Some may be familiar with the name Dr. Sarno, although it may have been just a passing notice from being mentioned by a celebrity like Howard Stern. Dr. John Sarno began a movement looking at the connection between stress and emotional health and how it can cause physical pain in the body. Much of this was concerned with back pain, although the idea has been applied to any sort of chronic pain that many other doctors may recommend surgery for. His stance was controversial, mainly because it went against the work of other doctors, but an always growing amount of data suggests he was always correct. All the Rage looks at the work of Dr. Sarno and how it directly affected the life of filmmaker Michael Galinsky.

All the Rage is one of those films that you’ll get out what you bring in. An open mind will be needed to get on board with the idea that a lot of the pain we experience in life is a direct result of the stress we’re under at that specific moment. Things can get even more wacky when Dr. Sarno suggests that it’s primarily anger that creates this pain. It’s not really that far-fetched now though, as there seems to be a greater understanding and acceptance that stress can definitely affect our health.

Sarno isn’t the kooky character you may imagine him to be. He’s quite humble and understands why the medical community won’t get behind his ideas. That doesn’t mean he thinks it’s okay though, and Sarno is quick to point out that all our lives would be better if the first step wasn’t surgery in many cases. The difficulty in fully understanding Dr. Sarno’s ideas lies in the construction of All the Rage though. Beyond the fact that he attributes physical pain to the fact that we’re not directly dealing with our emotions, we never get any other explanation into his work. At times, it may involve working with a therapist, but that seems to be in only rare cases. You wouldn’t be wrong if you came out of the film thinking that Dr. Sarno’s method is to simply tell a patient that there’s nothing really wrong with them.

Even as we follow director Galinsky’s life dealing with his own back pain, there’s nothing to show us how Dr. Sarno’s ideas are incorporated into life. It seems like you just say to yourself “screw you pain.” and that’s it. It’s fascinating to think that so much of our ongoing pain may simply be because we’re not dealing properly with the life around us, but All the Rage isn’t going to deliver any part of the path to you. It simply opens the door to the work of Dr. Sarno and waits for you to step inside.

Is All the Rage Essential Viewing?

Sure. It’s interesting enough to hold your attention, but if you really want to know about Dr. Sarno’s work, you’d be better off just buying one of his books.

All the Rage opens Friday, July 28, 2017 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Check their website for more information.

All the Rage Trailer