#6—Mind Body Syndrome is contagious
When I first started learning about Mind Body Syndrome a few years ago, I was struck by an account by someone who had what is known as repetitive stress injury. He wrote an eloquent account of his story, which was published on Kim Ruby’s excellent web site (www.tarpityoga.com) on MBS or TMS, as Dr. Sarno coined the term, Tension Myositis syndrome. In his account, he spoke of having had RSI many years before, but it got triggered after going to hear a lecture about it.
Medical students are well aware of how the suggestion of the symptoms of an illness can produce those symptoms. It even has a name, “medical studenitis,” since it is quite common to develop some symptoms of the disease you are studying.
Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot in France in the 1800’s had a clinic for what was known as “hysterics” in the day, although these disorders (now we realize are forms of MBS) were considered to be genetic at the time. In his clinic, people with headaches, abdominal pain, anxiety, etc. would arrive and Dr. Charcot had “discovered” that there was a progression to this disorder in distinct stages: motor tics (brief, rapid tic-like movements), clowning (striking bizarre poses and holding them), hysterical seizures (shaking as if in a seizure). Amazingly, when people entered his clinic, they would almost inevitably pass through these stages, confirming Dr. Charcot’s beliefs. There was a young woman with headaches who came to the clinic. Her roommate was in the tic stage, and the next day the young woman had developed the same tics. The power of suggestion is can be extremely strong, especially when given by a powerful person.