How emotions influence pain perception in chronic pain

Emotions change how we perceive pain. In healthy volunteers, positive affect is associated with reduced pain, while negative mood is associated with amplification of pain sensations (Meagher, Arnau, & Rhudy, 2001). Healthy participants rate painful experimental stimuli during the viewing of positive pictures as less intense and unpleasant than … [Read more...]

The faulty alarm system problem: A plausible explanation

Qu. What do a rat, a fur coat, and a Santa mask have in common? Ans. Ethically dodgy science! ‘Little Albert’ was the victim of early 20th century psychology experimentation. At nine months of age he was given a white rat, and then frightened by a loud noise whenever he reached for it. Naturally, he came to fear white rats. Surprisingly, he also … [Read more...]

Don’t look and it won’t hurt

In every-day life, painful events do not occur in isolation but often comprise input from additional sensory modalities. As a consequence, certain sensory inputs, like the visual percept of a needle approaching our skin when getting an injection, are inseparably linked to pain. To reduce the pain, health professionals often advise us to not look at … [Read more...]

There is no such thing as a new idea continued

(continued from last post)…Socio-cognitive models have been used by health psychologist to increase our understanding of a variety of health behaviours.  What about disability associated with low back pain?  If we can think of disability as made up of specific behaviours then and if these behaviours are intentional it follows that people with low … [Read more...]

There is no such thing as a new idea

For my first BIM post I wanted to blog about an article that I read some years ago that had probably the biggest impact on my thinking on low back pain and disability and 15 years later still informs the way that I think about pain and disability. Around the mid 1990s when I first started research in low back pain a UK-based health psychologist … [Read more...]

How is a raven like a writing desk?

Lewis Carroll paints a picture of a world where very little makes sense; an adult wonderland seen through a child’s eyes. Yet, who is to say that what we see and the behaviours that we adopt really make sense to others? I was reading (not Alice in Wonderland this time) an interesting paper recently that suggested that when natural ambiguities … [Read more...]

From American flags to models of the spine – linking the impossible?

I have just come across an intriguing paper in Psychological Science by Travis Carter and his mates in Chicago.  They did an experiment in which Americans who were filling out political surveys did so with either a small American flag in the corner of the screen, or nothing in the corner of the screen. They analysed the participants’ responses to … [Read more...]

What’s in a name? Nociception by any other name will hurt, or not hurt, just as much

A while back I wrote a piece about Consciousness and Pain, in which I argued that consciousness might be the key ingredient for pain.  I even tried my hand at a bit of maths, with this little equation (not to be taken too exactly): pain = nociception + consciousness.  I got a great response to this post.  People had some really interesting points … [Read more...]

Does smoking hurt as well as harm? (or, as if you needed another reason)

I have a couple of mates who are veritable smoke-stacks. They love smoking but sort of hate being a smoker. I must confess that, at least within my community, smoking is now officially uncool and my mates are sick of people telling them good reasons to give up.  Well, as if they needed another reason, here is evidence that smoking hurts.  This is a … [Read more...]

Just a heartbeat away from one’s body

Body image means different things to different people. To many it refers to how one feels about one's body.  To us, it refers to how one's body feels to oneself and how one perceives its shape, orientation, agency and ownership.  Hopefully you can see that body image is critical to pain, because pain is, we reckon, necessarily felt in one's body. … [Read more...]