Anxiety – Bodyguard or Prison Guard
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Imagine yourself on the fourth day of your Hawaiian vacation, lying on a tropical beach in the sun. You are full of oxytocin, dopamine, and a few other chemicals that make you feel relaxed. Now imagine you are on the same beach and suddenly, you recall how your new boss … Read More

The Gift of Hope – “This Might Hurt”
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One of the worst aspects of being trapped in chronic pain is losing hope. No one can give you a diagnosis or explain why you are so miserable, multiple ineffective treatments are failing to provide lasting relief, you are being bounced around the medical system, the pain is often unbearable … Read More

Success is a “Story”
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There is currently an epidemic of pain in our country, and chronic pain is increasing especially rapidly in people under 40. Teen anxiety, with its many physical manifestations is particularly problematic. A few of them include: Body image disorders Eating disorders Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Irritable Bowel and Spastic … Read More

Moving Forward – A New Horizon
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I have stopped doing spine surgery and active clinical care to pursue the Back in Control project full time. This link explains my position: Why I am Leaving My Spine Surgery Practice. My vision is to bring the DOC (Direct your Own Care) principles into mainstream consciousness. It has become … Read More

“Dying” Before Living
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  Florence, Italy, 2013 On vacation We all intellectually know that life is short and somehow we spend a lot of energy avoiding that thought. I was reminded of the frailty of life this week while vacationing in Florence, Italy. Many of the cobblestone streets are narrow and the sidewalks … Read More

Learn Another Language – “An Enjoyable Life”
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    To master a new language requires a focused commitment for an extended period of time. Say you wanted to become fluent in French. It would take years of reading books, attending classes, listening to audio tapes and probably immersing yourself in the culture for a period of time. … Read More

Anxiety with Success
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No matter how many parts of my life were good, I was stuck in thinking about what I didn’t have and what could be better. It seemed to me that almost everyone else had more money,  a happier family, better athletic skills and the list was endless. In retrospect, it’s … Read More

 “Our envy of others devours us most of all”
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What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? If you want, I’ll spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusionary – property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell … Read More

Romanticizing Pirates – Normalizing Suffering and Abuse
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Each year we return to Italy to spend time with some of our close friends. My wife lived there for seven years and is fluent in Italian. For me, it is a wonderful experience, as we get to enjoy Italian culture at the ground level. One trip was to the … Read More

Healing With Support from her Community
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Hi Dr. Hanscom, It’s Donna, a former patient. I just wanted to write and tell you some good news regarding my back situation. You were right about forgiveness as well as the emotional aspects of back pain–at least in my case. After following the physiological recommendations and taking the various … Read More

Trying Not to Be Judgmental
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The psychological process of projection is a defense mechanism that allows us to transfer our unwanted feelings or behavior onto another person. For example, a person who is highly self-critical may constantly feel (or fear) criticism from others. So, when we judge people around us—either positively or negatively—we are projecting aspects of … Read More

Compassion
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A Course on Compassion: Empathy in the Face of Chronic Pain Click to view “A Course on Compassion” lecture videos Empathy is an inherent part of the human experience.   Being labeled as a “chronic pain patient” is one of the worst aspects of an already terrible problem. It’s impossible … Read More

The Placebo Effect – Harnessing the Body’s Healing Power
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The most powerful treatment for any disorder is stimulating your body to heal itself. I was introduced to this concept in the 1980’s by Dr. Bernie Siegel’s book, Love, Medicine and Miracles. He reviews some of literature that links stress with disease and also relates many stories of patients with … Read More

How Much Suffering Can You Take?
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This was the highlighted title of an article in the Sports Sunday section of the NY Times a few weeks ago. Of course, it tweaked my interest and I was introduced to an event that I did not dream possible. The article talked about about the Quintuple Anvil Triathlon held … Read More

“Better Not Look Down”
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A recent study demonstrated that thought suppression damages the hippocampus of your brain, which processes short and long-term memory. (1) It is also been well-documented that when you try not to think of something, not only will you think about it more, there is a trampoline effect and you will … Read More

Remarkable Healing Stories – Dr. Bernie Siegel
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I have had the distinct privilege of getting to know Dr. Bernie Siegel, who is a retired pediatric general surgeon and author of several books, including Love, Medicine and Miracles. He has looked extensively at the stories of patients who are survivors of advanced cancer and documenting common traits in … Read More

Mental or physical health – Which is more Critical?
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I have been considering this question since I was eight years old. For some reason it was a subject that my father felt was important. It was his contention that mental health was more important. I have historically felt that physical health was the foundation of a productive life. Since … Read More

Anger: Damage Control
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There is a “genealogy”  of anger. It begins with a person or situation that you blame for upsetting you. You then go into a victim role and become upset. “Upset” can range from being irritated to flying into a rage. The circumstance may be real or perceived. Either way the … Read More

The Gift of Pain – Thanksgiving 2013
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Pain, The Gift That Nobody Wants is a book written by an orthopedic hand surgeon, Paul Brand. Through his work in India with lepers he discovered that the reason why they had such severe hand, facial, and foot deformities was that the bacteria resided in sensory nerves and destroyed protective … Read More

Anger versus Angel
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ANGER ANGEL   Love and rage are both four-letter words. A N G E   R  A  G  E A N G E L O V E The difference between the words anger and angel is one letter. What a difference a letter makes.  

The KKK and a Spiritual Journey
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I am a strong supporter of psychology, psychiatry, and any mental health profession that can provide insight into how to live a full and productive life. However, I want you to think differently about mental health for a moment. Consider it not in terms of talk therapy but in terms … Read More

The First and Last Day of School
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“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old.  They grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old. They stop pursing dreams when they are crushed by relentless anxiety… Gabriel Garcia Marquez … Read More

Video: Standard Stress Skills Inadequate
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I talk about how the DOC Project can relate to other aspects of our everyday life, including everyday stressors and suppression. This is related to some of what I talk about in “Memorization of Neurological Circuits.”

Plugging the Negative Drain
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Picture yourself in a tub trying to fill it to take warm, relaxing bath. The drain is not only wide open, but it is a foot in diameter. No matter how long you try to fill the tub, you are not going to be successful.     Or imagine yourself … Read More

My Hoffman Experience
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Hoffman is a seven-day residential personal growth experience where you are able to become aware of your family patterns of behavior that are playing out in your own life. You’ll learn techniques to calm down and reprogram your nervous system. You are also not allowed to discuss your past but … Read More

Hoffman Process
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Hoffman Institute The headquarters of the Hoffman Process is located in Rafael, CA. They offer the process in the US in two locations–one in California and the other in Massachusetts. There are thirteen centers around the world, and over 80,000 people have gone through the process. Bob Hoffman conceived the … Read More