Could this Doctor's 'Mind-Body' Approach Be the Answer to Chronic Pain?

A new documentary examines the revolutionary methods of "The Divided Mind" author John E. Sarno.

Photo Credit: Michael Galinsky

John E. Sarno has been dubbed America's best doctor, by Forbes. But despite garnering the celebrity endorsements of Howard Stern and Bernie Sanders, his "mind-body" approach to solving chronic pain has drawn skepticism from the medical establishment.

Now a new documentary, All the Rage (2016), aims to validate his methods.

"Most physicians in the western world are not knowledgeable about psychosomatic illness and do not know what to do about it," Sarno explained in his 2006 book, The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders.

"Sometimes they will tell the patient that it is all in the mind and may refer them to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, which makes them angry because they feel that their doctor has not been really listening to them," he added. "Their pain may originate in the mind or psychic pain might greatly exacerbate the pain of a physical disorder. But in any case, it is not all in the mind. It is in the mind-brain-body. It is psychosomatic."

According to Sharon K. Farber, a psychotherapist in Hastings-On-Hudson, NY, "the failure of medicine's practitioners to recognize and appropriately treat mind-body disorders has produced public health and economic problems of major proportions in the United States."

But Sarno's healing powers need not be experienced in person. In fact, "thousands of people have become pain-free simply by reading Dr. Sarno's previous books," Farber noted.

The documentary was completed over the course of a decade, beginning just after The Divided Mind was published. Sarno has spent over 50 years practicing rehabilitiative medicine at New York University Medical Center.

Over 100 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain. 

"We're not talking about pain that's due to some structural abnormality, but rather, the pain that is generated in us when we put ourselves under pressure to be perfect and good," Sarno says in the film. 

"All the Rage" premieres Friday, June 23 at Cinema Village in New York City. 

Watch the trailer:

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Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.