Healing, Personality and Pain – The Factors Each Contribute to Health

     Psychological processes can have an affect on physical healing of the body. Emotions may play a role in our healing. It has been suggested that laughter had a restorative effect, and others have suggested that expressing sadness has recuperative properties. The power of a positive attitude in healing has been greatly acknowledged. In fact physicians can influence the healing of their own patients by taking certain attitudes. It has been found that having a warm and nurturing relationship with someone can help adjustment.

Pain and Its Management:
     Pain can be conceptualized as having a sensory or physical aspect and an affective or emotional aspect. These two parts of pain are very interactive. How we perceive pain interacts with our thoughts about pain. We form theories of pain regarding it and our ability to control it based on our experiences of it. For example, if we believe that we are able to overcome our pain, we may be more effective in doing so than if we believe that we will be defeated by it. Patrick Wall developed a Gate-Control Theory to explain how perception of pain can control the physical sensation of it. This theory states that thoughts and emotions in the brain can cause the spinal cord to intensify or inhibit the pain. Some may open the gate and lower the pain threshold (make more pain) or some may close the gate and raise the threshold. For example, being fearful of pain and paying attention to whether or not you are having pain may make you feel more pain, whereas feeling relaxed and paying attention to other sensations may make you feel less pain.

Personality and Pain:
     Some research has found that Personality Scales (such as the MMPI), can help identify certain patients that can be particularly susceptible to experiencing pain. It was found that people that experience acute pain tend to score high on hypochondriasis scale and hysteria scales. People high in hysteria tend to show extreme emotional behaviour and also tend to exaggerate the level and seriousness of the symptoms they experience. People who experience chronic pain also score high on hysteria and hypochondriasis, as well as on depression.

Related Links

Health Psychology
Nutrition & Exercise
Preventing Illness
Personality & Health
Chronic Illness
Recognizing & Interpreting Symptoms