Dr. John Sarno, a pioneering physician and author in the field of mind-body medicine, passed away on June 22, 2017, at the age of 93.
His groundbreaking work in the treatment of chronic pain and other conditions transformed the field of rehabilitation medicine and touched the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world.
Dr. Sarno was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1923. He received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1950, after which he served in the United States Army Medical Corps during the Korean War. Upon his return to civilian life, he began his career as a physician, specializing in rehabilitation medicine.
In the early 1970s, Dr. Sarno began to question the conventional wisdom surrounding the causes of chronic pain. He observed that many of his patients with chronic pain had no physical abnormalities to account for their symptoms, leading him to believe the pain was caused by psychological stress from repressed emotions, a condition he named Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS).
Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine
From 1965 until his retirement in 2012, he was affiliated with the Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University, where he served as a physician. He provided leadership as the director Rusk’s outpatient department for 10 years.
Dr. Sarno’s approach to treating chronic pain and other conditions involved a combination of education, psychotherapy, and physical therapy. He authored several books on the subject, including “Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection,” “The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain,” and “The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders.” These books became bestsellers and helped to establish Dr. Sarno as a leading figure in the field of mind-body medicine.
Despite the success of his groundbreaking methods, Dr. Sarno’s ideas were not universally accepted by medical practitioners. Some doctors and medical professionals dismissed his theories as unscientific. However, many people reported significant improvements in their symptoms as a result of Dr. Sarno’s treatment, and his work continued to gain recognition and influence.
Multiple awards and accolades
Over the course of his career, Dr. Sarno received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to the field of rehabilitation medicine. In 2012, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Spine Society in recognition of his pioneering work in the field.
Even after his retirement from clinical practice in 2012, Dr. Sarno remained a vocal advocate for mind-body medicine until his death. He continued to write and speak about the connection between emotional stress and physical symptoms, and his ideas have been embraced by a growing number of doctors around the world.
Dr. Sarno’s legacy is one of innovation, compassion, and persistence. His work has helped to alleviate the suffering of countless individuals, and his ideas continue to influence the field of medicine today.
Mind-body approach to healing
In honor of Dr. Sarno’s legacy, we encourage everyone who suffers from chronic pain or other conditions to consider the mind-body approach to healing he championed.
Dr. Sarno’s work in mind-body medicine revolutionized the treatment of chronic pain and other conditions. Although his ideas were originally seen as controversial, his commitment to finding new solutions to age-old problems was unwavering.
He will be missed by many but his legacy will continue to inspire and guide us for generations to come.