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Excerpted from Healing Back Pain by John Sarno, M.D. Copyright © 1991 by John Sarno, M.D. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner, Inc. and Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Some things are difficult to study in the laboratory. One of these is the mind and its organ, the brain."

Dr. John Sarno, 
Healing Back Pain,
Part 1

I have never seen a patient with pain in the neck, shoulders, back or buttocks who didnít believe that the pain was due to an injury, a "hurt" brought on by some physical activity. "I hurt myself while running (playing basketball, tennis, bowling)." "The pain started after I lifted my little girl" or "when I tried to open a stuck window." "Ten years ago I was involved in a hit-from-behind auto accident and I have had recurrent back pain ever since."

The idea that pain means injury or damage is deeply ingrained in the American consciousness. Of course, if the pain starts while one is engaged in a physical activity itís difficult not to attribute the pain to the activity. (As we shall see later, that is often deceiving.) But this pervasive concept of the vulnerability of the back, of ease of injury, is nothing less than a medical catastrophe for the American public, which now has an army of semidisabled men and women whose lives are significantly restricted by the fear of doing further damage or bringing on the dreaded pain again. One often hears, "Iím afraid of hurting myself again so Iím going to be very careful of what I do."

In good faith, this idea has been fostered by the medical profession and other healers for years. It has been assumed that neck, shoulder, back and buttock pain is due to injury or disease of the spine and associated structures or incompetence of muscles and ligaments surrounding these structures Ė without scientific validation of these diagnostic concepts.

On the one hand, I have had gratifying success in the treatment of these disorders for seventeen years based on a very different diagnosis. It has been my observation that the majority of these pain syndromes are the result of a condition in the muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments brought on by tension. And the point has been proven by the very high rate of success achieved with a treatment program that is simple, rapid, and thorough.

Medicineís preoccupation with the spine draws on fundamental medical philosophy and training. Modern medicine has been primarily mechanical and structural in orientation. The body is viewed as an exceedingly complex machine and illness as a malfunction in the machine brought about by infection, trauma, inherited defects, degeneration and, of course, cancer. At the same time medical science has had a love affair with the laboratory, believing that nothing is valid unless it can be demonstrated in that arena. No one would dispute the essential role the laboratory has played in medical progress (witness penicillin and insulin for example). Unfortunately, some things are difficult to study in the laboratory. One of these is the mind and its organ, the brain.

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