John E. Sarno

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John E. Sarno
Born (1923-06-23) June 23, 1923 (age 91)
Residence USA
Citizenship USA
Nationality  United States
Fields Rehabilitation medicine
Institutions Rusk Institute at New York University Medical Center
Alma mater Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Known for Tension Myoneural Syndrome (formerly Tension Myositis Syndrome)

John E. Sarno (born June 23, 1923[1]) is Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, and attending physician at the Howard A. Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Medical Center. He graduated from The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1950. In 1965 he became the Director of the Outpatient Department at the Rusk Institute. He is also the originator of the diagnosis of the controversial psychosomatic condition tension myositis syndrome (TMS), which is also called tension myoneural syndrome.

Tension myositis syndrome[edit]

Sarno's most notable achievement is the development, diagnosis, and treatment of TMS, which is not accepted by mainstream medicine.[2][3] According to Sarno, TMS is a psychosomatic illness causing chronic back, neck, and limb pain which is not relieved by standard medical treatments. He includes other ailments, such as gastrointestinal problems, dermatological disorders and repetitive-strain injuries as TMS related. Sarno states that he has successfully treated over ten thousand patients at the Rusk Institute by educating them on his beliefs of a psychological and emotional basis to their pain and symptoms.[4] Sarno's theory is, in part, that the pain or GI symptoms are an unconscious "distraction" to aid in the repression of deep unconscious emotional issues. Sarno believes that when patients think about what may be upsetting them in their unconscious, they can defeat their minds' strategy to repress these powerful emotions; when the symptoms are seen for what they are, the symptoms then serve no purpose, and they go away. Supporters of Sarno's work hypothesize an inherent difficulty in performing the clinical trials needed to prove or disprove the diagnosis, since it is difficult to use clinical trials with psychosomatic illnesses.[5]

Sarno wrote about his experience in this area in his first book on TMS, Mind Over Back Pain.[6] His second book, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection,[7] has sold over 150,000 copies.[3] Sarno's most recent book, The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders,[8] featured chapters by six other doctors and addressing the entire spectrum of psychosomatic disorders and the history of psychosomatic medicine.

Statistical studies of TMS treatment[edit]

Sarno's books describe two follow-up surveys of his TMS patients. The first in 1982 interviewed 177 patients selected randomly from those Sarno treated in the preceding three years. 76% stated that they were leading normal and effectively pain-free lives. A second follow-up study in 1987 restricted the population surveyed to those with herniated discs identified on CT-scans, and 88% of the 109 randomly selected patients stated that they were free of pain one to three years after TMS treatment.[9]

In 2007, David Schechter (a medical doctor and former student and research assistant of Sarno) published a peer-reviewed[10] study of TMS treatment showing a 54% reduction in the average pain intensity scores for a cohort of 51 chronic back pain patients, whose average pain duration before the study was 9 years. In terms of statistical significance and success rate, the study outperformed similar studies of other psychological interventions for chronic back pain.[11]

Notable patients[edit]

Notable patients of Sarno include radio personality Howard Stern, actress Anne Bancroft,[3] 20/20 co-anchor John Stossel[2][12] and television writer Janette Barber.[2] All four have praised Sarno and his work highly.[2][13] Stern dedicated his first book in part to Sarno.[14]

Senate Hearing before the Committee on Health, Education, and Pensions[edit]

On February 14, 2012, John Sarno, MD appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Pensions to address 'Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief'. The committee was chaired by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who was very supportive of the mind-body connection espoused by Dr. Sarno's treatment approach to pain. In fact Senator Harkin describes his own successful experience with pain relief from reading Dr. Sarno's books. Senator Harkin relates how his niece's chronic pain symptomatology from fibromyalgia resolved after reading Dr. Sarno's books as well.

A recording of the hearing, with Senator Harkin's account of his own experience (beginning 101 mins. 15 secs. into the video) can be viewed here:

"Full Committee Hearing - Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief". 2012-02-14. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Sarno, John E. (1982). Mind Over Back Pain. Berkley Trade. ISBN 0-425-08741-7. 
  • Sarno, John E. (1991). Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-39230-8. 
  • Sarno, John E. (1998). The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-67515-6. 
  • Sarno, John E. (2006). The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 0-06-085178-3. 

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Sarno, John E. "United States Public Records, 1970-2009". Family Search. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Dr. Sarno's Cure". 20/20. 1999-07-25. ABC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUEQHXaMnx0.
  3. ^ a b c Neporent, Liz (17 February 1999). "Straightening Out Back Pain". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  4. ^ "At the Root of Back Pain". WholeHealthMD. 
  5. ^ Leonard-Segal, Dr. Andrea (2006). "A Rheumatologist's Experience With Psychosomatic Disorders". The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. ReganBooks. ISBN 0-06-085178-3. 
  6. ^ Sarno, John E. (1999). Mind Over Back Pain. Berkley Trade. ISBN 0-425-17523-5. 
  7. ^ Sarno, John E. (1991). Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-39230-8. 
  8. ^ Sarno, John E. (2007-03-27). The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 0-06-085178-3. 
  9. ^ Sarno, John E. (1998). The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-52076-4. 
  10. ^ "Info for Authors". Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. InnoVision Communications, LLC. Retrieved 2010-01-30. 
  11. ^ Schechter D, Smith AP, Beck J, Roach J, Karim R, Azen S (2007). "Outcomes of a Mind-Body Treatment Program for Chronic Back Pain with No Distinct Structural Pathology-A Case Series of Patients Diagnosed and Treated as Tension Myositis Syndrome". Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 13 (5): 26–35. PMID 17900039. 
  12. ^ McGrath, Mike (2004-11-03). "When Back Pain Starts in Your Head: Is repressed anger causing your back pain?". Prevention.com. Rodale Inc. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  13. ^ Sarno, John E. (1998). The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain. Warner Books. back cover. ISBN 0-446-52076-4. 
  14. ^ Stern, H; Sloman, L (1993). Private Parts (Mass Market paperback ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-00944-1. 

External links[edit]