John E. Sarno
John Ernest Sarno Jr. (June 23, 1923 – June 22, 2017) was Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, and attending physician at the Howard A. Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Medical Center.
He graduated from Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1943, and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1950. In 1965, he was appointed the Director of the Outpatient Department at the Rusk Institute. He is also the originator of the diagnosis of the controversial psychosomatic condition tension myositis syndrome (TMS), which is also called tension myoneural syndrome.
Sarno's most notable achievement is the development, diagnosis, and treatment of tension myoneural syndrome (TMS), which is currently not accepted by mainstream medicine.According to Sarno, TMS is a psychosomatic illness causing chronic back, neck, and limb pain which is not relieved by standard medical treatments. He includes other ailments, such as gastrointestinal problems, dermatological disorders and repetitive-strain injuries as TMS related. Sarno states that he has successfully treated over ten thousand patients at the Rusk Institute by educating them on his beliefs of a psychological and emotional basis to their pain and symptoms. Sarno's theory is, in part, that the pain or GI symptoms are an unconscious "distraction" to aid in the repression of deep unconscious emotional issues. Sarno believes that when patients think about what may be upsetting them in their unconscious, they can defeat their minds' strategy to repress these powerful emotions; when the symptoms are seen for what they are, the symptoms then serve no purpose, and they go away. Supporters of Sarno's work hypothesize an inherent difficulty in performing the clinical trials needed to prove or disprove the diagnosis, since it is difficult to use clinical trials with psychosomatic illnesses.