1. Everyone is welcome to sign up and join the discussions. Please support your TMS nonprofit by helping to build a community of TMS activists!
  2. Drop-In Chat The drop-in chat is today from 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM ET. Click here for more info about the drop-in chat, or if it's 3PM ET, join the chatroom to get and give advice and support. The current time is ET.

The distraction theory

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by dabatross, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. dabatross

    dabatross TMS Guru

    I wanted to bring up something interesting that happened over the past 2 and a half weeks. I bought a game that I was playing a lot and during this time I noticed less pain than before. I was having a lot of fun playing it, it was almost addictive, and I think that the game distracted me from the normal worry and anxiety I have about my pain. When I hit the maximum level in the game though, I got bored because there wasn't much else to do so I stopped playing.. i haven't really played the game much at all in the past week or so. During this past week though my pain went right back to where it was before and it actually got worse on some days. The pulling sensation got stronger and so did the aching. So when I played the game the pain went down, when I stopped playing it went back up again. I think this proves that distraction does work but the question Im asking is how can this be made permanent or be used on a continual basis and not be tied to one activity you're doing?

    This all seems to have to do with attention. I was playing the game so I was paying less attention to my pain.. when I stopped playing my attention to the game the pain came back full force again. I'd like to hear your guy's thoughts on this its the same type of stuff Dr Fehmi talks about in that book Dissolving Pain. It shows how influential your thoughts are in perception of pain

    Thanks
  2. veronica73

    veronica73 TMS Guru

    I notice I feel better when I'm reading or out with friends. As I (slowly) resolve my underlying emotional issues, I get less pain...and when I do get pain I know it's psychologically based and I'm often able to distract myself by doing something else.

    Glad to hear you felt good for a few weeks--that means it can happen again :)
  3. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl TMS Guru

    There is nothing like those games to get one distracted! I used to play a lot when I had more time. Do you like to read? I know by your posts you read a lot about TMS. But is there a novel you could read?

    I found I was getting so into my journaling and reading it was actually making me a little worse. Probably my anxiety over the material and the fact it was all directed at my pain. So I stopped for awhile and read some novels. It helped me to gain fresh perspective when I returned to the work. I saw and read things I hadn't noticed before. AND while I was reading the dumb novel - I didn't have a lot of pain. Some, but not like your experience.

    I think you're on to something! Perhaps another game? Not one you play straight for a week, but one you can come back to when you're tired or have TMS burn-out. I think the game was an excellent detractor from what your issues are and that there's nothing wrong with taking breaks.

    BG
  4. Lori

    Lori TMS Guru

    Yes, this is called the rage/soothe ratio. While we are doing things we ENJOY, the pain would serve as no distraction. I had this experience myself and it convinced me that my pain was not caused by the herniated discs. It is important to do things we enjoy every day; this balances out the everyday stresses/issues we face.
    Happy healing!
    :cool:
  5. quasar731

    quasar731 TMS Guru

    Hi dabatross, I have to agree with you that when one is 'specifically distracted' the symptoms either are minimized or disappear completely. For instance, when I go out with one of my girlfriends (an ex-peer from my days studying at university), I noticed the pain disappears utterly and completely. Also, my husband and I have a lot in common in terms of interests, we studied similar degrees. So, when I am in the midst of a discussion that involves important issues which require pre-frontal cortex usage such as planning, reasoning and reflective thinking, the pain goes away. I also noticed the type of conversations and the mood that I create with others have a positive effect. My girlfriend my husband and I are interested in philosophical and existential topics, we talk philosophy, psychology and theology. Some of the conversations are riveting and so the symptoms go away. I believe certain activities and the way we emote with positive people stimulate the dopaminergic connections in the brain. So it is like being in the zone.

    The mechanics behind the free symptoms maybe a mix of concomitant effects: (1) that as endorphins go up pain goes down (a negative correlation); (2) that as we get distracted by nice people or interesting activities (since the pain is psychological) we make it a subject not an object of our attention; (3) certain activities that require selective attention demand the shutting down of brain areas concerned with the perception of pain and so on and so forth. There could be much more. This area of pain perception is very slippery and most of the time evades explanations.

    As for making this 'symptom muting' effect permanent, I run out of answers. I find that when I am in my house for example, in certain areas I experience low back symptoms. Specifically when I seat on a particular chair to watch TV. There is nothing wrong with the chair. I am in the process of figuring out this phenomena. In the book by David D. Clarke 'They can't find anything wrong!' there are a number of stories that can throw light on why certain symptoms are attached to places or people. For instance, I have been pain free while I am writing for this forum. I am sitting on a different chair but this chair is not more or less ergonomic than the chair I use to watch TV...?I bought the chair specifically to watch TV! How do I understand this? Anyway, I wish I could help with more ideas. I am trying to figure this jolly thing myself:confused: .

    Have a good one!
  6. dabatross

    dabatross TMS Guru

    thanks all for your helpful feedback. beach girl i definitely know what you're talking about. i actually try to shy away from reading too much (kind of hard when you're trying to learn about TMS) since my symptoms are all in my eyes and it hurts when I read. I've found that in order for the pain to go away significantly the distraction has to be very great otherwise I'll still have the pain in the back of my mind like "the pain is still here, i need to do something about it after im done doing this" that kind of deal.

    Lori im actually reading one of the books you recommended on your page "your body believes every word you say". so far has been a great read. i dont know if you guys listened in on the june 9th alan gordon webinar but there was one thing that really caught my attention that he said. when you stop caring about the pain and obsessing about it, it eventually goes away. this pretty much summed up everything i've been reading lately that the obsession is the real problem not the pain itself. the pain is the means to an end, or the distraction, but its being obsessed with the pain that keeps it around.

    so in essence when i was playing this game my obsession switched from constantly thinking about "this hurts, how am i going to get rid of this, im not doing enough TMS work lately, etc." to "i'm having fun playing this game". it wasn't until i stopped playing when I hit maximum level that the pain started coming back in full force and has been that way for the past week and a half.

    according to Dr. Fehmi, distraction works because your mind can only focus on a finite number of things so if you fill your attention with other things besides your pain you won't feel it nearly as much (or maybe not at all). so attention plays a HUGE role in how you perceive pain. i know this because i've had days i worked 4 hours and had more pain than days i've worked 8 hours on the computer. from a physical standpoint, this makes no sense but from a psychological one it does.

    quasar i know exactly what you're talking about with the chair you bought for watching TV. in your mind you create a correlation between when you got pain and what you were doing at that time and then you relate them. now whenever you sit in the chair subconsciously or maybe consciously as well you think about the pain and get it. this has happened to me with many different things over the last couple years as well. at first i only got pain when using the computer, then it also happened when reading books, then watching TV, then doing any nearpoint activity. the more and more i went to doctors and when they said avoid nearpoint activities i started associating anything i did up close as a possible pain generator.

    since i have an obsessive personality because of OCD, this pain syndrome has been the hardest thing for me ever to break. i've broken a pain cycle in the past by just not concentrating on it anymore. for some reason i stopped caring about it and it went away. this was after 3-4 months of dealing with the pain, doing all the treatments for it, etc. i think something has to come along in my life that consumes my attention more than the pain does to break this cycle of obsession. the reason i think this is because before i had eye pain i had moderate-severe foot pain (still do when i walk for a while). when i quit my standing job i thought the pain was gone forever but then i started a new job and got pain in my eyes. it was like my mind had to start obsessing about something else and it shifted to the eyes because i got eyestrain the first day i started work there. most people would call this the symptom imperative, but i think there is such a strong link between OCD/anxiety/TMS that I need to explore especially the obsessive part. Im thinking about switching medications too because paxil is doing nothing for the obsessiveness i have about this pain. thats why i think distraction works though is because it consumes your attention.
  7. Forest

    Forest TMS Guru

    You are definetly right about the connection between OCD and TMS. They serve the same purpose to distract us from what our emotions are. It is not at all surprising that you were able to play video games without having symptoms. It occurs all to often in TMS. You weren't worried about your work, what you ought to do, what your pain level was. You were just focused on the present moment and doing something that you enjoyed doing.

    An important aspect to recovery is identifying the inconsistencies with our symptoms and using those to 1. accept the diagnosis and 2. break our obsession over our symptoms. Next time you have symptoms tell yourself you played video games for hours with no problems, it's just TMS, and move on with your life.
    dabatross and Livvygurl like this.
  8. Endless luke

    Endless luke TMS Guru

    I also think that TMS can be viewed as a particularly insidious form of OCD. We become addicted to figuring out our pain and trying to fix it.
    SandyRae likes this.

Share This Page