Psychological Perspectives on Pain: Controversies
Controversies abound concerning the role of psychological features of pain and their use in pain management. Although pain has been clearly identified as a psychological experience, one does not have to spend much time talking to people or reading the literature to discover disagreements about the nature of this experience. Contested issues include a willingness to dismiss the importance of patient thoughts and feelings, questions about the meaning of behavioral displays of pain, debates about the role of social contexts, disagreements about how one should assess pain, and whether and how one should attempt to control painful distress. Similar disagreements concerning pain mechanisms and intervention approaches are found when considering anthropological, nursing, pharmacological, surgical, neurophysiological, genetic, or any other perspective on pain; however, the focus here is on psychological processes.