Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thinking about anger and pain...

after reading a small book entitled "Healing Back Pain: the Mind-Body Connection", by John Sarno, MD. After I had complained a few times on Facebook about the muscle spasms that plague me every once in awhile, somebody pointed me toward this book and I bit. It arrived yesterday and I sat down and read the whole thing.

Interesting. I've long recognized the connection in me between anger, anxiety, resentment, and physical symptoms like presyncope, heartburn, and vertigo, but I hadn't extended that connection to include the tendinitis that often flares in me at awkward times.

Sarno makes that connection and more. His theory, which is not a popular one in the allopathic world, is that stress of various kinds (particularly the negative emotions which we squelch so that we can keep going) reveals itself in painful complaints like muscle spasms, tendinitis, even fibromyalgia and other chronic pain afflictions.

I'm not sure how much I buy into this theory BUT I have to admit that my muscle spasms tend to arrive during or shortly after a period of time when I feel rushed, overburdened, and a little angry about it all, a little self-pitying, yet carrying on heroically because I expect myself to do so.

He claims miraculous cures, which I am a bit skeptical about, but I'm going to give it a whirl by documenting the things I feel angry and resentful about, just to let off the steam and direct myself to a resolution rather than a squelching of emotion.

I'm not a very angry person, but I'm in a position where I have to be steady, patient, tolerant of others' foibles, ready to serve others' needs before my own on occasion. This means, often, that my emotional reactions---of irritation, resentment, outright anger and frustration---have to be put on hold and I have often kept them on hold endlessly. I never want to pop off at a congregant or friend, because that would do more harm than good. But I do want to release the negative emotion in a safe way, rather than storing it in my body.

I'll let you know how it goes. Right now I have no pain of any kind. But I did get a tight throat recently when I had to deal with different views on a particular issue and wasn't sure I could do so without expressing irritation. So while I was ruminating, I put it all down in a document that is entitled "peeved" in which I expressed all the irritation and frustration that I would not ever want to vent on anyone else. And then I felt much better, having released it without hurting anyone else.

There may be something to this Tension Myositis Syndrome of Dr. Sardo's. Perhaps I will be able to stave off chronic pain indefinitely by scores of little TextEdit documents stored on my laptop! We shall see.


Anonymous said...

Sarno is basically right that much or most back pain is due to stress. His explanation is a little outdated, and I recommend another book along the same lines,

Rick Heller

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Rick, I'll check it out.

ms. kitty said...
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cUrioUs gUUrl said...

Ms. Kitty,

I used to suffer chronic back pain to the point where I was throwing it out once a week or more. I was in physical therapy, taking horse pills for pain, etc. Finally a friend recommended a book very similar to Sarno's about the mind-body connection. Over time I developed a little speech I give myself whenever I feel "that feeling", you know, the feeling you get right before your back goes out. A little ditty about how it's bad evolution of my subconscious to try to divert my attention from emotional pain through physical pain. Something like that . . . Anyway, my back hardly ever goes out any more or if it does, I get the pain under control very, very quickly. Oh, and I got out of the hellacious job I was in too.

It's worth a try Ms. Kitty. Good luck!

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, gUUrl, I appreciate the info.

Miss Kitty said...

The stress-pain connection for me, too, follows periods of emotional turmoil (which often coincide with bring really busy--is busy an emotion?). Since my mini-breakdown a few weeks ago, though, I've somehow gotten tuned into the connection and am very slowly working on my self-awareness.

Got my fingers crossed for your aches & pains, Ms. K.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Miss K, and I'm keeping you in my thoughts too.