Kogos: Why Anxiety is the Real Gift of Life

This article was written by a journalist that I met in New York City about five years ago. My wife and I met her at the end of a long day at a publicity summit. After talking to so many people, we were a bit tired, but she instantly energised … Read More

 “Our envy of others devours us most of all”

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

Be an Expert at Living life

This post is the introduction for the last leg of the updated DOC Journey course. The main course is presented in four levels with the metaphor of learning how to snow ski. The focus is on skill acquisition to regulate your body’s physiology and also reprogram your brain in the … Read More

Mindfulness Should not be Taught in School – Really??

Mental rigidity is a variation of suppressing thoughts in that you allow yourself only certain sets and types of thoughts and emotions. Your emotional/mental bandwidth is limited, and it is difficult to respond appropriatelyto social cues and signals from others. You may behave in a manner that hurts and damages … Read More

Understanding the “Curse of Consciousness”

RUTs (repetitive unpleasant thoughts) are driven by our unconscious brain Here is the essence of the problem with RUTs and the human condition. The sequence begins with your unconscious brain that is constantly on alert for danger and is much more powerful than our late-evolving language-based consciousness. Humans use language … Read More

AI and the Cumulative Effects of Trauma

Objectives AI and the human brain both are blank slates whose functionality depends on what is loaded into them. Your capacity to navigate life depends on the quality of data and the “algorithm” loaded into your brain. Poor data or inept processing skills creates ongoing and progressive dysfunctional thoughts and … Read More

 Quit Fighting Darkness and Turn on the Light

Objectives We are trained that if we can solve enough of our problems, we’ll have an “enjoyable life.” Life’s challenges never stop, and we may slowly sink into darkness, “The Abyss.” We become desperate trying to escape; especially from our RUT’s (Repetitive Unpleasant Thoughts) The most effective way to dispel … Read More

Four Aspects of Solving RUT’s

Objectives Mental and physical pain are processed in similar regions of the brain. Our inability to escape from RUT’s relentlessly drives flight or fight physiology, and people may become ill. There is a healing sequence to solve them – separation of identity, thought diversion, lowering anger, moving into creativity, and … Read More

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

A way into “The Abyss” of chronic illness The title of this song1 is a common way many of us deal with adversity. However, it encompasses both halves of the “ironic effect” and the actual well-documented outcome of this approach to life is more worry and sadness.     What … Read More

Your “Authentic Self”

The only “authentic self” that exists is the one who is present today – right this very second. Your actions and reactions reflect your entire lifetime of programming. Much of our programming is less than ideal but it is what exists. The search for your “authentic self” is futile, consumes … Read More

Connecting the past and present to the future – Bruce Lipton and David Hanscom

Chronic mental and physical disease are connected by a common root cause – stress. How and why? Stress (threat) creates chemical (physiological) changes in your body (fight or flight), which creates mental and physical symptoms. When you are subjected to chronic stress, the ongoing inflammation and increased fuel consumption (metabolism) … Read More

Romanticizing Pirates – Normalizing Suffering and Abuse

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

Giving Back is Healing

Objectives You probably have been trapped by anxiety for so long, and consumed by trying to find a way out, the idea giving back seems almost impossible. You may not even have the energy to try. Although, you have learned many strategies to process anxiety and anger, letting go and … Read More

“Better Not Look Down”

Objectives We are programmed by every second of our life up to this moment with most of it being around survival. We are inundated with internal voices warning of us danger. We are, “not good enough”, “FOMO” (fear of missing out), unattractive, are just a few examples. Predictive coding, inherent … Read More

Awareness as a Tool – The “Circle of Life”

Objectives Awareness is at the center of life. You cannot make good decisions without understanding the relevant variables. It is also an important tool in and of itself. By understanding the different types of awareness and knowing where you are in given moment, you can navigate life’s challenges more easily. … Read More

Not Being Judgmental–Not Possible

  Objectives Human consciousness precludes suppressing thoughts and emotions without experiencing physiological consequences. You may intellectually understand that being judgmental is unkind, but it is universal and embedded in our existence. Judgements of others, positive or negative, are projections of our own self-opinion, much of which is based on cognitive … Read More

The Gift of Anxiety – Your Bodyguard or Prison Guard?

Objectives: Since the body’s response to threats affects every cell in your body, it feels like part of who you are. We spend a lot of time attempting to avoid this intentionally unpleasant sensation when it is necessary for life and also overpowering. We are trapped in life by our … Read More

The Bidirectional Interaction between Resilience and Your Immune System

This blog is based on a review paper written by Dr. Robert Dantzer that discusses how resilience and immunity influence each other. (1) It is a bi-directional relationship in that poor adaptive skills stimulate the immune system; and a fired up immune system makes it harder to deal with stress. … Read More

Navigating the Entire Circle of Your Life

The DOC (Direct your Own Care) Journey is a collection of resources that reflect the ones many people have used to escape from the grip of chronic mental and physical pain, It includes: A guided course of seven legs and rest stops Video tutuorials Webinars Weekly group Q&A sessions Weekly … Read More

Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants

I have felt that it is important to pick out heroes to emulate. One person that I have greatly admired is an orthopedic surgeon, Paul Brand. He is the co-author of his autobiography, Pain, the Gift that Nobody Wants. (1) I knew him personally and he was as gracious a … Read More

“Play 20” – Create Your Life at Any Age

Maurice is someone who I recently met and immediately was intrigued by his demeanor and outlook. My wife and I recently spent a few hours with him and his partner and had a wonderful afternoon. I was aware of his skills as an artist but had not understood that he … Read More

Thrive and Survive–The Movement

      I have launched a major effort to change the way we think about disease; whether it is mental for physical. EVERY chronic disease state exhibits elevated levels of inflammatory markers. The immune system is critical for survival and this inflammatory process is supposed to destroy invaders and … Read More

Expanding Your Horizon–Your New Life

The DOC process evolved from my own, mostly futile, attempts to both figure out how I fell off a cliff into the Abyss of pain within a matter of 10 minutes and then how to get back out. I tried everything, talked to anyone, had medical workups, and eventually gave … Read More

Thrive and Survive COVID-19: The Polyvagal Approach

The main problem with the COVID-19 virus is not that we catch it, but that that it can kill you. There are two ways of stopping a deadly pandemic. One is through developing immunity, either by exposure to the virus or by inoculation with a vaccine. The other is to … Read More

“The Bottom”

Generation Z and Millennials as a group are struggling. In spite of living in an era of unprecedented opportunities, they are the loneliest groups. Cigna Insurance company conducted an online survey in 2018 (1) on over 20,000 people over the age of 18.  They found that over 50% of Americans … Read More

Beyond Forgiveness–Compassion for Those Who Hurt You

Ongoing anger is an absolute block to moving forward and living a truly enjoyable life. You are stuck to past. As anger is a reflection of higher elevations of stress hormones, sustained levels of them will also make you sick. The list of stress-related diseases is long and they are serious. … Read More

The Gift of Hope – “This Might Hurt”

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”

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

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

  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”

    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

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

Healing With Support from her Community

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


Compassion: Empathy in the Face of Chronic Pain 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 to be truly seen or heard if you are viewed in … Read More

Harnessing the Body’s Healing Power

The most powerful treatment for any disorder is engaging in practices that calm your nervous system and allows your body to heal itself. Each person has his or her unique way of accomplishing this. I was introduced to this concept in the 1980’s by Dr. Bernie Siegel’s book, Love, Medicine … Read More

How Much Suffering Can You Take?

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

Remarkable Healing Stories – Dr. Bernie Siegel

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?

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

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

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

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

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

“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

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

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

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

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