Harvard RSI Action (click to go to home page)
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The Mind/Body Approach: How to Cure
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What is RSI?  -   Diagnostic Quiz  -   Progression of Symptoms  -   How to Cure  -   Resources
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In order to cure this syndrome, you must treat the root cause. Conventional treatments such as pain relievers and ultrasound may treat the physical symptoms, but they don't address the psychological source of the pain. The physical symptoms are present for a reason: They distract your attention away from the unacceptable emotions. In order to completely eliminate all symptoms, you must identify which unacceptable emotions are threatening your self-image. Once you acknowledge the threatening emotions, the symptoms no longer work as a distraction, and they go away - in some people, quite dramatically. It's not that you need to eliminate the source of the stress - you just have to become aware of it.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Since we're talking about unconscious emotions, they might not immediately be apparent, and recognizing them might take some work. You may find it useful to make a list of expectations or requirements that you have for yourself, and see which are being threatened by your current situation.

You also have to completely believe in the TMS diagnosis. That means that you have to completely accept the fact that your symptoms are emotionally induced. If you still believe that there may be something physically or structurally "wrong" with you, you're not yet "cured." If the symptoms can still work as a distraction then your brain's trick is still working, and the symptoms can return. In a similar vein, it's important to completely resume your normal activities. As long as you're living in fear of another attack, the physical symptoms still have your attention, and chances are good that they'll return.

Don't go home and just try to start typing. If it starts to hurt, you might get scared and start doubting yourself. Read Dr. Sarno's books and then decide if this is right for you. You will find more instructions there on how to proceed and get better.

Many people can eliminate their symptoms simply by reading one of Dr. Sarno's books. Some people need a little more help. If reading his book doesn't "cure" you, there are a few other options:

Check out other information resources. Understanding and completely accepting the TMS diagnosis and treatment approach is crucial. It helps to have these ideas reinforced by several sources. If possible, you may want to see an MD who is trained to diagnose and treat TMS. The last page of this handout contains information on these and other resources.

Sometimes, if you're not making progress, it's beneficial to meet with a psychotherapist. As mentioned before, it's not always easy to make unconscious emotions become conscious. Dr. Sarno typically recommends psychotherapy to 10-15% of his patients.

Be patient, be persistent, and be kind to yourself. Nosing around in your unconscious mind can be very uncomfortable. Several people have described the weeks in which they made their physical recovery as being very volatile emotionally - little wonder, given that the mask which their emotions had hidden behind had finally been removed. Some people are not quite ready for this approach, which is understandable considering the current state of western medicine. Don't beat yourself up if you don't immediately find relief. But please don't throw in the towel. Those of us on the panel believe that Dr. Sarno's method works.

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