Is the unconscious mind the key to pain free living?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Liz Hancock MBACP Accred Psychotherapist and Supervisor
10th January, 20120 Comments
Pain affects us all at some time in our lives. However some people live with it all through their lives. In some ways the pain becomes part of who they are.
In my view there is an answer to the majority of pain we experience and that answer lies with the repressed emotions locked away in our unconscious minds. These ideas were first popularised by Dr John Sarno who has written many books on the subject. His ideas were revolutionary at the time and based on his work with thousands of clients with musculoskeletal problems.
Dr Sarno refers to the pain as TMS (Tension Myneural Syndrome). He believes that our unconscious mind gives us pain to divert our attention away from repressed emotions which may be threatening to erupt into our conscious mind. The way it does this is to starve the places where we experience pain of oxygen. My dealings with clients who have this sort of pain encourages me to look for all sorts of little snippets that can help in their recovery process. There are some real gems in Dr Sarno’s books which I find helpful to point out to them. One of them is “The same brain that brings the pain on can make it go away”.
It is also worth pointing out that the concept of the emotions locked in the unconscios mind can be applied to any kind of pain or illness. You will note that earlier in this article I said I thought the majority of our pain is emotionally induced. This is based on the experience of the people I work with. When I’m not working with people specifically on pain I am a counsellor/psychotherapist working with clients on a myriad of issues. At the assessment interview after clients have told me their story, I will say “I’m guessing you will be experiencing some sort of physical pain”. They look at me with shock on their faces as though I’m some sort of psychic.
Convincing people who have pain or illness that it may be emotionally induced can sometimes be difficult. This does not mean it is imaginary as unfortunately the pain is very real. Dr Sarno believed that the key to recovery starts with understanding the concept. Whilst pain is the most common symptom other illness such as Irritable Bowel, Chronic Fatigue, Asthma and much more can also be emotionally induced.
He refers to an overflowing beaker of emotion made up of one third from childhood experiences, one third from adult experiences and current stressors and one third from the type of personality.
If you or someone you know is trying to recover from pain/illness I recommend you read some of Dr Sarno's books. He was the early pioneer but many others have developed the soncept such as Dr Dave Clarke, Dr Howard Schubiner and more.
Related articles from our experts
Katie Leatham Individual and Couples Counsellor/ Supervisor BACP Accred, UKRCPJune 20th, 2017
Eugene Gallagher BSc (Hons), MBA, MA, MBACPJune 21st, 2017
Yvonne Fitzpatrick-Grimes BA (Hons) Dip. MBACP.June 20th, 2017
Andrea Harrn Psychotherapist and Author of The Mood CardsMay 13th, 2011
Imi Lo: Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, Supervisor (MMH,UKCP,HCPC,MBPsS)March 29th, 2015
Keeley Townsend BA (Hons), Ad.Dip.CP with Distinction, MNCS (Acc)December 14th, 2009
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.