Psychogenic pain as imaginary pain

Elisa Arnaudo


Abstract: Psychogenic pain is considered to be pain that has a psychological origin. In this paper, I provide a brief history of the ways in which such pain has been interpreted and classified, highlighting the problem that psychogenic pain is typically defined by excluding organic evidence that could account for the sufferer’s experience. This has led to ambiguous disease classifications, which challenges the authenticity of the patient’s suffering. Today psychogenic pain is no longer considered a valid diagnosis, because it is deemed to stigmatize the patient by implying that their pain is imaginary. But such stigmatization continues in the modern approach to chronic pain. Addressing this issue requires us to understand the relationship between “emotional” and “physical” pain and acknowledge the reality of all suffering. Radden tackles these issues by showing that even though pain and suffering can be accompanied by mistaken beliefs, such experiences cannot be delusional.

Keywords: Psychogenic Pain; Imaginary Pain; Chronic Pain; IASP; DSM


Dolore psicogeno e dolore immaginario

Riassunto: Con dolore psicogeno si intende un dolore di origine psicologica. In questo lavoro presento una breve storia delle interpretazioni e classificazioni di questa forma di sofferenza, evidenziando che queste si sono fondate perlopiù sull’esclusione di evidenze organiche a giustificazione dell’esperienza del sofferente. Ciò ha portato ad ambigue classificazioni di malattia che mettono in discussione l’autenticità della sofferenza del paziente. Oggi, quella di dolore psicogeno non è più considerata una diagnosi valida perché ritenuta stigmatizzante, implicando che il dolore del paziente sia immaginario. Ciononostante, la stigmatizzazione persiste nell’approccio odierno al dolore cronico. Affrontare questo problema comporta la comprensione della relazione tra dolore “emozionale” e dolore “fisico” ed il riconoscimento della realtà di tutte le forme di sofferenza. Nel suo lavoro, Radden esamina queste tematiche mostrando che, sebbene esperienze di dolore e sofferenza possano essere accompagnate da credenze errate, le esperienze stesse non possono essere illusorie.

Parole chiave: Dolore psicogeno; dolore immaginario; dolore cronico; IASP; DSM

Parole chiave

Psychogenic Pain; Imaginary Pain; Chronic Pain; IASP; DSM

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