Our Mission

The Psychophysiologic Disorders Association (PPDA), founded in 2009 and incorporated in 2011, is a 501(c)(3) health education non-profit dedicated to advancing the diagnosis and treatment of stress-induced medical conditions. Psychophysiologic Disorders (PPD) affect hundreds of millions of people annually, and about one third of all patient visits to primary care medical professional are PPD-related.

We are a team of clinicians, researchers and patient advocates passionate about reducing suffering in millions of people by educating medical and mental health practitioners as well as the public about PPD. We also support clinical pain and neuroscience research.

Educating health professionals around the world is necessary to increase the number of clinicians and therapists who can diagnose and treat PPD, but education is also a key component of the treatment process for patients. By learning about PPD and understanding what does and, more importantly, what does NOT cause their symptoms, patients are able to reverse the neural pathways that cause their pain and/or other chronic symptoms.

Our treatment approach is demonstrably safer, more affordable, and more effective than the usual (outdated) treatments recommended for chronic pain and medically unexplained symptoms.

With our focus on uncovering sources of stress, trauma and unrecognized emotion, patients are able to relieve and even CURE their symptoms without surgery, physical therapy, medication, or expensive alternative treatments.

Thus, our work is a vital step toward ending the chronic pain epidemic and opioid crisis.


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David D. Clarke, MD - President & Co-Founder

Dr. Clarke is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology Emeritus and Assistant Director at the Center for Ethics at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). He is board-certified in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine and practiced Gastroenterology in Portland, Oregon from 1984 to 2009.  During that time he diagnosed and treated over 7000 PPD patients.  His book for patients with PPD, They Can’t Find Anything Wrong!, was praised as "truly remarkable" by a past president of the American Psychosomatic Society.  (All royalties are donated to the PPDA.) 

He has received numerous awards for patient care and is a member of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine, the American Psychosomatic Society and the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association.  He has been a Visiting Professor at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane, Australia and at Oxford University in England.  He was also the Ethics Director for his medical group from 2005-2008.  Dr. Clarke lectures on PPD frequently throughout the U.S. and internationally and he has appeared on over 100 TV and radio broadcasts. His website is StressIllness.com.

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Forest SMITH, MA, MS - Vice President & Co-Founder

Forest is an Instructor of Economics at Boston University where he is a PhD candidate.  He specializes in Health Economics and decision-making.  He has created the largest source of information for the public about PPD at TMSWiki.org.  His undergraduate concentration in computer science and experience as a trainer, consultant and integrator in the computer industry, enables him to bring technical expertise to our website.

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Howard Schubiner, MD - Co-Founder

Dr. Schubiner is an internist and the Director of the Mind Body Medicine Center at Providence-Providence Park Hospital in Southfield, Michigan. He is a Clinical Professor at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and is a fellow in the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has authored more than 100 publications in scientific journals and books, and lectures regionally, nationally, and internationally. He was awarded a multi-million dollar grant by the National Institutes of Health to conduct research studies of an emotional expression intervention for individuals with fibromyalgia, which is a form of PPD. 

Dr. Schubiner has consulted for the American Medical Association, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Mental Health. Dr. Schubiner is the author of three books: Unlearn Your Pain, Unlearn Your Anxiety and Depression, and Hidden From View, written with Dr. Allan Abbass. He lives in the Detroit area with his wife of thirty-four years and has two adult children. His web site is UnlearnYourPain.com.

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Alan Gordon, LCSW - Co-Founder

Alan is the Executive Director of the Pain Psychology Center and a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, CA, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain. Alan is an Assistant Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California, has authored publications on the treatment of chronic pain, and has presented on the topic of pain treatment at conferences and trainings throughout the country. He served as the chair for the 2013 Mind-Body Conference at USC, and co-created the Treatment Outline and Training Protocol for the PPDA. His website is PainPsychologyCenter.com

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Jessica Shahinian, BFA - Outreach Director

Jessica is a passionate patient advocate, marketing strategist, and creator of GotPainCure, an educational web series on mind-body disorders. Her background is in the performing arts as a dancer and aerialist having performed internationally in multi-million dollar production shows and musical theater, as well as an actor on TV. She overcame years of mind-body symptoms that threatened to end not only her dance career but also her life, and in doing so she became the Spokesperson for TMS Awareness. Her GotPainCure videos have been viewed in 33 countries by health professionals and the public, and is used as a recovery resource for PPD patients. Jessica is a real-life example of how effective the PPDA’s approach is in curing chronic symptoms, and her personal recovery story fuels her passion for helping others recover around the world. She is based in New York City.

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Derek has been working in the field of chronic pain treatment for his entire career. He’s the Clinical Director of the Pain Psychology Center. In addition to serving as the Fieldwork Coordinator for the USC MFT Program, Derek was an adjunct lecturer at University of the West, served as lead therapist at the California Headache and Pain Center, and co-authored the Treatment Outline and Training Protocol for the PPDA. Derek is passionate about the clinical supervision process and the training and development of the therapists at the Pain Psychology Center.

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Jeff Wentzel, PhD - Secretary

Dr. Wentzel is a clinical psychologist currently practicing in Brooklyn, New York and specializing in treating patients suffering from chronic physical pain as well as other psychophysiological conditions. He also worked extensively with patients suffering from interacting symptoms of physical and emotional distress while serving as a clinical psychology extern for several years at Bellevue Hospital's Pain Management Center. Visit his PsychologyToday.com profile to learn more.