Breaking The Chain

Breaking The Chain


I recently corresponded with a doctor who’s been consulting on our film “All The Rage”. He explained to me that if he were treating me, he would likely counsel me to reveal less about myself and my emotions in the film. However, as someone who wants the film to help people, he might encourage me to express even more emotional honesty. Therein lies the rub, and the conflict that I feel as a person as well as a filmmaker trying to find the balance between showing enough of myself to connect with people but not so much that it makes them uncomfortable.

He also discussed the idea that a lot of the work I’m doing to get better can also be seen as an attempt to “break the chain of transmission” of these mind body-related issues. This, too, is one of the great conflicts of the film. My desire to help my kids is even stronger than my desire to help myself. Yet, I also realize that I am just one small part of a very complex web of influences.

In the film, I focus a great deal on the role that my relationship with my father played in shaping who I am, but clearly my mother also played a role in both positive and negative ways. Our siblings, our friends and classmates, our teachers, our community, and our shared culture all exert powerful influences on our sense of selves. It would be wonderful if I could break this chain by myself, but I think instead all I can do is help provide the tools so that my children might be able to do it for themselves.

I can give them the key to the gym, but it’s up to them to use the machines; to do the work. I think anybody who’s ever had kids, or tried to herd cats, knows that forcing them to do anything is neither easy nor productive. The point is that no matter how wonderful we are as parents – and I’m not saying I’m all that wonderful – we can’t fully protect them from having to go through the process themselves. Yet, even in unconscious ways, I have tried to keep them from feeling pain. I remember when my children were young and learning to walk and they started trip, I would have a shot of adrenaline run through my leg. I would feel the pain that I feared they might feel. It was as if some part of my brain believed that if I felt the pain, I could protect them from having to experience it. It should be no surprise that the same pathway is where I still have pain today.

When I finished college, my father was less than enthusiastic about my decision to play in a rock band and work as a bike messenger. We had a tumultuous couple of years where he would not so subtly put pressure on me to get on some kind of career path. While I can understand – and could even understand at the time – that he was trying to protect me from the difficulty of working outside the system, his efforts only served to undermine me rather than protect me. While his intention was positive, the result was not because he failed to respect who I was and instead tried to force me to follow a path that was not good for me.

To be alive is to be imperfect, and it seems that trying to be perfect causes us great pain. This does not mean that we should not strive to do our best but instead that we should do it in a balanced way with acceptance for our imperfection.

  • Molly FIeld
    Posted at 20:05h, 11 January Reply

    Hi — great post and super helpful for those of us with kids. I have three boys and they all want to be perfect in all they do but are realizing that’s impossible. so we try the next best thing: acceptance of What Is. my results are inconsistent. .

    I have one request: can you make your blog font darker? the lack of contrast makes the reading visually difficult. thank you! 🙂 -m

  • Alan Book
    Posted at 20:28h, 11 January Reply

    I have given Dr. Sarno’s book to two of my three children

  • Jane Tracy
    Posted at 02:45h, 12 January Reply

    Do you know what would help children a lot? It would be if a talented writer of children’s stories wrote a book or pamphlet explaining ‘aches and pains,’ and what TMS is (mind-body) to today’s children. Remember Steven Ozanich’s story–how at age 14 he experienced back pain and a physician told him, after reviewing his xrays, that he had severe spinal abnormalities that would ultimately need surgery. Ozanich described his life from that point on as his ‘new reality.’ He no longer saw himself as a normal, healthy boy. He saw himself as someone who had a dangerously fragile back that he had to protect.

    I saw this all the time when I worked in a hospital–patients, including children, frightened to death by ‘abnormal’ findings on their xrays. In fact I saw it happen to my own daughter,who was diagnosed as having scoliosis at the age of 14. It was agony for both my daughter and me. My daughter was horrified at the idea of a brace and said she’d refuse to ever wear it if they fitted her for one. I opted against surgery for my daughter because I’d heard so many bad stories about scoliosis surgery which only increased the patients’ pain.–and I’m glad I did decide against surgery because my daughter’s 30 now and she’s never had any pain as a result of her scoliosis. Yes, she does have scoliosis (noticeable only if you look closely) but she does NOT have the back pain which her doctor predicted would 100% occur if her scoliosis went untreated.’. My daughter does, however, suffer from extreme self-consciousness about having an ‘abnormal spine’ to begin with–a physical “deformity” that wouldn’t even be aware of except that the doctors made such a BIG DEAL out of their finding of SCOLIOSIS In the first place. Now my daughter is afraid to be seen in a bathing suit because of her ‘deformity.’ Thank you SO MUCH, San Jose CA doctors,, for making my daughter’s life harder by making her ashamed of her body..

    Trust is a dangerous thing. I was raised to trust doctors unconditionally as ‘authorities.’ Now I worry about my grandchildren because, truth is, my grandchildren are also going to trust unconditionally the physicians they and their parents seek for medical help..

    So someone out there, PLEASE write a book or pamphlet for children which explains what TMS is so that children and their parents can learn that TMS is a possible explanation for a child’s pain. And, who knows, maybe doctors will learn something from these pamphlets and/or children’s books too. God knows that doctors aren’t taught about TMS is medical school because it’s a threat to them, especially to orthopedic surgeons who’s bread and butter doesn’t come from ‘bones broken in accidents.’–there aren’t enough accidents in the US every year to provide incomes for the multi-1,000s of orthopediic surgeons in the US today. This over-abundance of surgeons instead make their incomes by exploiting ‘chronic pain’ that they (wrongly) state is a result of ‘spinal abnormalities’ or natural aging processes, like ‘osteoporosis.’ God forgive these doctors, for they know not what they do.

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