Pain is the physical and emotional experience of discomfort. It can be separated into Organic pain (which comes from damaged tissue) OR Psychogenic pain. Psychogenic pain is pain for which there is no physical basis. This doesn’t mean that psychogenic pain is not real pain and often it can be more intense than organic pain.
So how much of our pain is in our head? I guess the simplest answer is all of it. Even organic pain is experienced because of the signals that are sent between the body and the brain.
I won’t go into theories of pain but what I do want to talk about is when our pain becomes a disease.
Here is how we can look at chronic pain:
Person suffers pain > Suffering > Desire to Escape Pain > Seeks Pain relief (without treating underlying problem)
The short term outcome = PAIN AVOIDANCE DECREASES PAIN
Long term outcome = SUFFERING FROM PAIN INTENSIFIES
These are some areas in which pain can become a role.
- Paying attention to children when engaging in sick-role behaviour can reinforce it
- Sick-role behaviour was reduced when attention was paid to children when not engaging in this behaviour
- When spouses showed more solicitous behaviour towards pain patients:
- The patients reported more pain and engaged in less activity
- The patients reported more pain in interviews when their spouse versus a hospital employee were observing them
- Findings suggest that while care and sensitivity is important towards people in pain, being overly solicitous promotes unproductive sick-role behaviour
I’m am by no means saying that being sick is all in our heads but it is interesting when we look at things from a different perpective sometimes!!
Enjoy a painfree day!!!!