Social Anxiety – Vulnerability Doesn’t Feel Safe

Humans want to feel safe. Feeling or being safe reflects profound shifts in your body’s chemistry to “rest and digest.” Not only do you feel a deep sense of contentment, openness and play, your body refuels and regenerates. Your safety needs aren’t met if you don’t feel heard, validated, and … Read More

“She Just Let Go”

My migraine headaches began on the Fourth of July when I was five years old. By age fifty, I had over fifteen physical and mental symptoms from being in a state of sustained threat physiology. They became extreme and intolerable. I completely lost hope of ever regaining any semblance of … Read More

Suicide – A Horrible Way to Escape from Pain

Objectives The root cause of suicide is feeling trapped and mental and physical pain are problematic.significant reasons to feel this way. Since mental and physical pain share similar brain circuits, they both create a lot of misery. Modern medicine largely assumes illnesses and symptoms are caused by identifiable structural problems. … Read More

“5–3–2” – Processing Anger in Three Steps

Objectives Anxiety is an unpleasant sensation generated by your body’s physiological response to real or perceived danger. It compels you to take action to resolve the threat and live another day. If you cannot escape or solve the threat, your body’s stress response intensifies and you become angry. Anger is … Read More

Gun Violence – No Action in a Reaction

Our society continues to wring its hands over ongoing problem of gun violence. The bigger problem is the that of societal anger, which causes us to behave badly when we are in this state. This is true for every human being, no matter how well-intentioned a person you may be. … Read More

From “Would Like” to “Should” – The Unenforceable Rules

Objectives: Our core life outlook is programmed by every second of our life to the present moment. Each person has infinitely unique perspective and feel there are basic ways we “should” live our lives. When others (or ourselves) don’t meet our internal standards, we’ll often become critical and demanding. When … Read More

Grievance Stories

Objectives All of us are “wronged” every day and often multiple times. The wrongs may be real or perceived. Your choice centers around how you want to process them. Do you hold on to it them or let go and move on? You always have this choice. One problem is … Read More

Forgiveness is Not What You Think – Learn It

Objectives Forgiveness does not have to be that difficult. You are simply making a choice of not letting a situation or someone you dislike ruin your day. It specifically is part of the “input” aspect of dealing with anger. Anger is present in everyone’s life every day. There are different … Read More

Healing through Play – It is Safety Physiology

Objectives Connecting with your sense of play is one of the most powerful ways of shifting your physiology from threat to safety. Play circuits are also simply more pleasant. Everyone has some level of play in their life, although for some, it is quite limited. The interactions created while at … Read More

Don’t Take on the World’s Suffering

Objectives Many of us become upset about the state of the world, which is definitely worrisome and disturbing. However, you have no control, your nervous system is fired up, and there is not an endpoint. We all have plenty of problems that we have to deal with without adding on … Read More

“Wake the Fun Up” – The DOC Journey App

Nurturing a sense of play is the main focus of the app. It is the optimal healing state of safety physiology and already exists within each of us. Play is the most powerful pathway to healing – in the right sequence. We must first unbury it in order to connect … Read More

Calming Yourself by Recruiting the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS)

Written in conjunction with Dr. Les Aria, PhD  Objectives Every function and action of your body is in a delicate balance. This is achieved by every action being combined with an almost equal opposite reaction. The autonomic nervous system regulates your internal organs, and the two parts are the activating … Read More

From Reactive to Creative

Objectives Anytime you are anxious or frustrated, something from the past has invaded the present. By definition, you cannot be completely connected to what is right in front of you. To change these automatic hardwired reactions, you must first create some “space” between you and your reaction. Learning and mastering … Read More

Anger Academy

Objectives Processing anger is more doable if it is broken down into its components. Anger is a powerful, necessary, and hard wired survival reflex. You cannot tame it with the conscious brain. It is an acquired skill that requires ongoing “adult education” in order to refine it. Framing the approaches … Read More

Blocks to Letting Go of Anger

Objectives Anger is a hard wired automatic survival reaction, and it is impossible to get rid of, conquer, or transform it into a more constructive experience. We are not programmed to be vulnerable, so we don’t have a good reason to give up anger, nor will we ever want to. … Read More

The Ultimate Victim Role – Perfectionism

Objectives Perfectionism is felt by many of us to be a virtue. It is reflected in terms of, “high standards,” “excellent quality,” and “strong work ethic.” It is actually a disguised version of anger directed at yourself. These ideas actually become translated our minds as, “not good enough,” “imposter syndrome,” … Read More

The Impact of Anger on Your Life – and Pain

Objectives Most patients in chronic pain are frustrated and angry, whether they recognize it or not. Why wouldn’t they be? They are trapped by unpleasant sensory input. Unresolved anxiety is the driving force behind anger. Anger is your body’s concerted neurochemical last ditch effort to regain control. Being chronically angry … Read More

Mortal Combat – These People are Hurting Each Other

In The DOC Journey, we have observed that the “shortcut” to healing is letting go of anger. You are then able to place your attention on what you want and your brain through the process of neuroplasticity, will respond with structural changes. You brain will develop wherever you place your … Read More

Experiencing Safety: Solving Chronic Pain: An Immersive Weekend Retreat

We are holding a weekend retreat on May 21-23, 2021 based on our past experiences at the Omega institute in Rhinebeck, NY and Talaris in Seattle, WA. These workshops continue to be the highlight of The DOC Journey experience for us. This will be a virtual workshop with a special … Read More

Anger and Illness–Cause and Effect

Tom’s original story was one that I never thought was possible. He recounts his journey of undergoing 28 surgeries over 22 years in this blog. His is among many stories that has shown me that the body has a powerful capacity to heal if we can just get out of … Read More

Three Aspects of Processing Anger

This aspect of The DOC (Direct your Own Care) Journey is by far and away the most critical leg. I hear a similar story over and over and over again, “”Who would have thought it was the anger?”, or “I didn’t realize I was so angry.” Then it is inspiring … Read More

Forgiveness–The Continental Divide of Freedom and Hell

There is an intense relationship between anxiety and anger. Understanding this interaction is one of the most important concepts that will have a major impact in calming down your nervous system. They are, first of all, the same entity. Anxiety is the sensation generated by your autonomic nervous system’s response … Read More

Bullying is Assault and Should be treated as Such

There are serious mental and physical consequences from being bullied. What would be the outcome of a scenario where a stranger or acquaintance walked up to you and began to call you names and shove you. Maybe they even hit you? What would you do? You would call the authorities … Read More

Forgiveness as a Habit

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

Is your Recreation “Wreck Creation?” 

There is a basic dividing line in life that influences the development of your brain. Is your overall life outlook based on love or fear? For many of us that were raised in a less than nurturing environment, being afraid is the norm and dictates the way we respond to a … Read More

Forgiveness is a Learned Skill–and a Power Move

Forgiveness is both a learned skill and an ongoing daily process without a beginning or end. It is a statement that you are going to live your life on your terms, and no one person or situation is going to take that away from you. It is the tipping point of … Read More

When I Dance – Omega 2019

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

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

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

“But I’m Not Angry”

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

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

Escaping the Abyss – Which One??

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!!

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

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

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

Your Unconscious Brain

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

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

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

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

The “Benefits” of Becoming Disabled

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”

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

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

Changing Your Story – Reframing

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

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

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

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, “socialization”. The First Day of School Every child … Read More

Rewire Your Brain – Omega 2015

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”

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

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”

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

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

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

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

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

“The Cup Song”

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”

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


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

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

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”

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

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 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

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

Threat (perceived or real danger) creates a neurochemical inflammatory reaction (anxiety) And a need for control to escape the threat When you can’t solve the problem (trapped) Your body increases the stress response in an effort to regain control Now you are angry Anger = turbocharged anxiety Both are unconscious, … Read More

Taking Back Your Spirit-Caroline Myss

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

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

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

  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

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.  

“C”ing Clearly

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

Video 15/19: Anger Fueled Anxiety-“The Highway to Hell”

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

  “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

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

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.”

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

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”

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”

“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

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

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

Advantages of Victimhood–No one Believes You

Without an obvious source of pain, patients eventually feel that no one believes that they have pain. It is an endless source of frustration and you are a legitimate victim. But, inadvertently, you are placed in a powerful victim role. The Cry of Chronic Pain Not only did I believe … Read More

Anger = Loss of Control

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

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

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

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


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

  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. The are first of all, the same entity. Anxiety is the sensation generated by your autonomic nervous … Read More