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Pain

Pain Management

Eric Robins, MD explains how a chronic pain expert links pain and unresolved emotions

EFt Tapping Outdated ImageNote: This is one of 3,000 articles written prior to the updated Gold Standard (Official) EFT Tapping Tutorial™. As a result, it is likely outdated. It provides practical uses for EFT Tapping but you should also explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT, by reading our free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™, and/or get help from a Certified EFT Practitioner.

Hi Everyone,

Long time EFT'er Eric Robins, MD discusses the work of health pioneer John Sarno and tells us how emotions are a central cause for pain. We are quite familiar with that notion, of course, having reduced thousands of people's pain by collapsing emotional issues. Dr. Robins says, "Also, I'm sure it’s obvious to you that some of the methods he [Sarno] was using to handle emotional issues are archaic compared to the speed and efficiency of EFT.  We could be expected to get better results and faster with EFT, which is the best and fastest mind-body healing technique in clinical use in the world right now."

Hugs, Gary


By Eric Robins, M.D.

John Sarno, MD is a professor of physical medicine at NYU, and sees the worst chronic pain patients in the world.  Most have had severe pain (neck, back, shoulder, buttocks) for 10 to 30 yrs, most have had multiple epidural injections, one or more surgeries, and years of physical therapy.  They all had terrible mechanisms of action (like a forklift truck falling on them or a 747 jet rolling over them), and all their x-rays look like the "Elephant Man", so they seemingly have a good reason for their pain.

With this cohort of patients, he has a 70% cure rate (with regard to both pain and function), and an additional 15% of his patients are much improved (i.e., 40 - 80% better). And he has had these results with about 12,000 patients.

The typical pain patient comes in and usually the doctor will order an MRI scan, and invariably this shows some sort of anatomic abnormality like a slipped disc or spinal stenosis or spinal arthritis.  And the doctor will usually say, for example, "It's the disc that is causing your pain."  Then therapy is aimed at treating the disc, with poor long-term results.

Sarno looked at the literature and noticed that if you take 100 middle-aged people with NO back pain and do an MRI scan, 65% have a slipped disc or spinal stenosis, and NO pain (New England Journal of Medicine article 1994).  So he began to ask himself, "If it's not the disc that is causing the pain, then what is causing the pain?"  

What he found is that these people had chronic tension and spasm of the muscles of the neck, back, shoulder, or buttocks.  He says that when a muscle is chronically tensed, the blood can't flow through it, there is a relative lack of oxygen, and that this causes severe pain.  You can also imagine a tensed muscle clamping down on a nerve giving symptoms of sciatica.  

An important point here is that he is not telling patients the pain is all in their heads, he is giving a true physiological explanation for it.  However, once we just go up a couple of logical levels in the next paragraph, you'll see the connection to the emotions.

Then Sarno asked the question, "Why would someone have chronically tensed muscles to begin with?"  His explanation is as follows.  He says that many of us grow up in families and learn, at a certain (unconscious) level, that it’s not okay to feel or express our anger or anxiety.

The problem of course is that when we grow up, we have specific events or traumas that elicit anger or anxiety.  As these emotions start to come up in our body, our unconscious mind basically says, "It's not okay or safe to be feeling these things."  Then, Sarno says, the unconscious mind will cause the muscles to clamp down and tighten to cause a pain to take our minds off of what we are angry or anxious about.  Sometimes this pain/ process can last decades.

How Sarno would get his amazing results is by bringing folks in for 2 lectures.  In the first lecture he'd tell folks, "It's not the disc or spinal stenosis, or other anatomic abnormality that's causing your pain.  Most people your age with no pain have a slipped disc or spinal stenosis, etc.  What is causing your pain is chronic tension and spasm of the muscles.  Blah, blah, blah." 

In the second lecture he'd tell them, "When you have pain, I want you to notice what you're angry or anxious about."  Sarno then describes how he'd have folks write in a journal, or enroll in group therapy sessions, or engage in psychotherapy.  He says that about 20% of his patients weren't consciously aware of what they were angry or anxious about, and needed to work with a therapist to get in touch with some repressed or unconscious material.

I explain Sarno's model when I speak because of the fact that he gets such amazing results, and of course the proof is in the pudding.  In one of his more recent books, he explains that this emotional model is not just about musculoskeletal pain, but can be used for most chronic or functional illnesses.  Also, I'm sure it’s obvious to you that some of the methods he was using to handle emotional issues are archaic compared to the speed and efficiency of EFT.  We could be expected to get better results and faster with EFT, which is the best and fastest mind-body healing technique in clinical use in the world right now.

Eric Robins, MD

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