TMS/Chronic Pain as an Attention SURPLUS Disorder
ADD or attention deficit disorder is a medical term for individuals who have an inability to focus or remain focused on a task for a period of time.
This got me to thinking: TMS, in a sense is a surplus of attention, or an ASD (Attention Surplus Disorder). This can be seen on several levels. People with TMS are VERY focused on the disorder, looking for a solution, focusing on symptoms, obsessing, if you will. At the brain level, f-MRI (Functional MRI) imaging studies suggest that chronic pain has a component of overuse or hyperfunction of the anterior cingulate cortex and medial front cortex and associated structures... areas that are related to attention. Yes, the attention is to the pain, and it's a vicious feedback neural loop that has developed.
So what's the answer?: It's to lower the attention-- as Dr. Sarno first said 30+ years ago, "Think Psychological, not Physical"... The consequence of this is a change of focus. I might say, it's not bio-mechanical, it's bio-psycho-social. I might describe a block and shift technique to focus away from pain sensations and towards other aspects of one's life. You can't just 'turn it off'. It gets turned off because of new understanding and lowering anxiety and fear about the significance of the physical sensation.
The result is the same-- successful treatment involves a person focusing LESS on the pain, the TMS, and more on his/her life. This does involve managing stress and emotions better, processing tension, just living more fully for those that have retreated into a shell of their former selves.
The attention levels return to normal, rebalance, and the patient is improved.