Chronic Pain: A Protective Response from Psychological Threats

All pain is meant to protect us from something. It is always a protective response to try to help us as it thinks something is too dangerous or threatening. The definition of pain is that it is both a sensory (physical) and emotional experience. Once we’ve ruled out the physical side of protection, meaning acute injuries, cancer, etc and the pain has become chronic, we are left with protection from the other side of the pain experience, threatening emotions. These emotions can be caused from stress, people, places, work, finances, memories, our own thoughts etc.

All pain is produced in the brain (ie amputee and phantom limb pain). The brain decides in a millisecond based on all the things it has learned from your life experiences if it should turn on the alarm bell or not. This is unconscious. We need to bring the conscious brain online to decipher what’s happening in the unconscious.

With Chronic Pain ask yourself : What is my brain and pain trying to protect me from? What am I afraid of feeling, dealing with? What psychological stresses are causing this physical pain?

Once you’ve gone chronic with pain, the protection is psychological in nature, otherwise the pain would have gone away, as it does with all physical injuries.