In the Spotlight: MPI-supported Directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley

April 1, 2019


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders states that around 80 percent of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetimes. Another prominent survey finds that half of adults experience lower back pain each year, and that around 30 million Americans suffer from it at any one time. A leading contributor to reduced productivity at work, back pain accounts for an estimated 264 million lost work days each year, while treating it costs Americans around $50 billion annually in health care costs. And yet traditional medicine has often found it difficult to treat lower back pain because, in many instances, it is unclear what is causing it.

The 2016 documentary All the Rage, directed by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley (who previously directed the MPI-supported, Oscar-shortlisted documentary Battle for Brooklyn), examines the work of the late Dr. John Sarno (1923-2017), former professor of rehabilitation medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, whose unorthodox approach connects lower back pain to emotional rather than structural causes. Although Sarno’s theories frequently put him at odds with the mainstream medical establishment, his bestselling books have gained a large following, with thousands crediting him with their recovery from debilitating pain. Through interviews with Sarno, prominent patients, and other experts, the film asks viewers to take a more holistic view of healthcare and consider the role of emotional and mental states in fostering healing.

One of the film’s directors has first-hand experience of Dr. Sarno’s approach. When Michael Galinsky was immobilized by excruciating back pain, Sarno treated him and helped him recover, inspiring Galinsky’s 12-year effort from 2004 to 2016 to translate Sarno’s work to the screen. Other interviewees in the documentary, whom Sarno also helped, include “shock jock” Howard Stern, Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, and reporter John Stossel.

All the Rage is now available to stream on Amazon Video and iTunes.

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