Can Fibromyalgia Be Caused by Emotional Trauma? Frankie's Story

Frankie presented to me in the winter. She was in chronic, widespread pain. The first words she said when we met were, “I can’t take it anymore.”

She was hurting all over, sometimes on one side of her body specifically, and sometimes the areas of pain would shift. She had been to her primary care doctor and a rheumatologist, and the diagnosis was Fibromyalgia.

She said the pain felt electric, trailing up and down her arms and legs, sometimes into her face and head. She was foggy and exhausted, and was having significant trouble sleeping.

After months of trying different medications and enduring the side effects, paying for therapeutic massages (which sometimes felt good in the moment but never led to sustained pain relief), attempting natural treatments which were healthy for mind and body but didn’t affect her pain, and finally limiting her life in order to tolerate the physical discomfort, she was at an impasse.

Sometimes she wasn’t sure if she could go on living with her fibromyalgia. She was depressed from the emotional trauma and, at times, worried she could become suicidal. She had lost the will to be positive.

Initially, Frankie resisted mind/body medicine for her fibromyalgia treatment. She was willing to do yoga, meditation and mindfulness exercises, but she didn’t want to consider that fibromyalgia could be the result of emotional trauma. Why? Because she was insulted. Frankie thought that the underlying theory of my work suggested that the pain was in her head.

(Ok, I need to scream here. Not at you! I need to scream into the air like I do when my kids are three blocks away and it’s dinner.)


I know I’m overly dramatic (let’s call it passionate.) But, please listen to me. I can’t stand the thought of millions of people suffering because of a stupid failure of communication. The pain is NOT in your head; you are not creating it, you are not sustaining it.

You are not overly dramatic, you are suffering. And I am suffering because this misconception of my work is leading people to overlook it. I have the solution to your pain. I have it, and I want to hand it to you with love.

Frankie came to me because she had surrendered. She had tried everything. She was desperate to feel better from her fibromyalgia emotional trauma and pain, and with the support and encouragement of family and friends who had recovered from other chronic conditions with Dr. Sarno’s work and my own, she was willing to open her mind.

Initially, she was defensive. She wanted to make sure I understood that her pain was real, and she wanted to tell me the truth: She was lying to everyone. The pain was far worse than she even admitted to her boyfriend and her mother. She was in agony. She was more depressed than she was admitting.

My heart swelled for Frankie. She had been raised in a religious family, and talking about her feelings was not welcome. She had tried for a lifetime to be a “good girl,” allowing for other people’s needs before her own.

When she was 7, her parents had divorced and battled viciously for the kids. Over the years, she ended up being the primary caretaker for her 2 brothers, who ruthlessly abused her and took advantage of her kind nature.

She had carried this pattern of behavior into the world and without knowing it, had invited co-workers, bosses and friends to take advantage of her.

Another interesting thing about Frankie was that she was a wildly talented artist. The first time she showed me her paintings, they took my breath away. She had this amazing gift, and she wasn’t confident enough to really show her work.

When the fibromyalgia hit badly and she was forced into a small life managing and tolerating pain, her art dwindled and she let the easel collect dust. Frankie’s heart was breaking every day, and she felt alone in a crowded room even though she had a loving boyfriend and a supportive family.

Slowly and without wanting to, Frankie was pushing people away. She was totally and completely isolated in her heart and mind, and no one knew but her. By the time I met her, she had been in almost constant pain for three years.

Willingness is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. You can sense it in someone’s voice, see it in their eyes, and feel it in their energy. Willingness is amazing, as it is the beginning of everything worthwhile in life.

The day I met Frankie, she became willing. She understood that I was not judging her, or suggesting that she was making anything up. She absorbed that I had worked with many, many people who had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, as well as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Trigeminal Neuralgia, New Daily Persistent Headache, and myriad other excruciating conditions which left them silently screaming for help. She knew I was on her side, and she was willing to listen.

What I explained to her that day is what I am always squawking about - The pain is not in your head, but the solution is not in your body. Fibromyalgia, similar to Migraines, Back Pain, Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain, Hip Pain, etc., although as real as the nose on your face, is created and sustained by the nervous system and brain’s misguided protective mechanisms in response to the perceived danger of repressed emotions; emotions which most people do not understand exactly how to consciously excavate. Fibromyalgia is the body’s response to suppressing emotional trauma.

This sounds complicated, but it’s really not. And there is no need to understand it perfectly to get well. All you need to know is that once the feelings are properly felt, the pain response is rendered inoperative. And I can teach you precisely how to do it all.

I am writing to you today, because today I received an email from Frankie. It was a real tear jerker for me, because it was attached to an announcement for her first art opening; a stunning display of her work in a prestigious gallery in her home city.

She is the primary artist — there are 35 pieces that she is showcasing, and they have all been created in the past 18 months. I haven’t seen Frankie for a year, because she had no need for me after her Fibro symptoms were completely and totally gone.

For Frankie to heal as she has, she needed to embrace my three steps to healing: Believe, Do the Work, and Patience and Kindness for Yourself. Many of you out there are capable of the second two, but the first one evades you.

How to believe that an emotional exercise can cure a physical condition? Well, today I give you my sweet, lovely, beautiful Frankie. She is here before you, beaming in her health and her joy for living. She has turned “I can’t take it anymore” into “I can take on anything.”

Frankie (and I) invite you: Join us. Open your heart and your mind. Find your willingness born of surrender, and do this work for yourself. You can do this, and thousands of people who are healed stand in solidarity all around you, their energy lifting you up. Let go of the giving up, and join us. We can’t wait to see what you become.