John Sarno's mind-body theory helped thousands with chronic pain

A physiotherapist once told me I’d be a “train wreck” by 40.I was a 19-year-old with chronic back pain and no one knew what to do. I stopped running, stopped lifting weights and could hardly sit in a chair for more than 30 minutes. My preferred position was horizontal, a heating pad hugging my lumbar.Nothing showed up on X-rays, bone scans, MRIs. I tried chiropractic adjustments, deep tissue massage, hot yoga, acupuncture, shiatsu and some more eccentric treatments including one where a woman gently prodded “pressure points” on my body and insisted I’d feel better in a week.I did not feel better. Not until I read a book called Healing Back Pain by a New York University doctor named John E. Sarno.Sarno, considered a hero by thousands of patients and readers he never met, died June 22 from cardiac failure, a day before his 94th birthday.Article Continued BelowHe claimed for decades that most chronic pain is psychosomatic, a mind-body process called tension myoneural syndrome (TMS) caused by repressed emotions. He wrote three controversial bestselling books — Healing Back Pain, The Mindbody Prescription and The Divided Mind — and won the powerful endorsement of celebrities including Seinfeld creator Larry David and radio personality Howard Stern, who aired a tribute to the doctor last month.“He was an amazing man,” Stern said, according to his website. He suffered from debilitating back pain that had him on the floor for years until he read Sarno’s books. “I got a note from his wife . . . I wrote her back. I said, ‘I can’t tell you how sad I am that my hero is gone.’ ”Read more: