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John Ernest Sarno Jr. (June 23, 1923 – June 22, 2017)[1][2][3] was 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 Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1943,[4] and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1950. In 1965, he was appointed the Director of the Outpatient Department at the Rusk Institute.

John E. Sarno
Born
John Ernest Sarno Jr.

(1923-06-23)June 23, 1923
DiedJune 22, 2017(2017-06-22) (aged 93)
NationalityAmerican
Alma materColumbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Known forTension Myoneural Syndrome (formerly Tension Myositis Syndrome)
Scientific career
FieldsRehabilitation medicine
InstitutionsRusk Institute at New York University Medical Center

Sarno originated the term tension myositis syndrome (TMS) to name a psychosomatic condition producing pain, particularly back pain.[5] Although rejected by his mainstream peers, the theory of TMS and Sarno's treatment of it have been hailed by many lay people as life-changing.[6][7][8] A 2017 book on back pain treatments described Sarno as the "rock star of the back world".[9] A documentary on his life and work titled "All the Rage (Saved by Sarno)" was released in 2016.[10]

Tension myositis syndromeEdit

Sarno's most notable achievement is the development, diagnosis, and treatment of tension myoneural syndrome (TMS), which is currently not accepted by mainstream medicine.[11][12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

Sarno wrote about his experience in this area in his first book on TMS, Mind Over Back Pain.[15] His second book, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection,[16] has sold over 150,000 copies.[12] Sarno's most recent book, The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders,[17] features chapters by six other physicians and addresses the entire spectrum of psychosomatic disorders and the history of psychosomatic medicine.

Statistical studies of TMS treatmentEdit

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 percent 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.[18]

In 2007, David Schechter (a medical doctor and former student and research assistant of Sarno) published a peer-reviewed[19] 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.[20]

Notable patientsEdit

Notable patients of Sarno include radio personalities Howard Stern and Tom Scharpling, comedian Larry David, actress Anne Bancroft,[12] filmmaker Terry Zwigoff,[21] 20/20 co-anchor John Stossel[11][22] and television writer Janette Barber.[11] All six have praised Sarno and his work highly.[11][23] Stern dedicated his first book in part to Sarno.[24] Howard Stern, Larry David, and John Stossel are featured in a documentary about Dr. Sarno.[25]

Hearing before the U. S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, and PensionsEdit

On February 14, 2012, Sarno appeared before the U. S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Pensions as part of a hearing "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 Sarno based on his personal experience and that of a niece with fibromyalgia. Transcripts of the testimony from Sarno and the other witnesses, as well as a videorecording of the hearing, were subsequently posted by the Committee.[26]

BibliographyEdit

  • 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.

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Sarno, John E. "United States Public Records, 1970-2009". Family Search. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  2. ^ Conner-Simons, Adam (June 23, 2017). "John E. Sarno, N.Y.U. Rehabilitation Doctor, Doctor, Dies at 93". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Dolnick, Sam (December 28, 2017). "The Lives They Lived: John Sarno". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "2000 Commencement Address". Kalamazoo College. 2000. The webpage contains a brief biography of Sarno, and links to a transcript and a video of Sarno's commencement address at Kalamazoo College.
  5. ^ Neporent, Liz (1999-02-17). "BODY PARTS; Straightening Out Back Pain". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  6. ^ Belluz, Julia (2017-10-02). "America's most famous back pain doctor said pain is in your head. Thousands think he's right". Vox. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  7. ^ "John Sarno, M.D., An American Hero". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  8. ^ Millington, Hannah (2019-07-01). "My chronic pain taught me about the links between the mind and body | Hannah Millington". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  9. ^ Ramin, Cathryn Jakobson,. Crooked : outwitting the back pain industry and getting on the road to recovery. New York. ISBN 9780062641809. OCLC 985013332.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ All the Rage (Saved by Sarno), retrieved 2019-08-31
  11. ^ a b c d "Dr. Sarno's Cure". 20/20. 1999-07-25. ABC.
  12. ^ a b c Neporent, Liz (17 February 1999). "Straightening Out Back Pain". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  13. ^ "At the Root of Back Pain". WholeHealthMD. Archived from the original on 2006-09-29.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Sarno, John E. (1999). Mind Over Back Pain. Berkley Trade. ISBN 0-425-17523-5.
  16. ^ Sarno, John E. (1991). Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-39230-8.
  17. ^ Sarno, John E. (2007-03-27). The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 0-06-085178-3.
  18. ^ Sarno, John E. (1998). The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-52076-4.
  19. ^ "Info for Authors". Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. InnoVision Communications, LLC. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Pearson, Jesse (August 27, 2010). "Terry Zwigoff". Vice. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Sarno, John E. (1998). The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain. Warner Books. back cover. ISBN 0-446-52076-4.
  24. ^ Stern, H; Sloman, L (1993). Private Parts (Mass Market paperback ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-00944-1.
  25. ^ All the Rage (Saved by Sarno) (2016), retrieved 2017-06-22
  26. ^ "Full Committee Hearing - Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief". U. S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. February 14, 2012. Harkin's remarks begin at 101 mins. 15 secs. into the videorecording.

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