History of pain psychology

What is the history of pain psychology?

There is a vast literature on the history of pain and its psychological aspects. Historians studying pain through the ages have emphasized that each generation creates its own narrative for the psychology of pain. The formal inclusion of clinical psychology as a component of the pain field took hold in the mid-20th century with the advent of the Gate Control Theory. This disciplinary integration was deepened by later theoretical explanations of pain perception (such as the Neuromatrix Theory and the Ensemble Theory). It was established that descending neural tracts from emotional and cognitive centers in the brain influenced transmission of pain signals from peripheral areas of tissue damage, establishing a biological relationship between sensation, emotion, and cognition. Prior to this reconceptualization, pain was mostly viewed according to Cartesian dualism with the mind and body believed to be separate entities. Therefore, psychosocial inputs were not considered. Developments in clinical medicine with the advent of the biopsychosocial model for medical care also had a decisive influence. With this paradigm shift, research into the psychological aspects of the pain experience expanded significantly, such that now there is a wide basis of validation to support pain psychology. Inclusion of behavioral science in pain medicine was codified in 2011 by the Institute of Medicine.


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