Hand PainThis site started with the idea of exploring chronic pain and other mysterious, enduring symptoms, delving into the emotional health issues that might be behind them.  I’d had serious chronic pain in my hands for two years before it completely, and permanently, disappeared when I decided to take a year off from college – sparking a fascination with emotional wellbeing ever since.

As my own journey has unfolded, my interest in emotional wellbeing has gone beyond the mindbody relationship, and how stress can cause chronic health problems, to issues of childhood experience, personal truth, the politics of the family, and how subjective truths and emotional wellbeing are recognized and respected in broader arenas like the workplace, national politics, and international relations.  It’s all connected.  

Everything on here is guided by one principle – intersubjectivity –  how two subjects recognize their own and the other’s truths (see Jessica Benjamin’s book The Bonds of Love for a fabulous exploration of intersubjectivity) – I’ve never come across a simpler and more profound recipe for how social life, on every level, can become more aware, understanding, nurturing, free, spontaneous, authentic, and rewarding.  

You could also say this site is about, as Marshall Rosenberg put it, moving toward “a level of moral development based on autonomy and interdependence, whereby we acknowledge responsibility for our own actions are aware that our own well-being and that of others are one and the same.”  

– – –

My chronic hand pain:

Diagnosed several times as Repetitive Stress Injury, the pain in my hands seemed at first to come from typing at the computer.  Amazingly, it disappeared entirely after I read New York University back doctor and medical school professor John Sarno’s book The Mindbody Prescription, and it unlocked a world of ideas and insights regarding emotional and physical health, which this site shares.

Dr. Sarno first began to suspect chronic pain's emotional underpinnings during the 1970s, when a patient encouraged him to inquire into his own repressed rage as the cause of his migraines.

N.Y.U. back doctor and medical school professor John Sarno  began to suspect chronic pain’s roots in emotions and stress during the 1970s, after a colleague suggested a link between repressed rage and the migraines from which he often suffered.

For Sarno, two decades practicing conventional back medicine made him increasingly disheartened by the failures of physical therapy and surgery to bring lasting cures.  In the 1970s, he started to suspect chronic pain was rooted ultimately in emotional problems, rather than in the purely physical diagnoses he had learned in medical school.

Sarno started to encourage patients who seemed a bit more open-minded to look at their chronic pain in terms of their their emotional life.  In his experience, the patients that then began to address and unlock emotional stresses saw themselves able to wiggle free not only from their back pain, but from other chronic emotional and physical conditions they were suffering as well.

Sarno labeled all of these emotionally-induced physical symptoms under one umbrella term: “TMS” – Tension Myositis Syndrome.

Common conditions that can be inspired by TMS include:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Bacterial imbalances in the body
  • Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
  • Chronic Muscle/Joint/Nerve Pain
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Eye Dryness
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Migraines
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)
  • Sexual Dysfunction (males and females)
  • Taste Sensation Alteration/Disappearance
  • Teeth Grinding (during sleep)
  • Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD & TMJ – tightness and pain in jaw muscles)
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

After seeing my own chronic hand pain disappear in the Fall of 2005, I became endlessly fascinated in the relationship between emotional and physical health.

This site explores these issues, and I would love to hear your question, reactions, and related experiences, whether they go along with what I talk about, contradict it entirely, or anything in between.   Email me at TMSmailTMS@gmail.com.

Thanks and best,


– – –

“When I can no longer communicate with speech, I will speak with sickness.  My symptoms are given life.  These symptoms express the need for my soul to make itself heard, but cannot, because I don’t have the words, and because those who should listen cannot get beyond the sound of their own voices.  The language of sickness is the most difficult to interpret.  It is an extreme form of blackmail, which defies all our efforts to pay it off, and send it away.  It is a final attempt at communication.” –  the monk from The Monster of Venice

“And drawing this cultural conditioning into the light of consciousness is a key step in breaking its hold on us.” – Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication


3 Responses to “Intro to TMS”

  1. Ahmet BERKTAS said

    Good Morning,

    I have a folliculitus decalvans, which is a scalp condition where, basically, it immunes system attacks the scalp, beginning at a central point and spreading outward.

    I am French and I am working since 2006 in turkey. I am engineer in a company where the stress is permanent.

    Soon I will have not hair if it continues.

    Thanks for your advise and your help.

    Ahmet Berktas

    • TMS said

      Hey Ahmet,

      I highly recommend Alice Miller’s books in addition to Sarno’s. Having resolved her own chronic health and emotional issues by unlocking pent-up emotions from childhood and then sharing her insights with patients and readers, she became a pioneer in mindbody therapy and awareness and might really help you dig into, and resolve, the baggage life has foisted on you to carry so far. Specifically I’d recommend her first book “The Drama of the Gifted Child” (not sure why this title was picked. It’s really about all children. Still, brilliant book), or “The Body Never Lies.”



  2. Mali said

    Trauma Release Exercises, David Berceli. Please look it up. I’m waiting for the pamphlet with the exercises in it. You can do them at home.

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