How can pain be affected by how we think if it's real pain? It's not like we're imagining it.

Pain is pain, whether we can see its cause or not. If someone is experiencing pain, the intensity of it is personal. Some people can break a bone in their foot and keep walking while others would be unable to do so. It's not that one has pain and one doesn't - it's the perception of pain and the pain thresholds that are different.

Researchers are have been studying pain and its effect on people for decades. They are trying to find what factors increase and what factors decrease the sensation and perception of pain. What many researchers have found is that pain, although definitely present, can be affected by certain psychological issues.

If someone can relax and visualize themself without pain, that person may have significantly less pain than someone who can't do that. Or, someone who believes that they have some control over their pain may feel pain not as intensely or for as long a period as someone else. On the other hand, this may not work for some people at all.

So the challenge is, if these psychological approaches to pain work in some people, why do they not work in all? And, how exactly do they work in some people? If researchers can discover this, it's possible that they can find ways to help everyone who has pain.

Marco L. Loggia, Jeffrey S. Mogi, M. Catherine Bushnell. Empathy Hurts: Compassion for another increases both sensory and affective components of pain perception. In Pain. May 2008. Vol. 136. No. 1-2. Pp. 168-176.



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