Making the Mindbody Connection

by Ken Malloy

As you continue though the process - your process of learning to become pain-free as taught by Dr. John Sarno, it’s important to be always on the look-out for examples of the Mindbody connection. That is, ways in which your mind can be the cause of real symptoms in your body.

Why is this important?

Because it reminds you of the true cause of your symptoms and just how powerful a force your mind can be! It keeps your attention exactly where it needs to be – in the psychological realm. That is, focused on the emotional causes of your pain – not on any structural ones.

If you’re looking for it,  Mindbody connection can show up in interesting places.

Here’s a story told to me by a coaching client that’s so interesting that I asked her if I could post it and share it with you. She said yes so here it is:

Dear Ken,

I really totally buy into the Mindbody connection as I saw it first hand with my mother more than fifty years ago.

I lived in Roanoke, Virginia with my mother and, on graduation from high school, I got a full college scholarship to a university in Boston, MA.  I was really excited to go; but my mother had great anxiety about me going so far away.  She would be alone and scared.  She knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime for me and really could not tell me to stay home and not go.  She developed all kinds of symptoms of all kinds of illnesses.  I actually considered not going away.

Her most serious and unique symptom was a malabsorption syndrome.  A few times a week, she would go into tetany.  All of her skeletal muscles would contract non stop.  She was diagnosed as having hypocalciamia… abnormally low calcium.  The doctors decided that somehow she was not properly absorbing the calcium from her food, a malabsorption problem.  This was still in the days of doctor’s house calls.  When she would go into tetany, I would call Dr. Wolfe, our friendly family physician, and he would come running over.

He would immediately draw blood, give my mother an IV injection of Calcium, wait ten minutes for the tetany to go away, take another blood sample and leave.  He would have the pre and post calcium injection blood samples tested by the lab.  Each time he did this, the pre injection sample would show a blood calcium level of 4 (cause of tetany) and a post injection sample with a blood calcium level of 9 (normal).  Something was causing her blood calcium to suddenly decrease to a dangerously low level.  An injection of calcium would correct this.  Somehow, the doctors thought, she was not able to absorb calcium from her food.

After about 10 visits, good old Dr. Wolfe, a very smart man, decided to give her an injection of saline instead of calcium.  He followed the same procedure as always:  Rushed to our home because of tetany, took a sample of blood, gave my mother an injection, waited 10 minutes, drew another sample of blood and left.  Only this time the injection was saline not calcium.  He came over the next morning with the results.  The pre injection blood calcium was 4 and the post injection blood calcium was 9!!!  He told my mother that she was somehow subconsciously lowering her blood calcium.  He told her she did not have a malabsorption syndrome.  He assured her that she was not knowingly doing it “on purpose”.  He opined that perhaps she was anxious about her daughter leaving to go far away to college and this was her subconscious way of dealing with the anxiety and hopefully make me decide to stay with her and not go away.

She never had another episode of tetany.  Two months later, I left for college.

Thank you for reading.

Thank you Gayle!