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Book Review: The Great Pain Deception: Faulty Medical Advice Is Making Us Worse - Steven Ray Ozanich

Stephen Ray Ozanich's book, The Great Pain Deception: Faulty Medical Advice Is Making Us Worse is one of the few books that can be described as life changing for many people who've read it.

If you've struggled with any kind of long term/chronic pain that numerous doctor's visits have failed to fix, or even recognize that there is anything actually wrong with you (as in my own case), then this book may just be what you need to read.

The cover of the book lists numerous medical conditions. If you suffer from any of them (or have been told that's the condition you have) then this book may just give you the tools you need to manage that pain, and perhaps even rid you of it altogether.


Based on the research of Doctor John E. Sarno MD (who has also written books about his own research into what causes many ongoing, painful conditions) The Great Pain Deception is part autobiography of the author's own journey with long term pain, part research paper on what the author has learned from Doctor Sarno, and part a motivational guide to help you with your own pain.

It's important to note, and the book says so its self, that it's not a substitute for sound medical advice. You should always check any pain with your doctor to rule out anything life threatening that could be causing your symptoms. Where the book could prove useful is if your symptoms are ongoing (for months or even years), and particularly if medical advice isn't finding any answers (or fixes).

Steven's own journey through paralyzing pain, keeping him housebound, is quite inspirational. His discovery of Doctor Sarno's research on TMS pain (The Mindbody Syndrome) and how he applied it to his own situation makes for compelling reading and gives you more than enough to say, if this worked for him why shouldn't it work for me too?

From my own story, I had been suffering from a recurring swollen neck, where the sides of my neck felt like they were swollen to the point where it was affecting my breathing. I'd been to the doctor many times trying to find out what was wrong, going so far as to get my neck CT scanned - which took some convincing, as by that point three different doctors had already told me my neck didn't look swollen to them.

I'm not someone who visits a doctor for every little thing. In fact, it can be years between visits to my local GP. However, over the years I'd started to notice that often a trip to the doctor would cure whatever symptoms I had. All the doctor had to do was declare they couldn't find anything wrong with me.

However it stopped working with this neck problem. In my opinion it was largely due to always being told there wasn't anything wrong with me. My neck symptoms felt pretty real and, when they didn't go away after a CT scan declared there was nothing wrong with my neck (even though it felt fully swollen when scanned). I guess I stopped believing in what the doctors were telling me.

Which meant I was left with a neck that felt swollen and no workable solution. Adding to that was my neck was preventing me from doing my work, which involves quite a lot of time sitting in front of a computer.

You might be thinking my neck pain was caused by all that time in front of a computer. I thought that too. In fact, I once completely cured my neck pain overnight by adjusting the height of my chair for better posture. Unfortunately when the same pain came back over a year later, no amount of work station adjusting would fix it - and I moved everything in my studio to make sure my posture was ideal.

During this time I heard an interview on James Wedmore's Mind Your Business Podcast, Episode 125, with the book's author, Stephen Ozanich. What they were saying about TMS pain started to resonate with my own experience.

I came to realise that my symptoms were a product of my mind rather than something being caused by any external factors. Which is not to say my swollen neck wasn't real, with real symptoms, but rather to suggest the cause of it was my subconscious mind creating real symptoms in order to distract me from dealing with deeper mental issues.

In short, that's my interpretation of what TMS pain is. The subconscious mind creating pain in order to warn you something is wrong emotionally. Unfortunately, much of the time we then focus on physical pain, that then starts to manifest itself as actual symptoms and real pain if left unchecked long enough.

What this book does is gives you the tools to recognize TMS pain, and then teaches you how to manage and ultimately overcome it. Essentially it teaches you how to retrain your mind to not focus on the pain once you've identified it as TMS pain.

The Great Pain Deception is over 300 pages long. My neck troubles had all but vanished within reading the first 70 pages. Not only that but over the course of reading the book it helped me to think differently about other kinds of pain, such as pain I was attributing to growing older.

I just turned 48 in 2018 and I still ride a skateboard. For a long time I was hurting my feet just doing the most basic of skateboard tricks. I'd hurt my feet early in a skateboarding session and then be bummed for the rest of the session because of the pain in my feet. After reading this book I no longer suffer from any 'age related' pain when I skateboard (if only I could stop the pain as effectively when the board hits me in the shin!).

If you decide to read The Great Pain Deception (and I highly recommend it if you're dealing with any kind of pain) you may get the initial impression that it's telling you your pain isn't real. It's all in your head. You may be tempted to discard it because you believe your pain is very real.

That's not the point of the book. At various times the book states that TMS pain is very real with real symptoms. However, once you understand the cause of the pain is the subconscious mind, the book will give you the tools you need to counteract TMS pain by retraining/refocusing your mind to think differently about it. Over time you should be able to reduce TMS pain, or even rid yourself of it altogether.

I found The Great Pain Deception to be a life changing read. If you are struggling with any kind of pain that the medical profession isn't finding answers for, it may be worth reading. It's a book that isn't pushing any kind of 12 step program, or offering miracle cures if you just do these three things every day. It's just an exploration of what TMS is, the research behind it, along with many example cases (including the authors), and what you can do to manage TMS pain out of your life.

You may even be surprised at how soon you start seeing results.

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