When I Dance – Omega 2019
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Your brain changes every second and will evolve in whatever direction you choose. The term for this phenomenon is called, “neuroplasticity.” It is important to decide what you want in your life and what you want it to look like. As you pursue your vision, your nervous system will respond … Read More

Trapped – I Know How Gulliver Must Have Felt
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I have been organizing an annual guy’s ski trip for over 30 years. Anywhere from 20-30 of us head to the Peruvian Lodge located at the base of the Alta Ski Resort in Utah. This year (2019), we had 30 people, with several fathers bringing their sons who are in … Read More

No Action in a Reaction – Part 2
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The essence of solving chronic pain and also creating a life that you enjoy is learning how to regulate your body’s chemistry. When you are full of stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, endorphins and histamines you are on high alert and you’ll feel agitated and anxious. When this state … Read More

No Action in a Reaction
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Anger is the body’s effort to regain control of a situation that you perceive as threat. It’s the most basic of survival reactions. It is only about your survival and by definition is destructive. In an enraged state of mind, you’ll do whatever it takes to take care of yourself. … Read More

“But I’m Not Angry”
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One of the most sobering aspects of my journey in and out of chronic pain was my lack of awareness of my emotional state. My childhood wasn’t nurturing and I was surrounded by anger. Since it was my baseline environment, I didn’t define it as anger. I didn’t enjoy the … Read More

Bullying is Good for Your Health
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Bullying is maybe one of the most irrational and unacceptable aspects of the human experience. Everyone at every age, including the bullies, knows it’s wrong. Yet there doesn’t seem to be an effective way to solve it that I’ve seen in my lifetime. Maybe one of the reasons is that … Read More

From Would Like to Should – The Unenforceable Rules
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I was asking a friend of mine about what I could write about this week. He suggested, “What about resentment?” I hadn’t thought about this for a while but it’s a significant problem that does wear us down. Should There are many reasons for resentment. I think the essence of … Read More

Escaping the Abyss – Which One??
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I saw two movies and a show this month that highlighted many issues about the human condition and pain. I first saw the 2015 movie, Cinderella, then a show, Ain’t Too Proud, which was a musical about the Motown group, The Temptations, and finally a movie, The Florida Project. I … Read More

Wake the Fun up!!
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Watching a baby take in every aspect of his or her surroundings with curiosity and awe is wonderful, delightful and inspiring. The capacity to learn is almost infinite. Their laughter is contagious and when they are upset they show it. They are completely connected to what is right in front … Read More

Chronic Pain is Solvable -Take Back Your Life
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It has been my observation that suffering from chronic pain affects almost every aspect of your life, especially trying to enjoy yourself. Every enjoyable experience is lessened in the context of pain. You may be able to successfully distract yourself for a bit and not even experience the pain, but … Read More

Omega 2017: Awareness, Hope, Forgiveness and Play
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I will be holding a weekend workshop this July at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. This will be my fourth workshop at Omega. The results have been overwhelmingly satisfying. As in the past, joining me will be my wife, Babs Yohai, who is a professional dancer; and my daughter … Read More

She Just Let Go
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My migraine headaches began on the Fourth of July when I was five years old. By age fifty I had over fifteen physical symptoms of an over-adrenalized nervous system. The last five years were extreme. After trying almost everything, I had completely lost hope of ever regaining any semblance of … Read More

Your Unconscious Brain
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Your body is a lean and mean fighting machine. That is all it is designed for and intended to do. We somewhat cheated nature in that we possess consciousness and language so we are able to control and manipulate our environment to our advantage. Human consciousness is a recent development. … Read More

Society’s Pain and World Peace
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We live in an era of unprecedented comfort and freedom. A recent experience that drove this home was spending a few days in New Orleans. As my wife and I were on a walking tour through the French Quarter, our guide pointed out that it was not until 1890 that … Read More

Out of the Valley, with Dolls
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When I first met Sarah, she was close to 75 and had been experiencing debilitating pain for decades. But, since her spine x-rays revealed only normal degeneration consistent with her age, I set her to work on the DOC process. After about a year of working diligently through the tools, … Read More

Awareness, Hope, Forgiveness and Play
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These four elements form a powerful alliance to connect to your own capacity to heal, which is the essence of the solution to chronic pain. The DOC program is a framework that allows you to organize your thinking around these age-old concepts. Awareness You cannot successfully address any problem without … Read More

Taking on the World’s Suffering
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The tipping point in successfully solving  chronic pain is becoming aware of your anger and processing it. When you are upset your body is full of stress hormone and as each organ system responds, you may experience many physical symptoms. When your anger drops these symptoms will diminish and usually … Read More

The “Benefits” of Becoming Disabled
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I have always enjoyed hard work. I began working in heavy construction at age fourteen during the remodeling of our house. I fell in love with it and kept working at it for another 18 years. I poured concrete slabs, framed, did some finish work, plumbing, and spent three summers … Read More

Rigid Thinking – “Make America Great Again”
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Anxiety is the sensation created by elevated levels of stress hormones in response to a threat. It is intended to be unpleasant enough to compel you to take action to resolve the situation. We will do anything to avoid it. The expected and required response is to take control. However, … Read More

Stress and Getting Sick – Howard’s Golf Story
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For those of you who are golfers, you know that golf is a great metaphor for life. It is both challenging and social. I think the bonding is a result of such deeply shared suffering. What is fascinating is that it really is just a game. This is a story … Read More

Perfectionism—The Ultimate Victim Role
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Perfectionism is an additional—and perhaps less examined— way that people play the victim. Many view perfection as the standard that must be reached in order to be successful. It’s held up as a virtue in all aspects of our lives, especially in professional and vocational endeavors. We feel pressure from … Read More

Changing Your Story – Reframing
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Neuroplasticity is the term for the brain’s capacity to physically adapt to the environment. This is modulated by sensory input and chemical changes. It has been well-documented that prolonged exposure to stress hormones adversely affects the brain structure in addition to causing it to physically shrink.(1) Having a chronically negative … Read More

Aced Out
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I received an email from an orthopedic colleague who I have never personally met. We are both part of an Internet discussion group about chronic pain and disability. His observations were very succinct and I think summarizes the problem of physicians not being adequately trained in chronic pain. Here is … Read More

Your Personal Brain Scanner
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Every second of your life depends on your brain scanning your surroundings for trouble. This unconscious process guides your behavior so as to avoid danger and maximize your chances of survival. You will become conscious of this ongoing interaction with the environment only when a given need is unmet. This … Read More

The Power of Pain
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Recent world events have raised a lot of questions about why would people dedicate their lives to the pursuit of destruction? My observation is that this unspeakable behavior is one of the expressions of what is learned in school that we call, “sociaization”. The First Day of School Every child … Read More

Rewire Your Brain – Omega 2015
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Omega Institute, July 2015 Dr. Fred Luskin, author of Forgive for Good, my wife Babs Yohai, a professional tap dancer, and I will hold a five-day workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. The course is structured around education, hope, forgiveness, and play. It is based on the concepts presented … Read More

“The Unenforceable Rules”
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I was in Italy grabbing a ride to my hotel from the Florence train station. While waiting in line I noticed a slightly older taxi driver standing by his cab in the middle of the taxi stand while three or four drivers took off ahead of him. He seemed slightly … Read More

Ready to Blossom – Omega 13
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The Omega Institute In August of 2013 I put on a 5-day workshop at the Omega institute in Rhinebeck, NY with 11 participants. The other two faculty were Dr. Fred Luskin from Stanford and my wife, Babs Yohai, who is a professional performer (tap dancer). We designed it to address … Read More

“But You are Still Angry”
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The DOC project is not a formula. You are not going to read my book and experience healing. My book is a framework that will organize your thinking. You can then systematically address all the variables that are affecting your pain. Unless you are actively learning and using the tools … Read More

Destroyed by Bullies
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Despair I will never forget a 40 year-old woman I met in the office a few years ago. She had suffered from chronic pain that enveloped almost her entire body since her late teenage years. She was anxious, depressed, and would barely lift her head to talk to me. The … Read More

Your Book is Bullshit – The Encompassing Power of Anger
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This is a recent post that was on my Back in Control Facebook site.  I was well-aware that I would be on the receiving end of this type of feedback before I published the book. I deal with variations of this energy weekly. An unhappy reader “Your book about back … Read More

Violence and Love
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Power Many patients have no interest in giving up their pain. Being a victim is a powerful role – and for many is synonymous with love. Some of the reasons to remain a victim and angry are: It is a familiar pattern You are not aware or connected to your anger … Read More

Nick’s Winning Run – Off of the Hill
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My son, Nick, has been a competitive freestyle mogul skier since he was 14 years-old. He is an extraordinary athlete and within three years of beginning his skiing career he won the Duals event at Junior Nationals. He was focused, passionate and it appeared that he was well on his … Read More

Forgiveness as a Habit
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Once is not enough in forgiveness Perhaps this game is like weeding. The trick is to become so practiced that you can sing while you do it, that when you see one beginning to sprout you will by instinct lay your fingers in the earth, find its root, and set … Read More

“The Cup Song”
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Omega Institute – June 7 – 9, 2019 – Relief from Chronic Pain The essence of curing chronic pain is connecting to your own body’s capacity to heal. When you are trapped by any circumstance, especially chronic pain, first your anxiety escalates and then you become angry. Your body is full of … Read More

To Become Strong – “ILOHLA”
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My creative artist friend, Ernesto, endured a rough couple of years and for a while he “disappeared”. The details are not important. What is important is that he is back and thriving. This piece is a statement of his time in the “Abyss.” I spend over eight years in darkness. … Read More

Ugolino
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Neurological circuits are permanent Pain pathways are permanent. So are the intertwined anxiety and anger circuits. I am personally reminded of this fact on a daily basis. It happened in a particularly dramatic fashion while on vacation in Italy. Florence My wife lived in Florence, Italy from 1983 to 1990. … Read More

“Self-Esteem” Must Die
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In our society today, it’s commonly believed that the higher the opinion you have of yourself, the more confident, happy, and successful you’ll be; high self-esteem is held up as the ultimate goal. In actuality, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth: the pursuit of self-esteem is a destructive … Read More

The Angry Meditator
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Meditation is a powerful tool in calming down your nervous system, and is a skill that everyone should be taught in elementary school and continue to hone throughout a lifetime. Think what we are not taught about stress, anxiety, and frustration at an early age. A child has little control … Read More

“Finding Health by Letting Go of Hate”
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The common thread of those who successfully heal from chronic pain and other symptoms of Neurophysiologic Disorder (NPD) is letting go of anger through deep forgiveness. Anger and pain are inextricably linked. For many of us forgiveness involves somewhat of an intellectual process and is focused on many small “wrongs”. … Read More

The Elephant’s Noose
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The Elephant’s Noose If you are angry, in a reactive mode, it’s difficult to develop a plan. A metaphor showing the impact of anger is how they handle elephants in India. When the elephants are very small, they train them to stay in one place by tying one foot to … Read More

School or Prison-What’s the Difference? Bullying
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Bullying bothers me–a lot. When I was in middle school and high school, I was very fortunate in that I was not a target of bullying. However, I have watched dozens of friends and family come under attack from bullies. The results are often devastating. No part of bullying is … Read More

Anger and Workers’ Comp Webinar
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Our medical and political system has failed. Employers have abused workers as long as there have been employers and workers. The intent of worker’s comp’s no-fault system was to both provide excellent medical care as well as improve worker safety. Although workplace safety has dramatically improved since the early 1900’s, … Read More

Anger Simplified
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Anger = loss of control The need for control is caused by anxiety Therefore Anger = anxiety + adrenaline

Taking Back Your Spirit-Caroline Myss
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Caroline Myss-Taking Back Your Spirit Anger and chronic pain are linked pathways. It is not possible to release yourself from your pain and move foward with your life until you can experience true forgiveness for the people who have wronged you the most. This remarkable video was passed on to … Read More

Labeled “Drug Seeker” and Almost Died
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One of the core concepts of the human condition is labeling experiences, trends, groups or people. It comes along with having the capacity to communicate through language. Yuval Noah Harari in his book, Sapiens, pointed out that the cognitive revolution for Homo Sapiens occurred about 70,000 years ago with the advent of … Read More

Anger-The Absolute Block
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It has become clear that if a given patient engages in the principles outlined in this book, he or she has a high chance of experiencing a dramatic decrease in pain and improved quality of life at some point in time. The richness of this new life often exceeds anything … Read More

Maslow’s Miss
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  Abraham Maslow Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a brilliant professor of psychology. He founded a branch of psychology known as “Humanistic Psychology,” which focuses more on psychological virtues or excellences rather than on psychological disorders. Maslow is best known for his conceptualization of “man’s hierarchy of needs.” This hierarchy is … Read More

Video: The Myth of Self Esteem
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Self esteem involves endless judgment of comparing yourself to others around you. I discuss the negative impact that this concept has on us. For more, see The Myth of Self Esteem.

Reactive to Creative
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Hard work and creativity are equally important to successfully developing and implementing new ideas, both personally and in the business world. It can be argued that insanity is the antithesis of creativity. Consider Albert Einstein’s thoughts on what constitutes insane behavior? Insanity is Doing the same thing Over and over … Read More

“C”ing Clearly
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Adrenaline and other stress hormones will diminish the blood supply to the frontal lobes of your brain. All of us know we can’t think clearly when we’re upset. There’s a physiological reason why. The flight or flight response is ONLY about survival and that’s it.   REACTIVE CREATIVE If you … Read More

Video 15/19: Anger Fueled Anxiety-“The Highway to Hell”
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I discuss how anger is the turbocharger that keeps anxiety both covered up and fired up. Until you turn off anger you won’t be able to get a handle on your anxiety or your pain.  

Enjoy Your Day-Today
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  “Happy” We all want to become better, happier people, and we work pretty hard at it. The marketing world keeps reminding us that we are not even close to our potential and holds up endless images of perfection that reinforce that idea. The solution advertising offers is a better … Read More

Video 3/19: Completely Trapped
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I talk about the frustration and the feeling of being trapped by chronic pain and how using the DOC Project will help get your pain “Back in Control”. Remember: Anger = Loss of Control. 

Video 2/19: Your Hand Over the Stove
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Consider a situation where you are forced to hold your hand next to the hot burner of a stove.  What would happen to your anxiety?  What would be your next response?  In chronic pain, you “can’t get your hand away from the stove.” I talk about this in depth in … Read More

“I Understand Your Anger. Get Over It.”
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I was relaxing this weekend and cleaning up stacks of papers that have been piling up over the last six months.  I ran across this letter a patient had shared with me from her prior surgeon. She had undergone a major low back surgery and came to me with unrelenting … Read More

Depression Masking as Pain
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Patient’s Letter Hi Dr Hanscom, I have been meaning to check in with you for a while now and let you know that the DOC program seems to have worked for me. My lower back & leg pain has disappeared and I’m a firm believer in the process, especially the … Read More

“Call Things by Their Right Names”
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The culture of medicine is immersed in high standards, ideals, and perfections.  Society demands perfection from physicians.  It is manifested in many ways.  The legal system, hospital staff privileging, no mercy for personal mental health issues, harsh criticism from our mentors.  Consequently, as others judge us, we are idealistic regarding … Read More

“The Journey of 1000 Moons”
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“The Journey of 1000 Moons” by Ernesto Sanchez If you count the moon cycles you will experience in your lifetime, by the time you reach 77 years of age, you will have experienced one thousand. As we live these years, how often do we stop and think about the presence of … Read More

A Tale of Two Golf Holes
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I love golf. I love the social aspect of it. I love to hit a great golf shot. There is nothing quite like hitting the “sweet spot” and feeling the ball take off like a rocket. The problem is that I don’t get to experience that sensation very often. I … Read More

My Victimhood
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I was raised in an abusive household and living that life seemed normal because it was all that I knew. I was truly a victim, but I didn’t know it at the time. It was only through extensive counseling that I realized I was continuing to play that role. It is … Read More

Anger = Loss of Control
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Anxiety is the feeling generated by your body in response to a threat. When a situation causes a feeling of anxiety, we exert some type of control to diminish it. When you lose or don’t have enough control, your body secretes more stress hormones in an effort too regain it. … Read More

Anger and the Continental Divide
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Playing the victim role is a universal part of the human experience. The word ‘victim’ does not sound very pleasing. However, it may be the one most important words affecting the quality of your life. This is particularly true in the context of chronic pain. All of us are limited … Read More

The Myth of Self-Esteem
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Self-esteem is one of the worst concepts ever propagated. While the definition itself appears harmless enough on its surface, “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities,” the ideas surrounding self-esteem implies that if I had enough of “X,” then I would have less anxiety, less frustration, and more happiness. “X” … Read More

Anger/Victim with Worker’s Comp
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There is a “genealogy” of frustration/anger. It is: Circumstance Blame Victim Frustration/Anger There are two types of “victimhood”: Perceived                                                               … Read More

Suppressing
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We frequently deal with negative thoughts by suppressing them. We don’t want to feel negative, so we don’t. We think that we have no alternative to a difficult situation, so we just move on.       80 Hours a Week??? I have witnessed the downside of thought suppression firsthand … Read More

Anger and Anxiety–Highway to Hell
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  There is an intense relationship between anxiety and anger. Understanding this interaction is perhaps one of the most important concepts that will have a major impact in calming down your nervous system. Anxiety and Anger are universal. Few human beings have seemed to rise above them because they are … Read More