Cutting Edge Psychology

Childhood trauma and chronic pain

Posted on September 2, 2014 at 1:20 AM

In 'The HIdden Psychology of Pain' I make a case for the relevance of early life experiences, such as trauma, and the experience of chronic pain in adulthood. Apart from being a plausible sounding theory, there is plenty of research evidence which demonstrates this link- childhood trauma is way over-represented in the chronic pain population. While the 'pain industry' (eg. medicine, physiotherpay and a range of other physical treatment approaches) state  that chronic pain results from structural pathology of the body (or more honestly admit to not knowing why people experience chronic pain), the reasons for this affliction become less mysterious when the relevant research is taken into account. Childhood trauma, resulting from experiences such as sexual abuse, violence, high levels of family conflict, bullying etc, leaves a psychological 'scar' on a person which tends to reverberate throughout the person's life. Chronic pain is often an attempted solution which is unconsciously generated in order to address what is perceived to be an even greater problem- this can often be the reverberation of psychological trauma. With the aid of current research evidence, the reasons for chronic pain are not especially mysterious and puzzling. Usually, we need to only look at a person's experience of life- often, their childhood experiences, and how the residual trauma is being triggered by an aspect of their current life experience.

The following article details some of the relevant research on the association between childhood trauma and chronic pain.

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