“The Divided Mind” by Dr. John Sarno

Cover of the book The Divided Mind by Dr. John Sarno.

Dr. John Sarno’s book “The Divided Mind” is a major accomplishment in medical literature that goes beyond pain to address the complete spectrum of mind-body disorders.

The basis of mind-body disorders is the interplay between the generally reasonable, rational, ethical, and moral conscious mind and the repressed emotions of pain, hurt, sadness, and anger that are characteristic of the unconscious mind.

In “The Divided Mind”, Dr. Sarno expertly traces the history of psychosomatic medicine, including the essential role played by Freud, and delineates the psychology that underlies the extensive range of psychosomatic illnesses.

Insights into the causes, nature, and treatment of psychosomatic disorders are provided by expert doctors and specialists.

The failure of conventional medical practitioners to acknowledge and appropriately manage mind-body disorders has given rise to a growing public health and economic issue.

It has been widely shown that knowledge and awareness of the psychosomatic process can lead to positive healing results.

“The Divided Mind” by Dr. John Sarno - Book contents


One: What Is Psychosomatic Medicine?

Two: A Brief History of Psychosomatic Medicine

Three: The Psychology of Psychosomatic Disorders

Four: Treatment

Five: Hypertension and the Mindbody Connection: A New Paradigm by Samuel J. Mann, M.D.

Six: My Experience with Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) by Ira Rashbaum, M.D.

Seven: A Rheumatologist’s Experience with Psychosomatic Disorders by Andrea Leonard-Segal, M.D.

Eight: My Perspective on Psychosomatic Medicine by James R. Rochelle, M.D.

Nine: Structural Pain or Psychosomatic Pain? by Douglas Hoffman, M.D.

Ten: A Family Doctor’s Experience with Mindbody Medicine by Marc Sopher, M.D.


“The Divided Mind” by Dr. John Sarno - Book review

“The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders” by Dr. John Sarno is an eye-opening book that challenges conventional medical thinking about the causes and treatment of chronic pain.

Dr. Sarno explains that the root cause of many chronic pain conditions is not physical, but psychological in nature.

He believes that repressed emotions, particularly anger and anxiety, are the true culprits behind conditions such as back pain, neck pain, and fibromyalgia.

Throughout this book, Dr. Sarno presents a wealth of evidence to support his theory. He draws on his decades of experience as a physician, as well as the experiences of his patients, to make a compelling case that chronic pain is often a manifestation of emotional stress.

Dr. Sarno also presents numerous case studies that illustrate the effectiveness of his treatment approach, which involves acknowledging and addressing repressed emotions to alleviate pain.

Importance of self-care

Another strength of this book is its emphasis on the importance of self-care in the treatment of chronic pain.

Dr. Sarno stresses that his approach is not a quick fix, but rather a long-term process of self-discovery and healing.

He encourages readers to take an active role in their own treatment, to be patient and persistent, and to be open to new ways of thinking about their pain.

Potential weakness

One potential weakness of the book is its somewhat repetitive nature. Dr. Sarno makes many of the same points repeatedly throughout the text, which may be frustrating for some readers.

Additionally, some readers may find his tone somewhat dogmatic, as he is very confident in his theory and does not spend much time considering alternative perspectives.

Unexpected insights

Dr. Sarno explains that many chronic pain conditions are caused by repressed emotions, particularly anger and anxiety. He suggests that these emotions can manifest as physical symptoms and that addressing the emotional root cause of pain can lead to significant improvement in symptoms.

The power of the unconscious mind is emphasized in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. Dr. Sarno suggests that our unconscious beliefs and emotions can have a profound impact on our physical health. Becoming aware of these underlying factors is key to addressing chronic pain.

Traditional medical treatments such as surgery, medications, and physical therapy are often ineffective in treating chronic pain because they focus solely on the physical symptoms rather than addressing the emotional root cause.

Dr. Sarno stresses the importance of taking an active role in your own treatment and practicing self-care. He suggests that you should prioritize activities that bring you joy and reduce stress, such as exercise, meditation, and socializing, in order to promote healing.

While Dr. Sarno primarily focuses on chronic pain, he suggests that the mind-body connection may also play a role in other conditions such as allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines. He argues that addressing emotional factors in these conditions may also lead to significant improvement in symptoms.

Clear and accessible

Dr. Sarno’s writing style is clear, accessible, and straightforward.

Using simple language and avoiding jargon makes this book easy to understand for readers with varying levels of medical knowledge.

This allows this book to reach a broad audience and provides an opportunity for individuals who are not health professionals to gain insight into the mind-body connection and the role of emotions in chronic pain.

Dr. Sarno’s use of metaphors makes the book engaging and relatable, allowing readers to visualize and conceptualize the mind-body connection more easily. For example, he compares the mind-body connection to a seesaw, with emotions on one end and physical symptoms on the other.

Ideas are presented in a logical and organized manner, building upon earlier concepts. This structure allows you to develop a deeper understanding of the mind-body connection and how it relates to chronic pain, making it easier to apply these ideas to your own lives.

Dr. Sarno writes with conviction and passion, conveying a sense of urgency and importance about his ideas. This style of writing can be motivating, encouraging you to take an active role in your own treatment and to be open to new ways of thinking about your pain.

Different perspectives

“The Divided Mind” features several chapters written by doctors who have worked with him and share his views on the mind-body connection and chronic pain.

Each of these doctors has a distinct writing style that reflects their individual experiences and perspectives.

Some of the doctors who contribute to this book write in a more academic style, using technical language and referencing scientific studies to support their arguments. A number of scientific studies are referenced to illustrate the points with detailed explanations of physiological processes.

Other doctors write in a more personal, anecdotal style, sharing stories of their patients and their own experiences with chronic pain. Several case studies are used to illustrate the effectiveness of their approach.

Despite their different writing styles, all of the doctors who contribute to the book share a common belief in the mind-body connection and the importance of emotional awareness in pain management.

They also all write in a clear and accessible manner that makes their ideas and experiences relatable to readers.

The variety of writing styles in “The Divided Mind” adds depth and richness to the book, providing a range of perspectives on the mind-body connection and chronic pain.

Each doctor’s unique voice and approach to writing helps to further illustrate the importance of emotional awareness in pain management and contributes to the overall effectiveness of the book as a resource for patients and health professionals alike.

Compelling and thought-provoking

“The Divided Mind” is a compelling and thought-provoking book that is sure to challenge your assumptions about the nature of chronic pain.

Whether or not you agree with Dr. Sarno’s theory, his approach is a valuable contribution to the field of pain management, and his emphasis on the importance of self-care and self-discovery is a message that is sorely needed in a fast-paced, stressful world.

If you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain, this book is definitely worth reading.