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What is TMS?

TMS or Tension Myositis Syndrome is a mind-body syndrome heavily researched and described first by Dr. John Sarno in the 1980s and 1990s. TMS most often manifests in the form of physical pain as the result of mild oxygen deprivation via the autonomic nervous system due to repressed emotions and stress. This is an unconscious response that is often developed at a young age and tends to affect people with certain personality types more than others. 

In layman’s terms, TMS is your mind’s way of storing emotions in the body that it doesn’t know what to do with.  

Doesn’t everyone encounter difficult emotions?

Yes! I believe EVERYONE has some form of TMS – it is just more pronounced in some people than others and in the Western world, we look for labels (a diagnosis) instead of taking a closer look at subconscious thoughts, fears, or past trauma that might trigger physical symptoms. TMS is not a disease because it is a normal part of being human (although it might not feel that way for anyone living with chronic conditions).

TMS is also known to manifest in the form of headaches, stomachaches, physical pain, illness, fatigue, skin issues, allergies, heart issues, cancer, and countless other stress-induced symptoms. 

So are people doing this to themselves?

Nope, absolutely not! The symptoms and issues are 100% real and no one is bringing this on themselves. 

TMS works to keep people fixated on their bodies and physical pain to distract them from difficult, stressful or traumatic situations – sometimes acute, sometimes chronic. For anyone living with mind-body symptoms, it is incredibly important to know that the body is simply trying to keep you safe

TMS is simply a safety and survival mechanism gone haywire.

Today, we have access to more tests, scans, and treatments than ever before and yet, health in the civilized world continues to go down, while our dependence on prescription medications continues to go up.

We have been conditioned into believing that our bodies – and often our backs in particular – are broken, fragile, and vulnerable by well-meaning doctors and even alternative healthcare professionals. And we have shocking  lab results, DNA studies, and MRI results to prove it!

Often, our bodies will display a physical issue, and then a medical test makes the confirmation that there’s something going on. At that point, we sometimes become subconsciously attached to these fear-based stories and begin to forget that our bodies are often perfectly capable of healing themselves. Thus begins the all-too-common chronic cycle of TMS.

Where can I learn more?

Dr. Sarno has written several books on the subject, including Healing Back Pain and the Mind Body Connection which I recommend to everyone, even if you don’t suffer from physical pain. 

If I have an issue, should I go to the doctor?

Definitely go to the doctor or licensed medical professional to get checked out! It is imperative to listen to and honor your body. Taking care of yourself and being really kind to yourself is always goal #1. 

It is important to be your own advocate and start to observe if some of the issues that you face in your body might be related to stress, fear, anger, or some other emotion. 

What’s the treatment for TMS?

Primarily awareness! Regardless of whether you have “classic” TMS or not, we all on some level suffer from subconscious fears and beliefs that act to keep us safe. It is important to develop your own awareness on how to build a stronger body and mind so that you can heal and live a more intentional, purpose filled life.

Want to keep reading?

Check out TMS Personality Traits

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