The audio book reviewed here is Dr John Sarno’s ‘The Divided Mind’ narrated by Paul Hecht and John Boles. I didn’t realise there were two narrators until checking the credentials after listening to the book! In any case, I found it clearly narrated and well paced. The material in the book is quite complex and would repay close study for the reader interested in psychosomatic medicine. Sarno originally trained in general medicine and at his website is described as a Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine. I found it difficult to draw conclusions about the material in the book as I think it requires considerable reading around the subject but found it very interesting. Sarno develops some of the underlying theory of Alfred Adler and Sigmund Freud. He maintains that there are a number of mind-body disorders and refers to Adler’s description of the brain giving rise to physical symptoms. Indeed he quotes from Adler who discusses possible mechanisms by which the brain can produce effects on the body. This appears to be the basis for psychoneuroimmunology and he refers to Professor Candice Pert’s work on the ‘Molecules of Emotion’ (see review here). He distinguishes between Freud and Adler in that he states that Freud did not consider the notion that bodily symptoms could arise from the brain for the purposes of ‘distracting’ the brain (or mind) from distressing emotions. Through his work Sarno suggests that these emotions include rage and gives clear examples where anger is controlled at the conscious level only to emerge in symptoms. I wasn’t clear on the abbreviation TMS in the book and only realised it was Tension Myositis Syndrome on looking elsewhere. Sarno’s arguments are logically developed and seem to me intuitively valid. However a quick search of Medline using the keyword ‘Tension Myositis Syndrome’ resulted in four references with one being a 2007 study by Schechter and colleagues. Such a search may not produce all of the relevant studies although it would be useful to see further formal evidence to support both the diagnosis and the treatment efficacy.
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