How MBS/TMS develops

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Everyone that I've ever met has MBS/TMS to some degree or another at some time in their lives. When we get embarrassed, our face will turn red. This is a sign of an emotion causing a physical reaction. When we are asked to speak in front of 1,000 people, our stomach will tighten up. This is also a sign of a physical reaction to an emotion. When we have a stressful day, we may get a headache.

MBS/TMS occurs when the stresses of life trigger emotions that cause our bodies to react by producing physical symptoms. The symptoms, such as pain, are real. They are very real. They are not imagined or "in your head."

The most important things for you to realize is your pain (and any other Mind Body Syndrome symptoms) is real; that emotions are very powerful forces that can cause physical symptoms; and finally, that if you have a form of the Mind Body Syndrome, you are not crazy. I know this because I'm not crazy and I have MBS/TMS. I repeat: almost everyone I have ever met has some physical symptoms due to stress and their reactions to it.

One of the doctors at our hospital told me that he had applied for a prestigious fellowship program and was waiting to learn if he had been accepted. During those weeks, he didn't feel that he was anxious or particularly stressed. However, every morning he woke up with pain in his jaw and his wife reported that he was grinding his teeth at night. He considered seeing a dentist or an ENT doctor but put it off and his pain worsened. A few weeks later, he found out that he was accepted into the fellowship program and his teeth grinding and pain quickly disappeared. Had he been rejected from that program, he may have developed a TMJ (temporal-mandibular joint) syndrome and sought medical care. He would not have connected the mental stress and emotions to the disorder had he not known me and my interest in Mind Body Syndromes. The fascinating thing about his story is that he was unaware that he was feeling stressed about the situation. In fact, he told me he thought he was handling the whole process rather well. What was causing him to develop physical pain? Why did he grind his teeth while he was sleeping?

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*The personal stories are from actual course participants and are used with permission. The names and photos have been changed to protect confidentiality.