing neck pain has gone too. Simply acknowledging that it is rage unconsciously, this has made a major difference to how I view pain and many health issues that crop up.

This book also helped me understand anxiety and depression further and how this related to many of my symptoms too. To discover that my personality and the way I experience life has a lot to answer for the symptoms is helping me shift how I motivate and take action in life.

This guy really knows his stuff and if you have been in pain for a long time, have tried everything, reading this book will be a lifesaver for you, seriously!

Just come with an open mind and you never know you may just end up healing yourself.

Profile Image for Larry Hansen.
116 reviews9 followers
April 23, 2014
If you are a believer in the mind-body unit and its control of health and emotions you will like this book. Very well researched and the author has a humor that runs throughout the book.
It takes an open mind to see the value of these ideas but many, myself included, have found the mind-body concept to be a life giver.
Lots is said about the power of the subconscious mind which is way under rated in our culture.
9 reviews1 follower
January 14, 2020
I think this is the least useful book on this topic that I've looked at. It is scattered, sensationalistic and cluttered by the author's obsession with himself. Much better to grab a book by John Sarno, Howard Shubiner, Dr Schechter or David Clarke.
Profile Image for Sylvia Massara.
Author 13 books50 followers
November 30, 2019
Being an enthusiast and follower of the latest in neuroscience and neuroplasticity and how emotions affect our health, I was really looking forward to reading this book from "the sufferer's" point of view, that being the author of this book. Unfortunately, I struggled to get to page 130, and I mean I really struggled. I would have given up much sooner, except that I always believe in giving the author a chance to put their point across; but I found this book to be a muddled hodgepodge of never-ending quotes, footnotes, puns and jokes that were totally not in line with what the author was trying to convey in the body of the book, and lastly the constant repetition of certain situations involving the author's own journey or what someone else said or did.

The deal-breaker for me in finishing this book was the constant reference to other healing modalities including the many references made to the Law of Attraction by Abraham and Jerry and Esther Hicks, Louise Hay, and Deepak Chopra to name a few, not to mention bringing spirituality into it when the point of this book was meant to be about how the author healed himself through TMS--at least that's what I understood the book to be about, plus the fact that modern medicine doesn't yet understand mind/body disorders.

I have read all of Dr Sarno's books and have studied the works of others such as Dr Howard Schubiner, TMS therapist Alan Gordon, Dr David Clarke, Dr David Hascomb, neuroplasticity therapist Michael Moskowitz, and neuroscience expert Professor Lorimer Moseley (again to name a few, as I've studied quite a bit on this subject). I am also a sufferer of a number of PPDs (psychophysiological disorders), which is basically a more modern name given to TMS and MBS, and so I looked at the author's work from two perspectives: my deep knowledge of the subject and being a sufferer myself on my own healing journey.

I honestly thought that if I were the one doing a structural edit on this book I would take out everything except for the quotes and information taken from Dr Sarno's own books, and then I'd end up with a Dr Sarno book, but featuring the author's own struggle on the path to healing. I thought this was what the book would be about. I also noted that the author kept referring to Dr Sarno in the present tense when Dr Sarno sadly passed away on 22 June 2017, and yet this book's had many editions, and the one I purchased was supposedly the latest, which was released in 2018. So much for attention to detail!

In conclusion, I am sorry to say that I have nothing positive to say about the author's work except for the knowledge shared by him on Dr Sarno's work. Therefore, I would have done better to re-read one of my Dr Sarno books and I would have saved myself the cost of this book plus the postage price.

Potential readers out there, you are better off buying The Mind/Body Prescription written by Dr Sarno, and you will find everything you need in this book to heal yourselves.
27 reviews
October 16, 2016
Changed my life. Period. Not a lot of books I can say this about. I am walking with confidence and going up and down stairs and actually working, things that were dreams not all that long ago!
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 1 book1,029 followers
May 7, 2021
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Ozanich struggled with severe chronic pain, following a traumatic event in his family, and did not know how he was going to go on.

He stumbled upon a book called, Healing Back Pain,” that changed the entire trajectory of his pain journey and he documents how he now lives a pain-free life thanks to the principles in John Sarno’s book.

The pandemic has complicated many pain journeys for so many in my life and it is no wonder that many are suffering.

The stress of this experience has ways of trickling into every facet of our lives and can create so much tension in our bodies.

This tension can have a domino effect in our lives and addressing it in fresh ways allow us to take control of our story. I can’t say enough good things about the ideas in this book and how much I needed it this year.

Although intentionally repetitive, to reinforce these principles, I REALLY got a lot out of this read and am now using his tips to get better control on my own life with chronic pain.
29 reviews
September 6, 2021
This is a book that needs to be read slowly. Ozanich is an excellent writer. If you have any short-term or long-term physical pain you want to get rid of, I would suggest buying a paper copy of it so you can easily underline, write in it and really make it yours. He sites lots of sources and quotes, as well as telling his own amazing story.
Profile Image for Heather.
28 reviews2 followers
January 18, 2023
I totally agree with some of the other reviews, this book is chaotic. From the cover to the contents. But I think he has some great ideas in there somewhere and in the end I found it quite useful and his own story is fascinating.
I do think he presents some of the spiritual stuff too uncritically at the same time as quoting physicians and his own healing was based on Dr Sarno's work.
I would highly recommend watching the film about Dr Sarno, All The Rage:Saved by Sarno. It's a beautiful film.
A lot of research has been done since this book was written and it definitely needs updating and a decent editor. But he has a great sense of humour and I think if you're well versed in the world of mind/body medicine you will get a lot of helpful ideas from this.
Profile Image for Natasha.
6 reviews
February 3, 2019
Superb. Amazing. These two words should suffice but hopefully one day, maybe soon, I'll write a comprehensive review. I've just finished reading it and all I can say it's probably one of the 10 (or rather 5?) best non-fiction books I've ever read, and I'm a voracious reader. I think it says all.
Profile Image for E.
760 reviews
May 20, 2021
This was quite...out there. Not the content really, which brought up a lot of interesting and important points, but the presentation. The book has a decidedly "self-published" feel (definitely not a compliment), and the organization/pacing were quite lacking. It felt as though the author were simply on a somewhat-organized thought train and just writing everything down as it came to him. His little puns and asides were clever and humorous but felt out of place.
I know a lot of folks in the TMS community swear by this particular title. It didn't happen to resonate with me, but I still think it would be worth reading.
1 review
December 15, 2017
The book is life changing! It takes Dr. Sarno’s amazing work to the next level through real life stories about people just like me! What helped me the most was the detail of Steve’s journey. I wanted a quick fix by the end of Dr. Sarnos book. But after reading this, understanding I’m stage 4, a short step away from complete disability, I now see the path may be longer, but it is absolutely attainable! My experience so far has been eye opening as to how connected my “traveling” pains are to my emotional states. The journey continues!!!

Profile Image for Summer Larson.
186 reviews6 followers
December 2, 2019
I have been experiencing severe pain in my foot for about 6 weeks and this book was recommended by my mom and a friend (independently), neither of them knew exactly what was happening with my foot. I just finished reading this yesterday and it has been fascinating to observe what is happening in my body as I've absorbed this information. I typically reserve 5 stars for books that change my life and this one makes the cut. So, while this book is in dire need of a good editor, a graphic designer, and a little less Freud, I think it will forever change my relationship with pain.
81 reviews
February 20, 2020
Okay, the writing is a bit goofy. But the point is to lighten up and not take everything so seriously.
If you suffer from any chronic pain or persistent, emotionally influenced conditions like IBS, CFS/ME, ulcers, rashes, psoriasis, anxiety, depression or even allergies, give this book a shot.

Also check out Nicole Sach's Youtube channel - she has a basic series of Heal Yourself 1-4 which will give you the gist of it.

Steve Ozanich also has a Youtube "wall of victory" which is inspiring.
7 reviews
September 25, 2021
After reading all of Sarno's books I used this book as a reminder of TMS concepts and it did that job well. There are some additional interesting anecdotal observations from Steve himself. However it reads like an unedited word doc with sometimes full pages of quotes from other books. If you are already a TMS convert - it's a good reminder of the concept (albeit long and highly repetitive). If you aren't familiar with TMS I would read Sarno first.
Profile Image for Adam Wesorick.
15 reviews1 follower
August 14, 2018
Book was a little slow, especially when describing all of the authors ailments but the information is
Profile Image for Bruce Jenkins.
84 reviews1 follower
November 10, 2018
This was insightful for it helped me to know that the things we are exposed to truly affect us in ways we may not immediately understand. The mind body connection is real...
4 reviews
January 2, 2020
Good chapter on his recovery story and you can take inspiration from this.

With regards to the rest of the book, it’s just information overload and too much to take in.
Profile Image for Susan  Wilson.
700 reviews11 followers
March 6, 2022
I wish I had read this 20 years ago (except it wasn’t written then) when I ruptured a disc in my back and was in chronic pain. I suffered with that pain, then reduced it by taking up Pilates, losing 30kgs, then discovering yoga. They told me (I think, tramadol and morphine may have clouded my memory) that I would need surgery. In hindsight, I wonder if my stress and unhappiness was the greatest contributor. Even two years ago in the yoga pose warrior 2, I would get shooting pain up my leg if I put pressure on the outside edge of my back foot. My teacher was dismissive (in a firm but kind way). She said tell your body it is safe, it is time to trust. I no longer get that pain. Even this morning I was in a Yin class and stretching my hip flexors and my lower back was aching. Rather than fear, and stopping, I talked to myself about letting go and trusting. TMS (Tension Myoneural Syndrome), the subject of this book, is real. All too often the tension/anger we feel is buried and our muscles/nerves respond. The pain is real but physicians medical advice makes it worse by keeping us focusing on the physical and away from surfacing the emotions that are driving the pain. If you suffer from back pain, or any other ongoing chronic pain, the book may not be your answer but it will give you another perspective to consider.
October 16, 2022
One of the most important health books out there. If you are suffering from anything "chronic", this book is a must read and will enlighten you about your own health and how messed up the medical world actually is when it comes to chronic pain and many chronic diseases. I was diagnosed with an uncurbable auto-immune disease AS (ankylosing spondylitis) and lost all hope to live, being constantly in the worst pain one can imagine, 24 hours a day. Reading this book, i saw myself on almost every page. With the approach of this book and also Dr. Sarnos books i was able to pinpoint the rootcause for all the chronic pain i had, and working on it i got more and more pain free and can lead a normal life again. If you have chronic pain of any kind, read this book, it may safe your life!
Profile Image for Manish.
794 reviews46 followers
December 22, 2021
This was one hell of an eye-opening book for me. Ozanich - a chronic pain sufferer - healed him through the concept of John Sarno's 'Mind Body Syndrome'. The argument is that all pain which is chronic is primarily a manifestation of emotional repression. While this sounds like hocus-pocus, the real life case studies of Ozanich himself and many others who healed after years of suffering, made this work quite inspiring. Also led me to pick up Sarno's works.

With my wife suffering from chronic back pain since 2019, this work was a ray of hope and explained a lot of the mystery around perplexing conditions!
Profile Image for Lulu Hennessy.
116 reviews
March 15, 2021
Great info

The 1st third and 3rd third of the book were interesting and inforamative.. The middle section dragged. I know it was important to what the author was trying to convey. It is key to concept of healing from TMS , but frankly it was a section that wordy and very repetive. The final section redeemed the book and brought the reader back to why they picked this book up in the 1st place.
Profile Image for Rosalind.
76 reviews25 followers
March 10, 2020
Long and highly repetitive, but this seems to have been deliberate so that the information will be continually processed. Even the puns starting wearing thin after a while...! Still, obviously well structured and informative.
March 1, 2022

Mr. Ozanich is my new, personal hero! This book has changed my life! Thank you so very much! A beautiful text of love, loss and healing. Yes, it is about TMS, but it's also about so much more! Many blessings!
Profile Image for Jeannette.
761 reviews16 followers
March 16, 2022
Terribly embarrassing cover and much of the writing is a bit hokey pokey and the author quotes some terrible people like Dr. Oz. But, there is a lot of good info here about how to get over chronic pain using mind-body techniques. Got it from the library. 3 and a half stars.
Profile Image for Sylvia.
75 reviews
November 28, 2018
Want to get well? Just read it. Read it! THE best book I have ever read on the subject of pain, and what you can do about it.
Profile Image for Denise Hlavka.
582 reviews5 followers
April 12, 2019
You have to read this if you have back pain or other non-damaged tissue pain etc.
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