ABOUT DR. SKLAR
Early on in his residency, Dr. Sklar worked with John Sarno, M.D., who pioneered the mind-body approach for treating back pain. In his groundbreaking book, Mind Over Back Pain, and subsequent books, Dr. Sarno explains that most back pain is psycho-physiological in nature. He shares the idea that unconscious emotions, especially anger/rage, are covered up by physical pain as a distraction or defense mechanism. Many times, that information/knowledge is sufficient to set the back pain sufferer on the road to recovery. Thoughts create behavior, and these new thoughts offered to the patient create recovery behavior.
Over the years, Dr. Sklar has taken the ideas of mind-body medicine one step further. After discovering the power of the mind-body connection, events led him to the further discovery of the role of spirit/spirituality in healing. When a person connects fully to spirit/God, stress becomes increasingly unlikely and eventually impossible. Then repressed emotions stop piling up and can actually be integrated or cleaned out. With the cause of the illness no longer there, healing then naturally follows.
Through this journey, Dr. Sklar has come to see all challenges in life as an opportunity. The opportunity is to look inward and know ourselves better to correct the cause of the problem. He has come to understand that the problem is never "out there," out of our control, and in fact, the answer is always available inside us. Our potential for healing in life itself has always been where we can fully control it. Great news for all who seek an easier path!!
I wanted to post my experience seeing Dr. Sklar, in case there are any on the board who want to see a TMS doctor in the south central U.S.
My appointment with Dr. John Sklar was last week, but it's taken me a while to digest the experience. Let me start out by saying that this meeting was unlike any other Dr.'s appointment I have ever had. The first 10-15 minutes of the appointment consisted of questions about my current problem (persistent neck spasm/tension/stiffness for 4 + months) and previous medical history. It also included questions about my personality, stressful issues in my life and how I deal with stress, generally.
Next, he had me do some simple exercises to demonstrate range of motion. He then pressed on what I recognized to be the TMS pressure/trigger points (two places on the neck, two on the back, just above the elbows, and the upper sides of the buttocks). Not surprisingly, most of the points were quite sore. He looked at my x-rays (taken about a month ago by my chiropractor, who I saw for a few weeks without any improvement). Dr. Sklar said that there was absolutely nothing abnormal about my x-rays (even though my chiro had scheduled a separate 'informative' appointment solely to discuss all the abnormalities of my spine--this had freaked me out for weeks! How annoying.).
He then asked me a few more questions. As soon as I heard, "do you consider yourself a spiritual person?" I knew we were entering new territory--this was not going to be the typical office visit. I have to admit (being a liberal in GW country) that my first thought was, "oh, no. . .now I'm going to have to listen to an hour of you've-got-to-let-Jesus-into-your-heart proselytizing!" I answered the question and he asked me to elaborate. He seemed very open to what I said, but I still wondered how he would ultimately respond.
During the next half hour or so, I felt like I had entered an interesting lecture on How the World's Religions and Spiritual Practices Can Work for You. And it was also sort of a motivational speech, in a way, because a lot of the things he said are things that I already knew (things that most of us know deep down inside) but had forgotten or pushed aside. He reminded me to accept and love myself unconditionally, and told me that everything I needed was inside me. One thing that struck me was that he said to "love the pain (of TMS)"--love it because it is a good thing; the pain is a message/sign/signal from G-D (higher power, creator, light, or insert what works for you) that there is something internally that needs to be dealt with. He said to realize that we are all perfect beings (a hard thing for a perfectionist to accept). At points, I thought, "whoa, is he getting New Agey on me?" but he wasn't. He's a down-to-earth guy with a compassionate heart.
Overall, he was super considerate and open-minded, and believes that each person must find his or her own path. What works for one person might not work for another. He suggested some different resources that might be helpful--some books on meditation and on Buddhist and Taoist teachings. I suppose he alters his recommendations based on what his patients are familiar with or amenable to.
I was definitely given more useable/helpful/practical "tools" during this meeting than with any doctor (or therapist!) in the past. The session also bolstered confidence in myself and in my ability to overcome TMS. I now see my life as a natural process of unfolding, growing, and learning. In a way, I'm thankful for the TMS, because all it's really saying is "HEY! Pay attention to Me!" Pay attention to what's going on inside.
Dr. Sklar sees himself as a teacher and a healer. For an MD trained in Western medicine, I'd say he's farther down this path than most of his colleagues.
BTW, my diagnosis was TMS (duh, right?). I think the fact that my neck problem mysteriously disappeared on the day of the appointment (and, yes, it has since come back, to a lesser degree) was somewhat of a tip-off. . .
Upon leaving his office, he gestured to my packet of x-rays and said, "you can take those home and burn 'em."
Rock on, Dr. Sklar.
There were so many "pearls of wisdom" at Dr. Sklar's workshop that I am still integrating, but the one I identify with is his reference to Dr. Sarno's philosophy that repressed emotions cause ALL illness/pain. Dr. Sklar's spirit/mind/body connectedness medicine is what I need. He shared his knowledge and wisdom in such an approachable and interactive way for a medical doctor, which was so refreshing and compassionate. Not a character trait found in most M.D.s. Dr. Sklar gave me HOPE that the chronic bone pain I have been in for decades may be relieved through "the work." Thank you, Dr. Sklar, for the path your life's work has taken you. I am blessed to have been a part of your workshop, and I look forward to continuing to work with you!
With love and gratitude, Katie M.