Dr. Sarno discovered the link between our bodies and minds, naming the conflict between the two the mind-body syndrome, or tension myositis syndrome (TMS). He found that for many people who were experiencing chronic pain, the pain couldn’t really be explained by any physical cause. Instead, he found that the physical pain was linked to emotional pain. By reprograming the mind, he found that there was a path to no pain.
Emotional Pain in TMS
The basis of Dr. Sarno’s theory is that for many chronic pain sufferers, emotional pain locked in their minds may be causing the psychical symptoms. Even if someone believes they are emotionally stable, they may have repressed emotions which may be negatively impacting their health. That was the case for me. I was successful in my career, applying my perfectionist mindset to good results. Then, one day, I experienced excruciating pain. This chronic pain seemed to come out of nowhere. Only later did I learn that it was due to unresolved emotional traumas, which I thought I had forgotten or moved past. I needed to train my brain.
Freud’s Subconscious Psyche Theory
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who created psychoanalysis. His work focused on extensive work into the human subconscious and he developed the psyche model we know today as the id, ego and superego in 1923.
Id – This is the unconscious realm where our truest, base natures live. The id wants what it wants when it wants it. The id also stores anger and resentment against people or institutions standing in the way of any of its wants and needs.
Ego – This part understands the id but knows that in order to get some of what the id wants, they need to play by society’s rules. The ego tempers the id.
Superego – This part judges the ego and the id, creating the need for us to feel good about the choices our ego makes for our id. It can also judge us harshly for mistakes we made, producing vast amounts of internal guilt.
How the Id, Ego and Superego Control TMS Pain
The id, ego and superego are most likely controlling the majority, if not all, of your chronic TMS pain. Here’s how:
The Build Up – For those with TMS pain, a large part of the physical manifestation is grounded in mental pain. Unconscious guilt or shame can wreak havoc on a person’s subconscious mind without them even being aware of it. If the guilt is at the subconscious level, then your superego is probably making you feel bad for things that may have happened. It may even be trying to distract you from that trauma by giving you physical pain. Discord between conflicting wants of the id (gimme mentality), superego ideal self (goals) and your conscience (guilt production center) can lead to a massive amount of stored pain which may be buried in the subconscious.
The Break Down – If there is too much pain in the subconscious mind, then the ego may start to fail in protecting your conscious self from those realities. When it realizes what is happening, your ego may launch defense mechanisms to protect you from the pain, anxiety or guilt. These defense mechanisms are the pain you feel in TMS. Your body and mind are doing their best to protect you. It’s up to you to reprogram your mind so you can live a pain-free life once more. It’s up to you to train your brain into being open with emotions, rather than storing them. You’ll need to feel emotional pain, but then a pain-free life will be yours for the taking.