So Plan A for the first post of this week was to start exploring Inform 7 as an interactive fiction writing program. I was going to poke through my latest book and post about it on Friday. Instead I stayed up until the wee hours reading my book. Don’t you love it when that happens?

This week’s read is definitely one chalked up for the human potential side of things and not so much business or games. It sounds a bit woowoo, but by Grabthar’s Hammer, it has helped me immensely already. It may be the best seven bucks I’ve ever spent.

For a long time I’ve had back pain focused in my shoulders (the trapezius for those of you who are knowledgeable about such things). Also some not infrequent rotator cuff issues. I’ve always chalked it up to structural issues as I am a top-heavy kind of gal. And obviously the pain got worse with stress. A few days ago it was excruciating, like knife-in-the-back excruciating. Fortunately I happened upon this post by Richard Nikoley at Free The Animal. In his summary of the year past he posted links to his cure seeking for severe shoulder pain he was in. After playing follow the links, I ended up dropping seven bucks for the Kindle edition of Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. I am not kidding when I say that the pain in my back was gone the very next day.

Dr. John Starnos describes something called TMS – tension myositis syndrome. Basically it’s the manifestation of stress, anxiety, and anger in your physical body. Humans are wonderfully good at coping. We have a number of selfish emotional responses that even on our subconscious level, we recognize as not being conducive to life in modern civilization. So our mind quashes these impulses and sublimates the tension away from where we can get ourselves in serious trouble.

In other words to protect our emotional and mental lives, the brain manifests physical pain. It’s not a sign that a mind can’t handle a stress load. Indeed, it’s mostly common in people who carry a high workload and are very conscientious about their performance. The mind keeps itself clear from stresses and emotional issues that can cloud decision making, by putting the pain somewhere else.

The neat trick, and it’s really neat, is that once you catch on to what is going on it stops. No stretches or psychotherapy, just the information from reading halfway through the book. It’s been four days without any pain at all in my back, shoulder, or neck.

TMS isn’t solely relegated to back pain. There are other places where the brain will manifest pain. Ulcers and cramps are fairly common, migraines and vision problems are not unheard of. Obviously there can be purely physical and structural causes for these, so TMS is not a replacement for physical, structural focused medicine. (I am deliberately not using the term “real” here. The pain is real. Your body’s reactions are real. The connection between your brain and your body is real. The fact that the pain may be caused by a mental process instead of a physical process does not make it less real).

The catch of course is that you have to believe that it’s possible the pain is being caused by a mental process. This is different from a placebo in that it’s an actual cure. The placebo effect fades as what is actually structurally wrong doesn’t go away. But if the brain is causing the pain, the brain can stop causing the pain.

For seven bucks and a few hours worth of reading, it’s probably worth a shot.

  1. Craig says:

    That is awesome you found a relief from your pain in so short a time.

    I also read Free The Animal pretty often(It is where I first saw a link to this site), and am assuming you already eat Paleo/Primal/ancestral health? Although nothing as acute as your issue LXV, my aches, pains, and weariness were all alleviated when I went Primal 7 months ago. After only a month I felt like I did when I was 19, in the best shape of my life and feeling awesome. Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint emphasizes the need for stress relief and proper sleep, as well as eating real food. So even though I agree that some pain is mental/stress related, I think it is mostly linked to what we eat and how active we are(tough for us gamers!). It’s sad how the FDA and the medical establishment want us to rely on the pharmaceutical manufacturers rather than see if diet, mental adjustments, and lifestyle changes work instead. Gee, it’s almost like they want our money!
    /end rant
    Congrats on your find!

    • LX says:

      Yup, I’m about an 80% paleo diet and it has indeed helped immensely. I’ve lost about 30lbs in the last 18 months and benefited in other ways that I sound like some kind of snake oil peddler when I tell people about it (clearer skin, no joint pain, migraines downgraded from debilitating to painful, more energy, better sleep, etc). The pain in my shoulder was one of the few chronic issues that didn’t clear up.

      As far as stress relief goes…. well I’m working on it 🙂 Not easy when you’re looking down the barrel of an interstate move and pulling the trigger on starting a new business. Video games are a huge stress reliever (as long as I keep it a reasonable number of hours played, natch)

  2. So glad that was a help for you.

    And I must say, you describe the underlying manifestations with the necessary distinctions better than I.

    • LX says:

      Thank you very much for the kind words, as well as sharing the information you pick up along the way. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, but don’t ever doubt that you’re providing something valuable to the people who take the time to listen.

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