What can psychoanalysis contribute to pain psychology?
Sigmund Freud created psychoanalysis from his work as a neurologist with patients who had “pain without lesion”—a concern of 19th century physicians. Psychoanalytic theory has much to offer pain psychology. Unconscious factors in emotional life—such as repressed memories or traumas, unresolved conflicts, unprocessed emotions, and ineffective mechanisms of defense against negative emotions—may all influence pain perception. The patient’s relational style may impact their interactions with medical practitioners. Attachment in early life influences emotional regulation and management of distress. Mental schemas are used to manage distress; these develop from interactions with caregivers. These “attachment styles” may determine the response to stress. Research has substantiated that people with insecure attachment styles may influence pain outcomes due to a more realistic assessment of threat and a more positive outlook.