Oral history interview with Dr. John E. Sarno, 2012


Sarno, John E., 1923-2017 (Interviewee)
Simon, Peter Angelo (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with Dr. John E. Sarno, 2012
In this interview, Doctor John E. Sarno discusses his family background, education, career in medicine, and the medical condition Tension Myoneural Syndrome (also known as Tension Myositis Syndrome). Sarno discusses his family background, including his father's immigration from the Avellino Province of Italy, his mother's background in Beacon, New York, and her family's background as Albanian-Itali ans. Across both sessions of the interview, he describes the different activities of family members and their personalities. Sarno also describes his own youth Greenpoint, Brooklyn, including his attendance at the Horace Mann School for Boys, the importance of the First Italian Baptist Church in his upbringing, spirituality, choral singing, and the influence of minister Antonio Mangano. He discusses three years spent as an undergraduate at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, enlisting in the Air Force upon graduating in 1943, and service in Europe with a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit. Sarno attended Columbia Physicians and Surgeons upon his return from the war, and he describes this experience, as well as a residency at Doctor Howard Rusk's program at New York University, work at a distant cousin's family practice in the Beacon area, the Mid-Hudson Medical Group, and holding the position of head of the out-patient department at New York State Rehabilitation Hospital (now the Helen Hayes Hospital) in Haverstraw, New York. In 1965, Doctor Rusk invited Sarno to take on the role of Director of the Outpatient Department at the Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Medical Center, which he accepted. Sarno describes Tension Myositis Syndrome (now called Tension Myoneural Syndrome) and its roots in tension buildup of anger and the cognitive fear of the anger which results in repression. He analyzes the philosophical and practical reasons why TMS has not been accepted by the majority of the medical community. Additionally, he briefly mentions his books Mind Over Back Pain and Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection. Sarno also speaks about his recent activities, research and a new book on unconscious mental activity, his family, his first marriage, children, and his second wife, Martha Sarno, who was Director of the Speech-Language Pathology Department and Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. The audio also contains a recording of a lecture by John Sarno from December 19, 1998, which was donated to accompany the interview
Collection Name
Individual interviews oral history collection
Backache--Psychological aspects; Neck pain--Psychological aspects; Mind and body; Psychophysiology--United States; Sarno, John E., 1923-2017; Rusk, Howard A., 1901-1989; New York University. School of Medicine; Columbia University Alumni and alumnae
oral histories
Physical Description
48 pages
Note (Biographical)
Interviewed by Peter Angelo Simon on September 22 (Session 1) and December 7, 1994 (Session 2)
Note (Provenance)
Dr. John E. Sarno, Gift
Library Location
Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University
Browse Location’s Digital Content
Catalog Record
Also In
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Time-Based Media
Time-Based Media
Persistent URL
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