Hope is healing

An important aspect of healing is regaining hope and optimism. When you are trapped without any hint of a solution, the darkness you feel is impossible to put it into words. It is inevitable that you will begin to despair and remain justifiably angry. In turn, you will have elevated levels of stress chemicals and inflammatory markers, which has devastating effects on your mental and physical health.

This section is for you to share your story and give hope to those who have not yet begun the healing journey.



The need for hope

The losses and indignities of chronic pain are endless and include:

  • Loss of financial independence
  • No one believes you are suffering as much as you are. The more you try to explain it, the less sympathy you’ll receive.
  • You are labeled by your medical providers and not given full attention.
  • Your hopes are repeatedly dashed being offered promises of relief and nothing changes.
    • Repeatedly being disappointed is a classic way to induce depression.1
  • You are in pain and the attendant anxiety is often worse than the physical pain.
  • You are often on multiple medications with disruptive side effects.
  • You are labeled as having “psychological issues.”
  • Loss of intimacy with your partner.
  • Family life becomes tedious and reactive. Joy has disappeared.
  • It’s not much fun being angry and upset all the time. You may have even forgotten what it is like to enjoy life.

The price of pain

Several research papers have documented that the impact of chronic pain on your quality of life is similar to having terminal cancer.2 Additionally, people die earlier,3 have higher incidence of heart disease, anxiety, hypertension, and diabetes.4 There is a higher incidence of autoimmune disorders5 and also a high rate of people becoming addicted to medications. It is truly a miserable existence.

But the worst aspect of it all is having no hope. For many patients, almost every doctor has told you that there is no cure and the best you can do is learn to live with your pain. An emerging diagnosis is “MUS” (Medically Unexplained Symptoms)) They are wrong. Every mental and physical symptom in your body is explained by changes in your body’s physiology. A better and more accurate term would be, “MES” (Medically Explained Symptoms).

Dr. Viktor Frankl, who was an Austrian psychiatrist that was imprisoned and survived the German concentration camps, has a dramatic story about the power of hope. He lost almost all of his family. He describes unspeakable acts of horror in detail. But he says the worst part of the ordeal was not knowing if and when it would end. Obviously, this is almost an exact parallel to the plight of someone trapped in pain.6

Many physicians are not comfortable treating chronic pain, and many clinics refuse to see patients suffering from chronic pain – especially if they are on opioids.7 They are taught that pain is to be managed and not solvable. However, current neuroscience research has revealed the nature of chronic pain and also the keys to treat it. This knowledge has not yet penetrated into mainstream medical care, but major changes are happening.

Giving back

Hope and optimism have been documented to be important factors in healing.8 Different areas of the brain are stimulated, and the body’s chemical makeup is more favorable. Dr. Dantzer, in a 2018 review article presented the data showing that hope and optimism directly lower inflammatory markers.9

I have personally witnessed hundreds of patients break free from the grip of chronic pain, and in my practice, I routinely treated the most difficult of situations. Chronic pain is a treatable and solvable diagnosis.

Please share your success story and give hope to others. Hope is healing! Giving back has also been demonstrated to lower inflammation.10


  1. Blum, Deborah. Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection. Perseus Publishing, New York, NY. 2002.
  2. Fredheim OM et al. Chronic non-malignant pain patients report as poor health-related quality of life as palliative cancer patients. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica (2008); 52:143 – 150.
  3. Smyth J, et al. Stress and disease: A structural and functional analysis. Social and Personality Psychology Compass (2013); 7:217-227. doi:10.1111/spc3.120.20.
  4. Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, & Miller GE. Psychological stress and disease. Journal of the American Medical Association (2007); 298:1685–1687.
  5. Song H, et al. Association of stress-related disorders with subsequent autoimmune disease. Journal of the American Medical Association (2018); 319: 2388 – 2400.
  6. Frankl, Viktor. Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 1959,1962, 1984, 1992, 2006.
  7. Lagisetty PA, et al. Access to primary care clinics for patients with chronic pain receiving opioids. JAMA (2019); 2. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.6928.
  8. Johnson, AC, et al. Stress-induced pain: A target for the development of novel therapeutics. J Pharmacol Exp Ther (2014); 351:327-355.
  9. Dantzer R, et al. Resilience and immunity. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (2018); 74:28-42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2018.08.010
  10. Cole SW, et al. Social regulation of gene expression in human leukocytes. Genome Biology (2007); 8:R189. doi:10.1186/gb-2007-8-9-r1891

Share your story of hope


Here are some of their stories.

Depression Masking as Pain

Patient’s Letter Hi Dr Hanscom, I have been meaning to check in with you for a while now and let you know that the DOC program seems to have worked for me. My lower back & leg pain has disappeared and I’m a firm believer in the process, especially the … Read More

“Love Heals” – Moving into a New Life

I met Dana a few years ago after she had undergone two low back surgeries and was still experiencing a lot of pain. She engaged in the healing journey, and it was not an easy road. However, she was persistent, which is the most important factor in predicting success. She … Read More

Solving Tinnitus – The Ringing in My Ears

Ringing in your ears, regardless of its intensity, is annoying. Actually, it is more than annoying; it is relentless and wears you down. It is a relatively common problem(1), numerous resources have been directed towards trying to definitively solve it, but there are few viable alternatives. Some approaches that decrease … Read More

Spastic Bladder Resolved – Being with Anger

This is a letter I recently received from a young woman with interstitial cystitis or spastic bladder. It is a common condition that creates a lot of misery. I don’t have much experience treating patients with this problem, but it’s felt to be one of the symptoms of the Neurophysiologic … Read More

Optimizing (Avoiding) Spine Surgery

About three years ago, my staff noticed that our surgical patients who participated in The DOC Journey principles were doing much better. The outcomes were more consistent, and we were seeing fewer failures. The postoperative pain was more easily controlled. Patients were moving forward quickly with rehab while re-entering a … Read More

How to Heal – A Patient’s Story

Essentially every person that has experienced deep healing has learned to process anger and nurture joy. It is much more than an intellectual exercise and deeper than “acceptance.” You don’t have to like the person or situation that harmed you. You must “let go” and move on. Anxiety is the … Read More

No More Back Pain – A Story of Healing

When I discuss the idea that you can reprogram or shift your brain circuits around away from pain, there is always a certain sense of disbelief. However, this story is a typical one with the only aspect that is a bit unusual was the speed at which the healing occurred. … Read More

Positive Thinking vs. Real-time Reprogramming

You can heal by connecting to your own body’s capacity to heal. But that means connecting with every aspect of your being – including your “dark” side. It is the reason why The DOC Journey begins by acknowledging your skepticism and doubt. If you think it isn’t there, think again. … Read More

The Pain of Social Isolation

Many people suffering from chronic pain are socially isolated. When you are trapped in pain you have a difficult time reaching out. Others do not necessarily want to interact with angry people. The problem becomes greatly magnified in that it has been shown that social rejection shares the same neurological … Read More

Charley’s Story: Pain Free After 17 Doctors

This is a story of a middle-aged gentleman who became pain free using DOC Process principles. Although, he saw me primarily for back pain, it turned out that lack of sleep and anxiety were the more pressing issues. He had already seen 16 doctors in a span of eighteen months … Read More

No More Being a Victim – Pay it Forward and Heal

Being a victim is universal because we are victims. Life is challenging for all living creatures, including humans. We are competing for resources and a lot of behaviours are less than pleasant. Humans have an additional problem in that we have consciousness, which impacts us as much as physical threats, … Read More

“My Way Out” (of “The Abyss”) – One Patient’s Story

This is one of many stories of hope that I hear frequently. Her story is a classic illustration of how the body can heal itself if we can get out of the way. There are several principles to consider regarding the healing journey. One is that she took control. The … Read More


I want to introduce you to Rita who holds the record in my practice for the longest time being in pain and breaking free. She had been suffering for 55 years and was still able to heal. Rita I met her in 2014, as a patient. She had been suffering … Read More

“Physician, Heal Thyself” – and She Did

The solutions to breaking free from the grip of chronic pain have become increasingly clear. The answers are coming from several different sources that include the research on patterns of brain activity, the role of the autonomic nervous system, fluctuations in inflammatory markers, changes in metabolism, and the collective experience … Read More

Freed by Persistence and Play

I first met Mark at our 2017 three-day “Rewiring Your Brain” workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. He had flown in from the Netherlands. His main problem was chronic low back pain that he had experienced for over 15 years that The workshop was based on Awareness, Hope, … Read More

28 Surgeries–”I elected to not be in pain”

For many years, I thought that for many patients there was a point of no return because the sheer magnitude of both physical and emotional trauma. I particularly felt this way with people who had undergone many failed surgeries. I was wrong and continue to hear stories of healing in … Read More

Never Too Late for Hope

This letter was sent to me by a woman that I have corresponded with a few times but I have never met or worked with. One of most powerful aspects of the DOC process is that is simply a structure that presents well-established documented treatments. Once a person understands the … Read More

What Makes Your Book Different?

This is a followup letter from a woman who emailed me about four years ago. I had never met her and she shared a remarkable story of recovery. Her story is one that has led me to believe that essentially anyone can learn to rewire their brain around any pain … Read More

Moving Forward by Being with her Anxiety

Lisa is a 58 year old high-level professional who developed chronic neck pain about 5 years ago. It began around the time she was facing some major career challenges. The pain became severe enough that she couldn’t work. She came across the DOC project a couple of years ago, and … Read More

Meditation versus Medicating for Life

This is a letter from someone who I have never met. I would encourage you to read it carefully for several reasons. The first being that this is a person who was been beaten up badly by the medical system and somehow emerged out the other side doing better. Anything … Read More

“Un-screwed”–Yoga Healing Back Pain

This is a piece submitted by a reader, who has done well. It illustrates several aspects of the healing journey. The structure presented by the DOC process is a framework that organizes your thinking so you are able to discover your own solution. Everyone is unique and finds his or … Read More

A Couple Re-united

During the last few years of practice, our team became extremely aware of the effect of chronic pain on the family and the family dynamics around pain. When a patient is in a survival mode, he or she loses awareness of the needs of those close to them. Conversely, the … Read More

Avoided a 12-hour Spine Fusion and is Free from Chronic Pain

Mark Owens’ Story This is a video that we shot of Mark Owens, who wrote the Forward of my book. I’d like to give you some additional background to his story, both from his and my perspective. He is a PhD scientist who has spent his life addressing environmental issues. … Read More

How I Cured my Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are brutal and often incapacitating. They are also one of the symptoms of a chronically stressed nervous system. Adrenaline decreases the blood supply to the frontal lobe of the brain and when you relax the vessels re-expand and then you have a screaming headache. Often it’s accompanied the … Read More

Chronic Neck Pain Gone – DOC Prevents Relapse

This story is from a woman, who I met at our first Omega workshop in 2013. I was holding the workshop with Dr. Fred Luskin, who is a Stanford psychologist and author of Forgive for Good and also my wife, Babs Yohai, who is a professional dancer and taught rhythm to the … Read More

Using New Tools to Reclaim My Life

    Beginning in 2003, I suffered low back pain in the L4-5 region. I saw a chiropractor from time to time but in 2009 my treatments began to be on a regular basis and he advised that as long as I stayed at my current desk job and it … Read More

A Little Merrier Christmas – Letting Go of Blame

People trigger each other and the closer the relationship, the stronger the reactions. When you become anxious or frustrated, you’re in a survival mode that’s impossible to control. It’s ironic that our most important relationships are also often a source of frustration. You can undergo many medical treatments for your … Read More

Life Sentence

  After my fourth L3-L4 surgery the neurosurgeon sat me down and said “…you are not going to get better but rather worse as you grow older. You have a life sentence of pain.” I’ve had 6 spinal surgeries and 20 additional surgeries. I know chronic pain intimately. After 25 … Read More

Chronic Pain is Solvable -Take Back Your Life

It has been my observation that suffering from chronic pain affects almost every aspect of your life, especially trying to enjoy yourself. Every enjoyable experience is lessened in the context of pain. You may be able to successfully distract yourself for a bit and not even experience the pain, but … Read More

My Story of Hope

I had a rough start living in a chaotic household with an angry mother who suffered from chronic pain. I did not figure out for 50 years that the migraine headache I suffered at age five would be the beginning of a lifetime filled with chronic pain. I eventually experienced … 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

Out of the Valley, with Dolls

When I first met Sarah, she was close to 75 and had been experiencing debilitating pain for decades. But, since her spine x-rays revealed only normal degeneration consistent with her age, I set her to work on the DOC process. After about a year of working diligently through the tools, … Read More

Out of the Abyss After 25 Years

I received this email from someone that I had never met. I’ve now gotten to know her and she is delightful. A physician had recommended my book and here is her story. A rough road I have read your book Back in Control many times (which I refer to as … 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

The Enlightenment Light and Judgment Mirror

I had a patient come into my office many years ago who represents one of the most remarkable turnarounds I have witnessed. She definitely holds the record of being in pain for the longest time before she pulled out of it. She had been in pain for over 55 years … Read More

The Power of Love – Anthony

  Anthony was a patient who I saw just a couple of times in his early 20’s. He was experiencing low back pain that was significantly impacting his quality of life. His MRI scan showed some mild degeneration at L4-5 and was not a problem that would respond to surgery. … 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

Never Give Up – Breaking Through After Six Years

Terry was a middle-aged mother of two children whom I met many years ago. For reasons that are unclear, her spine just tipped forward in her lumbar area. She came into my office severely bent forward and tipped to the left side. She had understandably developed chronic pain over the … Read More

To Become Strong – “ILOHLA”

My creative artist friend, Ernesto, endured a rough couple of years and for a while he “disappeared”. The details are not important. What is important is that he is back and thriving. This piece is a statement of his time in the “Abyss.” I spend over eight years in darkness. … Read More

My Migraines

Fourth of July fireworks I was 5 years old and lived in a small town in New Hampshire. Our house was right across the street from the town common. I was so excited in that the fourth of July fireworks were going to be launched in the common within just … Read More

Can Your Body Language Change Chronic Pain?

Dr. Gordon Irving was in charge of Swedish Medical Center Chronic Pain Program for many years. His group has embraced the treatment principles of the Neurophysiologic Disorder (NPD. Although each of us have different tools and styles, the essence of our approaches is similar. One of them being you cannot … Read More

Leg Pain Gone with NPD Principles-Carol’s Story

Carol is one of my favorite patients and success stories. It is one that surprised both of us. Her turnaround occurred a while back but I wanted to make sure she was stable and ready to relate her experience. Background She is a middle-aged mother. She historically had been very … Read More

“Finding Health by Letting Go of Hate”

The common thread of those who successfully heal from chronic pain and other symptoms of Neurophysiologic Disorder (NPD) is letting go of anger through deep forgiveness. Anger and pain are inextricably linked. For many of us forgiveness involves somewhat of an intellectual process and is focused on many small “wrongs”. … Read More

My Feet on Fire

I began my orthopedic surgery residency in 1981. I had an unusual path into this specialty in that I had completed two years of internal medicine residency in Spokane, WA prior to moving to Hawaii. Most orthopedic residents have had one or two years of general surgical training prior to … Read More

“I Am Not Letting Yesterday Ruin Today”

I had been working with Anne for a while and she had been experiencing chronic pain throughout her body for a many years. Her once productive life had fallen apart and she now depended on welfare for her sustenance. She had undergone a lumbar disc surgery a couple years earlier … Read More

Ron Salvages His Own Spine Surgery

A letter from a case manager Dear Dr. Hanscom: You may not receive these kinds of letters from nurse case managers very often. I thought I would advise you of the above captioned patient that you performed a redo L5-S1 microdiscectomy about a year ago.  Ron got quite discouraged when … Read More

A New Life at 72

Crystal is a woman from the southern part of Washington. When I first met her, she was over 70 years-old and lived on her own. She had severe spinal stenosis in her lumbar vertebrae at multiple levels. Stenosis is a condition where bone and ligaments grow around the spinal canal … Read More

Motivated by “The Talent Code”

Dear Dr Hanscom, Having read (devoured actually) The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, I can now share with others the benefits I received through reading this book. The author demystified that very mysterious quality of world-class excellence. He teaches that through deep practice, anyone can train themselves (and hence their … Read More

Bipolar Disorder Broken

Debbie was a 45 y/o woman who I had been working with for about four years. She was diagnosed with a severe bipolar disorder at age twelve. Unsuccessful Surgeries About 10 years ago, she had a lifting injury at work and developed chronic low back pain. Over a series of … Read More